Bose 700 review: Are the latest noise cancelling headphones as slick as they look?

The lightweight model is a breeze to wear, but does it nab top spot for noise cancellation over other big name brands?

David RS Taylor@davidrstaylor
Friday 16 April 2021 05:00
<p>Noise cancellation extends to phone calls too, with microphones to make your voice clearer for the person on the other end </p>

Noise cancellation extends to phone calls too, with microphones to make your voice clearer for the person on the other end

You have to hand it to Bose. While many brands fall into the trap of giving their products fancy-sounding names that have nothing to do with the actual thing you’re buying, Bose keeps it simple and sweet.

From the Bose home speaker 500 (it’s a home speaker), to the Bose quiet comfort earbuds (they’re earbuds), Bose cuts the jargon.

It’s the same with the Bose noise cancelling headphones 700, the brand’s latest – you guessed it – noise cancelling headphones.

Active noise cancellation (ANC) is an important element when it comes to the higher end of the headphone market. Being able to block out peripheral, unwanted sound from the world around you is now big business.

There are a few brands that regularly enter any conversation about ANC: Sony, Sennheiser and Apple are there among others, and Bose is in this elite group, vying for top spot.

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So, do the NC 700s pass muster as the market’s best ANC headphones?

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Bose noise cancelling headphones 700

Buy now £299, Bose.co.uk

Design

These are good-looking headphones. You can see and feel their quality immediately, the stainless steel headband and soft padding sliding neatly into the ear cups themselves, ensuring the headphones retain a united and sleek outline. The slide effect of the headband also means that the NC 700s are less fiddly than other headphones at this price point, with a simple push to adjust. You can’t fold the headphones up fully, but the cups fold flat to store in the solid carry case, and would fit perfectly in any rucksack or overnight bag.

The NC 700s are pretty lightweight, which might put some people off due to an interpreted lack of sturdiness, but this makes the headphones a breeze to wear for long periods. We really enjoyed wearing them, never feeling uncomfortable or as if we needed a break. Even in warmer weather, they still fit comfortably, and would be well-suited for a long day at work or focusing on a big project (we may or may not be using them right now).

Battery life is around 20 hours from one charge, which is pretty good, but comes up slightly short when compared to other headphones in the same price category. Still, a 15-minute charge will get you two hours of listening, which adds some flexibility to usage.

The Bose Music app is easy to use, and pairing is straightforward, although as the button for Bluetooth connectivity is the same as the off switch, we found ourselves unpairing our headphones from our device a few times. Touch controls are simple to get the hang of, with various taps and swipes on the ear cups to change tracks or turn up the volume. If you’re using an iOS device, you can also use touch controls to discover new music on Spotify based on your listening history, or pick up from where you last left off with a quick tap.

Sound

The NC 700s are the king of ANC. The click test – clicking our fingers around the cans like a wildly-inexperienced castanet player – is a good way to check noise cancellation, as the technology does a particularly good job of cutting out the higher registers. The NC 700s passed this test with flying colours. These headphones have market-leading noise cancellation, with amazing noise dampening even at half power: if you want them to, they’ll basically shut out all external sounds quieter than a jet engine.

This noise cancellation, vitally, works both ways, extending to your voice on phone calls. Bose has included eight microphones in the NC 700s, two of which are focused entirely on your voice, while two others share their time between you and the noise around you. The systems work in tandem to reject background noise and isolate your voice, meaning fewer sounds from the outside world and more of your own dulcet tones for the person on the other end. 

This is genius, and works brilliantly to cut out unwanted noise. However, when testing (aka talking to Mum), we found that our speaking voice was ever-so-slightly muffled, with a slight lack of crispness. As a trade off, we think this is more than worth it, and something Bose will undoubtedly fix in the next batch of headphones. Voice commands are flawless too, working with Google Assistant, Alexa or Siri.

The most important element is, of course, audio quality, and the NC 700s produce a fantastic sound. From deep, looming bass in Billie Eilish’s “Bury a Friend”, to the tinkling trebles in Jacob Collier’s acoustic “In Too Deep”, these headphones have brilliant audio flexibility. Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” is a good litmus test for headphones, with its quick register changes, and the NC 700s cope without any fuss. It’s the same story with spoken word podcasts and classical concertos, where silence is crisp and every complicated element of sound works in sync.

The verdict: Bose noise cancelling headphones 700

The noise-cancelling ability of these headphones is probably the best you can get on the market – it really is a pleasure to switch them on and switch the world off. Add to that their sophisticated look, lightweight comfort and solid phone call ability, and you’re hard-pressed to find a better option. The NC 700s are up there with Sony’s offerings, which is as big a compliment you can give when it comes to ANC headphones.

While other headphones may edge them when it comes to audio quality (and we mean edge), the NC 700s are the winner when it comes to ANC. This is as good a noise cancelling as we’ve heard through wireless headphones – if you’re in the market for a new pair and are focused on this, the Bose noise cancelling headphones 700 are the way to go.

We’ve rounded up the best wireless earbuds for hassle-free noise cancellation and quality sound

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