Ambition comes easily when there’s someone to dethrone. What happens after you make it — now that’s what separates the best from the rest. Bose’s QuietComfort line has defined the active noise-canceling headphone market since its inception. The QuietComfort 15, released in 2009, still hovers near the top of most experts’ must-buy list. That won’t change any time soon. But the new QuietComfort 25 improves on almost every aspect of its acclaimed predecessor, ensuring that Bose’s reign as the king of noise-canceling technology will continue well into the future.
Two key changes will please travelers: The flagship can finally play audio even after its single AAA battery dies. (Its passive sound quality isn’t the greatest, but still enough to limp through the rest of a flight.) A new folding design makes them far more packable as well, and doesn’t sacrifice any comfort; the size of the carrying case is smaller by a third than the QC15s, making the QC25s the most portable full-sized ANC headphones in the category by a wide margin.
Sound quality has also been tweaked for clarity and tightness, at the expense of the trademark warmth of older models. The result is a crisper, more forward profile that inches closer to the standards set by non-ANC competitors at this price point. Taken together with an in-line mic for controlling iOS devices and select Android handsets, a new muted aesthetic that ditches the faux luxe of silver for polished grey and black, and other smart improvements like the inclusion of big “L” and “R” markers inside each ear cup, the QuietComfort 25 is everything an excellent noise-canceling headphone should be.
Battery Life: 35 hours (1 AAA)
Weight without cable: 6.9 ounces
Carrying Case Height: 8.25 inches
Carrying Case Width: 6 inches
Carrying Case Depth: 2 inches