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Lifewire / Andy Zahn
Excellent audio quality
Top-notch active noise canceling
White noise from ANC counteracts tinnitus
Active noise canceling cannot be disabled
Mediocre battery life
Unimpressive wireless range
Poor call quality
Persistent white noise from ANC
With their awesome audio quality, effective active noise canceling, and top-notch comfort, the Bose Quietcontrol 30 are impressive in-ear headphones. However, numerous and varied issues must be taken into consideration at their high price point.
We purchased the Bose Quietcontrol 30 so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
Bose is a name that in the audio world is synonymous with quality. Their products are objects of desire, often providing near-flawless listening experiences. The Bose Quietcontrol 30 possesses no less allure to audiophiles, but is the audio quality it promises enough to excuse its dated design and high price point?
The construction of the Bose Quietcontrol 30 is something of a double-edged sword. On one hand, by careful placement of the various heavy components in a neckband, the earpieces themselves are incredibly light for wireless earbuds. The tradeoff is that you essentially need to wear a weird necklace.
At just 63 grams the Quietcontrol 30 is significantly larger and heavier than other wireless earbuds. However, they’re also considerably smaller and lighter than noise cancelling headphones. They’re perhaps best considered as a compromise between the audio quality and noise-canceling of headphones, and the portability of earbuds.
The neckband may increase their bulk, but it also allows them to be easily worn around the neck when the headphones aren’t in use. This arrangement is particularly useful in situations where you may need to quickly take the headphones out of your ears and don’t have time to put them away in their case.
Unfortunately, when you’re wearing them and the earbuds aren’t in your ears they do dangle and bounce around. A way to clip the earbuds onto the neckband would have been a significant improvement.
In terms of durability, the Quietcontrol 30 is fairly robust, but the design makes it feel a little delicate. Fortunately, the Quietcontrol 30 comes with an excellent hardshell case for peace of mind while traveling. The case also features an accessory pouch in which to store the included USB charging cable and alternate sets of differently sized tips for the earpieces.
The power and pairing button is located on the inside of the neckband and requires significant force to operate. It’s also slightly difficult to reach while wearing headphones. However, this design also prevents it from being pressed accidentally. The charging port is protected from moisture and debris by a soft plastic door. In my experience with similar port covers on my Bose Soundsport earbuds, this will eventually wear out.
Another small flaw, considering the high price of the earbuds, is that the QuietControl 30 uses an outdated Micro USB port instead of USB-C. Micro USB connectors aren't reversible the way USB-C connectors are, and transfer and charge rates across Micro USB are slower.
It wasn’t difficult to get the Quietcontrol 30 up and running. I powered it on and was able to quickly pair it with my phone and register it with the Bose Connect app. Some extra time will be required to set up an account with Bose if you don’t have one already.
The Quietcontrol 30 locks into your ear in a way that’s both secure and surprisingly comfortable. The earbuds lock-in and absolutely refuse to fall out by accident, even though they’re so light and soft that you can almost forget they’re there. The neckband will also be quite comfortable for most people, even though the fit was a bit tight for me. That’s only because my neck is 19.5 inches around, so unless you have a freakishly wide neck like mine, the Quietcontrol 30 should feel just fine. They’d be ideal to wear on a daily commute.
There’s no doubt that the Bose Quietcontrol 30 offers top-notch audio quality, and not just for in-ear headphones—they match high-quality headphones of any variety. Listening to Thunderstruck by 2Cellos, which I use as a baseline for testing headphones, I was impressed by how wide the sound stage of these earbuds is. They also very evenly reproduce audio, without emphasizing or deemphasizing mids, highs, or bass. The result is a versatile listening experience for a variety of music.
This versatility became clear when I switched from the sweet sound of cellos to the driving rock sound of Charge Up the Power by Goodbye June. The Quietcontrol 30 provided an excellent definition in the raucous vocals, heavy guitar, and pounding drums.
I also enjoyed listening to Afraid of Heights by Billy Talent. The Quietcontrol 30 provided a wonderful punchy rendition of this show, and the high notes were beautifully clear.
The pulsing British beat of Sheltoes or Brogues by Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer proved that these headphones are as competent with hip hop as they are with classical music or rock. I then switched to Hawkwind’s Cottage in the Woods with its strange electronic notes and soaring guitar solos which again demonstrated Quietcontrol 30’s super high end.
The Bose Quietcontrol 30 offers top-notch audio quality.
I followed this with the soft instrumentals of John Denver’s Windsong. Here there was an excellent definition between the ambient sounds, acoustic guitar, and Denver’s iconic voice. Another classic song, Thank You for Being a Friend by Andrew Gold, was equally pleasant to listen to.
Unfortunately, call quality was very much sub-par. My voice was understandable, but people I called with the headphones reported poor audio quality and an odd interference. On my end, I noticed a flare of white noise every time I started to talk.
The active noise canceling (ANC) in Quietcontrol 30 is truly remarkable. Even in loud environments, it was able to reduce exterior sound down to a mere whisper. Furthermore, I did not notice the discomfort I often experience from active noise cancellation.
This excellent noise cancellation comes with a significant caveat: the ANC cannot be disabled, and it continuously produces a faint white noise. This isn’t an issue when listening to music, but it’s quite noticeable between songs and while listening to audiobooks. You can set the headphones to allow outside noise in, but it does this by piping it in through the microphones, not by disabling ANC.
It’s worth noting that some people may find this white noise desirable. My brother has chronic tinnitus, and when he tried the Quietcontrol 30, the ringing in his ears completely disappeared. This isn’t to say that these are the secret cure for tinnitus, but at least in his case they were amazingly effective.
Even in loud environments, it was able to reduce exterior sound down to a mere whisper.
I found the claimed 10-hour battery life to be accurate, if underwhelming. Considering the large neckband, I would have expected a larger battery. This poor battery life could be improved if there was an option to disable the active noise canceling, but it’s still good enough to get me through the day.
The three hour charging time seems kind of slow given the battery capacity, and that’s probably the fault of the outdated Micro-USB charging port.
I found the advertised 33-feet range of the Bose Quietcontrol to be accurate but quite weak, especially for such high-end headphones. They fall about five feet short of the range of my significantly cheaper Bose Soundsport earbuds. With that said, the range is acceptable for normal use.
The Bose Connect app is slickly designed and intuitive to use. Prominently displayed are the noise-canceling controls that alter the level of the noise canceling. As previously noted, this doesn’t actually decrease or disable noise canceling, only the amount of exterior noise piped in through the microphones.
Battery level is also displayed, and two buttons give you access to Bluetooth settings and music sharing. Additionally, there is a menu where you can access other settings such as the standby timer and voice prompts. The app is simple but effective.
The music sharing feature of Bose Quietcontrol 30 has a lot of potentials, but it’s frustrating to use and only compatible with a limited range of Bose products. It worked with my Bose Soundsport earbuds but refused to work with my Bose NC 700 headphones. Honestly, it’s easier just to pass your headphones to a friend than to fiddle with wireless sharing.
With an MSRP of $299, the Bose Quietcontrol 30 is no small investment. However, considering the awesome audio quality, remarkable comfort, and incredibly effective active noise canceling, they easily justify their significant price tag. However, its flaws are definitely worth taking into consideration. In terms of range and battery life, it’s outdone by much less expensive headphones.
For a third of the price of the Quietcontrol 30, the Bose Soundsport offers an attractive alternative. I’ve been using the Soundsport on a daily basis for nearly three years now, and love them for their comfort, sound quality, and reliability. However, their audio and comfort aren’t quite up to the standards of the Quietcontrol 30, and they have no active noise canceling. With that said, the Soundsport has better call quality and is small enough to stow in a shirt pocket.
The sound quality and comfort of the Bose Quietcontrol 30 elevate it despite a few unfortunate issues.
The Bose Quietcontrol 30 is without a doubt worth its high price for its wonderful audio and supremely comfortable earbuds. However, they are hardly flawless, and I found the inability to use them with only passive noise canceling to be especially irritating. Overall though, they're impressive, and if sound quality is your primary concern, their faults can easily be overlooked.
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