CNET First Look
Bose QuietComfort 20: in-ear noise-cancelling's top dogDespite some downsides, including a high price tag, the Bose QuietComfort 20 offers the best noise-cancelling in an in-ear headphone.
Hi. I'm David Carnoy and I'm here with the Bose QuietComfort20, the company's first in-ear headphone with active noise cancellation which retails for $299.95. Why would you wanna spend that kind of [unk] on a headphone like this? Well, for starters, they fit securely in your ear and a very comfortable to wear. They weight a mere 1.5 ounces and come with a zippered-cloth carrying case that's a fraction of the size of the case that comes with the over-the-ear QC 15s. Their design is similar to Bose's MIE2i Headphones which don't jam into your ear like many in-ear models but rather rest more illusively in your ears, which is why they're so comfortable to wear. The headphones themselves follow the company's tri-port design carving out some extra space to maximize Bose's proprietary acoustic Voodoo and adding two microphones to moderate external noise. As with all such active noise cancelling phones, that external in is countered by a mirror sound wave allowing you to enjoy your music in relative piece. The professing chip use in the QC 20 is a new model that's exclusive to Bose. The QuietComfort 20s come with three sizes of flexible stay-here plus ear tips, each of which has wings to brace itself against the cup of the outer ear. With the large ear tip, which often be a little bit tighter seal which helps with the noise cancellation. The lithium-ion battery pack is embedded in the control button on the cord, it's rechargeable via standard micro USB cable and Bose pledges 16-hour battery life. [unk] of the wide cable leading up to left and right earbuds is a smaller second remote for controlling volume that went also and has a microphone for making self phone calls and then switch for toggling what Bose calls aware mode once engaged it significantly [unk] noise cancellation so you can hear the outside world to chat with the flight attendant for instance. Noise cancellation is quite impressive. You don't think that a more loose-fitting earbud like this which less than as much sound as it does will work well as an active noise cancelling headphone but it does. Bose sounds signature tends to be safe. By that, I mean it's designed to take everything you throw at it, all types of music, well recorded, not so well-recorded and make it sound decent. In other words you're going to find plenty of other $300 headphones and sound better than the QC 20. But I still found myself gravitating towards using this an everyday headphone because it was as comfortable as it was and manage to buffer a lot of that New York street noise. I also tested it on a plane ride to Seattle, and well I thought the overall noise reduction on QC 15 was slightly better. The QC 20 was more comfortable and it's small sizes good for sleeping that you can rest your head against the pillow or headrest without having your headphones get it in the way. Okay, now for the downsides and they all involved in the battery packing control part on the cord. First off, it's a little awkward to have the battery pack dangling from your phone. It's also worth noting that the battery isn't replaceable so once it [unk] out and someday it will, you basically left it with an MIE2i headphone with a dongle attached to it. And lastly, if you forget to turn off the noise cancellation, which I did a few times, you'll end up with a dead battery overnight. And with despite their drawbacks, I like these headphones a lot. Their sound may not measure up to competing $300 into your headphone. The sound good, are very comfortable to ear. It offer excellent noise cancellation. If I was a frequent traveler, I definitely be tempted to pick of a pair but wishing they cost less as I pulled out my credit card. I'm David Carnoy. Thanks for watching.