Bose QuietComfort 45 Review: When old reliable gets old

No longer the default

Bose QC45s
Bose QuietComfort 45
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
Battery
24 hours
Multipoint
Yes
Weight
238g
Alex Choros
Group Reviews Editor
Read More
August 18, 2022
3 min read

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Quick verdict: Bose QuietComfort 45 Wireless Headphones

Bose is still one of your best bets for comfortable noise-cancelling headphones, but some QC45 design decisions are stuck in the past. 

pro
Pros
pro Excellent noise-cancelling
pro Very comfortable
pro Solid battery
con
Cons
con No autopause
con Can't turn off noise-cancelling entirely

Bose's QuietComfort range is typically thought of as the go-to for travellers thanks to its noise-cancelling prowess. When combined with a compact, collapsible design and a light, comfortable fit, it's no surprise the QuietComfort family was long thought of as the default for on-the-go over-ear headphones.

With the QuietComfort 45s (henceforth, QC45s), Bose continues to excel at its strengths. They're long-lasting headphones with great noise-cancelling and cushy design, but they're also stuck in the past.

Bose may be synonymous with noise cancellation, but it's not the only game in town anymore. Sony has made incredible strides in the field, Apple has entered the arena with AirPods Max, and other manufacturers like Sennheiser and Bowers & Wilkins are rapidly catching up.

Given the increased competition, it's surprising how small an upgrade the QC45s are over their predecessors. Bose has made improvements to battery and noise-cancellation, but hasn't added many of the modern conveniences rivals are now offering.

Bose QC45s

How much do Bose QuietComfort 45 cost in Australia?

Store
Price
More info
Amazon
From
$398
The Good Guys
From
$499
Dick Smith
From
$389
Kogan
From
$389

Bose QuietComfort 45 sound and noise-cancelling

When it comes to sound quality, the Bose QC45s offer a mostly good out-of-the-box listening experience with a heightened treble. This bright tuning works for the most part, but it can make songs that operate in the high-end taxing to listen to. I could barely make it through Portishead's "Humming" on the Reviews.org AU audio testing playlist.

The treble emphasis can also detract from the clarity on some songs. I found myself completely losing the kick drum during the psychedelic freakouts in Radiohead's "The National Anthem".

Thanks to a recent software update, the Bose QC45s now feature an equaliser in their companion app. I found drastically dialling down the treble made the headphones less sibilant.

Microphone quality is perfectly fine, but nowhere near as clear as what Bose achieved on the more premium yet older NCH 700. They're also a step below the AirPods Max, but about on par with the last generation Sony WH-1000XM4s.

The Bose QC45s excel when it comes to noise-cancelling however. While the Sony WH-1000XM5s edge them out slightly, the QC45s are hard to fault when it comes to making the world a little bit quieter.

The implementation is a little weird, however. You can't switch off noise cancellation entirely, unless you're using your QC45s as wired headphones with the included 3.5mm cable. You can either have it on, or use the transparency mode that mixes in the real world. The transparency mode sounds pretty natural, but it would have been nice to be able to switch it off to get extra battery life in a pinch.

You're also missing out on variable noise cancellation options. While other headphones - including Bose's NCH 700s - give you the option to pick the level of noise you want to block out, this isn't the case here. I don't mind the omission personally, but it's a bit of a weird one.

Bose QuietComfort 45 battery and features

Bose QC45s

The Bose QC45 offer up reliable battery of up to 24 hours per charge. That's an improvement over the QC35 IIs, but not exactly stellar. Sony's WH-1000XM5s offer up to 30 hours per charge, while the new Sennheiser Momentum 4s boast up to 60. For most users, the QC45s should still be enough, however. And if you need a top-up, a 15-minute charge if they're flat gets you 2.5 hours of playtime.

Where the Bose QC45 really feel dated is a lack of functionality that's becoming increasingly standard. The lack of auto-pause is my biggest frustration; if you take them off, the QC45s will keep playing whatever audio you're listening to. There are also no fast pairing options, and you can't listen to them while charging.

I do however like that the QC45s still have physical controls rather than touch, and multipoint for connecting two devices at once is a useful perk.

Are Bose QuietComfort 45 worth buying?

Bose QC45s

The Bose QC45s are ideal for those that want more of the same. If you've got an older pair of QuietComfort headphones that you love but are getting a bit worn and battered, the QC45s will be a nice, familiar replacement.

While I understand Bose not wanting to deviate from the formula that makes the QC45s beloved, this iteration could have used just a little more love. Even auto-pause would help make the QC45s feel more era-appropriate and solve a big frustration.

The QC45s are still a great option if you're after a comfortable pair of noise-cancelling headphones, especially if you value a compact form factor. It's just hard to think of them as the default.

Compare over-ear headphones

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How we review over-ear headphones

When we review over-ear wireless headphones, there are five main considerations:

  • Sound: Do they sound good? Audio quality is pretty important for headphones, after all.
  • Comfort & Design: Are they comfortable to wear over extended periods of time?
  • Features: How long does the battery last? Is the connectivity reliable? Is the noise-cancelling good?
  • Vibe: What's the overall experience?
  • Value: Are they good for the money?

While audio products can be quite subjective for many reasons, we have standardised testing procedures across the team designed to help us look at the category in a consistent way. You can read more about how we review over-ear headphones here.

Alex Choros
Written by
Alex Choros
Alex Choros is the Group Reviews Editor for Clearlink Australia's local websites - Reviews.org, Safewise, and WhistleOut - and the Managing Editor for WhistleOut Australia. He's been writing about consumer technology for over eight years and is an expert on the Australian telco sector, to the point where he knows far too many phone and internet plans by heart. He also contributes to Gizmodo and Lifehacker, and makes regular appearances on 2GB. Outside of tech, Alex loves long hikes, red wine, and death metal.

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