Bose NC700 Headphones review

The NC700 comes with upgraded styling and features, as seen in the sound quality and ANC department.
(Updated on July 18, 2021)

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Rating

Pros

Cons

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bose nc700 headphones silver

8.7

  • Excellent active noise cancellation

  • Modern design

  • Intuitive touch controls

  • 20+ hrs. of battery

  • Ample comfort

  • Mic captures audio clearly

  • Ambient mode

  • Improvement in audio quality

  • Priced slightly higher than its rivals

  • Earcups don't fold

Our Conclusion

A few years ago, Bose held the title for producing the best noise-cancelling headphones in the market. But a lot has changed since then. When compared to the QC35 II, the Bose NC700 has made noticeable improvements in terms of noise cancelling, sound quality, and call quality too.

The sound performance is still amazing with voice assistant functionality, touch controls, and some of the leading active noise cancellation performance. When Sony’s WH-1000XM4 was launched, its ANC performance was deemed the best. And even after the launch of Bose’s Noice Cancelling Headphones 700, this hasn’t changed. The Bose NC700 is an excellent pair of ANC headphones but it will take a little more to take back the title.


Build Quality and Design

bose nc700 headphones review

The Bose NC700 headphones are available in 3 colourways – black, silver, and soapstone. The design language of the NC700 is minimal and striking. It has a decorative and stylish headband that is well-cushioned to sit pleasantly on your head.

They have circumaural or over-ear earcups meaning that they completely surround your ears. Thus promoting passive noise isolation by creating a good seal. The fit of these headphones is pretty comfortable. The faux leather earpads manage to passively block out a lot of the noise before the ANC is turned on.

The earpads also provide a comfortable and stable fit for several hours. The earcups’ outer surfaces have a matte-like finish. The back of the right earcup has a touch-sensitive control pad. And surround the same earcup are the power buttons, a voice assistant button, and a LED indicator.

The ANC button is seen on the left earcup housing along with an aux-in port headphone cable which is included in the box.

bose nc700 headphones soapstone colourway side view

When the headphone runs out of power, you can still continue using them passively in wired mode. The Bluetooth automatically turns off if you connect the wire while the headphones are on. Unplug the wire and the device automatically goes into Bluetooth pairing mode.

You won’t find a remote or a microphone on the cable as they aren’t present. Unfortunately, this means that you can’t use on-ear controls.

The difference in audio output in active and passive wired modes is clear. The bass frequencies are more powerful in active mode. The included USB-A to USB-C charging cable connects to the charging port located on the bottom of the right earcup. You are also provided with a convenient, well-made travel case for the headphones and cables.


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Battery Life and Overall Feel

bose nc700 headphones silver

Talking about the battery life, Bose claims it to last for about 20 hours which is quite conservative. Especially when compared to similar products like the Sony WH-XB900N that deliver over 35 hours of playtime. However, you’ll find that the Bose NC700 lasts over 20 hours in most cases. But your experience will differ based on the volume you listen to music at, and the usage of features like ANC.

Even with the highest level of ANC that is 10, the battery lasts an estimated 20 hours. So if you lower the ANC level then you may be able to use them longer. The app also lets you set a timer to turn the headphones off automatically after a set period. Fortunately, this time they’re using USB-C port/cable.

In terms of comfort and feel: these are a delightful pair of headphones with an enjoyable sound signature. You are bound to have a great overall experience. They’re lightweight, durable, stylish, have intuitive controls and feel amazing when worn.

The design language of the NC700 makes the QC35 II and the Sony WH-1000XM4 look dated. Are they worth the price? Maybe. But one thing is for sure, these are a great looking pair of headphones. Far from the generic design of headphones today.


How’s the Sound Quality of the Bose 700?

bose nc700 headphones and accessories

Coming to the most important aspect: the sound quality. The Bose NC700 headphones don’t possess any high-quality, low-latency codecs but still manage to deliver an attractive sound. It must be noted that the Bose app lets you adjust the sound profile using the built-in equalizer.

Out of the box, these headphones are slightly tuned to boost the low-end (bass) frequencies. So if you don’t like that sound signature, you can go into the app and change them to your liking. Compared to the Bose QC35 II, the NC700 does sound a little more pleasant.

The lower frequencies are tuned but are also evenly distributed. The vocals or mids are precisely attenuated which prevent them from getting harsh. The sound signature is neutral or balanced with some amplification on the low-end. The combination of the kick and bass to form the bassline is quite audible, punchy and powerful. It doesn’t hide the midrange or vocals.

This is what makes the vocals of a track sound great. The treble range of frequencies or highs is also manipulated beautifully to produce clear instrumentals.

How does it compare to the Sony WH-1000XM4?

bose nc700 headphones colourways

Sony’s WH-1000XM4 has achieved a high level of ANC performance and many would agree with that. It manages to provide a great sound experience with its active noise-cancelling capabilities.

Bose’s team must have had to put a lot of effort into redesigning the microphones, in the headphones to improve the noise-cancelling ability. And to take it to a level comparable to Sony’s XM4. Bose’s recent ANC performance in the NC700 does rival the XM4.

The ANC works brilliantly. It effectively controls the noise of an AC or any random sound, before relaying the audio to your ears.

While the Bose NC700 provides accurate noise-cancelling while also allowing you to fine-tune the level of ANC. The Sony WH-1000XM4 accomplishes more reliable cancellation of sounds in the low end of the sound spectrum. This is where most of the ambient noise falls.


Noise Cancellation: Bose vs Sony

bose nc700 headphones silver bottom view

Both Bose and Sony have been going at each other for noise-cancelling domination. For a while now, Sony had gained the upper hand with its WH-1000XM3, and now the XM4. The Bose NC700’s noise-cancelling capabilities have exceeded the QuietComfort 35 II, and it’s on par with Sony’s headphones.

The effectiveness of either of those brands’ ANC depends on the type of noise you are facing. Accordingly, in certain situations, you may find one to be more effective than the other.

When it comes to AC sounds that reside in the lower end of the sound spectrum, both Bose’s NC700 and Sony’s XM4 does well. But Sony does it slightly better. Some of us may be more susceptible to the pressure feeling of ANC technology. Thankfully, Bose allows you to change the level of noise cancellation anywhere from 0-10.

Sony also lets you do that via its app, but it requires you to turn off adaptive sound control before proceeding. During commute too the headphones perform exceedingly; filtering out noises found in those environments. Ultimately, there is no clear winner when it comes to noise-cancelling. Safe to say, neither of these devices would disappoint you in this department.


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Bose Connect app and Touch Controls

bose connect app
Bose app (source: engadget.com)

To unlock the full potential of the Bose NC700, you must install the Bose Music app. Upon launching the app, you’ll be taken through the setup process in a simple and easy to understand method. If you use the app on an Android phone, you’ll receive a small drop-down card that will let you instantly pair with the headphones. And set up the Google Assistant in the same process.

Once the connection is established, you can go about testing and setting the level of active noise cancellation (0-10) that you prefer. You can also change the name of the device if you so wish.

Another neat feature is the ability to switch devices from inside the app. If you have multiple devices connected, you can create a Bose account and make it easier to switch between saved devices.

This allows you to pick which device’s audio do you want the headphones to play. You can quickly go from listening to music on your phone to watching a movie on your laptop. The app also lets you set which Assistant (Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, iOS‘ Siri) you want to launch when you press the custom button.

bose nc700 headphones silver front view

The NC700 is the first Bose headphone that has implemented touch controls. The touchpad is present on the right side of the right earcup. Generally, touch controls on headphones become slightly unresponsive during cold weather, as the users of Sony WH-1000XM3 users had complained. The Bose team has tested touch controls of the NC700 to work accurately in the cold.

These are the gestures for the following controls – 
#1
– Double-tapping lets you play/pause the music
#2 – Swiping your finger up or down, increases or decreases the volume respectively
#3 – Swiping forward or backwards allows you to skip or rewind tracks
#4 – Single tap-and-hold gives you a battery life alert

Headphones with touchpads often unintentionally register a touch and pause the audio, it is a convenient counter-measure to have the double-tap gesture for playing or pausing the audio. You can also customize the tap-and-hold gesture to launch the voice assistants when the wake word (eg. OK Google) is used.

During calls – 
#1 – Single tap answers the call
#2 – Tap-and-hold declines the call
#3 – Pressing the voice assistant button during a call mutes the mic

Overall, the touch controls are pretty intuitive and easy to operate. Since the firmware update (v1.4.12) of May 2020, you can now set a custom EQ in the Bose Connect app.


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Additional Specs

Over-ear (circumaural) design
Available in black, silver, and soapstone colourways
Touch controls
Fully charges in 2.5 hours
Quick charge time: 15 min for 3.5 hours
Battery life: Up to 20 hours
USB-C charging
Upgraded eight-microphone system
11 levels (0-10) of noise cancellation
Touch gesture for Voice Assistants
Ambient mode
In-app EQ
Over-the-air (OTA) updates
Bluetooth 5.0
Supports SBC and AAC codecs
Weight: 254g

Who are the Bose NC700 headphones for?

Commuters – People that travel, be it for exploration purposes or just getting to your place of work. If the commotion of a busy street, sounds of planes, trains and other vehicles bother you, then the ANC feature will serve you well.

People that want the best – Headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM4 and the Bose NC700 come with all the bells and whistles. Regardless of which one you choose, you are promised an amazing experience that is worth your money.


Here is why you should consider getting the Bose NC700?

bose nc700 headphones soapstone colourway front view

The incredibly unique design and attractive styling are what makes the Bose Noise Cancelling 700 so desirable. But it is not all about the looks, the upgraded noise-cancelling, touch controls, etc. are also what contributes to its appealing nature.

The Bose QC35 II are unmistakably more comfortable and portable thanks to its foldable design. Though, in terms of overall noise-cancelling performance, the Sony WH-1000XM4 wins. And Sony also has higher quality codec support.

That said, we can’t dismiss the improvements that the Bose team has made in its ANC technology and sound quality, putting it on par with Sony. The NC700 are positively a step in the right direction.


What are some alternatives?

bose nc700 headphones black side view

The Bose NC700 is an undeniably great pair of headphones and they are priced accordingly. However, if you aren’t willing to spend that much money they take a look at some of the headphones from Sony.

The WH-XB900N and the WH-CH710N both offer wonderful active noise cancelling performance, are well-built, while also providing good battery life and sound quality. The best part is that they’re also priced lower than the Bose NC700. You can also check out some of the previous Bose models like the QC25. The AKG N700NC is another attractive over-ear headphone that delivers excellent active noise cancellation (ANC).


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