Bose QuietComfort 45 Review – It’s been a few years since we had the popular QuietComfort 35/35 II Active Noise Cancelling from Bose. With the release of Bose Headphones 700, I thought it was the end of the QuietComfort series – but apparently I was wrong.

Surprised, I saw the announcement of Bose QuietComfort 45 and was wondering, what’s new? It looks pretty similar to the previous models but I was pretty sure the internals have got some nice upgrades. I wasn’t wrong but is it worth upgrading?

Bose QuietComfort 45 Review – Unboxing & Packaging Contents

Bose QuietComfort 45 Review – Bose QC45 vs Bose QC35 II

At first glance, Bose QC45 may not look much difference from the predecessors but the team has actually perfected the design that people love here and there. There is nothing wrong by sticking to the design that works and is loved by many but if you are looking for something sexier, you might want to have a look at the Bose Headphone 700 instead.

So let’s talk about what’s new first (i.e Bose QC35 II vs Bose QC45) and we can then dig into details on how the new model performs.

There is now a fourth external microphone on the QC45 for better phone calls quality and you’ll see these in the series of tiny microphone holes/slots on the unit. Bose has also removed pleats from the cushions to make it more comfortable to wear and the headband is smoother too. The new Bose QC45 also gets an upgrade in the sound department with what Bose calls “TriPort acoustic architecture” and “Volume-optimised Active EQ” to ensure you get that high-fidelity sound at all times.

From Bose’s product page about these new design elements: “The proprietary TriPort design vents the earcups to add depth and fullness—all without increasing their size. So you get better sound from headphones that are smaller, lighter and more comfortable. Plus, Volume-optimised Active EQ boosts highs and lows to maintain the same high-fidelity performance—no matter how loud or soft you listen. The bass remains consistent when you turn down the volume and the music is still clear when you turn it up.”

And of course (thankfully), you now get USB-C than the good, old microUSB connection to charge your headset.

There is also an Aware mode which turns on external microphones and feeds ambient sounds into the headphones, allowing you to hear your surroundings while you are wearing the QC45. This is a modern feature that exists on almost all, newer ANC headphones so it’s good that Bose includes it here. The mode can be enabled quickly with a tap of a button.

You’ll also get an extra 4 hours of battery life (24 hours compared to 20 hours on the QC35 II) with noise cancelling turned on. Definitely more than enough even for that super long trip between continents.

And my most favourite upgrade is Bluetooth 5.1 compared to QC35 II’s aging Bluetooth 4.1. Bluetooth 5 (and beyond) offers much less latency that I could actually pinpoint while watching movies on a Bluetooth 4.1 with the older QC35 II, while testing Airlly Pro in flight. At times, I could also see the half-a-second audio delay while watching movies on my phone – which was the main reason why I stopped using my QC35 II and switched to wearing the Beats Solo Pro on the train. The new QC45 doesn’t suffer from these.

Bose QuietComfort 45 Review – Listening Experience

So by now you can probably gauge and decide whether upgrading from Bose QC35 II to QC45 is worth it. The short answer is yes, in case you are not really paying attention. All these internal upgrades and new features have brought the QC45 into the same level as many other, newer, modern ANC headphones.

The Bose QuietComfort series were popular thanks to their awesome, active noise cancelling technology within. Thankfully, you’ll also be pleased with Bose QC45’s ANC performance.

I actually had to go back to the office for about two weeks while having the QC45 for a review (perfect timing) so I’d been testing it through different conditions. Inside a non-moving tram, everything went silent apart from some muffled commuter conversations as I could barely hear anything else. In a very windy Melbourne day, the QC45 offered excellent wind rejection as well compared to many other ANC headphones I’ve reviewed in the past. During an extremely windy day however, some wind noise could still get through – faintly felt through the bottom of the ear cups.

I also can’t hear the sound of my membrane keyboard while typing with the QC45 on (without any music). It’s that good.

Make no mistakes though, the noise cancelling on the Bose QC45 is pretty aggressive that I can definitely feel the air pressure once I turn the headphones on (and while wearing it). This feeling does go away after you play your content through the headphones though.

I like how I can switch to Aware mode quickly when I need to, such as if I want to listen to train announcements or while walking through Melbourne CBD’s busy traffic for safety reasons.

UPDATE 2nd of May 2020: I managed to test the QC45 on the plane during my overseas trip last week. I was really amazed with how much engine noise it blocked. Once I turned the noise cancelling on, it only felt like I was in a room with an open window (and hear the wind breezing through). It’s that good. Bose QC45 made it easy to listen to the dialogues and I also didn’t need to crank the volume up high. And oh, I also loved how I could sleep easier with the quietness.

While on call, the headphones seem to switch to Aware mode automatically. I don’t really mind this as I’m able to both listen to the caller and also my surroundings at the same time like when you are using your phone directly.

Music listening experience has been good as well on the QC45, though I don’t think the QC35 II has worse sound than the QC45. They are both equally good and you won’t get that new “wow” feeling if you are upgrading from QC35 II.

Unfortunately, there is no auto-pause/auto-resume when you take the headphones off your head with the Bose QC45 – something that is common in modern ANC headphones of this price range. You can, however, set the headphones to turn off after X period of time through the Bose Music app (not Bose Connect).

Bose QuietComfort 45 Review Conclusion

Image credit: Bose

Bose QuietComfort 45 is definitely a worthy upgrade from the QC35 II if you want better noise cancelling, a slightly better listening time, and newer Bluetooth connection (more stable, uses less power, and lower in latency). It should slightly be more comfortable thanks to the subtle design changes, but the QC35 II was already comfortable anyway.

Bose QC45 has a really, really good noise cancelling and there are many times where I could barely hear anything even without the music on: the “ding” sound of an elevator arriving on the floor where I’m at, the sound of the membrane keyboard (Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard) while I’m typing this review out, and more.

In fact, I personally think Bose QC45 has the best noise cancelling among all the other ANC headphones I’ve reviewed so far (minus the popular Bose Headphones 700 and Sony WH-1000XM4.

It’s comfortable to wear like the predecessors, has a wired 3.5mm option so you can use it with the in-flight entertainment system, and now has a new Aware mode so you can listen to your surroundings while wearing the headset. And at times, you’d want to switch to this as the noise cancelling is that good on the QC45 – though you do get that air pressure feel which disappears as soon as I turn the music on, watch a movie, or play a game through it.

Bose QC45 will definitely be my ANC headphones of choice the next time I fly back to Indonesia to visit my parents hopefully early next year. It’s available now in many retailers around Australia with A$499.95 RRP and two colour options: Black and White Smoke.

Disclosure: Bose QC45 review sample was supplied for reviewing

Bose QuietComfort 45 Review
Overall
4.5

Summary

Bose’s upgraded QuietComfort Series comes with superior audio noise cancellation and perfected design

Pros

  • Really good ANC compared to many others
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Aware mode
  • USB-C, 3.5mm audio option
  • Hard travel case included
  • Bluetooth 5.1

Cons

  • No auto-pause/auto-resume
  • No EQ and Noise Cancelling customisations
  • No airplane adapter included
  • No aptX

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