Bose cuts the cord with wireless noise-cancelling headphones

By David Flynn, June 8 2016
Bose cuts the cord with wireless noise-cancelling headphones

Bose isn't the only name in noise-cancelling headphones, but it's got sufficient mindshare and marketshare to make the brand's QuietComfort series near-essential kit for the business traveller and frequent flyer.

All that's been missing from the mix is the option to go wireless – and that's overdue, considering Bose' strong track record with its popular SoundLink Mini Bluetooth speakers and SoundLink II headphones.

No surprise, then, that the 2016 line-up of Bose headphones borrows this Bluetooth tech and shrinks it down into ear-friendly size to give us the QuietComfort 35 and QuietControl 30 noise-cancelling cans, as well as the new SoundSport earbuds for wireless workouts.

Bose QuietComfort 35

The QC35s are essentially a wireless version of the QC25s.

Same compact, collapsible and super-comfortable design which makes them perfect for long flights; same superb noise-cancelling tech to slam away unwanted cabin and engine noise, although they also perform earth-bound wonders on the train or bus, in the office or around the house.

But those over-the-ear muffs now contain a tiny Bluetooth radio to connect to your smartphone, tablet or laptop sans cable, and a rechargeable battery that's good for up to 20 hours on a single tank.

And if a flat battery catches you out, just hook up the supplied headphone cable and you're back in action, although without noise-cancelling of course.

(You can also revert to the cable to significantly boost battery life, as this automatically shuts down the Bluetooth radio.)

The QC35s also pack an NFC chip for fast and easy pairing with NFC-capable devices (primarily Android phones and tablets), voice prompts for setup, caller ID and battery status.

Bose QuietControl 30

The QC30s offer a new twist on the earbud design of the QC20s, with the battery, Bluetooth and the rest of the tech rolled into a neckband.

This can sit proud around the back of your neck or be concealed under your shirt, although as it's not adjustable some people will find the collar becomes more of a choker, in a rather too literal sense.

So why is this a QuietControl 30 rather than a QuietComfort 30? You can adjust the degree of noise-cancellation to suit your environment – dial it down to hear more of the outside world or max it out to escape into your own little QC30 cocoon – without fiddling with the music volume.

Those controls are on an inline remote dangling between the collar and one earbud, although you can also access them via a new Bose smartphone app for Android and iOS.

Bose rates the QC30's battery life at 10 hours, with a fast-charge system which gives two hours of juice from a short 15 minute charge.

The QC30 will land mid-September at $399.

Bose SoundSport

Rounding out the Bose 2016 headphone range are the SoundSport Bluetooth earbuds.

They're not noise-cancelling, but fit sufficiently snug in your ear (and should stay there, thanks to soft flexible silicone and clever ear-hugging design) to block out most external sound while you run, lift, climb or row.

Battery life is upwards of five hours, with the basic SoundSport model retailing at $249 from mid-September and the heart-rate monitoring SoundSport Pulse at $299 from mid-June.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

02 May 2016

Total posts 4

Awesome, except that if you use them mostly on a plane like I do, you still need the cable so what have you gained by buying the new pair?... **Coming Soon; Bluetooth IFE for firstclass** ;)

30 Mar 2015

Total posts 2

Most people don't realise that you can't use Bluetooth onboard. Going to flight mode turns off Bluetooth and wireless on all devices I have seen. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Nov 2015

Total posts 20

So don't apply flightmode. Problem solved.

It's a load of bureaucratic nonsense.

I havent used it in years.

Still flying, no downed planes or navigational issues.

Just turn ringer and vibrate down for the duration.


01 Feb 2012

Total posts 370

hahahahaha... hahaha

No, it works perfectly fine. Never had any issues in the air.


American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 265

Call me crazy, but I still prefer my cable to wireless headphones as I already have way too many devices to charge when I travel. While battery life seem decent, you will eventually have to remember to plug it in to charge. (I suppose the downside with plugging in is you usually don't have noise cancelling).

Although, I have to say - the QC20's were amazing on a charge. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 216

I was surprised to learn just how much my Bose QC25's changed the way I travel, and I'm reading this article initially thinking these new wireless QC35 options could improve that by an order of magnitude...

Losing the in-line cable controls (volume, pause/play, answer call, etc) is an convenience I could reluctantly sacrifice, for the benefit of eliminating one of the spaghetti lines that envelop me in the seat. The controls have moved to the ear, which is less far less convenient, but such is life... And it's nice to see Bose will no longer have to make an iPhone and Adroid versions of the headphones as well.

Finally Bose brings the rechargeable battery to their QC range; I do frankly get a bit sick of buying AAA batteries for my QC25's...! (Or stealing them out of hotel TV remotes... Ooops, did I say that out loud?) What a relief.

But then the bad news; the rechargable battery is internal (and can't be swapped out for another battery I might be holding in reserve)... Suddenly I'm not so enamoured.

Between my laptop, two phones, Kindle, and portable backup battery, I really have enough devices to charge on-the-go in airports, hotel rooms etc. without adding headphones to the mix. (I mean, if I wanted another accessory to tether to a powerpoint, I'd have just bought a AAA battery recharger.)

If your headphones fall down the pecking order list for your travel adapters at the hotels, airport lounges, and on board the plane, you might well be left with a very expensive pair of non- noise cancelling headphones.

Overall, a mixed bag, and not enough to justify an upgrade from the QC25's... in fact, there's a lot to be said for opting for QC25's over the QC35's.

Oh well... The Bose giveth, and the Bose taketh away.

British Airways - Executive Club

07 Sep 2012

Total posts 48

Oh great. More bluetooth stuff to fry your brain with.

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 313

My understanding was the signal for Bluetooth wasn't strong enough to do that!

30 Jun 2011

Total posts 49

I didn't spot a price for the QC35s above?  I'd heard $499 elsewhere - that's pretty steep if true.  Certainly I love my QC25s and often wear them sans cable while I read the morning paper in-flight.  As others have stated, what's the point of wireless if your device in is airplane mode?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 216

Oh... Do people actually put their phone in Airplane Mode when they fly?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 316

You can turn the phone to flight mode but then turn the Bluetooth and wifi back on whilst in flight  mode on IPhone sand iPads

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Bose cuts the cord with wireless noise-cancelling headphones