Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones NC700 is the first Bose flagship headphones with significant redesign since last decade. It looks fresh with modern and minimalist design, far different from the traditional Bose look and feel that we know and love for quite some time. For me, the new design is a good move, but the big question is whether the quality is up to Bose’s reputation.
As a happy owner of Bose QC35, I did not plan to upgrade my headphones when newer models were announced. That stayed true until I saw Bose NC700 listed in Microsoft Store website while browsing for alternative headset for Teams video calling. Jabra Evolve 75e served me well and the headset is still running strong. However, with a job that spent long hours every day on Teams calls, having in-ear headset could feel rather uncomfortable for the ears.
If I want a new headphone with top audio quality and superb active noise cancellation, my choice would probably go to Sony WH1000XM4. However, since my aim was to get a good headset, mic quality becomes just as important as the audio quality. After hours of reading, I could find many good reviews on people using NC700 for Teams video calls, not much on WH1000XM4.
My first impression, Bose NC700 looks awesome. It is strikingly different from my old-but-trusty QC35. The overall build feels solid, Size adjustment is achieved through sliding the frame against the cups. We can rotate the cups to make the headphone flat so that it would fit the included case, but we cannot fold the headphones. As result, the carrying case is noticeably bigger than QC35’s case.
The top headband cushion is made from silicon-like material, very comfortable. Sliding the frame to adjust size is easy but can take a bit of habit adjustment because there is no clicking feel on adjustment, it is just smooth movement. I could not count how many clicks to adjust, something I am used to do with my QC35.
There are 2 buttons and 1 charging port on the right ear cup. The first button has Bluetooth logo for Bluetooth connection, but the same button is also for power on and off. Long press on that button will bring the Bluetooth pairing mode. As a nice bonus, there is really no need to remember to turn off these headphones because their motion detection technology will automatically turn off the headphones after 10 minutes of no audio and no movement. The second button is voice assistant button, can be connected to Siri, Google Assistant or Alexa. USB-C charging port is located near the voice assistant button.
The front side of the right ear cup is a touch sensitive area. Double taps will play or pause music. Swipe front and back will skip track or return to previous track. Swipe up and down will adjust volume. Tap and hold to check the remaining battery power, which is measured by hours remaining instead of percentage.
Left ear cup has 1 button and 2.5mm audio port to use these headphones in wired mode. 2.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable is included in the box. Bose NC700 has 11 active noise cancellation level with 10 being the highest and 0 being no active noise cancellation at all. From these 11 options, we can choose 3 favourites from Bose Music app and the button on left ear cup will cycle through those 3 favourites. Users can also choose whether the headphones should remember its last noise cancelling level or always default back to 10. Press and hold this Noise Control button will trigger Conversation Mode (pause audio and set the noise cancelling to 0 so we get full awareness immediately). Pressing any button during Conversation Mode will resume audio and return to previous noise cancelling level.
More controls are available from Bose Music app. This includes equalizer, users can choose Bass Boost, Treble Boost, Bass Reducer, Treble Reducer or Custom. Bose NC700 can be paired to multiple Bluetooth devices (up to 8) and can be connected to 2 devices at the same time. Naturally, we can only play audio from 1 source at a time.
Audio quality is great. Users get the Bose signature sound that they know and love. The ability to adjust EQ is a very nice bonus that I did not have with QC35. Definitely enjoy my music more now. Microphone quality is really good. According to Bose, NC700 has 8 microphones: 6 microphones for Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) and 4 microphones for Voice Pickup (2 are shared with ANC), but these are technical details that mean very little to everyday users. For me, it means that I could have a Teams voice call in the office while my colleague is sitting next to me talking on the phone, and people in my call would hear only my voice, without any background noise.
So far, call quality has been great. Bluetooth connection is quite stable and I did not experience call drops.
If video call is your main use of Bose NC700, then you might want to consider Bose USB Link. It is essentially a fancy (and rather expensive) USB dongle that will bring some extra features for using these headphones with Microsoft Teams. I also love that using this dongle, my headshet would say “connected to Bose USB Link” instead of reading every character in my laptop name, which is set by my company admin (lots of letters and numbers) and I am not authorised to change.
Last but not least, I would not even consider these headphones for their retail price. Thanks to Black Friday 2021, I now enjoy much better music and video call experience using the same device.
Overall, this is a very good product. Happy with the purchase and will recommend it to anyone with similar use case.