Tech review: Bose NC Headphones 700 provides great noise cancellation and audio

PHOTO: BOSE

The Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is the start of a new line of active noise-cancelling (ANC) headphones by Bose.

It looks sleeker than the company's successful QuietComfort 35 II and its direct competitor, the Sony WH-1000XM3.

The Headphones 700's metallic headband has two arms that extend seamlessly to the ear cups.

You adjust these arms by sliding them along the exterior of the ear cups.

The sleek design comes at a price, though. While the ear cups rotate inwards to lay flat for storage with its included case, they do not fold in like the QuietComfort 35 II.

So, you cannot squeeze it into your backpack without its case, like you can with the QuietComfort 35 II or the WH-1000XM3.

I also found that if I wear it with the headband angled towards the back of my head, the ear cups will flip out and slide down. It stays on better when the headband sits nearer to the front of my head.

Otherwise, the ear cups cover my ears comfortably without "over-heating" them, thanks to the soft foam on the ear cups. The headband's soft underside adds to the comfort, allowing me to wear the headphones for long periods.

The controls are different from the QuietComfort 35 II's, with the addition of touch controls.

  • FOR

    • Excellent active noise cancellation

    • Super audio quality

    • Sleek design

    • Intuitive controls

  • AGAINST

    • Not foldable

    • No in-app equaliser adjustment

    • Battery life not as good as competition

There are two buttons on the right ear cup - one for power/pairing and one for voice assistant - and a USB-C port for charging.

For playback and pause, you tap twice on the Bose logo on the right cup. To skip tracks, you swipe forward, while to go to the previous track, you swipe backwards.

To increase or decrease the volume, swipe up or down. These are the easiest-to-use touch controls I have experienced on a pair of ANC headphones.

On the left ear cup, there is only one button and it controls the ANC mode. Unlike other headphones that feature automatic ANC, the Headphones 700 lets you decide the level of ANC, which I like.

Press the ANC mode button to toggle between three levels - zero, five and 10 - of ANC.

At the maximum level 10, the ANC is one of the best I have experienced. It allowed me to sleep soundly for six hours straight on a recent long-haul flight.

I also like that you can press and hold the ANC mode button to immediately set it to zero, so that you can, for instance, speak to someone without taking off the headphones.

You can adjust the noise-cancellation levels with the Bose Music app, which also lets you change your voice assistant from Siri to Google Assistant. But it does not allow you to change equaliser settings.

Audio quality is superb, with crisp highs, detailed mids and solid bass. At maximum volume, the sound remains well-behaved and you still can pick out the various instruments playing.

Its 20-hour battery life is not as good as the WH-100XM3's 30-hour one. However, it easily got me through a 16-hour flight from San Francisco to Singapore, with maximum ANC switched on all the time while connected to a RHA Wireless Flight Adapter (see story below).

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $599

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 5.0

    WEIGHT: 254g

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4.5/5 [ST Tech Editor's Choice]