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First Look: Bose QuietComfort 15

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First Look: Bose QuietComfort 15

2:59 /

While they're no bargain, the Bose QuietComfort 15s currently offer the best sound and silencing capabilities in a pair of noise-canceling headphones.

>> Hi I'm David Carnoy Executive Editor for cnet.com and I'm here with the Bose QuietComfort 15 noise-cancelling headphones. Now if you think these look a lot like Bose's QuietComfort 2 headphones, that's because they do indeed look exactly the same and they are designed to replace that model. Bose also has the QuietComfort 3's which has a smaller ear cup and fit over your ears instead of around them. This model is an over-the-ear model and the headphones are actually very comfortable. The real difference here is that these actually have better noise-cancelling. That's what Bose was trying to accomplish with these; and these probably are the best active noise-cancelling headphones we've tested. In my office I have a fan that sounds a lot like a jet engine, maybe not quite that loud, but these guys were able to almost completely muffle the sound of that, whereas the QuietComfort 2's you could just hear a little bit more. So these are really designed for that business traveler who's going to take a lot of airplanes or someone who's on a daily commute where you just want to shut out the noise on a subway, a train. These really do a good job of that. In terms of sound quality, the first thing we noticed about this model compared with the QuietComfort 2's was the overall sound was smoother and more totally balanced. The QuietComfort 2's and the QuietComfort 3's both seemed to mess with the bass a bit, pumping it up. But the base on the QuietComfort 15's is tighter and punchier. These headphones also offer excellent detail. My first reaction after putting them on was an urge to re-listen to our entire library of music, a welcoming symptom of acquiring high grade cans [assumed spelling]. That's it these are a close-cupped design so the sound is a bit more stuck inside your head than you get from open-back headphones. As such, they don't quite measure up to some other high end headphones that we've tested in this price range. Still these are probably the best sounding noise-cancelling headphones we've heard to date. Now one thing we will say about the noise cancellation is that it is a little bit surprising when you put them on your ears, and it does feel a little like you're going into the water so some people get a little bit of pressure in their ears and it may not be comfortable to certain people; however Bose does offer a 30-day money back guarantee on these so if you do try them out and they feel a little bit weird, the QuietComfort 3's have a rechargeable battery; these have just a single AAA battery and that gives you about 35 hours of usage. One thing to note about these headphones is that you do have to have the noise-cancellation circuitry engaged in order to listen to anything. Bose has redesigned the protective carrying case that comes with these and we do think they sit better in that carrying case; as with all these headphones they do come with a two-prong adapter for airplane use. Also like Bose's other noise-cancelling headphones, you can detach the cord from these and just use them as noise-cancellation headphones if you just want to block out noise. It's always hard to tell people that $300 headphones are a good value and we can't say these are necessarily a good value, but the noise-cancellation has improved over the QC 2's which also cost $300 and the sound quality hasn't suffered either. I'm David Carnoy and those are the Bose QuietComfort 15 noise-cancelling headphones.

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