Editor's note: The product reviewed here is no longer produced. It's been replaced by the second-generation model, the Bose AE2.
Bose's $150 TriPort headphones have been around for a while, but in light of the popularity of the company's twice-as-expensive QuietComfort 2 noise-canceling 'phones, we wanted to review this model for comparison's sake.
The TriPort has an attractive design with metallic blue or silver gray ear cups and Bose's trademark plush, black leather ear pads. The first thing you notice is that these are very comfortable headphones that feel lighter than your average full-size, closed ear cup models from the likes of Sennheiser, Koss, and AKG. The headband is fairly thin and covered in a springy neoprene, which also helps increase the comfort level. The two downsides are that the TriPort has a double-sided cord design (one from each ear cup), not the preferable single-corded design, and the headphones don't fold into a more compact footprint like the QuietComfort 2s do. A 1/4-inch home stereo adapter and a no-frills protective nylon carrying case are included in the box.
The TriPorts aren't as warm and full-sounding as the QuietComfort 2s. But on Bobby Bare Jr's From the End of Your Leash CD, the TriPort set rolled out wonderfully deep bass with superior definition. No doubt, the QuietComfort 2s' richer, more full-bodied sound will appeal to many listeners, but we actually preferred the TriPorts' leaner tonal balance. The TriPort 'phones' full-size ear cups blocked external noise almost as well as noise-canceling headphones', yet we never experienced the canned or hollow claustrophobic quality we get with some sealed headphones. Stereo separation was especially wide and clearly defined. The sound was ever so slightly laid back, yet detail resolution was above average.
In short, if you think $300 is a lot of beans to spill on a pair of headphones, the older TriPort is definitely worth a look. Yes, the QuietComfort 2 set does a slightly better job at blocking out airplane engine noise, but the TriPort set is more comfortable, sounds good, and costs half the price.
Editors' note: Freelancer Steve Guttenberg contributed to this review.