BOSE QC25s Quiet Comfort 25 over-ears (MSRP $299.95) offer the latest in acoustic noise-canceling and active equalization. They’re durable, comfortable, and silent. When the battery dies, they become ghosts.

Bose QC 25 is one of the best active noise-canceling headphones this year.
Panasonic’s HC800 noise cancelers are a cheaper option for a calmer commute. They lack design and comfort but cost $180 online. QuietComfort 25s is one of the best active noise-canceling headphones this year.

Comfort comes from solid craftsmanship.

At $300, we anticipate good audio, noise cancellation, design, and materials from the QC 25 over-ears. These headphones live up to their hefty price tag by being comfy and high-quality. This design is very similar to the previous QC15s.

Whether you choose black or white QC25s (we went black), you’ll enjoy well-padded ear cups, a flexible band with a soft mesh cushion, and a robust metallic backing with the Bose logo. The QC 25 over-ears have good cup movement and substantial arm extensions. The cups hug the outside of the ears so well that you may feel born with them.

Bose QC 25

High-quality materials and soft ear pads make the Bose QC 25 headphones comfy. The noise-canceling switch is on the right ear cup, as usual.

Because the wire is removable, Bose took it from another device. The cord is costly but inferior to the headphones’ artistry. The 2.5mm–3.5mm male-to-male configuration means you may not have a replacement if you lose or break it.

The Bose QC 25 over-ears have good cup movement and substantial arm extensions.

Bose includes a zip-up case, aircraft adaptor, and AAA battery with these cans. The noise-canceling power switch is on the right ear cup, per industry standards.

A controller and microphone on the cord allow users to adjust the volume, pause/play music, skip tracks, and answer calls. Bose says these functionalities work with iOS, Android, Windows, and Blackberry phones.

Good audio quality, good canceling
Acoustic noise cancellation sets the QC2s apart from other over-ear headphones, but they need superior audio to justify their price.

One function generates another. The QC 25s have a rich soundscape, delicate low-end support, loudness, and clear treble. If you turn off noise canceling or run out of battery, “inactive” sound loses many subtleties.

You’ll need extra AAA batteries for long excursions; running out will be like downgrading your headphones.
Implications Long excursions require extra AAA batteries. Running out of electricity is like buying cheaper headphones. Sub-bass support is lost without the ANC, while guitars and vocals become quieter and less detailed.

Clipped high notes or missing bass tones are absent. While canceling is on, there’s almost no sub-bass distortion. This is great for active cancelers because your music is clean and crisp, from the highest trills to the deepest thumps.

Sub-bass and bass noises, like rumbling airplane engines, are reduced. Crying babies and ringing phones become quieter.
The QC 25s quiet noise well. Sub-bass and bass noises are reduced by 30 dB, which is significant. Higher-pitched noises like crying babies and ringing phones are also dampened. Commuters and travelers can listen at low volumes without interruptions.

Turn on QC 25’s ANC and leave it on. Audio quality and harmonic distortion are best with extra AAAs, so pack some.

The sound quality could be better. The Beyerdynamic Custom One Pros are the most excellent headphones we’ve tried in recent memory. If you want active noise canceling headphones, Panasonic’s RP-HC800 over-ears offer somewhat better sound quality for less at the price of comfort and design.

We can forgive a few sound production faults, given the QC25’s cancellation. Every unpleasant sound is muted, from truck sirens to jet rotors to kids singing Ariana Grande. As long as you play your music loudly, nearby noises shouldn’t be a problem. Add a comfortable design, and you have the ideal travel buddy for your next long flight.

The Insiders

Bose QuietComfort 25 over-ear headphones (MSRP $299.95) deliver consumer-friendly sound, exceptional isolation, and low distortion when active cancellation is engaged. Without it, the sound staging suffers, and sub-bass/bass parts distort more.


Isolation is where the QC 25 over-ears shine. Our isolation test analyses headphones’ ability to separate sounds with and without active noise canceling, measuring their innate isolation capabilities and the improvements they gained by enabling ANC.

QC 25 over-ears with ANC lower sub-bass/bass tones by 20 dB, or 25% of their original level. Midtones are only affected by 15-20 dB, but high-mid and high-end frequencies are reduced by 25-35 dB to 1/8 of their former volume.

The Bose QC25s eliminate noise and any others we’ve tried this year. The bass is lowered by 30 dB, for example.


Like other ANC-equipped cans, these Bose give a varied soundtrack depending on their status. We measured the frequency response with ANC on and off and discovered considerable changes in the bass, mid-tone emphasis, and left and right speaker channels.

With ANC enabled, the QC 25 over-ears give sub-bass and bass tones a flat, even response that will impress audiophiles. This focus tapers from 80 dB to 75 dB at 1kHz midrange, falling for high-mid trebles and peaking again (slightly) at 6kHz. The upshot is a consumer-facing sound that’s delicate and well-balanced, save for 3kHz.

QC25 over-ears sound best with ANC on, but they lack emphasis at 3kHz.

The soundscape needs to be balanced with ANC. The sub-bass range between 20 and 60 Hz takes the heaviest impact, decreasing from 80 dB to 75 in the left and closer to 70 in the right channel. Across the whole frequency range, left/proper channels are out of sync in volume. A loss of intensity between 1.8kHz and 6kHz implies details are lost.

Off Bose QC 25 ANC
The Bose QC 25 sounds worse without ANC.

Harmonic distortion

Distortion, mechanical sounds, and clipped harmonics or bass tones during speaker playback can ruin fabulous headphones. Similar to their frequency response test, the Bose QC 25 over-ears perform better with ANC on than off, pushing consumers to never run out of power.

With ANC, distortion is low. Sub-bass, the most distorted frequency band, never exceeds 10% THD. Between 60 and 10kHz, distortion is below 3%, the optimal level.

With noise canceling off, Bose QC 25 distorts
THD is higher with ANC off than on.

With ANC off, many changes. THD in the sub-bass range (audibly, 20 Hz–60Hz) jumps between 25% and 40% depending on the channel studied, which is substantially greater than with ANC on. Right channel THD peaks just about 3% in the bass range above 60Hz with ANC off.


The QC25s another great set of ANCs from Bose.
The QC25s are Bose’s premier personal audio device and will be in every airport for 5-10 years. Like the QC15s, the QC25s are battery-powered. Now they can play music without ANC, but the soundscape is so much better with it on that you’ll never want to. Spend $5 on a four-pack of AAAs to get your money’s worth.