I bought both headsets (and returned the other) so you don’t have to. Which one did I keep? Read on.
First up, these are both incredible noise-canceling bluetooth headphones, you can’t really go wrong with either model. Both have great battery life (Bose: 20hrs, Sony: 30hrs) with quick charge, both are lightweight, both have similar accessories and both have industry-leading noise cancelation. I chose the Sony in the end because of my listening preference (sound tuning), customization, and audio transparency. These are expensive headphones so you should OBVIOUSLY love listening to them.
Both of these headphones cost USD $350, plus taxes. I’ve heard the Bose occasionally have a discount from certain vendors down to $300 but I haven’t spotted that deal.
Bose have simple physical buttons, a single play/pause/skip button along with volume up and volume down. Physical buttons are great because you can’t really confuse things, but there isn’t much spacing between the three buttons, nor a noticable tactile difference between them.
Sony went with a more progressive and clean approach by implementing touch controls which was present in previous iterations of the MH1000X. The touch controls are pretty responsive, and simple enough to use. I have found myself mis-swiping and accidentally skip a track or restart one by accident when you’re on the move and as a result I tend not to use the touch controls so often, instead opting to control tracks via the Apple Watch or directly on my phone.
Important note: I have found that the Sony headphones occasionally glitch out as though I’ve activated voice controls, or Siri. I’m a bit baffled about this, and it isn’t infrequent enough to be ignored. If you’ve experienced this issue, Sony offer some advice.
The Bose QC 35 (What do you call them? version 2, series 2, number 2?) are the more comfortable pair of headphones. I attribute this to the fact that they tend to stay cooler than the Sony headphone during a bout of longer listening. I found that the Sony headphones feel warmer after around 30-45 minutes. I can wear both either brand comfortably for multiple hours, so I don’t think this is enough of a deterent.
I purchased the Bose headphones first and I came the conclusion that I wasn’t thrilled with the dynamics of this headphone within 2 or 3 listens. I was disappointed enough to look online for other contenders in this category, I thought Bose were the only real option for wireless noice canceling headphones. I have since been informed that audiophiles speak of Bose with the following quip; “No highs, no lows, must be Bose”. I then discovered that Sony are making a splash with the latest edition of the intuitively named WH1000X m3. Not only that, but most of the tech reviewers I viewed were saying they preferred the Sony headset. I should say, Bose are pretty awesome to give you a 30 day return window, which is refreshingly customer friendly. Sony on the other hand, don’t appear to promote their return policy anywhere. I get the impression their return policy is based on the
And turns out, they’re right. The Sony MH1000X M3 are, for my money, a better sounding headphone and more enjoyable to listen to. If you’re familiar with Bose and enjoy their tuning, then stick with them. But if you want a little more punch to your bass, and a generally more exciting listening experience, you have to go with Sony.
I’m not so attuned to audio that I can determine which of the two is better for noise cancellation, other reviewers seem to be convinced that Sony’s tech is better. I have to agree with those smart bastards, but not because of the cancellation, quite the opposite. Sony have built in technology (which you can deactivate and customize) which is confusingly called “audio transparency”.
WHAT THE FUCK IS AUDIO TRANSPARENCY? A less technical breakdown": instead of cancelling out all outside noise, your headphones will kindly let you hear the outside world. This can even be tuned to pick up and amplify voices. If you’re on the train, you can hear those announcements about taking your backpack off. It’s really very helpful and can save you from traffic accidents. Sony call this technology Ambient Sound Control within the mobile app, and I’m not sure if there is an industry standard for this tech.
Sony’s app (conveniently called Headphones once installed on iPhone) isn’t easy-to-use, the UI is cluttered with everyone on one page. This is both a good and bad thing. The Sony app gives you much more flexibility to configure your headset, with some really useful features. You’re going to want to spend 15-20 minutes navigating through this to hear which settings matter to you and probably, what the hell it all means. It’s not terrible, but it’s not clean and intuitive either..
Bose provide a more barebones mobile app, and this is due largely to the fact that there are very few options available to you to control your listening experience. There aren’t enough options to fine tune your listening experience, and if there were, I didn’t get what I wanted or hoped for. Bose don’t currently offer audio transparency, which creates a pretty major gap in the feature set and one that I think really gives a healthy lead to Sony.
The Sony WH1000X m3 (9 oz/255 g) are a little heavier than the Bose QC35 (8.3 oz oz/309 g). The difference here is so small it’s negligible unless you’re counting grams for the perfect carry-on pack list.
Both headsets feature quick charge. Sony promise you can get 5 hours of battery life with just 10 minutes of charge.
Sony lack the ability to pair with multiple Bluetooth devices, so Bose gains a point on this front, it is a bit painful to pair with more than one device, so take that into consideration.
Sony have a unique feature that is activated by placing a palm on the right ear cup. When doing so, audio playback is temporarily paused and audio transparency is activated so you can hear what is going on around you without having to take off your headphones for as long as your palm is on the cup.
Sony = USB C (another win)
Bose = Micro USB
Both come with a standard audio cable, but Sony provide a more standard 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable, Bose use a less common 2.5mm to 3.5mm cable.