I recently did an inventory and discovered I’ve amassed a respectable hoard of headsets – wired and wireless – over the years. While I confess that I am no audiophile, I do use headsets to listen to music or audio books and watch movies either on my phone, iPad or computer. I use my headsets mostly to and from work or when I am traveling alone.
One of the few gripes I have living in Hong Kong is noise pollution. Whether it is on the elevators, escalators, trains, taxis or buses, Hong Kong is overflowing with noise – human and man-made. Most in-ear headsets can only muffle the noise a little. This is whether active noise canceling are a blessing to have. Most active noise canceling use active noise control where anti-noise signal is generated to cancel out ambient noise heard within the enclosed volume of the headphone.
During my search for a reasonably good headset with active noise canceling, I spoke to a number of retailers in the Wanchai Computer Shopping Mall. Whilst most shops sold active noise canceling headsets from Sony, Audio Technica and Philips, at least one retailer admitted that the Bose active noise canceling headsets were the best. So I went to the Bose showroom to listen for myself.
The Bose Quiet Comfort (QC) is a family of active noise canceling headsets. Bose’s implementation of noise cancelling technology involve the use of a pair of microphones on the outside of the headphone units. These sample the background noise and then uses this as a comparison with the audio from an audio source. A corrective signal is applied to the reproduced audio which cancels out sustained external noise like engine or track or road noise.
What I Like
The QC3 is a smaller version of the QC15 and QC2. Bose did not compromise on the comfort or noise-canceling capability of the series despite making the headset smaller. The headset ear pads are very soft and comfortable providing reasonably snug fit without the discomfort normally associated with many on-ear and over-the-ear headsets. The ear pads rotate 90 degrees allowing the headset to flatten and snug firmly on its case.
The cable is removable. One end is a 2.5mm stereo jack that plugs into the left earpiece. The other end is a standard 3.5mm stereo jack.
You buy Bose because the product has a strong legacy of very good sound reproduction and this comes out very well with the QC3. Audio quality is excellent with the QC3 producing rich bass. An audiophile, again I ain’t one, will probably notice some clippings of the top range of vocals as well as cymbals.
What I don’t Like
The QC3 uses a small Lithium rechargeable unit (the box comes with two units so you always have a spare) that slides into the top of the right earpiece. The battery pack can be charged by way of a separate, included in the kit, charger.
I mentioned that the cable is removable. For such an expensive headset the cable, for me, is a let down as it feels like a cheap implementation and I suspect this will be the first thing you need to replace over time.
The headset needs to be powered on in order to work. So if you happen to forget to bring the spare battery or by stroke of misfortune you run out of juice, you might as well pack the QC3 back in its case and read a book because these babies become nothing more than ear warmers.
One More Thing
I personally favor in-ear headsets because these are very small and easily fits into most pockets. When you use the QC3 you need a bag to put the case in whilst using the headset. That said the QC3 produce very good sound reproduction and is able to get rid of much of the ambient noise sufficiently enough to forget that you are in a noisy environment.
And as with all Bose products – these are not cheap buggers.
The most expensive headset