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Bose QuietComfort 20 stereo headphones review

Bose QuietComfort 20 stereo headphones
The QC20 are similar to the Bose MIE2i and come with the same ear tips

Bose QuietComfort 20 stereo headphones review

Liked: Bose QuietComfort 20 are compact headphones that have good sound, are very comfortable to use and have excellent noise isolation. The external noise cancellation system in this model is active, and is powered by a built-in lithium-ion battery. Its full charge is enough for 16 hours of operation of the device.

Disliked: high price, sound inferior to some competing models in the same price range. The battery cannot be changed.

Bottom line: Even with some criticisms and a high price, the Bose QuietComfort 20 are the best active noise-cancelling in-ear headphones. For avid travelers, they represent a good "compact" alternative to full-size models, such as the Bose QuietComfort 15.

This model comes in two modifications - the standard QC20 and designed for use with Apple QC20i gadgets. They both cost the same, $300. Are the Bose QuietComfort 20 headphones worth the money? Well, first I will list their advantages, and then I will definitely point out the disadvantages. Whether you buy this model or not is up to you.

Arguments for

For starters, the Bose QuietComfort 20 headphones are very secure in the ear and very comfortable to wear. They weigh about 43 grams and come with a small zippered carrying case. This makes them very attractive to travelers.

The headphone design is reminiscent of the Bose MIE2i and doesn't have to be pushed deep into the ear like some other stereo phones in this class. On the contrary, they sit quite loosely, which is what makes them so comfortable for extended wear.

The earbuds are built to match TriPort's signature design to retain enough space for Bose sound technology as well as two active noise canceling microphones. As in all similar models, the system captures any external noise - be it the roar of train wheels or the noise of aircraft turbines - and returns the same signal in antiphase. Due to this, the noise completely disappears, and you can listen to music in relative silence. The corresponding sound processor used in the QuietComfort 20 headphones is patented by Bose.

The QuietComfort 20 headphones come with StayHear+ elastic ear tips in three different sizes and are equipped with locking "wings". I started with the largest inserts, which fit the best and made the noise isolation even more effective. The lithium-ion battery is built into the control box on the cable. It charges via a standard Micro-USB cable and Bose claims up to 16 hours of battery life. Unlike the QC15 model, these headphones will work even when the battery is completely discharged - of course, without active noise cancellation. I note that the sound in the "passive" mode is very good, but when the noise reduction system is turned on, it becomes more dynamic and saturated.

At the junction of the cables from the left and right headphones is a second small control unit for volume control. There is also a microphone for talking on the phone and a button for Aware Mode. When the latter is activated, the external noise suppression system is turned off, and you can hear what is happening around you - for example, announcements over the speakerphone on board the aircraft. This is a very useful feature, and in general, in my opinion, the headphones proved to be excellent as a headset for the phone.

The active noise cancellation system in this model is impressive. You would never think that in-ears with such a loose fit in the ear and letting in so much sound from the outside would be able to work well with noise cancellation. However, this model can Being on the streets of the metropolis at rush hour with these headphones, I almost did not hear the surrounding noise, which should be recognized as an excellent result.

Bose QuietComfort 20 stereo headphones
The control unit and the battery are mounted on the headphone cable (the battery is not replaceable)


Like the rest of the Bose headphones, the sound quality of the QuietComfort 20 is good, but not great. The general character of the sound of stereo phones can be called smooth. This means that it is suitable for listening to any music, both in terms of genres and the quality of the recording itself - both well-recorded and not so good. The sound is comfortable and pleasant, but not too detailed. And although there is plenty of bass here, its quality is also only satisfactory.

Of course, if the headphones use active noise cancellation and the associated digital audio signal processing, then the sound quality does not benefit from this. These stereo phones usually don't sound as good as regular phones, and sometimes high-frequency noise is heard in them (minimum in the case of the QuietComfort 20). In other words, if sound quality is the most important thing in the world to you, then maybe you shouldn't buy headphones with active noise cancellation, and there are many regular in-ear headphones in this price range that outperform the QuietComfort 20. These are not stereo phones that will make you listen to the entire music collection while sitting at home, but a good choice for the traveler.

Bose QuietComfort 20 stereo headphones
The earbuds can be stored in the handy carrying case that comes with the kit.

But while I have other, better-sounding headphones at my disposal, I found myself enjoying using the QC20 on a daily basis due to their exceptional comfort and good isolation from street noise.

Bose QuietComfort 20 stereo headphones
Elastic ear tips

I also tested the headphones on an airplane and while the QC15's noise canceling was better, the Q20's were much more comfortable for extended listening. In addition, since these are in-ear headphones, you can put your head on the headrest cushion without fear that they will come off. Of course, the small dimensions of the QC20 make it very possible to accidentally lose them, but I know people who have forgotten much larger items in the front seat pocket on the plane, including the iPad and QC15

Arguments against

As for criticism, it all concerns the battery and the control unit on the cable. First of all, it's pretty weird to have the battery dangling from the headphone cord. It will turn out to be even more unpleasant when the built-in battery fails (and this will happen sooner or later) - due to the impossibility of replacing it, you will receive MIE2i headphones with an already unnecessary block on the wire. When I asked Bose about this, I received the following response:

"The lithium-ion battery cannot be replaced. When fully charged, the battery provides up to 16 hours of device operation and is designed for 500 charge / discharge cycles. With intensive use of the headphones, charging will occur every 2-3 days, that is, the battery will last for 3 years of using the headphones. After 500 charge/discharge cycles, the battery will still function and the active noise cancellation in the headphones will work, although the run time will be reduced.All lithium-ion batteries have these characteristics."

By the way, if you forget to turn off the noise reduction system (as I did several times), the battery will be completely discharged. With such a cost of headphones, it would be possible to come up with some kind of scheme for auto-shutdown of electronics when they are not in use.

Conclusion

Despite the noted shortcomings, I really liked the Bose QC20. Their sound may be inferior to the usual $300 in-ear headphones, but overall they are good. In addition, stereo phones are very comfortable to wear and are equipped with an excellent system for suppressing external noise. In addition, they take up minimal space in your luggage.

Many people will consider the cost of these headphones overpriced, and they will be right in their own way. But for a certain category of users who are interested in purchasing stereo phones, QC20 is a very tempting proposition. On the other hand, if you're a frequent traveler and don't want to carry large over-ear headphones like the QuietComfort 15 or the Beats Studio 2013 (which sound better but have lesser noise cancellation), then the QC20 is a good alternative. It will also be a good choice for those who would like a model with good active noise cancellation, but don't want to wear overhead stereo phones.

However, please note that as soon as the built-in battery fails, the noise reduction system will stop working forever. If that doesn't bother you, and the QC20's price doesn't sound intimidating, then I don't see any reason not to recommend these headphones.

Bose QuietComfort 20 Stereo Phone Key Features:

Type: headphone with microphone

Construction: in-ear

Noise Reduction System: Active

Volume control on the cable: yes

Color: dark gray

Vest: 43 grams

Sound: stereo

Connector type: mini-jack 3.5 mm

Extras: StayHeart inserts, battery level indicator, volume control, call answer button

Complete set: 3 pairs of ear inserts of different sizes, a carrying case, a control block.



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