Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 vs Quiet Comfort 35 II Review

Your honey bunny snores. Your work colleague moans while he eats. And your flight to Sydney is 83 hours. Glad you’re here. Countless reviews have already been written about both of these Bose noise-cancelling headphones. So, this review is for those who are already familiar with at least one of these models, but are hesitant to pull the trigger. Which headphones will suit your noise-cancelling needs? And which sound signature works for your ears and listening style? Let’s find out in this Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 vs Quiet Comfort 35 II Review.

FIT

The 700 sits quite snugly over the ears, while the QC 35 II has a looser fit. So, even with the ANC turned off, the 700 offers better sound isolation. At the same time, some folks may prefer the more relaxed, unobtrusive feel of the QC 35 II. The QC 35 II is also the lighter headphone. Still, if you’re a sucker for pudgy, plush earpads, you’ll appreciate the more luxurious design of the 700.

One more thing. And this may be important for my friends with thinning hair. The headband on the two models are designed with different materials. The headband on the 700 is made from a rubbery, wipeable material. And the surface area of the padding is larger as well. So, it’s not only more comfortable for naked skulls, but it’s also easy to clean after a bit of sweating. In contrast, the padding on the QC 35 II is made from fabric, and it’s shorter in length. 

DESIGN

Battery

Both models offer 20 hours of battery life. But the 700 will give you 3.5 hours of usage after a 15 minutes charge, while the QC 325 II will only yield 2.5 hours of battery life in that time. TMI?

The other factor to note is the charging connection. The 700 uses the sturdier USB-C connection for charging, while the QC 35 II still uses micro-USB, which may be eventually phased out. And since you can flip a USB-C cable either way to connect, it’s also faster and requires less fiddling.

Of course, both headphones also come with 3.5mm cables for use in passive mode or for when you’re on a plane, watching Toy Story 12.

Call Clarity

Call clarity is better on the 700. The caller not only sounded more transparent, but there was less outside interference coming from my end. 

Active Noise-Cancellation

A few differences here. First, the level of noise-cancellation on the 700 is slightly more effective. For example, while the QC 35 II greatly reduced the hum of my air conditioner, the 700 almost completely eliminated it. That being said, passing trains and blood curdling screams will still be audible on both headphones.

Second, the 700 offers you a choice of 10 different levels of noise-cancellation (using the accompanying app), while the QC 35 II only offers two. Why is this important? Some people are sensitive to the ear pressure created by noise-cancelling frequencies. So, if you’re using these cans for extended periods, it’s nice to have some extra control over ANC strength.

Third, unlike the QC 35 II, the 700 offers an ambient mode. This mode amplifies the surrounding sound. So, you don’t have to take off your headphones while talking to your barista or your proctologist.

Finally, the ANC on the QC 35 II affects the bass profile, which can be a bummer for those looking for the natural Bose sound signature. Unlike the QC 35 II, the ANC on the 700 does not change the sound of the low-end. But more about that below.

(ANC can be switched off on both headphones).

Controls and Functionality

The 700 employs a touchpad on the earcup to control most of the functions, while the QC 35 II uses good ol’ fashioned buttons. The touchpad takes a little getting used to, and I don’t know how well it would work for those wearing gloves in the winter. However, if you love to swipe and tap, the 700 is the obvious choice. But apart from the ANC controls, both headphones offer the same functionality, including voice assistant.

Bluetooth

While the 700 supports the latest Bluetooth version 5, the QC 35 II only supports Bluetooth 4. Is this important? Well, in theory, Bluetooth 5 should give you better transmission and fewer dropped signals than Bluetooth 4. And if you commute in a big city among millions of other electronics users, Bluetooth 5 might be a more reliable choice.

Portability

The QC 35 II has the upper hand in this department. While the 700 only swivels flat, the QC 35 II swivels as well as folds into a little bundle. That being said, when the headphones are napping in their respective carrying cases, the size difference isn’t substantial. But if you tend to throw caution to the wind and drop your cans in a backpack without the case, the QC 35 II is the more portable choice.

SOUND

Lows

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 have one major advantage over the QC 35 II in this frequency range. Like most noise-cancelling headphones, the bass profile on the QC 35 II changes depending on whether the ANC is turned on or off. With the noise-cancellation switched on, the QC 35 II presents a thick and forward leaning bass. But once the ANC is off, the bass presence becomes more moderate or toned down. In contrast, the low-end on the 700 stays consistent regardless of whether the ANC is switched on or off. And this is one of Bose’s biggest improvements.

It is, therefore, unsurprising that when the ANC is active on both headphones, the QC 35 II displays a more powerful bass. Pop music has ample punch, and listening to rock, the low-end felt richer and warmer on the QC 35 II. So, if you mostly listen to modern genres or you like your lows to sound more lush and meaty, the QC 35 II is ideal. But if you suffer from bass anxiety, the 700 is a safer bet. The 700 also produces a cleaner sound. And while both models share a similar level of detail, listening to cellos, the 700 conveyed a slightly more realistic timbre. So, if you’re into classical music or acoustic instruments in general, the 700 may give you a more natural representation.

Mids

The 700 has a more even balance in this range, while the QC 35 II presents slightly emphasized upper mids. The result? Rock and pop-rock tracks will sound more full bodied and all-encompassing on the 700. In comparison, the QC 35 II will produce a more dynamic sound, where vocals sit more forward, and the contrast between the lows and highs is more pronounced. So, QC 35 II works well for pop music, as the balance adds vibrancy to the track. However, if you’re sensitive to harshness in the higher mids, the 700 will be an easier listening experience. 

And once again, the 700 presents a tidier sound, especially in the low-mids. Guitar strums in the lower frequencies, for example, sound more delineated on the 700 than they do on the QC 35 II. And since the separation on the 700 is better, the layering of instruments in heavy arrangements also sounds cleaner.

Highs

The 700 has more extension than the QC 35 II in this range. As a result, the 700 conveys more sparkle in the highs. And listening to pop, percussion will sound more crisp on the 700 as well. Take Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere, for example. The bells in the intro glisten on the 700, while they sound comparatively blunted on the QC 35 II. And the percussion in the song is also edgier on the 700. In addition, transparency is slightly better on the 700, which becomes most apparent when listening to classical music. Violin solos, for example, displayed more articulation and nuance on the 700.

Soundstage

You’ll get a more spacious soundstage on the 700 compared to the relatively compact sounding QC 35 II. The imaging is also more precise on the 700; gradations in depth, for example, are more defined on the 700. So, in general, the 700 offers a more colorful and multidimensional soundscape. 

SUMMARY

There’s no question that the 700 is the more skilled headphone of the two models. Cleaner and better balanced with a more natural sound overall, the 700 is hard to beat. It’s also a more versatile choice for folks who listen across a variety of genres. But of course, the 700’s superior quality is reflected in the $50-$100 price jump, depending on where you shop. And the difference in ANC effectiveness is marginal. So, if all you want is a little Taylor Swift and a more peaceful commute, the QC 35 II will certainly get the job done.

You can find both of these headphones for the best price here:

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, Black

Bose QuietComfort 35 II