5th Feb, 2019

On noise cancelling headphones and the Bose QC 35ii

Every once in a while, I purchase an item for a specific job and it really excels in that job. And then, more or less by chance, I use it in other areas which it was not specifically bought for and it also really excels in those areas. It's an item that keeps on giving and does not stop surprising you. The Bose QuietComfort 35ii* is such an item for me. I originally bought the QC35 for use in the office. I have thought about buying noise cancelling headphones for a long time, but could never really make the jump because of the rather high price point. One day, I just made the impulse pruchase and I never looked back. This is, hands down, the best way I have spent money in a long time.

In the following, I want to talk about some of the aspects I noticed about the QC35ii specifically, but also about noise cancelling headphones in general. Now keep in mind that this is not a review of that specific peice of hardware, but more of a report of my experiences — with the Bose headphones, but also with the concept of noise cancelling headphones in general.

Noise Cancelling

As this is the main reason for buying these headphones, I think it is fair to talk about this first. If you are reading this and don't know me, I'm a software engineer. That means I'm spending large stretches of my workday sitting in front of a computer thinking about things. Most of these things require at least a moderate amount of focus in order to be done properly. Now, there is this weird phenomenon in the industry: The most important thing for the individual is to be able to focus in order to do great work. Simultaneously, pretty much every office you step in is an open floor office. I don't know how exactly this happened and why it still is the trend, but those two things are pretty opposing.

I, as well, work on an open floor office. It is not big, we are 5 people in there and most of the time it is quite. But there are also times where we jokingly refer to it as the "train station". So it can happen that you are in the middle of something and suddenly someone is entering the room, wanting to discuss something and sparking a conversation across the whole room, making it hard to focus. I don't want to discuss the conept of the open floor office in too much detail here. I'll just say that there is enough evidence that it is not helping with focus, but I also kind of like being able to talk to my collegues when we're not in deep focus. It is a complicated relationship.

It was in one of these "train station" moments where I lost my calm over having just dropped my thought and bought the Bose QC35ii. I have not looked back once. Noise Cancelling headphones are really somthing that can make an open floor office viable for me. I can keep all my jolly social interaction when I want to, but I am also able to just zone out everytime I need to. If you haven't used noise cancelling headphones before, it is just awesome. It completely hides low volume conversations, and from higher volume conversations, I only get a muffled sound, so that my brain is not able to make up words and thus is not distracted.

While it is really good in an office environment, the noise cancelling is breathtaking with uniform noise, like in train or a plane. I have had moment where I put down the headphones after a while and was surprised how extremely loud my environment actually is.

Sound and comfort while wearing

Since we are talking about headphones here, we also need to talk about the sound. Since they are Bose, it was fair to assume that the sound would be good. And it is. I am no audiophile by any means and I lack the experience to identify that the highs are too high or something, so the only qualified thing I can say is the following: I used the ATH50 before, which I was told by people that know their shit in this field, sound very good. Switching from those to the Bose was easy and I did not notice the sound getting any worse. They sound different, yes, but not worse.

Another important thing for me is the comfort while wearing them over long stretches of time. I have absolutely no issues having those headphones on over three or four hours. The earpads are comfortable, the headphones are not too stiff so they do not put too much pressure on my ears and they are fairly light. At times, I even forget I am wearing headphones.

Are they worth the money?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this, this is not a review of the Bose QC35ii*, so I will not tell anyone to buy them over another product. What I will say, however, is if you are easly distracted and work in an environment that might easly distract you, spending the money on any decent noice cancelling headphones is the right thing to do. It might be a lot of money at first, but it will make your life better and it will keep on giving back every single day. If you want to buy the QC35ii, that will not be a bad purchase either. As to comparing it with similar products: Look somehwere else for the answer to that question. There are people way more qualified then I am that did the research. I just happend to buy the Bose and not the Sony WH-1000X because the Bose were discounted on my day of pruchase.

* Affiliate Link. If you were to buy the headphones through this link, I'd get a slight share of the buying price. The price won't be any different for you.

© 2024 Chris Jarling