Beats vs Bose – Which Noise Cancelling Headphones are Right for YOU?

If you’re in the market for a pair of noise cancelling headphones and you’ve narrowed it down to a pair of Beats Studio or Bose Quiet Comfort headphones then this article is for you. I own both and am an actual (and active) user of each. In this article I’ll give you some practical wisdom to help you decide which one is best for YOU.

First some housekeeping:

  1. I don’t profess to be an audiophile or a tech genius so I’m not going to review highly technical information or in-depth specs. I’m just an average joe who likes to listen to music and wants to enjoy more of the music and less of the external noise. I also travel a lot and find that a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones can make all the difference on long plane rides. If that sounds like you, then this article should be helpful.
  2. As I mentioned, I actually do own a pair of each of the cans I’ll be reviewing – the over the ear Beats Studio 2.0 and Bose Quiet Comfort 25 (and the new Bose QC 35’s). I point this out to let you know that I did NOT get a pair of either for free from the manufacturer in exchange for giving a good (aka fake) review like you find on so many other sites. I have no dog in the race. I’m just here to give you my honest feedback to help you make the best decision possible. Given how expensive these are, I hope you find it helpful.

What’s the Quick and Dirty?

Where I prefer the Beats:
1) Bass – nobody can reasonably argue that the Beats are superior to the Bose in this category of music and if that’s all you care about then get the Beats
2) Comfort – the Beats are slightly more comfortable on the ear than the Bose but it’s minor. I’ve worn my Bose for multiple 10-14 hour flights and not had any trouble but since I’m trying to be objective I will say Beats are just a bit better here, but I wouldn’t let this influence your buying choice because both are comfortable.

Where I prefer the Bose:
1) Noise Cancelling – it’s really not close here. The Bose are far superior for active noise cancelling
2) Non-Bass tones – what the Bose lack in bass they make up for in the other ranges. You’ll hear more overall with the Bose, especially if you listen to more ‘non-Pop’ music
3) Travel/Battery – this is the BIGGEST difference for me – you can read more detailed info in the Beats Review section but with Beats once the charge is gone so is your music!  With the Bose, if the battery runs out, not only can you switch to a new one, but as a last resort, they Bose WILL still work as non-noise cancelling headphones without ANY battery.

My Quick Take: get the Beats if you wanna look cool because of the name, get the Bose if you want the better pair of active noise cancelling headphones that you can really rely on.


The Reviews

Beats Studio 2.0 Headphones (both wire and wireless)


Beat Studio over the ear headphones are very comfortable, provide a great listening experience (especially if you like music which has lots of bass), and when fully charged last a reasonably long time (up to 20 hours). Like Bose QC headphones they feature “adaptive” noise cancelling (ANC) technology which (as of the time of this article’s writing) is the best available technology for consistent noise cancelling on the market today. The Beats do very good job of noise cancelling (but not quite as good as the Bose do in my opinion) and I think most people will be happy with the Beats noise cancelling feature. People around you will also appreciate the fact that Beats Studio cans are closed so your music won’t spill out to others (especially useful when traveling) – but note that the Bose are the same too.

The primary problem with the Beats Studio phones is there battery life – while you get up to 20 hours with the internal rechargeable battery but once that rechargeable battery dies (say if you are traveling and can’t recharge easily), then your listening experience is dead too. There is no option to continue listening without ANC (which those Bose does provide) and you also can’t just replace the battery. That’s a major flaw. This very thing happened to my wife and I while on a long international flight and it was very frustrating. Sure there is a ‘fuel’ gauge (a series of white dots on the side of phones) so show you how much battery BeatsStudio-Accessoriesis left but it’s not always convenient of possible to recharge and that’s a concern.

Another pain is that the carrying case is a bit cramped – even though the phones collapse its not easy to fit all the cords and phones into the case which is frustrating too.

That being said, the Beats Studio 2.0 (whether wire or wireless) are still a nice pair of ANC headphones and if the Bose are not an option I think most would be happy with these.



Bose Quiet Comfort (QC25 and QC35)

BoseQC25colorsThe QC25 and QC35 are essentially the same headphone except that the latter is wireless. They are lightweight (0.43 lbs compared to the .57 lbs of the Beats), comfortable (although some have complained of ‘pinching’ after extended use), and do an EXCELLENT job of “acoustic noise cancelling” (ANC) which is basically the same as the Beats in terms of technology (in my non-professional opinion) but better than the Beats in terms of performance (aka the Bose are slightly superior in their ability to consistently cancel more outside noise).

>Side Note: Does this mean the Bose (or Beats) will cancel ALL external noise? Definitely not. In fact, if the noise is random (best example here would be 1 or 2 people intermittently talking on the TV) then the noise cancelling is not very good. Basically for BoseQC35bANC to work well the noise has to be somewhat constant (like traffic, a jet engine, or lots of people talking all together) – then the noise cancelling is great. (FYI, when you go to Best Buy or a store that has a noise cancelling demo, they’ll pipe in a constant noise and that makes the ANC work great). This is true for any noise cancelling phones available today. The Bose are the best at noise cancelling in my opinion but they won’t cancel everything so I don’t want you to be disappointed. This is just the current limits of technology.

The Bose may not be as good as the Beats in terms of powerful bass, however the mid-range and high end range is better with the Bose so if you listen to jazz, classical, or anything in which you want to hear more than just a dominant bass, the Bose are the way to go.

. As we said, the Beats have a built-in rechargeable battery lasts up to 20 hours (which is the same for the Bose QC35), whereas the Bose QC25’s use a regular (disposable or rechargeable) AAA and if it dies then you have options. With the QC35, you can just plug the phones into your media device and listen without ANC. With the QC25’s you can either replace your AAA battery with a new one and happily carry on or (if you don’t have another battery) then you can just listen without ANC. Is the sound quality degraded? Obviously. However it’s clearly better than having no music at all (as would be the case with the Beats). I think that’s a big deal, don’t you? As an added bonus the Bose QC25 case gives you space for an extra battery too.

BoseCaseOther tidbits: like the Beats, the Bose are a closed loop design so you won’t bother people beside you with noise spillage. Like the Beats, the Bose phones are collapsable. Unlike the Beats, the Bose case IS convenient and allows enough space for the phones and your cords, etc. The Bose also come with an extra ‘airline’ 2-prong adapter which comes in handy on some airplanes with this old style technology.

The Bottom line is if you have the money, the Bose QC 25 or QC35 would be your best bet if you want the best noise cancelling headphones available today. 


What’s YOUR take? 

If you have a comment to share, spotted an error, or have new info we’d love to hear from you.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s