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Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II: Which Bose noise-cancelling headphones are better?

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II
(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

The Bose QuietComfort 45 just hit store shelves and it’s already considered one of the best noise-cancelling headphones available. Some might even argue that it is Bose’s best noise-cancelling model to date though we’re still taken with the Bose 700. This sequel comes with improved active noise cancellation, sound, and battery life, along with Bose Music app support to personalize the headphones

Its predecessor, the critically acclaimed Bose QuietComfort 35 II, remains a top seller and is often viewed as the model that revolutionized the ANC category. Excellent noise neutralization combined with warm, crisp sound and unique features give these wireless over-ear cans mass appeal. The sleek, no-frills design and pleasant comfort also make them a first-class favorite.

Simply put, these are two noise-cancelling goliaths that deliver satisfying listening experiences. Should you be torn over which to buy, check out our Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II comparison to get the full lowdown.

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II: Price

In a surprise move, Bose launched the QuietComfort 45 at a lower MSRP than previous QC releases: $329. You’re getting plenty of bang for your buck, plus the addition of Bose Music means more functionality is on the horizon via future firmware updates.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II was originally sold for $350, though it has seen several markdowns over the past year. It is currently available for $299 at major online retailers, though we’ve seen it for as low as $189 (in Rose Gold).  We believe the level of performance warrants the sales price at the moment.

One of these models will more than likely be part of this year’s best Black Friday headphones deals. Our money is on the QC35 II. To see the QC45 with a sale tag just weeks after being released seems improbable.

Winner: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II: Specs compared

Bose QuietComfort 45Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Price$329.99$299.99
Size and weight7.25 x 6 x 3 inches, 8.5 ounces7.1 x 6.7 x 3.2 inches, 8.2 ounces
Battery life24 hours (ANC on)20 hours (ANC on); 40 hours (ANC off, wired mode)
ProcessorUnknownUnknown
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.1Bluetooth 4.1, NFC
Special featuresActive noise cancellation, transparency mode, Bluetooth 5.1, smart controls, tri-digital assistant support, multipoint technology, SimpleSyncActive noise cancellation, transparency mode, smart controls, audio sharing, tri-digital assistant support, multipoint technology

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II: Design

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Very little has changed regarding appearance. The QC45 and QC35 II share the same clean, minimalist, collapsible design with most of the construction and detailing remaining intact. This includes the glass-filled nylon, synthetic leather, and other impact-resistant materials, along with the button and logo placements.

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

As far as differences, the QC45 now comes with metal hinges at the pivot points that give the headphones a sturdier feel. We love this, especially since the QC35 II has a flimsier frame. The logo is no longer debossed or reflective – instead, it’s laser-etched. More mics were stuffed into the earcups, which you can see with the multiple dimples on each side. The headband padding is also covered in leather instead of suede. Color options are limited to two on the QC45 (Black and White Smoke), whereas the QC35 II is available in five: Black, Silver, Midnight Blue, Rose Gold, and Triple Midnight.

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Comfort and fit are equally great on these two pairs of headphones. The QC45 (8.5 ounces) is slightly heavier, but it feels just as light on the head as the QC35 II (8.2 ounces). The plush padding is gentle atop the skull and ears, and you can wear either model for lengthy stretches. Adjusting the extenders to the proper settings will ensure that neither set of cans slip off.

Winner: Bose QuietComfort 45

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II: Controls

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Bose left the controls untouched, with one noticeable omission on the QC45. The Action Button on the left earcup can no longer be assigned to other functions; it is solely reserved for activating ANC mode. You can program the QC35 II’s Action Button to easily access Alexa, Google Assistant, or noise cancellation.

The buttons operate well on both models, producing nice tactile feedback with every press. Having volume buttons is always a plus and makes raising/lowering sound more convenient. The lack of touch controls is forgivable, though we wish the QC45 and QC35 II came with on-ear detection for auto-pause/play.

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Another change is found in digital assistance. While each model supports the big four – Alexa, Bixby, Google Assistant, and Siri – the QC35 II comes with Alexa and Google Assistant integration. For Alexa users, that means wake-word functionality, while Google Assistant users can enable the AI bot by pushing the Action Button.

Winner: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II: Active noise cancellation

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

When it comes to ANC, it’s really a no-lose situation when choosing between the QC45 and QC35 II because you’re getting the best that Bose has to offer. However, a smarter algorithm and more mics give the QC45 stronger noise neutralization that nearly matches the industry-leading 700.

The QC45’s six-mic array is a beast at blocking out low and mid frequencies, plus it minimizes high-pitched sounds at the highest level possible. Distractions like loud chatter, the humming sound from an ANC and engine rumble will go completely unnoticed. Baby cries and whistles will catch your attention from several feet away, but they aren’t distracting enough to pull you away from whatever is playing on your mobile device.

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Even with two fewer mics, the QC35 II handles ambient noises across the frequency spectrum incredibly well. The two-level ANC mode (Low and High) offers personalization for how much noise you want to block out. For the average listener, the ANC experience will be similar on both pairs of headphones, but those with detailed hearing will notice high frequency sounds a bit more on the QC35 II. 

Ambient listening comes as part of both packages, though Bose labels them differently on each set of cans. Low Mode on the QC35 II is effective for hearing environmental fracas. Aware Mode on the QC45 is much better at increasing your awareness of surroundings, piping in more noises that sound distinctive and loud.

Winner: Bose QuietComfort 45

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II: Audio Quality

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Some people like Bose’s warm-heavy sound signature and others don’t. Well, if you fall under the latter, take joy in knowing that Bose went to work refining sound on the QC45, employing proprietary TriPort acoustic architecture and a volume-optimized Active EQ for better bass definition and clarity. You get a nice mix of punchy lows and crisp mids, along with detailed highs that shine on most tracks. We also like how the bass is handled, which is tamer, but still loud and impactful to enjoy contemporary music genres like alternative rock, EDM, and hip hop.

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The QC35 II produces crisp and clean sound and has an overemphasized low end. If you want the more boom-sounding headphones, these are it, but that comes at the cost of less dynamic range. Orchestral recordings can sound dull at times, plus highs are often flat or veiled on Jazz records.

Winner: Bose QuietComfort 45

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II: App and special features

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Features are limited on these two models, and each one is compatible with a different Bose app. The QC45 works with the new Bose Music app and the QC35 II use the soon-to-be-phased-out Bose Connect app. These apps share many of the same functions, including a music player, volume slider, standby timer, battery level indicators, toggle controls, and firmware updates.

The QC45 boasts newer, more innovative features. Entering the Settings page will give you access to an important calling feature known as Self-Voice, a special mode to adjust and hear your voice more naturally on calls. It comes in handy when taking voice or video calls in loud environments. SimpleSync is the QC45’s other big feature. This lets you pair the headphones to a Bose Smart Soundbar, providing listeners with independent volume controls, so they can raise, lower or mute sound when watching TV.

Don’t think that Bose left the QC35 II hanging out to dry on exclusive features. There is Music Share to share music between two sets of Bose wireless headphones, along with the ability to swap out Action Button commands, which, again, the QC45 does not allow. That’s about it. 

Outside of the app experiences, the QC45 and QC35 II demonstrate solid wireless performance, granted they each operate on different Bluetooth versions. The QC45 runs on Bluetooth 5.1 and provides a longer range, achieving up to 50 feet of wireless listening, while the QC35 II runs on the outdated Bluetooth 4.1 and can go up to 32 feet before dropout occurs. However, the QC35 II has built-in NFC, meaning you can easily connect the headphones by tapping the back of a compatible smartphone onto the NFC logo located on the right ear cup.

Winner: Tie

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II: Battery life

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Bose addressed the company’s biggest complaint on the QC45: battery life. ANC playtime has been increased to 24 hours, four hours more than previous Bose ANC headphones, including the flagship 700. USB-C charging was also added for faster charging. We appreciate the longer battery life, but there is one caveat, which is that you can’t disable ANC. That means the headphones will either operate in ANC or transparency mode, not allowing you to preserve power.

Battery life on the QC35 II is rated at 20 hours, which was considered standard when it launched back in 2017, but it falls short of what other high-end ANC models offer these days. Oddly enough, these headphones can get you up to 22 hours on a full charge, depending on how you use them. Furthermore, the QC35 II allows you to turn off ANC and extend playtime to 40 hours. The one big complaint that can be made is that they take micro-USB charging.

Winner: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II: Call quality

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Future)

You’re guaranteed some of the best call quality in the category, no matter the headphones. If we must choose the better calling headset, surprisingly, it’s the QC35 II. Our reason: wind resistance. It performs better in gusty conditions and does a better job of eliminating whisking effects caused by wind or speeding cars. We had a few callers compliment how crystal clear we sounded over the phone and on video chats.

Much of the same applies to the QC45. Besides its struggles with wind, these headphones produce loud and clear vocals for engaging conversations. Having the Self-Mode feature available to control how loud you hear yourself is beneficial as well.

Winner: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Winner: Bose QuietComfort 45

Picture going up against a fresher, younger, and more powerful version of yourself. That’s the battle the QuietComfort 35 II faces against the QuietComfort 45, and one that it loses in noble fashion.

The QC45 gives you better noise cancellation, sound quality, and longer battery life (on a single charge). It also achieves this at a lower price point than ANC powerhouses like the Bose 700, AirPods Max Pro, and Sony WH-1000XM4. Noise cancellation and sound are elite, and advancements in connectivity (hello, Bluetooth 5.1) promise stabler wireless performance. But these headphones aren’t without their flaws, specifically the dip in call quality and inability to disable ANC mode. Even then, the overall performance is well worth the premium.

Bose QuietComfort 45Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Value (5)45
Design (15)1311
Controls (10)78
Active noise cancellation (20)1917
Audio quality (15)1311
App and special features (15)1111
Battery Life (10)78
Call quality (10)89
Total Score (100)8280

It’s amazing to see how well the QC35 II performs against newbies, harnessing ANC that puts most models without a Bose logo to shame. Sound isn’t as refined as what comes out of the QC45, but it is still top tier, delivering detailed mids and punchy lows. Comfort is excellent. Even special features like Music Share and NFC give it unique selling points when compared to newer brand offerings. As much of a fight as the QC35 II puts up, the QC45’s stronger spec sheet makes it the superior model.