Rumored to be coming soon since July, Bose's QuietComfort 45 headphones have now been officially unveiled. According to Bose, the QC 45s deliver better noise-canceling and voice-calling performance and add a transparency mode along with multipoint Bluetooth support. That last option allows you to pair the headphones with your PC and smartphone simultaneously, making them a more appealing option for those working remotely. Shipping Sept. 23, they cost $330 (£320, AU$500) and are available for preorder now in color options called triple black and white smoke.
The headphones essentially look the same as their popular predecessor, the QuietComfort 35 II, with the biggest design difference being a USB-C port in place of the older Micro-USB standard. (At 238 grams, the QC45 weighs just 3 grams more than the QC35, which should be imperceptible.) As for audio performance, Bose only told me the headphones deliver "the same high-quality audio as the QC35s," which I take to mean that drivers haven't changed and that they essentially sound the same as the QC35 II. I'll be able to give you a full assessment of the audio after I get my hands on a pair in the coming days.
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Bose says where you'll see the improvement is with the noise cancellation. There's a new electronics package that powers the new active noise cancellation system, which now better muffles "unwanted sounds in the midrange frequencies" (voices) that you'd "typically find on commuter trains, busy office spaces and cafes."
The headphones have just two modes: Quiet, which activates noise canceling to muffle sound around you, and Aware, which activates a transparency mode so you can hear the outside world in a natural way that makes it seem like you're not wearing headphones (the Apple AirPods Pro's transparency mode is currently the gold standard, as it seems truly transparent and natural-sounding).
Bose also touts that the new QuietComforts are very good at blocking background noise while you're on calls: "A beam-form array isolates your voice while a rejection form array dampens and blocks the audible distractions" around you. A button on the left earcup allows you to toggle between modes or mute the microphone during calls.
As more people continue to work from home, more headphones offer multipoint Bluetooth pairing. That means you can pair the QC45 with two devices simultaneously -- such as a smartphone and PC -- and switch audio as needed. The typical use for this is if you're listening to audio on your computer and a call comes in on your cell phone; answering it will automatically switch the audio from your PC to your smartphone so you can jump straight into the call.
Battery life is rated at up to 24 hours on a single charge at moderate volume levels and you can get a full charge in 2.5 hours. A quick 15-minute charge will give you 3 hours of battery life. Those are solid battery life numbers (the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 are rated at up to 20 hours of battery life). However, the Sony WH-1000XM4 -- the biggest Bose challenger on the market -- has a battery life rating of up to 30 hours on a single charge.
It'll be interesting to see how this model compares with the awkwardly named Noise Canceling Headphones 700, which cost $50 more and feature a totally different design. When they were released a little over two years ago, Bose touted the headphones' ability to reduce background noise during calls. I thought they sounded better than the QC35 II, but I also thought the QC35 II headphones were slightly more comfortable to wear.
Many people assumed that with the release of the Noise Canceling Headphones 700, Bose would move on from its QuietComfort branding. But instead it's returned to it -- first with the QuietComfort Buds and now with the QuietComfort 45. Without an update to the Noise Canceling Headphones 700, it could end up being very difficult for consumers to choose between this new model and that model.
Stay tuned for our full review in the coming days.