Bose Quiet Comfort 20i review

Can the Bose Quiet Comfort 20i noise cancelling shut the outside world out?

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Pocket friendly

  • +

    Noise cancelling

  • +


Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Audio performance

  • -


Why you can trust T3 Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Are the Bose Quiet Comfort 20i earphones the perfect travel partner for people who don't want to lug a huge pair of headphones around?

While competition remains minimal - £65 Audio-Technica ANC33iS or £449 Sony XBA-NC85D about it for now - the Bose Quiet Comfort 20i remain the best in-ear noise cancelling headphones available.

The slimmed down processing unit and battery pack makes them surprisingly pocketable while the super soft ear hook buds offer up a secure, comfortable fit that is every bit as welcome on the daily commute as it is flying long haul.

At £249 they're not cheap but can the Lilliputian noise cancelling technology make you part with your cash and put a little quiet time in your commute?

Bose Quiet Comfort 20i: Size and build

As you'd hope for £250, and expect from Bose, the Quiet Comfort 20i are well made with durable cables, connectors and solid in-line mic buttons.

The 9cm long battery pack is thin and light and, thanks to its position just a few centimetres away from the jack, the extra weight doesn't pull the buds from your ears as you move about.

The battery pack is also coated in soft rubber with rounded corners so there's no danger of it scratching your phone if tucked in the same pocket.

On the battery there's a micro USB charging socket and power switch, and while no huge issue, it's a shame the switch was with the other in-line controls as it was easy to forget to switch off and drain the battery.

Bose Quiet Comfort 20i: Comfort

With drivers no larger than standard in-ear headphones - impressive given they house the ANC mics - combined with the superb Bose StayHear tips the Bose Quiet Comfort 20i are extremely comfortable.

The silicon ear hooks are softer than most, but provide an excellent fit. We soon forgot we were wearing them, something that never happens with a pair of over-ear noise cancellers.

Annoyingly we did manage to lose the shirt clip within about five minutes, which meant the in-line buttons did weigh the ear buds down. The headphones stayed in place (just) without, but the clip is well worth looking after.

Bose Quiet Comfort 20i: Noise cancelling

For a pair of in-ear headphones the noise cancelling on the Bose Quiet Comfort 20i is nothing short of miraculous, gobbling huge amounts of ambient noise without the need for ear bleeding volume.

We shouldn't be surprised as nobody does Active Noise Cancelling as well as Bose, and the combination of portability and performance meant a week of eerily quiet train journeys.

The in-ear design also somehow manages to completely eliminate the goldfish bowl feeling you get with many over-ear noise cancelling designs. There's also very little hiss if you use the ANC without listening to music.

One battery charge lasts around 16hours, hopefully generous enough to see you to work and back for a week without recharging.

Bose Quiet Comfort 20i: Sound quality

As with virtually every pair of Bose, the sound quality on the Quiet Comfort 20i is safe, smooth and perfectly acceptable. Don't expect an exciting, or especially detailed listen, but combined with the superior noise cancelling technology the overall effect is impossible to hate.

Sure, once the background chatter of the commute has been nullified a little more dynamism and detail would be nice, but we're grateful to actually be able to hear our music without the need for turning the volume up. An hour on the Tube listening to music would usually leave our ears ringing, but the Bose Quiet Comfort 20i left us pleasantly relaxed. Yes, relaxed, on the Tube.

Bose Quiet Comfort 20i: Verdict

If you're looking for a pair of in-ear headphones to help take the edge off a chaotic commute you'll not find better than the Bose Quiet Comfort 20i. Unlike the bulky over-ear designs the ear buds are lightweight and comfortable and they fit in your pocket instead of needing extra carry-on luggage for the travel case.

For £259 those expecting flawless audio performance will be left disappointed, but if all you desire is a little quiet time on your commute, peace on a plane or even silence in Sainsbury's the Quiet Comfort 20i are worth every penny.

Bose Quiet Comfort 20i: Out now

Bose Quiet Comfort 20i: £259.95