Bose QuietComfort 3 headphones

With a smaller form factor and rechargeable battery, Bose has extended the portability and appeal beyond air travel with the QuietComfort 3 headphones.


9.0
CNET Rating
7.2
User Rating

View more from Bose »

About The Author

CNET Editor

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.


Several years ago when we first tested the Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones, it was love at first sound. Given their superb noise cancelling abilities, we liked them as much for the unwanted sounds they eliminated as the rich audio sound they did produce. Understandably, Bose wanted to expand on a good thing, but we wondered, would the companion QuietComfort 3 phones would live up to the standards set by the coveted QuietComfort 2s?

Design
The big difference in the QuietComfort 3 headphones is the smaller, on-ear design. Whereas the QuietComfort 2's larger earpiece completely envelops the outer ear, the QC3s fit snugly on top. The more compact design is especially useful for those who wear glasses, as there is less interference with the frame.

The other big change from the previous model is that rather than a AAA battery, the QuietComfort 3s have been designed to use a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that neatly slots into the design of the right ear cup. For added convenience, the headphones come with a spare battery and compact travel charger that fits right into a wall socket, so there's no need to carry an unwieldy power cable. The charger fits into the carry case, so it's easy enough to take with you and Bose scores points by including six plug adaptors -- for North America/Japan, China, Europe, Korea, UK/Hong Kong/Singapore, as well as Australia and New Zealand -- with the product, so recharging almost anywhere you travel is no problem. With two charged batteries that last close to 20 hours each, you shouldn't be caught without power (these headphones are useless without it), even on long journeys. The power switch indicator starts flashing when there are four hours of juice left, so you'll be able to gauge battery life too.

NOTE: If you want to purchase the QuietComfort 3 headphones in the US where they are priced at US$349, be advised that the spare battery is a US$50 optional extra and the power adaptors will cost extra as well.

Features
The QuietComfort 3 headphones fold neatly into the included 172mm by 213mm by 51mm carry case, which along with the aforementioned battery charger, holds the audio cord and any plug adaptor you might need. Bose also includes a dual-plug adaptor for use on air planes, a ¼ inch (6.3 mm) stereo phone plug adaptor and a 1.5 metre audio extension cord.

If you're using the headphones for noise reduction only, you do not need to connect the headphone cords, as even with the more compact design, the noise-cancelling circuitry resides in the in the ear cups themselves. If you are connected to an audio source, you will need to use its volume control, as there is none on the Bose headphones.

Performance
On-ear headphones are less effective at passive noise reduction as they physically do not surround the ear to block out noise. The QC3s on-ear cushions employ a memory foam covered with a soft air-restrictive leather-like material, so the headphones conform to your the ears to form a fairly tight, surprisingly effective seal to keep sound from leaking in or out.

Click here for a larger illustration.

To fit the smaller form factor, Bose engineers had to develop new electronic circuitry for the active noise equalisation component and came up with a system that reduces "hiss" and according to the company, dynamically identifies unwanted noise and reduces it. Whatever the technology behind it, the noise cancelling qualities are very effective and certainly stand up to Bose's high standards.

QuietComfort 3s borrow a feature found in Bose TriPort headphones -- small ports in the bottom of the ear-cups that increase the low-frequency output of the system. Boy, does it work -- they pump out surprisingly full bass that had us scrambling for the equaliser to turn down the cranked up bass settings on the PC we first plugged the QC 3s into. The plump bass isn't overly detailed, but these phones do put out a much bigger sound than any other portable headphones we've tested.

We used the QuietComfort 3 headphones extensively on a flight from Sydney to Tokyo. The noise cancelling worked every bit as well as its predecessor's, nicely diminishing the incessant drone from the plane's engines. Wearing them, we had to stop ourselves from humming to favourite songs on the audio channels and annoyed those in surrounding seats by chortling out loud while enjoying the poo-humour of Kenny. We've had people tell us they don't need Bose headphones as they always fly business class and use the airline's noise-cancelling headsets, but when compared head-to-head on this trip, the Qantas business class headphones didn't hold a candle to Bose in any department. If you travel overseas regularly, we recommend you bite the bullet and invest in one of the Bose QuietComfort models.

Which brings us to a final point -- the QuietComfort 3 headphones are pretty expensive at AU$599, but you do still have the option of buying the QuietComfort 2s for $100 less at AU$499. Truth be told, the QC 3s hurt our ears a bit after the 10 hour flight, so for our big lugs, the over-the-ear QuietComfort 2 headphones are more comfortable. The fit boils down to a matter of personal preference, however, as other CNET.com.au staffers have been happily testing the QuietComfort 3s on their daily work commutes, with no signs of discomfort even with ear studs and sunnies in place. (They can be a bit clammy on hot days though, so we wouldn't recommend them for exercising.)

With a smaller form factor and rechargeable battery, Bose has extended the portability and appeal beyond air travel with the QuietComfort 3 headphones, but depending on your comfort preferences, you may choose to save the extra cash and pick the more refined sound of the around-the-ear QuietComfort 2 headphones. Either way, both do the noise cancelling trick admirably and it's nice to have a choice of design.

Previous Story

Pyramat S2000 Sound Rocker

Home Cinema
Next Story

Apple TV



Add Your Review 22


* Below fields optional


Post comment as
soarin
8
Rating
 

"Great headphones to suit hours of listening"

soarin posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Very good sound quality, noise cancelling, comfort when using headphones, good battery life

The Bad:Overall Price, music stops when battery dies, not good for using when exercising

First thing I have to say about the Bose QC3's are that they are incredibly comfortable. Never have I been able to wear a pair of headphones for such a long period of time with out having ear pain or feeling like I need a break from listening to music. This is mainly due to Bose's very light weight construction and very soft ear pads. The down side to this light weight construction is that the overall build quality feel of the headphones is not has high as the B

qbfox
8
Rating
 

"Great Sound. LOVE the noise cancelling while flying"

qbfox posted a review   
Australia

The Good:The Noise Cancelling..not 100% block out but if you fly a bit, bliss.

The Bad:Expensive. I want an extra battery, but at $50, its ALOT.

LOVE the noise cancelling while flying, makes a massive difference and dulls the noise of the plane and kids.

The sound itself is great!

Have read some comments about build quality and ongoing use, but I have found both to be good. Admittedly, I mainly only use them while flying, so not everyday use.

Expensive, but worth every cent for the noise cancelling alone.

I would like an extra battery, but at $50, its ALOT.

Don0508
10
Rating
 

Don0508 posted a review   

The Good:Everything (Including Price)

The Bad:Nothing

Absolutely love these amazing headphones, the Noise Cancelling works brilliantly, love every music I hear through these great Headphones, great packaging and design. I love expensive stuff.

kampy
2
Rating
 

kampy posted a review   

The Good:noise cancellation

The Bad:build quality

I have the QuietComfort 2 and the build quality is way below average. I read before that some plastic parts are litte thin and that it apparently breaks quick, but I thought that was written by people who are little rough in handling. I never (or very rarely) break anything I have and broke that headphone already on 3 (!) different places. If you take of the phone with one hand the chance that a little (1mm) plastic part breaks is quite likely.
In my opinion this is a complete failure of design and choice of plastic-properties. Unfortunately this is not covered by the guarantee. If the QuietComfort3 is even remotely badly designed as the version 2, don't buy it. Choose another noise cancellation headphone! It is the most frustrating and annoying headphone I have ever had! (and I had several!) Don't do this to yourself.

 

jow posted a comment   

The Good:sound quality

The Bad:fell to bits after 2 years

Great heaphones until they fall to bits. The plastic head band around the ear cups eventually breaks. I had 2 pairs of quiet comfort 2 head phones, one of the old type and one of the new type, they both broke. I was so careful with these headphones you would not believe but they still broke. At nearly 300 quid they should last a life time but not these puppies. The worst thing is Bose will only sort during the warrenty which is only 2 years! Also the noise cancelling does not cancel speech, only low rumbling noises like plane or AC. Used to use these for work but now use sound isolating in ear ones, much better and don't look like such a dork :)

 

mtk posted a comment   

The Good:noise cancelling

The Bad:bulky, mananged to live as long as the warranty!

I use them fairly frequently for flights. Less than a year in the left speaker worked intermittently. Took it to Bose store - who sold me a new connection cable. Problem persisted so it was returned for servicing. Apparently the earpiece is a sealed unit - so they are happy to sell me another pair (my original pair are just over a year old!). Won't be buying the 2nd, 3rd or 4th pair....

deebz
10
Rating
 

deebz posted a review   

The Good:padding, compactness, carry case, long battery life

The Bad:pricey

These headphones are one of a kind, they have crisp sound coming out of the speakers and excelent noise cancelling.
Awsome... enough said

seanfromfreo
1
Rating
 

seanfromfreo posted a review   

The Good:Good sound quality

The Bad:Read the comments... Shop around, because these things arn't reliable.

I have gone through 4 pairs in 2 years! I have a pair sitting at home ready to go back to Bose. Got my last pair in May before going to study in Berlin. This pair has also died, while walking to the Ubahn in Berlin.
Every set I have had has been kept in the case when Im not using them.
In this latest set, the right speaker died completely.

Sunder
10
Rating
 

Sunder posted a review   

Absolutely Awesome...!!! This was gifted to me by my friend. I enjoy very single musical note that comes out of it.

It may be expensive... But its worth every single cent.

JonBon
10
Rating
 

JonBon posted a review   

The Good:Noice cancelling is fantastic. They sound great to me!
Bundled accessories was also a pleasant surprise

The Bad:Price. But you get what you pay for dont you.

I LOVE these things. People say the sound is that good but they are perfect for me. I'm no expert but I do know I like what comes out of them.

OliviaW Facebook
7
Rating
 

"Value for your money"

OliviaW posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Improved noise cancelling technology

The Bad:Bulky size

Absolutely another big thing that attracts me to these are the incomparable comfort. A close friend suggested to check concise review on Audio solutions before buying this expensive headphone. I found its features are really amazing.


Sponsored Links
CNET's latest

User Reviews / Comments  Bose QuietComfort 3 headphones

  • soarin

    soarin

    Rating8

    "First thing I have to say about the Bose QC3's are that they are incredibly comfortable. Never have I been able to wear a pair of headphones for such a long period of time with out having ear pain ..."

  • qbfox

    qbfox

    Rating8

    "LOVE the noise cancelling while flying, makes a massive difference and dulls the noise of the plane and kids.

    The sound itself is great!

    Have read some comments about bui..."

  • Don0508

    Don0508

    Rating10

    "Absolutely love these amazing headphones, the Noise Cancelling works brilliantly, love every music I hear through these great Headphones, great packaging and design. I love expensive stuff."

CNET Speedtest

Recently Viewed Products