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I was very happy to use the Sennheiser headphones. The Bose QC series seemed to be overpriced for the sound quality your were getting. I get great comfort and sound quality with my Sennheiser RS-65 wireless headphones and they were only about 125 USD. They've since come out with an update to the RS wireless series which includes some noise cancelling technology, but the RS-65 cans allow me to have pass-through sound at work.
I don't know why but Bose gets all the press for high quality cans when much cheaper and better sound quality alternatives exist.

Posted by jeromatron on July 28, 2006 at 4:23 PM (PDT) Comment 1

I have had these these for a little over a month. They are awesome! I had the older QC2 for a year. These QC3's are much lighter and smaller as the review mentioned. They sound brighter and have better fidelity then the old model, when using my iPod. I happen to work on networks- so I'm in some very loud enviroments. They cancel out all the background. When I have to use the phone and need a mic as well, I use the "Boom Quiet" headset (theboom.com) but I love music and quiet, so
the Bose QC3's are a great investment. Highly recommended!!

Posted by seawaves on July 31, 2006 at 9:49 PM (PDT) Comment 2

IMO Jeremy is WAY off on this one. The QC3's truly deserve a rating equal to or better than the QC2's. They HAVE maintained their world class noise cancellation, maintained or improved the sound quality, added a LiIon battery (this feature may be a plus or a minus to you), and significantly reduced the size.

I've had the QC2's for several years and recently got my wife the QC3's. My wife and I did EXTENSIVE A/B comparisons of the two products on our recent cross country flight, with ultra high engine noise. We were AMAZED that noise cancellation on the QC3 was absolutely, 100% as effective as on the QC2, despite the much smaller size and non-enveloping cup. Sound quality, also, was as good or better. (Note that several other reviewers have reported results similar to mine on noise cancellation and sound quality.)

Achieving those results in a much smaller design is a great accomplishment, and one should clearly expect to pay for miniaturization here, just as you do for ultra light notebooks and all other gadgets. Miniaturization always adds cost, despite Jeremy's surprising words to the contrary.

I use my QC2's only for flying, and I actually prefer the AAA battery on the QC2's to the LiIon on the QC3's, since I always keep a few extra batteries with me and never have to worry about or bother with charging the QC2's. One AAA lasts for several cross country flights, so an 8 pack will last me for many years.

So I'm sticking with the QC2's but HIGHLY recommend the sound, size and noise cancellation on the QC3's

Is Jeremy basing his claim of far less effective noise cancellation on theory rather than experience? Perhaps it's the shape of his ears. In any case, all other reports I've seen completely agree that the QC3's have lost nothing of the QC2's superb noise cancellation.

Pete

Posted by Pete_L_P on August 2, 2006 at 10:43 AM (PDT) Comment 3

I owned the QC2 and then got the QC3 as a gift last month. Comparing the noise cancellation of both I found...

On a plane, the sound reduction of both are pretty much the same, that's to say that the same amount of ambient noise seeps through.

In the office, the QC2 wins because no doubt the noise reduction is designed to filter out a particular type of background noise and the over ear design of the QC3 is obviously more able to dampen out all the other frequencies more effectively.

Sound reproduction from both seem fine to me, although I will never admit to being an audiophile. (I enjoy listening to the music that is being played, rather than obsessing over what cannot be heard.)

A big plus for me that the QC3 has over the QC2 is comfort. The QC2 made me feel very hot and uncomfortable after an hour or so of sitting over my ears. I wore the QC3 on my last flight (7 hours) and did not once feel that I needed to take them off to let my ears 'breathe'.

Do I think the QC3 are better than QC2? YES.
Are they worth a $50 premium over the QC2? ABSOLUTELY.
Are they worth $350? Let's be honest of course they are not.
I also have a pair of the SHURE e3 in-the-ear earphones. They are a third of the price and offer pretty good noise isolation and excellent sound (although that is dependent very much on the fit). A more reasonable price point would be $250... but let's face it, BOSE are not shy about their pricing policy.

Posted by Boca on August 2, 2006 at 11:26 AM (PDT) Comment 4

There is a fundamental difference between "active noise cancellation" and "passive noise isolation." As the review pointed out, active noise cancellation is achieved through the QC2/QC3's microphones and electronics, reducing low-frequency noise, while passive noise isolation is achieved through physical coverage of your ears or ear canals by a cup- or plug-like listening device, and reduces high- and midrange noise.

The QC3's active noise cancellation is just like the QC2's, with the same twin microphones and sampling technology, effectively reducing engine rumbles and other low-pitched sounds. Because the QC3 lacks the QC2's earcups, the passive noise isolation is not the same as before, leaving at least some peoples' ears able to hear more external high-pitched and midrange sounds. These comments are based on our testing and experiences with the QC series and other noise-cancelling phones we've tested, not theory.

Pete: A few additional comments. First, some people are going to notice greater sound quality differences between the QC2s and the QC3s than others - especially people who have had QC2s for a few years. That's because Bose changed the QC2s midway through their life cycle and improved their sound, making them basically identical to the QC3s in balance and detail. This is a practice called revving, which we discuss in a box above the comments section of all of our reviews, and unfortunately leads to consumer confusion/different experiences. We (and others) have referred to the newer QC2s as "second edition," but Bose doesn't conspicuously note the change on its packaging.

Second, regarding "miniaturization", we don't think the price difference is really attributable to this factor, for two reasons. Bose appears to be charging mostly for the new battery and charger it sells separately for $90. And though it has made the QC3s a bit smaller, it basically stripped plastic, headband size and cushioning down in the QC3, preserving most of the QC2's size and weight in the process. Consequently, it's not as if someone with the QC2s will find the QC3 or its carrying case substantially easier to carry - it's smaller, but hardly "miniature." The component shrinkage changes from QC1 to QC2 (and QC2: SE) were far more significant, with no commensurate price changes.

Everyone's entitled to their opinions - that's what the comments section here is for - but in our view, the QC3 doesn't passively isolate as well as the QC2, despite the fact that it actively cancels as well, and we wouldn't pay more for something that doesn't do its core job as thoroughly as its predecessor. Your mileage may vary.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on August 2, 2006 at 12:21 PM (PDT) Comment 5

I look forward to reading a comparison here between the Bose offerings and the Sony noise-cancelling headphones. I just went out and bought the Sony MDR-NC50 and they do a pretty good job. Since I didn't try the Bose headphone outside of the store it is hard to make a complete comparison, but from what I heard inside the store I couldn't justify the extra cost (I actually went with the intention of buying the QC2), and I don't usually buy Sony products.

The Sony noise-cancelling headphones are sold in the Apple Store so it would be fitting to do a review of them here.

Posted by Silver5 on August 7, 2006 at 2:03 PM (PDT) Comment 6
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