Every hobby has at least one brand that polarizes the community and for over two decades that has been Bose within the high-end audio world. Audiophiles love to raise their noses and proclaim their disdain for the brand started by Dr. Amar Bose in 1964, but mainstream consumers would beg to disagree.

The pandemic was quite the shot in the arm for the company with sales of over $3.2 billion in 2021; the company made the decision in 2020 to close all of its physical retail stores and focus on Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and its own online store. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 may not be the latest model in the lineup but it is the one that deserves the most attention if you truly care about sound quality.

Audiophiles need to get over their almost fanatical hatred of the brand that could teach more than a few high-end companies how to properly grow a base and become a household name like Coke, Apple and Disney.

Bose headphones, loudspeakers, and soundbars can be found everywhere; private homes, school classrooms, automobiles, retail stores, and it is almost impossible to board a plane in 2022 anywhere on the planet and not see their headphones being used.

While it is perfectly legitimate to dislike a brand because you don’t enjoy the sound quality, there is something to be said about those who have never heard their products and jump on the anti-Bose bandwagon.

Their loudspeakers are certainly a bit unorthodox, but what can’t be argued is their dominance of the Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) headphone market; Bose were developing their QuietComfort models long before any other companies in the headphone space were even thinking about the technology and they have dominated the segment since launch.

If you think they have won the battle only because of superior marketing — I’m 100% certain that you have never listened to the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 in Travel Case Open

For years the NFL relied on Bose headsets for coaches on the sidelines, the military used Bose headphones for pilots, and NASA used Bose headsets during rocket launches. As one can imagine, all of these situations call for some serious noise abatement and Bose was the Company each chose to partner with for their noise cancelling technologies.

The NFL, which utilizes headphones and headsets on the field, press box and for its overall operations — selected Bose. Do you really think the second most popular professional sports league on the planet selected Bose’s products because they got a good deal on a few hundred pairs of headsets? Bose also dominates the commercial aviation segment with some excellent models that pilots recommend highly.

Bose’s current lineup has benefited enormously from more than two decades of R&D work that went into designing top quality headsets for loud environments like sports stadiums, transportation, and aviation. Their ANC technology is second to none with Sony barely hanging onto the back of their jersey in the race.

During my recent series of cross-country flights from Tennessee to Texas and S. California for T.H.E. Show 2022, I spent a lot of time in 3 airports and took 4 flights. Over the 8 hours (each way), I conducted an informal survey of headphones being used in airport terminals and on the flights themselves.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Kit
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

One would think that Apple AirPods would represent the majority of the products that I observed — but that would be an incorrect assumption. The Bose NC 700 were being used in all 3 locations and on every flight by both female and male travelers.

It wasn’t even close in some locations with Bose representing more than 50% of the headphones being used on the flights.

The Skinny

The NC 700 isn’t the newest model in Bose line-up; that distinction goes to the QuietComfort 45 (full review coming soon). It is also not the least expensive because it retails for $50 more than the Bose QC45 and has been on the market for over 3 years.

3 years. What does that tell us about an older flagship model that is the most commonly seen travel headphone in N. America?

The uncomfortable truth for some is that the Bose NC 700 Headphones were the best ANC headphones available in 2019 when they first arrived in the market and before Sony, Sennheiser, and Apple could develop a foothold for themselves and use their own ANC technology to play catch-up.

Word of mouth became a strong selling tool for Bose and while they certainly don’t have Apple’s marketing acumen or creativity — they do share a similarly loyal customer base who will only buy Bose because the products last and deliver sound quality that is good enough for most people.

Audiophiles put enormous value on how something sounds and that’s why most of us became interested in the hobby. If you think Bose represents a dramatic step down like Beats in comparison to other high-end headphones in the same price categories — you really need to stop reading forums and try more products before beating your chest.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Fold Flat Bottom

It would be easy to argue that other models have surpassed the Bose NC 700; the company is the first to admit that the QC45s are better headphones but I have some theories in regard to why you still see so many people using older pairs of the 700s or why consumers continue to buy them in huge numbers.

Early adopters of the Bose NC 700 spent almost $400 on them at launch and are still using them because they serve their intended purpose rather well and these types of customers don’t replace headphones until their existing model breaks. These are not people with 20 pairs of headphones like many of us in the Head-Fi space who need to have one of every type of headphone and IEM.

The build quality of the Bose 700 is good enough that they last and that is super important to people who also carry them on planes inside of a case and likely take care of them. Why replace something that is not broken.

Bose headphones probably don’t tick off too many design boxes for those of us who have become accustomed to using $3,000 planar headphones from Meze Audio or custom IEMs from Noble, Audeze, and Ultimate Ears, but the look and feel of the Bose 700 is somewhat unique.

The Bose QuietComfort 45 and Sony WH-1000XM5 models certainly offer a next generation ANC solution but upon closer inspection look like boxy, plastic toys next to the Bose Noise Cancelling 700 Headphones.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Hinge

The design of the NC 700s with its unique headband that passes through the cup and acts as the height adjustment is considerably more graceful than the more conventional adjustments hidden in the headbands of the QuietComfort 45 or Sony models and the more sculpted cups make the other models look rather industrial by comparison.


There is no question that Sennheiser and Sony offer excellent ANC wireless headphones that deliver sonically, but my recent testing of all 3 models has revealed something that I did not expect.

The Bose NC 700 is a surprisingly strong performer and a more organic sounding headphone with far less fatigue from longer listening sessions than many that I have tried in this price range — and we have tried dozens of headphones in the category over the past 12 months.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Interior Earcups

There isn’t a veil over the music when ANC is engaged and that is a huge thing in my book and probably explains why most Bose NC 700 owners don’t feel like they are missing out.

The low end isn’t cavernous but it is well defined with good speed and texture. You are not buying these because you want to go deaf listening to GWAR on your next flight to Grandma in S. Florida.

The midrange is transparent with just enough presence and detail to keep one engaged and there is enough top end energy and detail that you don’t feel claustrophobic listening to them with ANC engaged at 30,000 feet.

Raise your hand if you have ever been concerned about mixing, mastering, or critical listening while flying; the Bose 700 doesn’t need to be a reference quality headphone in this scenario — it just needs to be good enough to enjoy music or your movie and it succeeds at that in very big way.

The ANC works better than almost anything else on the market and we were quite surprised by how well it did with multiple genres of music.

One of the things I really like about the Bose NC 700 is it doesn’t need a lot of EQ to be a pleasant listen. Bass is present but not overpowering, vocals cut through the instrumentation well, and the treble is polite enough. 

I appreciate a bit of extra treble energy but at the same time that can quickly become fatiguing. The EQ options in the Bose app are minimalistic and each over-emphasizes some portion of the signature, so for me the best option is to go with the default signature or use an external EQ to tweak the sound.   

On the flip side, the touch controls on the 700 work flawlessly and make sense with easy gestures to control common commands so the app may be needed only for firmware updates once you get the hang of the controls.  

This alone moves the Bose NC 700 to near the head of the class in my mind as I am forever fiddling with headphones learning the controls. These are intuitive, simple, and they work as advertised with no drama.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Side

Audiophiles like drama. It makes them feel validated.

The battery performance is quite good; I managed to get 20 hours of playtime from one charge and that number didn’t decrease that much with ANC engaged.


There are plenty of audiophiles who will dismiss this review because of the brand and only be interested in the latest and greatest; we have reviews of the Sony WH-1000XM5, B&W PX7S2, Master & Dynamic MW75, and Mark Levinson No. 5909 coming over the next few weeks. The Levinson is for those with very deep pockets but certainly an interesting effort from them. They represent a state-of-the-art approach to wireless headphones and you can read my review this week.

The Bose NC 700 are for those looking for a durable pair of travel headphones or bedroom headphones that deliver excellent ANC and sound quality. This is not a headphone that is disappearing soon from the lineup because it delivers on every promise; durability, affordability, battery life, comfort, and decent sound quality.

They are easy to use, and I rather enjoyed my time with them.

At the risk of losing my audiophile credentials, these are the ANC wireless headphones I will be taking on my next flight and that’s a rather strong endorsement considering the two dozen ANC wireless headphones sitting on my desk right now from some of the biggest brands in the category.

Where to buy:


Source link