Like most active noise-canceling headphones, the Bose QuietComfort 15 requires batteries for the active noise-canceling circuitry to work. Technically, the headphones will still work without batteries, but it is likely your source alone won’t have sufficient juice to drive the headphones because of its high impedance. Bose claims a battery life of 35 hours, which should suffice for most long-haul flights, and we personally clocked up over 30 hours on a single battery so Bose’s claim seems to be right on the money.
We begin first by seeing how well the noise-canceling circuitry works. For those new to active noise-canceling headphones, it must be noted that the circuitry works best at canceling low frequency noises, which is why it is so effective at nullifying the droning noise made by jet engines. And although we didn’t have the chance to try it out by being on a plane, we found that the low pitch whirring noises made by CPU fans to be a good enough substitute.
Turning the headphones on, its amazing how much of the whirring noise it cancels out. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how much ambient noise it canceled out, but it did cancel out a great deal to the point where we could no longer hear the whirring noise. Furthermore, passive isolation provided by the improved ear cushion helps too.
|Pod Race Scene from The Phantom Menace||8.0|
|Theme from Jurassic Park||8.5|
|Apollo 13 SFX||8.0|
|Theme from Cutthroat Island||8.5|
|Fanfare for Louis||8.0|
|Hotel California - The Eagles||8.5|
|Sail on Soothsayer - Buckethead||8.5|
|Melt My Heart to Stone - Adele||8.5|
|Elements of Life - Tiesto||9.0|
|Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (battle scene in Moria)||8.5|
|Swordfish (opening sequence)||8.5|
While noise-cancelation was top notch, we are pleased to report that audio performance was equally good as well. On first listen, it was immediately evident that the Bose QuietComfort 15 has that typical “Bose sound”, which is strong, full and well-rounded.
Beginning with our CD test tracks, we found that the QuietComfort 15 made listening to the two orchestra tracks, Theme from Jurassic Park and and Theme from Cutthroat Island, enjoyable because the headphones imparts a good sense of grandiosity and spaciousness. However, we noticed that the highs did tend to roll off a little and lacked sparkle and clarity.
The QuietComfort 15’s power voice allowed it to do well on the Pod Race scene from The Phantom Menace too. The pod racers’ engines had a very nice rumble and they sounded fast and powerful. The stereo effects of the pod racers racing past you was nicely handled too and had a good cinematic feel, while dialog was sufficiently clear.
Moving on to MP3s, the QuietComfort 15 displayed great prowess in delivery clean and strong bass notes. This was apparent on the opening sequence of Hotel California when the bongo drums kicked in, where the headphones showed great control when delivering ample amounts of bass cleanly. On Hotel California, we also noted that the guitars sounded clean and bright.
Elsewhere, Adele’s vocals sounded warm and textured on Melt My Heart to Stone, while the QuietComfort 15 continued to show off its good bass control on Tiesto’s Elements of Life, as it never felt hurried and always sounded in control despite it being a fairly fast and relentless track.
Movies buffs looking to use the QuietComfort 15 for watching movies will also be pleased to know that the headphones did well in our movie tests too. Playing the opening sequence of Swordfish and Lord of the Rings, we found that dialog was clear and that the QuietComfort 15 also had sufficient lungs to carry it through the more action-packed sequences, leading to satisfying explosions and fight scenes.