Bose Qc35 Review: My Secret Productivity Tool

Back in 2016 I went through a renissance of sorts when it comes to my productivity.

Enter Deep Work

I went and read the book Deep Work by Cal Newport. This book had a profound impact on my understanding of how I work.

I work from a coworking space in Old City Philadelphia, Indy Hall. Indy Hall is an amazing space to work with great people and an even greater community. The only downside is that the layout of the space is a giant open office plan. This means that I would often find myself getting distracted by other people and get pulled into conversations when I should be working or getting distracted by the general buzzing around The Hall. I started to think of ways that I could would more deeply at Indy Hall.

The Bose QC-35

In June, 2016 Bose released the QC-35 bluetooth noise cancelling headphones. These were the answer to what I was looking for in quality headphones; they were bluetooth, noise cancelling, and had 17 hours of battery life. The reputation of Bose was the icing on the cake. I immediately purchased them.

I have now been using the Bose QC-35s as my daily driver for well over 2 years. Here are my thoughts:

The sound quality is great

I’m pleased with the sound quality of these headphones. I am not an audiophile, but the QC-35s sound better than any other headphones i’ve owned. One thing I didn’t notice is that the base is not as strong as it could be.

Battery life is (still) amazing

My biggest apprehension was about the battery life of the device. 17 hours sounded amazing, but it also seemed too good to be true. After reading about the batteries not being user-replaceable I was concerned that I would be left with an all too familiar device that only stays charged for a couple of hours and then dies. Fortunately that isn’t the case. I use my headphones for several hours a day and I rarely have to charge them more than once a week.

If you look at the science of Lithium Ion batteries, they are only capable of holding a charge for a finite number of times before an individual cell will no longer hold a charge. This is true for all Lithium Ion batteries, including the ones in your laptop and cell phone. There is a concept of “cycle count” which is the amount of times a battery has been charged and drained. With the Bose QC-35 after about 300-500 charges the battery is supossed to be operating at 80% of it’s inital capacity. This would mean that if I used my headphones every day it would take 4-6 years to reach 80% capacity and even then you should still expect to get 13.6 hours of battery life from the headphones. Ultimately, this was a completely invalid concern.

The bluetooth actually works!

For some reason, while technology has advanced greatly in the past 10 years, bluetooth connectivity still sucks. As an example, I have an Apple Magic TrackPAd (version 2) and I have to deal with connectivity issues almost every day. The bluetooth connectivity with the QC-35s are on point. I have not encountered any major issues with connectivity and as an added bonus I can connect to both my laptop and my cell phone at the same time (which I cannot do with AirPods).

Settings & configuration are breeze

Bose did a great job of creating a companion phone app for the QC-35s. I believe it actually pairs with the headphones over NFC and not bluetooth - but that is honestly semantics. Here are some of the convenient things you can do from the app:

  • Firmware Updates: It seems like an odd feature for headphones, but Bose has actually release updates over the past few years that make the headphones more useful (see below items).
  • Adjustable Noise Cancelling: Some people love noise cancelling, some hate it. Within the app you’re able to adjust the levels of noise cancelling to high, low or off.
  • Voice Prompts: I happen to hate the voice prompts on the device. I’m sure they’re useful to some people, however, I don’t want every phone call to be announced. This means I turn them off :)
  • Music Share: I’ve honestly never used this feature, but you can use it to share your music with other nearby Bose devices. – Standby Timer: I have definitely been guilty of forgetting to switch off my headphones and subsequently leave them on overnight. The standby timer allows them to switch themselves off after a configurable amount of inactivity. I set mine to turn off after 20 minutes.

Not ideal for working out

The only downside I can think of about the QC-35s is that they’re not ideal for working out. They are over ear headphones that are not constrictive (which is a positive), which means that they can easily slide off your head when doing things like sit-ups. The top padding can also get kind of gross if you sweat too much, like when gonig for a jog. I didn’t purchase these for exercise, so i’m not faulting Bose here. My solution was to purchase a pair of AirPods that I use when working out which solves my problem.

Conclusion

After 2 years I am more in love with the Bose QC-35s than I was when I first purchased them. I have 0 regrets in buying these and would recommend them to anyone looking for a reliable wireless noise cancelling headphone. Bose recently released a 2nd version of the QC-35s that include support for Alexa and Google Assistant. Some people may view this as a great feature, I personally don’t, but this means that you can buy the version 1 of them at a discount.

Make with <3 from Philly