Bose QuietComfort 35 II review: These already excellent headphones get a touch better

The QC35 II comes in silver or black.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Not the best sound, but among the best

As I said in my review of the original QC35, this may not be the best-sounding Bluetooth headphone out there, but it's certainly among them. In the past I've compared it to the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless, now called the HD1 Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation, noting that the Sennhesier sounded slightly better, with a bit tighter bass, slightly better clarity and was overall more natural sounding.

Sony's MDR-1000X, which has now been updated to the WH-1000XM2, is also slightly ahead on the sound quality front. But how you feel about each headphone will be impacted by the recording quality of the tracks, which means it'll vary depending on the types of music you listen to and where you get it from.

The Bose is good at taking whatever's thrown at it and turning it into smooth, pleasant sound that's generally well-balanced with plenty of punch to the bass. It sounds comparatively excellent for a Bluetooth headphone. That said, CNET contributor Steve Guttenberg thought the Sony had a clearer, more open sound. "The Quiet Comfort 35 was no slouch," he said. "But it flattened dynamics and the sound seemed less alive. Bass definition was also less distinct than what I heard from the MDR-1000X."

The same, nicely designed carrying case that comes with the original QC35 is included.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I rated the Bose slightly higher than the older Sony (the MDR-1000X) because of other factors beyond the sound. While their noise-canceling was equally good (yes, Sony has caught up) I thought the Bose was more comfortable and more user friendly. However, with the newer Sony WH-1000XM2 offering better battery life, slightly better build quality and even more features -- perhaps too many -- it's really hard to say which is the better headphone. They currently have identical ratings. While the Sony has a slight edge in certain areas, this Bose remains more comfortable and works better as a headset for making calls. 

It's worth noting that when used as a headset it muffles wind, crowd noise and other ambient sounds so callers can hear you better -- and vice versa. Another nice feature: While you're using the QC35 II as a headset you can hear your own voice in the headphones as you speak so you won't raise your voice. 

Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Sarah Tew/CNET

The Google Assistant factor

How much of game changer is the direct connection to Google Assistant? After using the headphones for a week, I'm not sure. The new voice-assistant feature is one of those things that some people will appreciate and frequently use but others may never bother with it. It currently does have its quirks and limitations, but like Amazon's Alexa voice-assistant, it's evolving and acquiring new skills and will get better over time.

If you already own a pair of the original QC35s, I don't think it's worth upgrading to this model for the integrated Google Assistant. But what the new feature does do is give an already excellent wireless noise-canceling headphone a little bit more personality. And despite the fact that the performance and sound hasn't changed, it helps Bose keep pace with Sony's upgraded WH-1000XM2 and Beats' improved Studio3 Wireless, both of which also cost $350.

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