Editor’s note: This post was updated with new information.
Deal alert: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 via Amazon.
I was a convert to the Apple AirPods.
I used to have a pair of Beats over-ear headphones, but once the noise-canceling AirPods Pro came out, I believed that over-ear headphones merely offered squashed ears and another big case to carry in my already full luggage.
However, after a couple of weeks of traveling, covering north of 10,000 miles with the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700, it became apparent that my over-ear headphone stereotypes were nothing more than total misconceptions thanks to this pair of headphones’ plethora of high-tech features.
These headphones, which regularly retail for $379, are an investment, so it’s notable that right now, the black Bose 700 headphones are at the lowest price ($299) we’ve seen from Amazon this year (as of the time of publication).
What a traveler should look for in a good pair of headphones
Let’s face it: We all love surround sound (which deepens the fidelity of audio so it sounds more natural) and noise-cancellation features that reduce external noise. But as nice as those two features are, they’re not at the top of my wish list.
Wired and wireless connectivity
As a frequent traveler, I always want to ensure that my headphones offer wired and wireless connectivity. That way, I can wirelessly use the headphones for audio on my phone or laptop or use the cord to plug them into the seatback inflight entertainment system. While this isn’t a difficult prerequisite to meet nowadays, as most headphones over $100 offer this, it’s nonnegotiable in any headphones I invest in.
Most notably, the Apple AirPods only offer a connection through Bluetooth. While some newer IFE systems offer Bluetooth audio, I have yet to see this feature on any of my flights. So, if you’re just traveling with AirPods and want to watch the movies on the screen in front of you on a plane, you’re likely stuck with the crummy inflight earbuds the airlines offer you — if they offer them at all.
I also want to make sure that my headphones are durable. When I travel, my friends and family often get a kick out of how much I squeeze into my backpack. As a result, I’m looking for a strong case that will keep the headphones safe when my 16-inch MacBook Pro is hastily jammed back into my backpack on top of my headphones after going through an airport security checkpoint.
Lastly, I always look for a solid microphone that won’t pick up background audio. Let’s say your flight gets canceled and there’s a long line to get rebooked. As I shared in a recent article, getting through to an airline agent quickly is the best way to get rebooked and be on your way. When calling your airline, the last thing you want your agent to say is, “I’m sorry. I can’t hear you. There’s a lot of background noise. Please call back.” That’s why a clear microphone that doesn’t pick up background conversations or announcements is especially important for travelers.
Bose 700 features
Here are some of the features of the Bose 700 headphones that I’ve grown to like.
When I let my tech-geek friend know I’d be reviewing the Bose 700 headphones, he told me that some of the newer Sony headphones (like the Sony WH-1000XM5) have better noise cancellation. Though I have yet to try the Sony headphones, the Bose 700 headphones’ noise cancellation impressed me.
You can change noise cancellation from 1 (minimum) to 10 (maximum) through the Bose Music app. There’s also a physical button on the side of the headphones, which can change the noise control, but more on that later.
Going for a walk on a busy street with cars driving roughly 30 mph around me, I was left hearing quiet wooshes as cars passed with the headphones on 10. On my American Airlines flight, I played some calm, quiet Spanish guitar music in the air. While I could still hear some plane noises, the headphones blocked toilets flushing and neighboring passengers talking. As we began our descent, the first time I removed the headphones, I thought to myself, “Wow, this plane is loud,” after being surprised by how much noise there was without the headphones.
The Bose Music app
After unboxing the headphones, the instructions told me to download the Bose Music app (available on iOS and Android). After downloading the app and permitting it to access Bluetooth, I could quickly connect my headphones to my phone directly in the app. One of my favorite features of the headphones was the ability to connect to both my phone and laptop simultaneously. That way, I didn’t have to manually change the audio connection between the two.
You can also sign up for your own Bose Music login, but luckily, having a Bose Music account isn’t required to use the headphones.
From the Bose Music app, you can adjust the noise cancellation and equalizer, see tips, customize shortcuts and access many more features.
Controlling the headphones is simple with the three physical buttons (power/Bluetooth, voice assistant and noise control) and the touch-sensitive gesture pad. The headphones came with a simple-to-use guide to help you learn how to use the controls on the right ear cup:
|Two taps.||Play/pause music and answer or decline calls.|
|Swipe of finger up or down.||Volume change.|
|Swipe of finger left or right.||Change tracks.|
|Hold Bose logo.||Battery reading.|
|Hold Bose logo during an incoming call.||Decline the call.|
While it wasn’t hard to learn these controls, they didn’t always work the first time around. For example, two taps on the right ear cup didn’t always pause my music. I also had a hard time with the noise control button. Sometimes it was hard to have the noise cancellation return to the maximum of 10, so I found myself using my phone and the Bose Music app to change many of these controls.
A sleek design with 2 color choices
In my opinion, the Bose 700 headphones are beautiful. They’re some of the most stylish headphones on the market. You have the choice of either going with luxe silver or black. When folding the headphones back into their case, each ear cup rotates 90 degrees to fit in easily. At around 9 ounces, I never felt like they were too heavy, and the cushy headband made for hours of comfortable listening.
A long-lasting battery
Bose claims that the battery will last up to 20 hours. In our tests with mixed-use (phone calls, full noise cancellation and moving the headphones from laptop to iPhone and back), the battery lasted 12 hours and 35 minutes. While that’s a far cry from 20 hours, after just 30 minutes of charging from the USB-C cord (included in the headphones), the headphones were back to 30% battery.
The Bose 700 headphones have unparalleled craftsmanship and quality; however, the elephant in the room is the hefty price tag, which thankfully is a bit lower than normal right now at just under $300 for the black version.
Sony has several headphones that offer great sound quality, better battery life and high-quality noise cancellation for under $200. Still, the Bose 700 headphones offer superior comfort while ticking off all the items on my lengthy headphone wishlist. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to a friend.