I had the Bose QC 35 II, but Sony poached me with the WH-1000XM5

Sony WH 1000XM5 vs Bose QC 35 2 1

Adamya Sharma / Android Authority

About two weeks ago I got my hands on the Sony WH-1000XM5 – the company’s star active noise canceling headphones. I quickly opened the fully recyclable packaging that matches the silver headphones inside – a nice little touch – and hit shuffle on my playlist to see how the cans sound without any tinkering.

“My God” by Jethro Tull starts playing and I immediately have a smile on my face when I hear the brilliant separation between the opening vocals and the guitar riff. Even then I knew I was going to love the WH-1000XM5. Especially after using the Bose QuietComfort 35 II for about four years now.

I’m not here to talk about how great these sound; we have already done that in our Sony WH-1000XM5 test. I’m here to tell you why I’ve decided to move away from Bose’s ANC headphones and join the Sony camp.

Comfort cannot be beat

Sony WH-1000XM5

Adamya Sharma / Android Authority

I preferred the Sony WH-1000XM5 to my older Bose cans and even the newer QuietComfort 45 for a number of reasons. First and foremost is the undeniable comfort and first-class build quality. I’ve also used Sony’s Mark 4 headphones, but the newer and larger design of the WH-1000XM5 is a big step forward.

I don’t deny that I miss the foldability of the Bose QC 35 II

The adjustment bar is a more modern, slimmer approach compared to the last generation model. The Bose QC 35 II and newer QC 45 also have an adjustable band that locks in at different levels, but Sony’s slider system feels smooth and superior. The soft faux leather covering the headphones all around is also a nice touch compared to the Bose headphones’ foam padding, which is limited to just a small section on the headband.

I don’t deny that I miss the Bose QC 35 II’s foldability and that they were comfortable for their time. It’s an ease to ball them up and toss them in a bag without a tote bag or a worry in the world. However, I’m willing to take that trade for the sheer pleasure of donning the WH-1000XM5. Many reviewers online note that the Sony headphones are better suited to people with big ears than the Bose pair thanks to their large earcups. I’m someone with medium sized ears and this means the 1000XM5 hugs my ears even better and makes them super cozy.

Touch controls are better than buttons

A finger tapping the earcup of a Sony WH-1000XM5 head worn.

Zak Khan / Android Authority

Another great benefit of using the Sony cans is the wide variety of controls they offer. I know some people prefer the good old buttons that Bose supplies in the QC range, but listen to me. Sony’s touch controls are easy to remember. You can swipe forward to go to the next track, back to listen to the previous one, and up/down to adjust the volume. The surface behind both earcups is smooth and large enough to register gestures, and I absolutely adore the fact that Sony gives me the ability to completely turn off touch controls with a press of a button in the companion app.

On the other hand, the Bose headphones always offered a bit of guesswork as to where the buttons are and which ones I’m pressing. I also think touch controls are more contemporary and the way forward for headphones. Finally, Bose jumped on the bandwagon with its Headphones 700. Why not bring touch controls to the QuietComfort line?

Why isn’t Bose bringing touch controls to the QuietComfort line?

Even the QuietComfort 45 sticks to the aging button approach. In fact, the newer model removes the ability to quickly turn off ANC entirely (unlike the QC 35 II), and users are left in either noise-cancelling mode or an aware mode that allows in ambient noise. So you end up wasting valuable battery juice, whichever option you choose. This is a step backwards, not progress, and does not inspire confidence in me to stay with the brand in the future.

Do you prefer touch controls or buttons on wireless headphones?

22 votes

Perhaps the biggest issue I have with the QCs is the lack of intuitive, easy-to-use smarts. The music just keeps playing when you take off the headphones. There’s also no instant mute feature like Sony has offered for years, where you can place your palm over an earcup to hear what’s going on around you and remove it to get back to your music. You can also talk to someone while wearing the WH-1000XM5 and playback will pause for the duration of the conversation. For me, these are simple but intelligent functions that make using a wireless headphone even more enjoyable. For headphones that sound this good, it’s a shame Bose hasn’t adopted some of these features.

Bose chooses to stay “pretty happy” with what already works.

All in all, Bose’s ANC headphones feel sparsely equipped compared to what Sony is offering. The latter improves the design, sound, controls and functions of the connected app with each generation of its all-star ANC headset. After waiting five years for a new and improved QC headset, I expected more from the QC45 than what Bose ultimately delivered.

Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Headphones

Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Headphones

ANC performance • Excellent microphone • App features including custom EQ

Sony shows why it’s the leader of the ANC pack.

The predecessors to the Sony WH-1000XM5 were the premier class, and this new headphone takes that crown. With new drivers, features and new design, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is a fascinating headphone among the flagship Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) devices on the market. Especially when traveling or in the office, it shines.

Still, it took the Sony WH-1000XM5 to finally convince me to upgrade my Bluetooth headphones and switch brands entirely. Since these headsets aren’t exactly cheap and I don’t upgrade every year, I’d rather put my money on a brand that’s actively improving their product than one that chooses to stay “pretty happy” with what already is works for them.

Continue reading: Comparison between Sony WH-1000XM5 and Bose QuietComfort 45

https://www.androidauthority.com/sony-wh-1000xm5-vs-bose-3210646/ I had the Bose QC 35 II, but Sony poached me with the WH-1000XM5

Chris Barrese

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