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Bose QuietComfort 20i Review: Lightweight, Comfortable, Impressive Earphones

For a couple of weeks, I was able to review the Bose QuietComfort 20i, that features noise-canceling technology for a more immersed sound quality. I got really excited when I received the earphones. It’s Bose, I thought. I’m sure this will not disappoint me. If you’re looking for an excellent, travel-friendly pair of earphones, then the Bose QC 20i may just be the perfect one for you. Read on to find out more.

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Design
The design of the Bose QC20i is quite impressive. The coated cord is thick and sturdy. This is one recurring issue I have when it comes to earphones ““ the wires get tangled a lot, and eventually break.

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The earphones look handsome and elegant with its dark gray matte finish body that matches perfectly with the StayHear® + tips that hold the earphones in place. The default ear tip that is installed is the Medium (grey), and then you have the two extras: Small (white) and Large (Black) ear tips. You can just use what fits your ears best. The StayHear® + ensures comfort even for long hours of use and adds to the effectiveness of the noise cancellation.

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About 6 inches distant from the earpiece, the two separate wires from the audio plug converges through the inline microphone (also works as a remote for iPhone or iPod). The inline microphone has four physical buttons for volume control (volume up, volume down), play/stop/next button, and the Aware mode that lets you hear your surroundings while enjoying music. You will also find a clothing tip to keep the wires secure and out of the way.

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Quite unique to the earphones is the control box located a few inches before the elbow plug. It has a power switch that activates noise canceling, which means it also uses a battery; a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, in fact. The control box is a little awkward to hold along with your device and the distance is too short from the audio plug, straining the cable connecting them if you let it dangle.

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The unit doesn’t have a charger but it comes with a micro SD cable. You can use any charger or charge via your laptop/pc. Charging time takes about 2 hours. It also comes with a pocket-sized zip-up pouch for easy transport.

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Performance
I’ve set my expectations high on the Bose QC 20i when it comes to performance. So the first thing I did was to put it to test in terms of its noise canceling abilities. When you switch the power on in the control box, you activate the noise cancelation and with some delay, the audio environment completely changes (feels like there’s pressure in your ears but not really). I started in relatively less noisy places – at home, in the office, in the park, and coffee shops.

At 30% volume, I was impressed with how the Bose QC 20i blocked out the regular noises such as dog barks, driving noise, and chatty people. I could hardly hear the background. As to the noisier areas, I tried listening while inside the server room at 50% volume, I could hear a slight noise but definitely manageable. I’ve also tried listening while in the MRT and on the platform at Ayala Station, where it is noisiest. Also at 50% volume, I could barely hear the train tracks, bus honks and driving noises, even the PA system. It follows that turning the volume higher would almost eliminate (if not totally) the noise from your audio profile. It was impressive, indeed.

The Bose QC 20i is compatible with any Apple device, as indicated by the “i” in QC 20i. The remote works exactly the way it should. You can use it as a headset to answer phone calls, control your music, and even use the volume up (+) button as your camera shutter. I thought it was cool.

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Sound quality produced by the Bose QC 20i is superb. The bass was just perfect – clean and crisp. Even the bass-heavy songs are well-controlled. The mids are great too. With regard to the highs, the Bose QC 20i fared well although there are some other brands that are better with high frequencies. Still, it gives a very natural and well-balanced soundstage. I was very much impressed with the overall quality of the sound and I get to appreciate the marriage of all the instruments into a pleasant masterpiece. My ears are delighted!

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The battery life is impressive as well. With an average of 6 hours of use per day, I managed to enjoy good quality sound for a couple of days before it lost its power. The battery indicator blinks green when battery life is turning low, which means the battery is just about 20%. What I liked about the QC 20i is that even when the battery has gone out, it still works as a regular pair of earphones, with a little aid from the ear tips that somehow block background noise.

Verdict
Ultimately, there seems to have no contentions when it comes to the performance of the Bose QC 20i. The significant amount of noise of all sorts that it is able to reduce is beyond expectation. I also liked how it produces a well-balanced and smooth sound.

Pros:
✓ Excellent noise-cancelation engineering
✓ StayHear® + tips makes the whole music experience very comfortable (even when used for long hours)
✓ Aware mode lets you hear what’s around you without compromising sound quality
✓ Compact (best for travelers)
✓ Made for Apple products but also works with Android, Windows and Blackberry devices

Cons:
✗ Control box (rechargeable lithium ion battery) is a little off and awkward to carry
✗ Lithium-ion battery is not replaceable
✗ Price (whopping PHP18,000)

For my verdict, I give the Bose QC 20i a 9 out of 10. It is undeniably one of the best pair of earphones I’ve ever tested. I never felt any pressure after hours of use and I can just drown myself with listening to music all day. Sound quality is superb. The Bose QC 20i makes the perfect companion for frequent travelers or for those who spend a lot of time in crowded rooms. The biggest let down for this awesome pair of earphones is its price. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to break the bank and spend PHP18,000 for earphones. If the price, however, is not an issue, then I would most certainly say that it is going to be worth the investment.

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  • Marc

    Hi,

    Average Review. It doesn’t seem that you have much experience with the different types of IEMs as well as proper comparison.

    The Bose Name has made a nose dive due to over pricing their mediocre quality products and are mostely avoided by audiophiles.

    I do not wish to bash you in any way but I think you should have included the following:

    – Battery is limited to a 500 recharge cicle. Converted into real world applications this might translate to 3-5 years but it’s worth noting.
    – They offer pretty much the best active noise cancelling compared to other brands. (at least have a comparisson to another IEMs with ANC).
    There are cheaper IEMs with ANC available which offer better sound quality. The AKG K391 NC is one example
    – ANC actually worsens the sound quality.(have you actually made a sound comparisson with and without ANC turned on?)
    – Surprisingly with these the sound quality actually worsened on passive mode. (based on personal experience)
    – The sound is medium at best. You could compare them to IEMs without ANC at the 50-100USD range. (here again quick reference to other IEMs would have been helpful)
    – You could get the Shure SE425 for about the same price. Not only do they offer wayyyy better sound quality, bar None. They also offer better value. Given that they aren’t ANC in-ears but they at least offer passive noise isolation at an impressive level.

    I have no doubt that these will sound amazing to whoever is used to cheap iphone or android Headsets or any 100-2000PhP Headsets for that matter. But I think People without a clue about quality and pricing of good IEMs should be givn options available to such a broad variety of brands and types. Below 4000Php, below 8000Php, below 12’000, below 20’000Php and 30’000 and above.

    Other than that good Review.

    Cheers

  • his

    This earphone is quite a very good earphone. I’m glad you chose this one to review.

  • Mike040284

    Very nice sound quality thats all. The price is unjustifiable theres is variety of choices than can offer same sound quality in a competitive price. The design is good but not impressive some part of it are to ugly and awkward when using the earphone.