If you’re looking for headphones that will cut the world out and keep the music in, then this Bose QuietComfort 45 review is the right place to be because these are some of the best noise-cancelling headphones out there right now.
We've been waiting a long time for these headphones. They're replacing the Bose QuietComfort 35 II (otherwise known as Bose QC35 II) which were released way back in 2017, and happily, the Bose QuietComfort 45 didn’t disappoint – they're up there with the best Bose headphones the company has ever released.
Keeping things simple and comfortable, the Bose QuietComfort 45 block out most of the distractions around you and they’re some of the best wireless headphones you can buy in a more general sense as well. Bose has done it yet again, cementing itself as a top-tier audio brand that is very hard to beat.
Bose QuietComfort 45 review: price and what's new
You can buy the Bose QuietComfort 45 now from a number of retailers from across the web, take a look at the widgets on this page to see where. They start from $329 in the US, £319 in the UK and AU$499 in Australia.
The Bose QuietComfort 45 are relatively pricey headphones, even though their launch price is ever-so-slightly cheaper than their predecessors.
So what’s new? Well, they offer a longer battery life, a few design tweaks and a brand new noise-cancelling mode.
The design hasn’t had a massive overhaul but the small changes Bose has made make the headphones look that little bit more premium - the pleats and puckers have been removed from the ear cushions while the gaps have been taken out in the build, so now they're smooth all over.
The Bose QC35 II headphones were heavily praised for how effective their ANC was - so naturally, you’d expect big things from the next generation. The Bose QC45 actually feature a brand new noise-cancelling mode, that being the Aware Mode which is similar to the Transparency modes you find on other ANC headphones. It lets in some of the noise in your surroundings like the sound of traffic, for example, but balances it better with your music.
With any upgrade in headphones, you’d expect improved sound performance. To give you a better audio experience, Bose has packed in their new TriPort acoustic architecture which consists of vents on the earcups to “add depth and fullness” to the sound, as well as Volume-optimised Active EQ which “boosts highs and lows to maintain the same high-fidelity performance”. Neither of these features were included in the Bose QC35 II.
There’s also 4 built-in microphones this time (as opposed to 3 before) which should boost call quality, and they also use the most recent Bluetooth 5.1 instead of Bluetooth 4.2 now as well to improve connectivity.
Bose QuietComfort 45 review: what’s in the box
Alongside the Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones, the box includes a zipped travel case to keep them in, a 3.5mm to 2.5mm audio cable to manually connect to devices and a USB-C cable to charge them. There’s also a Quick Start Guide to help you get set up.
Bose QuietComfort 45 review: design, build quality and battery
You can pick up a pair of the Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones in either black or white, and to cut right to the chase, these look and feel like a premium pair of headphones straight out of the box.
The cast-metal hinges seem strong and sturdy while the glass-filled nylon headband makes them seem pretty resistant to knocks and bumps as well, other than that, they are largely made from plastic but the matte finish makes them look quite luxurious. They come with a zipped travel case to protect them as well.
Comfort is key with over-ear headphones, and the Bose QuietComfort 45 are definitely a pair you can wear for a very long time. That’s partly because of the very smooth synthetic leather cushioning on the earcups and the headband, and the fact that the ear cups sit around your ears giving them plenty of room to breathe so they don’t get pressed up against your head.
At 240g, they are slightly heavier than the QC35 II which means they won’t be as comfortable for as long but even so, I was able to keep the Bose QC45 on for hours on end without any discomfort. Inside each ear cup, there are large L and R indicators letting you know which way around to wear them.
In terms of the onboard controls, Bose hasn’t tried to do anything fancy here, opting for physical buttons instead of unreliable touch controls.
The right earcup has a slider on the outside which switches them on and into pairing mode. It’s very easy to find without being able to see it. Towards the back of the same earcup, there’s a volume up button followed by the play/pause button and then the volume down button. These are less easy to find because they’re so small and placed so far back, I sometimes found myself fumbling around the back. You can also skip through tracks by pressing the pause/play button twice to go forwards or three times to skip backwards, or hold it down to summon your voice assistant - the Bose QC45 work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Bixby and Siri.
On the left ear cup, there’s a large Action button to switch between the noise-cancelling modes. When you press it, a voice lets you know which one you’re switching it to. You can also use it to mute your microphone on a call.
When it comes to the battery, you won’t be disappointed by the Bose QuietComfort 45. They give you about 24 hours of music with noise-cancelling switched on at about 50% volume. Through the Bose Music app, you can select how long they stay powered on before they automatically turn themselves off, it's good to have ways to conserve battery if and when you need to.
Charging them up again takes about 2.5 hours, although if you get caught short, a quick 15-minute charge will give you about 3 hours of playback. The really great thing is that if it charging them completely slips your mind, you won’t have to go without music as you can just plug them into your phone using the included audio cable (if your phone has a headphone jack or you have an adaptor, that is).
Bose QuietComfort 45 review: performance and smartphone app
Now onto what really matters - sound quality. The Bose QuietComfort 45 sound fantastic, you get plenty of detail from these cans but admittedly they aren’t going to win any awards for clarity because there are definitely headphones out there that do it better.
They aren’t overwhelming in any one area, they’re not overly bass-heavy nor are they too focused on the high-end. What they do offer is a clean, balanced sound which you can listen to for hours without feeling fatigued. In terms of tuning for the masses, these will suit the most types of listeners and music.
One quite major downside in my book is that there’s no way to manually adjust the EQ settings so you won’t be able to personalise the sound. At this price, that’s a feature I would expect to find.
To keep your focus on the music, there are two noise-cancelling modes: Quiet and Aware. The Quiet mode does a great job at cutting out outside noise almost completely, the Bose QC45 will be great to take with you on an aeroplane, or to an office when you need to cut out all of the chatter around you. When you do want to let some sound in, the Aware mode acts like the Transparency modes you find on other headphones, filtering the noise and balancing it with your music. You can still hear some of the sounds from your environment but it's less prominent than it would be without it.
An example of when that’ll be useful is when you’re out walking and you need to hear traffic noise. Some other headphones do take this feature further, giving you a choice in how much noise the transparency mode lets in, that would have been nice to have here especially given the fact that you can’t actually turn off the noise-cancelling entirely. That in itself is a definite mark against them.
The Bose Music app automatically picks up and connects to the headphones when you open it up and select the Headphones & Frames option. Through the app, you’ll be able to see the battery level of the Bose QC45, adjust the volume, see what’s playing, switch noise-cancelling modes and adjust the headphones’ settings.
As you’d expect from headphones at this price, the Bose QuietComfort 45 have excellent call quality thanks to the four in-built microphones. Both you and the person on the other end come across loud and clear, the headphones do a great job at isolating your voice and blocking out noise from your surroundings. You can even adjust how much of your own voice you hear during a call from the settings section in the Bose Music app.
Bose QuietComfort 45 review: verdict
If you want comfortable headphones with excellent noise-cancelling then the Bose QuietComfort 45 will be a good choice for a lot of people. The sound is inoffensive, clean and balanced, you won’t get pounding bass performance but you will be able to listen to your music for hours, and hours, and hours.
Keeping things simple Bose has chosen not to include some quite major features here like manual EQ settings or pausing the music when you take them off, or even the ability to turn off noise-cancelling. You also won’t be able to charge them and use them at the same time which is a minor annoyance. Given how expensive they are, it’s a shame that they haven’t gone a bit further when it comes to functionality.
These haven’t changed massively from the Bose QC35 II but the few areas that Bose has changed have made a big difference in how these feel to use. They’re incredibly comfortable and the noise-cancelling is some of the best I’ve ever heard, if not the best so, despite their flaws, I do still highly recommend them.
Bose QuietComfort 45 review: also consider
If you’re looking for headphones that pair great sound with an even smarter, more luxurious style, then the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are worth having on your shortlist. The steel headband and smooth, silky finish look incredibly sleek - and they’re actually cheaper than the QC45 as well.
The best noise-cancelling headphones you can buy are still the Sony WH-1000XM4, even though they’re slightly heavier and match these when it comes to the effectiveness of the ANC. There are two reasons why: they sound incredible and offer a full suite of extra features.
- These are some of the best true wireless earbuds you can buy