Bose QuietComfort 2 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones

Bearable 14-hour international flights? With these Bose noise-cancelling headphones to cut down the engine noise, we may have found a jetlag antidote.

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Former editor of CNET Australia, Pam loves being in the thick of the ever-growing love affair (well addiction, really) that Australians have with their phones, digital cameras, flat screen TVs, and all things tech.

Australian travellers are stuck - getting anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere means suffering through at least five movies and three cardboard airline meals. But although they're very expensive, these Bose QuietComfort 2 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones are a great investment for those frequent flyers trying to overcome boredom and jetlag.

The QuietComfort 2 is a traditional full-sized, over-the-ear headset with soft leather cushioning over both ear cups as well as on the top of the adjustable headband. The ear cups swivel and fold flat into a zippered case that is slightly bigger than a CD wallet, so travellers will find them easy to pack in a carry-on bag. The case also holds a pouch for two included adapters (a dual 3.5mm jack used by some airlines and a 6.3mm jack for home stereos) and an extension cord.

The headphones are marked left (L) and right (R), so you can't put them on backwards. Once you've adjusted the headband to a comfortable position, you only need to turn on the power switch, which is located on the right ear cup. The noise reduction will begin working whether you are connected to an audio source or not because the noise-cancelling circuitry is built into the headphones themselves, not a little box incorporated into the cord.

Once you've inserted the headphone plug into the jack on your audio source, there's only one more setting to take note of. There is a Hi/Lo switch on the audio attenuator which can be used to adjust the output volume of different sources. You should use 'Lo' for airline audio or devices using A/C power and 'Hi' for battery-powered portable devices. The attenuator inserts cleverly into an opening on the left ear cup so that it is flush with the side of the cup. There is no volume control on the headphones themselves, so you must use the controls on the audio source.

The QuietComfort 2's run on a single AAA battery which resides in the right ear cup. The last thing you want is the battery dying mid-flight, but thankfully the battery life averages 35 hours, depending on usage. We panicked a bit when the battery life indicator started flashing four hours out from landing on my demo set, but they stayed the distance. Bose says the indicator kicks in with five hours of battery life remaining. This is a crucial concern because, unlike the Sony MDRNC11 noise cancelling headphones, when the battery dies on the Bose unit, you lose everything - noise cancellation and music. You can use rechargeable batteries if you wish, but expect only about half the life of an alkaline battery and note that the indicator light does not work with rechargeable batteries.

OK, for $599, what about the sound? Let's start with the sounds you don't get. While it isn't exactly a complete 'cone of silence', the noise cancelling feature cut out engine drone to a remarkable extent - so much so, that when you take them off, you'll wonder how the other poor passengers without them are able to cope with all the racket. You can still hear the captain's announcements over the PA, but you will have to take them off to hear the flight attendant's offer of "chicken or beef".

The sounds you do hear are worthy of equal kudos - the airline audio channels came through with surprising clarity, including rich base and treble detail that you would expect from a high-end home system. As the latest Jackie Chan movie held little appeal, I had a very enjoyable, relaxing trip perusing several of the audio channels, something never attempted before using the airline freebie headsets.

The other good news is that they are comfortable enough to sleep with them on your head - the soft cushioning fits snugly over your ears without being cumbersome over many hours. I can't honestly attribute it solely to the Bose headphones, but I've never been less affected by jetlag on numerous previous Australia-US excursions. Just say, I'm a believer.

The downside - other passengers in-the-know will covet your QuietComfort 2s, so don't leave them unguarded. The guy in the seat behind me had borrowed a pair before and was kicking himself for not having them on this trip.

And of course the whopping price tag is a definite hurdle. Bose heavily promotes these headphones in in-flight magazines and Skymall catalogues for US$299, so depending on the exchange rate, you may want to try to pick up a pair while you're overseas.

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Matt posted a comment   

The Good:Comfort, Noise Cancelling

The Bad:Cost, Replacement Parts, Bulk

Paid $500 for a set of these. They only come with a 1 yr warrenty. A couple of years later the ear cups started disintergrating, leaving small black bits of plastic over my clothes, not what I expected after paying so much for them in the first place. It would cost $100 to replace the ear cups. They are comfortable when wearing them normally but I have trouble falling asleep on the plane with them on because they are so bulky.


Brett posted a comment   

The Good:Extremely comfortable, good sound quality

The Bad:Average noise cancelling, poor quality design

I bought a pair of QC2's because I wanted a slightly high-end set of headphones to use in any occasion.

The comfort from these makes me want to wear them 24/7 and the sound quality is as you would expect from a pair of Bose headphones (fantastic) although.

The noise cancelling is reasonably good for a pair of over the ear headphones but as I own a pair of ATH-ANC3's (which cut out just about every bit of noise imaginable with your music playing) the QC2's noise cancelling just doesn't cut it for me.

my MAJOR problem with the my QC2's is that one day when the cable was hanging down from my desk I got out of my chair and I kicked it putting reasonable pressure on the ends. That alone manage to break the cable, aesthetically there seems to be no damage but all I have to assume is that the joints are not as strong as they should be on the insides.

If you want good quality noise cancelling, buy in-ear earphones not over-the-ear headphones.
If you want good quality headphones at home in the same price range, the Grado 325i's are definately worth the investment.


John posted a review   

The Good:Great sound quality

The Bad:Weak shielding, Poor Construction, Unforgivable design

I've had QC2's for a few years now and for 90% of that time both sides of the headband have been wrapped in electrical tape. The materials used to construct these headphones just don't stand up to normal use (taking the headphones on and off) and the cheap plastic Bose used started cracking almost immediately.

QC2's are also very poorly shielded. If you plan on using these headphones while commuting via public transportation be prepared to deal with a lot of annoying 'GSM buzz' every time someone sends an SMS.

In the positive side, both the sound quality and the noise cancellation are great. It's just a shame that you have to deal with such significant drawbacks for such a pricey product.


Electrical Engineer posted a comment   

Some people writing these reviews have misunderstood how noise cancelling technology works. It is a statistical algorithm that is only capable of cancelling regular repetitive noise. Thus, it cannot cancel irregular sounds such as people talking, but can cancel the drone of a plane or air conditioner.


incorrect posted a reply   

That is totally incorrect. Noise cancellation is not an algorithmic process statistical or otherwise. See ANC basically just inverts the background sound and plays it through the headphones. The repetitive nature of the sound (or otherwise) is irrelevant.


Double Incorrect posted a reply   

And you're totally incorrect for trusting Wikipedia. That ain't even a reliable source. Say if someone write an essay or something, and quote Wikipedia as a source. It's the same thing as not quoting it.


Degr8n8 posted a review   

The Good:Very nice case. Good sound. Semi good sound canceling. Very comfortable. Sound canceling doesnt need to be on in order to block out really quiet sounds.

The Bad:Bulky. You hear a squeeking sound everytime you turn your neck. Sound canceling should be better for the price.
Low quality material (MADE IN CHINA)<----Thought that was funny because it was $300

I just got this product a couple of days ago. When I first put them on I was completely disapointed at them considering that i expected far more from the noise cancelation. I could still hear my brother,sister and mom talking to me, even the tv. Then I began to think of it how is this thing worth 300 bucks. Then I decided to test out he sound and I was much happier because with the music on I noticed that i couldnt hear anyone talking to me which did make me a bit happier but i was still mad because i didnt want to listen to music 24/7 and damage my ears which would make the headphones completely pointless. Overall i decided to keep them because of the semi awsome sound quality and knowing that these headphones had one of the best soundcanceling on the market.


Ignorant Aussie posted a reply   

Hmmph! Very funny that cuz it's Made in China, something like this being $300 is a lot for you. Kinda same as saying Made In China products are meant to be low quality and cost cheap. I paid a visit to Brisbane 1 week ago paying a International student friend a visit, just before the awesome monsoon season came, and the tidal waves and tsunami-like waters **** most of Queensland up. I went in an organic store in town with my friend, brought a bag of cucumbers, and was told it's local grown, so Made In Australia as it was. 3 cucumbers for merely **** Blows, it's funny because hey it's in Australia, mate. And the only reason in 5 years time, aussie look back at their economy and say **** why did we change policy for immigration. Since queensland depend over 50% economically, financially on annual International students. Now they cut it between 2010/2011, in 50 years the whole **** state is gonna be under the ocean, for **** sake.


NoBob posted a review   

The Good:Just switched on, they're effective at cutting out background drone (some voices, hiss of doors opening, footsteps on hard floor, etc still get through though).

When watching CDs on the notebook and listening to music, any outside noise fades away and you're in a bubble.

In the shop I bought them from, the assistant played simulated aircraft cabin noise. With the QC2's on, the noise reminded me of the low sound of room air-conditioning.

Prefer the surround ear style of the QC2s over the QC3s. Plus I didn't hear much difference between the noise-cancelling system of the QC2 and QC3.

The Bad:Sleeping in them won't be that easy. The ear cups press against your head. Suppose if you hung your head over a pillow...

Price - paid 299 Euros.

Got a pair of QC2 2nd editions. Used them on a return trip from Paris on Eurostar and a UK train.


jimmort posted a review   

The Good:effective noise cancellation, comfortable, good audio reproduction.

The Bad:pricey, a little bulky

excellent travelling companion. great for giving the hint to chatterbox adjacent passenger.

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User Reviews / Comments  Bose QuietComfort 2 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones

  • Matt


    "Paid $500 for a set of these. They only come with a 1 yr warrenty. A couple of years later the ear cups started disintergrating, leaving small black bits of plastic over my clothes, not what I expe..."

  • Brett


    "I bought a pair of QC2's because I wanted a slightly high-end set of headphones to use in any occasion.

    The comfort from these makes me want to wear them 24/7 and the sound quality ..."

  • John



    "I've had QC2's for a few years now and for 90% of that time both sides of the headband have been wrapped in electrical tape. The materials used to construct these headphones just don't stand up to..."

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