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Review Bose 700 Headphones - A Review

chris661

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2019
191
117
270
I've been using these headphones for a while in a variety of circumstances, and thought it was time for a bit of a write-up. I'm not affiliated with Bose in any way, but I do have a love/hate relationship with their products.

Rewind to mid-December last year, and I was out Christmas shopping in Sheffield city centre. There's a John Lewis shop there, and upstairs they have a selection of audio equipment which you're welcome to play with - presumably, so long as you don't find the biggest speakers and crank them to 11. I'd been thinking of picking up some noise cancelling headphones for a while, since I had a holiday coming up in January with some long-haul flights. So, I stopped off at the headphones section of John Lewis to see what was what. I'd tried the QC35s and the like before, and found them to be pretty good. The sound was a little bass-heavy, perhaps, but the noise cancellation was decent. Next to the QC35s (might be the MkII, can't remember now) were the Bose 700 series headphones, which I hadn't seen before. They looked great, and had a nice solid feel in my hands. Putting them on was an experience: you don't realise how much background noise you were mentally dealing with, until it's gone. The air conditioning, escalators, and all other constant mechanical noises - gone. The general background din of people doing their Christmas shopping - gone. Listening carefully, I could pick out a few voices from people that were nearby, but that was about it.

A quick demo revealed decent sound. Very very decent, in fact, but there's only so much time you can spend listening intently to music in the middle of the crowds, so I moved on and got on with my day.

Later in December, with the days until my holiday counting down, I picked up these headphones lightly-used but basically mint. Unfortunately, they didn't come with the cables or case that would otherwise be supplied with a new set. That's okay, though - aftermarket ones are available for sensible money.

Since then, I've used them frequently and found them consistently excellent.

On long-haul flights, the noise cancellation was very welcome and worked really well. I suspect that flights are home ground for these headphones, but the attenuation was still impressive. Even moreso, when I tried them during takeoff and found they cut most of the noise of 4x jets at 100% thrust. The 3.5mm to 2.5mm cable needed an adapter to get audio from the plane to my ears, but with that in place I could enjoy a movie without the background noise. Lovely.

Most of the time, I listened to music, stored or streamed, from an LG G7 and a Bluetooth connection. These headphones work just fine if you connect just via Bluetooth, but if you download the relevant app, you gain additional controls such as a 0-10 scale for noise cancellation, overall volume, checking battery level, etc etc etc. The app is easy to use and works well, which is pleasing. I've known apps by HiFi manufacturers to be flaky at best and useless at worst, so Bose has done well here. There's the option to integrate the headphones with a larger multi-room system, but I don't have anything to test that with.

I also made an interesting discovery recently, when I plugged the headphones into my laptop to charge. They showed up as an audio output device and I could play music through them once I'd switched the headphones on. Neat stuff. There doesn't seem to be any indication of that option in the manual, but there you go.

In use, the touch panel on the right earcup is nice and responsive once you've learnt the controls. The buttons are a little easy to press when you're putting the headphones on, but that's about my only complaint. The build feels nice and solid - they give the impression that they'll last a good long time.

So, after all that, how do they sound?

In a word, excellent. I'm sure you'd like to know a bit more than that, though, so I'll continue:
First of all, the low-mid-high balance is spot-on. I keep my HiFi system nice and flat (measurement mic etc) and these headphones match that tonality well. A lot of headphones fall down at this first, but crucial hurdle, usually by having over-blown bass which swamps the rest of the music. That sort of thing can be impressive for a short demo, but quickly becomes irritating - there's more to life than bass and kick drums.
Apart from the tonal balance, the sound is very detailed with excellent stereo imaging. You get a very good account of what's there in the recording in terms of the tonality and texture of each instrument, as well as its placement in the stereo field. Double-tracked instruments, for example, are very obviously two separate takes in the studio, instead of being blurred into one. Try Morphine - Buena for an example of this. Count the saxophones.
That doesn't mean they're over-analytical and tear the music apart into its component pieces, though. It's still music, and the information is delivered if you want to listen for it. You could, equally, kick back and just let the music wash over you.

As a sound engineer, I'd be happy to mix on these if good monitor speakers weren't available. It's easy to hear small changes to background instruments, which makes mixing a very easy job. A definite five stars in my opinion.

Chris
 

simonali

Well-known member
Aug 8, 2006
186
46
18,620
Sound good. I listened to the QC35s and the Sony MX2s back to back and found the sound very similar. I plumped for the Sony ones because they seemed less plasticky in construction.

I've not tried them with a PC but they refuse to turn on if they're charging from a wall outlet and can only be used passively.
 

Slothy

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2019
30
15
45
Thanks for the great review. I have recently returned the B&W PX5’s as they sounded so dull and lifeless. Need to find an outlet where I can audition these once we’re back to normal. Cheers.
 

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