Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3

Wireless headphones are on the rise and there is nothing we can do about it.  The quality of wireless connectivity and battery life is improving all the time.  I reviewed two of the best in ear wireless headphones on the market (Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless and Beats Powerbeats3) in the Bose SoundSport Pulse vs Powerbeats 3 review.  Bose and Beats are two of the best manufacturers on the market.  I thought it would be a good idea to review two of the best over ear wireless headphones around.  Welcome to the Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3 review.

Both sets of headphones are designed for the wireless age.  For those who like to listen to music without the hassle of wires, whether in the gym or on the train.  Both headphones are very similar in spec and in style, so this review will hopefully give the ultimate verdict.  Read on to see which headphones are the best in this Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3 review.

Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3 – Design

Bose QuietComfort 35 

The Bose QC35 II NC look exactly like the previous generation headphone aside from the new Google Assistant button found on the left ear piece. The headphones come in black or silver and its design is very basic to say the least. This makes them perfect for modest commuters, but less perfect for those who like their headphones to make a statement

Also disappointing is its plastic build, which makes them lighter but feels extremely cheap especially compared to luxury headphones like the Master & Dynamic MW50, which bathes your head with lambskin leather and aluminium.

Thankfully, the plastic build doesn’t affect the headphone’s ability to take punishment as it feels very solid. The headphones come with a hard case for traveling, which is nicer than the pouches that many headphone makers provide.

The plastic build does help the QC35 II NC in terms of comfort and we were impressed by just how comfortable the headphone was to use for extended periods. Although plastic doesn’t feel as nice as metal, it does wonders in weight savings which commuters and travellers will love on long journeys.

Beats Studio3

The Beats Studio3 Wireless look very similar to the previous generation of Studio Wireless headphones.  Aside from the big beats logo on each ear cup, they are actually quite tastefully designed.  These headphones stick fairly close to your head, which is one of the key factors in stopping full-size pairs looking silly.

The all black version is about as low-key as Beats headphones are likely to get any time soon. Those after a punchier or gaudy look can have it with other finishes that include classic Beats red with silver highlights and white with gold trim.

Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3

There’s nothing new to see here in terms of build. Most of the Beats Studio3 Wireless frame is plastic. The pads use synthetic leather that, while soft, looks fake from 2ft away.

The fact that they are made from plastic doesn’t really matter though.  The Beats Studio3 Wireless seem perfectly well-built to us. Indeed, the plastics don’t creak too much. There is also a well-judged bit of resistance in the fold-up hinge of the headband that stops the stems from flapping.

The Beats Studio3 Wireless are also very comfortable. Oval cut-outs in the pads give enough room for most ears, and over-ear headphones like this avoid the ear fatigue problems common among on-ear pairs, and that includes the Beats Solo 3 Wireless.

Winner Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3 – Design: Beats Studio3

Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3

Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3 – Features

Bose QuietComfort 35

Google Assistant is the Bose QC35 II NC’s headline feature.  The speed and accuracy of Google Assistant is impressive.  The headphones are also able to pick up voices in crowded places like trains or coffee shops.

Before you power on the headphone for the first time, you’re asked to download the Bose app for your phone.  The app is required for many features like toggling noise cancellation, remapping the Google Assistant button and updating firmware.  The app is simple and works well, although there can be a few connectivity issues.  Hopefully Bose will improve this over time.

Using Google Assistant with the Bose QC35 II NC works just like it would on Google Home. You can ask it to read headlines, add reminders and many other questions. The Assistant will also read you your notifications as they come in, which is a nice feature.

Where Bose fall short is simple things like automatically pausing your music when you take off the headphones. There’s no instant-mute feature like on the Sony WH-1000XM2 where you can put your palm over an ear cup to hear what’s going on around you.  It would have been a good feature to have.

Battery life is an excellent 20 hours with noise cancellation turned on and listening at moderate volumes, which is spot on.  However, the battery is not removable so bring a microUSB charging cable and a battery pack just in case.

If you want to save some battery life, you can listen in wired mode with noise cancellation still on, which is a nice option to have. Unfortunately Bose chose to use a 2.5mm to 3.5mm cable – which means finding a replacement won’t be as easy – but it’s not a big deal.

Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3

Beats Studio3

Apple’s W1 chip is one of the key changes in the Beats Studio3 Wireless. This is a custom wireless chipset that takes the wrinkles out of the connection process when hooking up with an iPhone or iPad.

When you turn the Beats Studio3 Wireless on, you’ll see a pop-up prompt appear on your iPhone with a spinning 3D model of the headphones. You just tap a button on this pop-up to connect. iOS 11 already has a great interface for reconnecting to normal Bluetooth headphones, but the W1 chip makes the interaction seem more direct.  It also lets you see the headphones’ battery per cent from the app you’re using to stream, which is a nice feature.

Battery life is great, although with all features engaged stamina is similar to the Bose QuietComfort 35’s. You’ll get 22 hours with wireless and ANC, or 20 from Bose. Switch active noise cancellation off and the Studio3 Wireless will last up to 40 hours, which is impressive.  There’s also a little 5-LED indicator by the power button to let you see a rough guide of how much power is left before you put them on

As has become the norm for Beats headphones, wireless performance is just about perfect whether you use an iPhone or an Android. This isn’t something only just get with Beats/Apple. Bose and other manufacturers also fantastic blip-free wireless these days, but it’s still worth noting.

The controls on the left cup can also be used for Androids and iPhones.  A central Beats logo button acts as play pause, and changes tracks with multiple taps, while the buttons above and below alter volume.

Noise cancellation

Pure active noise cancellation is an improved feature on the Beats Studio3 Wireless.  It is designed to avoid distortion caused by cancellation of louder sources. We’ve heard such distortion in pairs from less experienced noise cancelling headphone makers when taking the London Tube.  However, I haven’t heard any such distortion from the Bose QuietComfort 35.

Pure ANC also doesn’t solve one of the biggest issues with ANC headphones out in the real world: wind noise. This is where wind whistles around the pinhole mic, which the noise cancellation attempts to correct, in doing so only creating more noise. The Beats Studio3 Wireless are slightly more susceptible than some to wind noise, but it affects pretty much all ANC headphones to some extent.

The Beats Studio3 Wireless’s noise cancellation is fairly effective, providing the main benefits of making cities less stressful and keeping engine noise out. However, the Bose QuietComfort 35’s cancellation is still significantly better.
Passing cars aren’t reduced to a light whoosh, and the effect isn’t eerily detaching like Bose’s. However, it’s good enough that you don’t have to turn the volume up in noisy environments.
Beats has marketed “Pure ANC” to sound better than just about anything out there. It isn’t, but it’s pretty good all the same.  However, given it’s better noise cancellation, the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 win the features battle

Winner Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3 – Design: Bose QuietComfort 35

Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3

Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3 – Performance

Bose QuietComfort 35

Bose’s forte is active noise cancellation and it shows with the QC35 II NC. Switching on noise cancellation is like walking into a quiet room after being on a busy city street. The headphone does an excellent job of drowning out everything from the rumble of a train, cars driving by and even voices.

There’s still some pressure we felt with noise cancellation turned on but it wasn’t bad.  The headphones do an excellent job of blocking out ambient noise even with noise cancellation turned off, which is a testament to Bose’s ear pad design.

In terms of sound, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II NC is good, but not the best.  The tonal balance is neutral, which a slight mid bass boost.  However, the sound is a little soft at times.  This means dynamic range is a bit limited and makes for a somewhat dull presentation. Resolution is good but not great and sound stage is about par.

Most listeners will find the sound quality of the Bose great if taken in isolation. Audiophiles will want to go with the Sony WH-1000XM2 or Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 2 instead.  However, compared to the Beats Studio3 it does very well.

Beats Studio3

The Beats Studio3 Wireless do not sound bass heavy or juvenile.

The Studio3 Wireless have quite a forward presentation and a good sound stage. This makes key parts of a mix seem close to your ears, making sure the sound isn’t too relaxed.   Relatively conservative low or “sub” bass is one potential surprise of the Beats Studio3 Wireless.  The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 and Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 are more aggressive here, making kick drums stand out and seem more powerful.

The Beats Studio3 have another kind of bass emphasis. It’s a thickness in the upper bass and low mids rather than a sub-bass punch.  You might think of it as a fat, warm or full tone, which is what leaves a certain bass heavy aftertaste.  In many situations this works quite well. For example podcasts aren’t underpinned by a bass rumble but voices still sound robust.

Switch to vocal-lead music, particularly that with a gravelly old crooner like Leonard Cohen, and you can hear how this strategy is not perfect. Certain parts of the Beats Studio3 Wireless’s low-mids end up saturated to the point they lack texture.  This blocks up the sound, stopping music from sounding properly separated. It can also seem resonant with certain songs, which is abrasive to the ear.

We’ve heard this mid failing before in Beats headphones and noted how it makes the soundstage seem constrained, even though the problem is in the “middle”, not the top and bottom.  The Beats Studio3 Wireless also have slightly safe treble that lacks bite compared other headphones at the price. But this is very minor issue compared with the somewhat poor low mids.

However, the Beats Studio3 sound good on the whole. Buy them, put them on, play a tune or two and you are unlikely to be too disappointed.

Winner Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3 – Performance: Bose QuietComfort 35

Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3

Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3 – Verdict

Tt is a close call between the two headphones.  Both have great wireless capability and connectivity.  Both have excellent battery life.  Although the Beats Studio3 can last longer than the Bose QuietComfort 35.  If you don’t have many opportunities to charge, this should be taken into consideration.  Both headphones look fine, neither are very exciting, but they are both tasteful and fine to look at.  The over ear design of both headphones make them comfortable for long listening periods.

However, due to their superior noise cancellation capability and sound performance, the winner has to be the Bose QuietComfort 35.  Don’t get me wrong, the Beats Studio3 are excellent.  If you purchased them I am sure you would like them.  But the Bose QuietComfort 35 have a more sounded sound, and far can cut nearly all background noise.  The sound performance and noise cancellation of the Bose QuietComfort 35 is excellent and for that reason is my winner.

Winner Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3Bose QuietComfort 35

Bose QuietComfort 35 vs Beats Studio3

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