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A photo of the Bose QuietComfort 45 resting on a wooden table.
Zak Khan / Android Authority

Bose Quietcomfort 45 review: Newer but not always better

Don't fix what ain't broke.
November 16, 2022

Bose Quietcomfort 45

The Bose Quietcomfort 45 have all the parts to be a great pair of ANC headphones, but they doesn't quite have the finish. Sound quality isn't all that great, even if the ANC is among the best in class.

What we like

Outstanding noise-cancelling
USB-C port
Comfortable over long periods of time
Wired and wireless playback
In-app EQ

What we don't like

Middling sound quality
SBC and AAC only, no aptX
Only way to turn off ANC is to turn on Aware mode
No true "off" listening mode

Bose Quietcomfort 45

The Bose Quietcomfort 45 have all the parts to be a great pair of ANC headphones, but they doesn't quite have the finish. Sound quality isn't all that great, even if the ANC is among the best in class.

When most people think of active noise-cancelling (ANC) headphones, they think of some iteration of Bose’s cans. For a long time, its offerings were among the most popular on the market, famed for their effectiveness and relatively painless interaction. It’s been a few years since the release of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and more since the Quietcomfort 35 II hit the shelves. But did we need a new headset? Let’s find out in this Bose Quietcomfort 45 review.

This Bose Quietcomfort 45 review comes from the audio experts at our sister site SoundGuys. Check out their in-depth take on the Bose Quietcomfort 45.

Update, November 2022: This review was updated to address the release of the Sony WH-1000XM5.

Who should buy the Bose Quietcomfort 45?

  • Work-from-homers and commuters alike will appreciate the noise-cancelling chops of the Bose Quietcomfort 45.
  • Anyone craving great ANC who isn’t worried about dishing out some cash for cans that can do it will likely enjoy the Bose Quietcomfort 45.

What is the Bose Quietcomfort 45 like to use?

A man uses the control cluster on the back of the Bose QuietComfort 45.
Zak Khan / Android Authority

Bose’s ANC headphones provide comfort and ease of use to most people, and the Bose Quietcomfort 45 are no different. If there’s one major positive about the QC 45 looking nearly identical to their predecessors, it’s that you’re not in for any major surprises.

The ear cups are large, and while the headset weighs 240g, they distribute the weight well and don’t create too much fatigue over long periods of time. The synthetic leather pads offer decent isolation, and the band also provides a bit of padding on the top.

Read more: Best BLUetooth headphones

Inside the packaging of the Bose Quietcomfort 45 you’ll find a travel case, 3.5mm TRRS cable, a USB A-to-C cable, and assorted documentation.

One of the biggest updates to the new design of the Bose Quietcomfort 45 is the jump from the outdated micro-USB port to USB-C. Of course, this is mainly for charging your headphones, so it’s nice not to have to futz with micro-USB anymore.

Speaking of updates, the Bose Quietcomfort 45 look slightly different than the Bose Quietcomfort 35 II they replace. Gone are all the little holes in the back of the ear cups, and instead the outer plastic is smooth. While there are still a fair few microphones used for the active noise-cancelling unit, they’re definitely not as noticeable as before.

How does the Bose Quietcomfort 45 connect to your device?

A photo of the 3.5mm headphone jack on the Bose QuietComfort 45
Zak Khan / Android Authority

The Bose Quietcomfort 45 connect to your smartphone or source via the BLUetooth 5.1 hardware nestled inside the ear cups, or you can hardwire them via the included 2.5-to-3.5mm TRRS cable. When you go wireless, you can move up to nine meters away from your source device before connection hiccups occur.

If you were holding out hope for a higher-end codec on Bose’s latest, you’ll be disappointed: the QC 45 don’t support aptX or other high-bitrate Bluetooth codecs. While this may be disappointing to some, the implementations of SBC and AAC have improved over the years, and you’re not likely to notice anything that’s the fault of BLUetooth itself.

Yes, the QC 45 support both wireless and wired playback. You can use the provided cable that can be plugged into the left ear cup of the Bose Quietcomfort 45. While smartphones with headphone jacks are becoming an endangered species, this headset will give you the opportunity to listen with older equipment.

What are the controls of the Bose Quietcomfort 45 like?

A photo of the back of the Bose QuietComfort 45's ear cups, along with the control cluster.
Zak Khan / Android Authority

Controlling the Bose Quietcomfort 45 is pretty straightforward once you get used to the process, but there are a few foibles to go over.

The buttons on the back of each ear cup are fairly intuitive but can be a bit odd to get used to if you’re used to touch controls. However, for those who don’t trust controls that are susceptible to failure in colder climes, buttons are a good fallback.

Playback controls live on the right headphone, and voice assistant plus ANC toggle lives on the left. Unfortunately, you can’t turn off the ANC if the headphones are on; you can only toggle a mode called “aware” that allows some passthrough of your surroundings using the external mics of the Bose Quietcomfort 45 — an unfortunate feature we’ve seen with the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2, too. In the table below you’ll find all the default controls:

One pressTwo pressesThree pressesHold
Top button (right)
One pressTwo pressesThree pressesHold
Volume up
Middle Button (right)
One press
Play/pause, answer/end call
Two presses
Next track
Three presses
Previous track
Decline call
Bottom button (right)
One pressTwo pressesThree pressesHold
Volume down
Action button (left)
One press
Toggle ANC mode
Two presses
Mute call
Three presses
Voice assistant

Should you download the Bose Music app?

You will need to download the Bose Music app (iOS and Android) in order to get the most out of your headphones; otherwise, you won’t be able to get the voice assistant or other features working.

When you open the Bose Music app, you’ll be prompted to share way too much information like location, call, and message history, but it’s the price of entry for this kind of feature nowadays. Once you accept, the app will set up your profile and locate your headphones (presumably, in your hands or on your head). After this process completes you’ll be able to rename your Bose Quietcomfort 45, mess with the options a bit, and that’s really about it.

In February 2022, Bose added an equalizer to the Bose Music app for the Quietcomfort 45 via a firmware update. That means you can fine-tune these headphones to your liking and deal with the wonky default sound profile (more on that below). We’ll be testing out this firmware update and will report back with our results soon.

If you need to update the headphones over USB, that’s easily accomplished using the Bose Updater tool over the included USB-C cable. Bose headphones have had a habit of botched updates over BLUetooth, so if that happens with these cans: just follow these instructions over at SoundGuys to fix it, and you should be fine.

How good is the battery life of the Bose Quietcomfort 45?

With noise-cancelling on, the Bose Quietcomfort 45 lasted around 24 hours and 49 minutes in our testing, surpassing Bose’s official 24-hour battery life for the headset. Our battery tests are performed by subjecting a headset to a constant 75dB(SPL) output until the batteries deplete, so if you listen to lower volumes, you’ll likely surpass the 25-hour-mark and then some.

You can use the USB-C cable to fast charge the QC 45. A quick 15-minute charge yields 180 minutes of playtime.

How well do the Bose Quietcomfort 45 cancel noise?

A chart showing the Bose QuietComfort 45's isolation and active noise cancelling performance. The moderately high isolation and very high ANC performance holds well through all frequencies.
Zak Khan / Android Authority

The Bose Quietcomfort 45 do an excellent job at canceling outside noise with its updated ANC system. Specifically, it does a surprisingly good job at dulling noises in the mids and highs that most headsets don’t attenuate terribly well.

That sounds amazing, but in practice, it means that instead of sounding one-fourth as loud as it otherwise would, the airplane engine hum will sound one-eighth as loud.

The Bose Quietcomfort 45 do an excellent job at canceling outside noise and keep pace with the best from Sony and Apple.

Though we hesitate to crown the Bose Quietcomfort 45 the king of ANC, Bose is definitely keeping pace with Sony and Apple after getting leapfrogged for a few years. However, bear in mind there’s no way to disable the active noise-cancelling without enabling Aware mode on the QC 45. At least with the Bose QC 35 II, which lacks an Aware mode, you can turn off ANC and enjoy your music.

Check out: What are the best noise-cancelling earbuds?

How good do the Bose Quietcomfort 45 sound?

A chart showing the frequency response of the Bose QuietComfort 45 (cyan), compared to the SoundGuys house curve (pink)
Zak Khan / Android Authority

As much as I’d love to tell you that the Bose Quietcomfort 45 offer some sort of improvement over their predecessor, I can’t. It’s fine, decent even — just not great. An overemphasized high-end — which does a good job making speech intelligible — makes busy tracks with a lot of high-pitched sounds like punk, badly mixed 90s and 2000s music, and some pop tracks sound pretty terrible.

Nowhere is this more apparent than a song like Green Day’s Insomniac. Not only does the overemphasis in the highs make the vocals and drums take a backseat to the cymbals and echo, but turning the volume up to compensate drives these grating sounds to even more annoying levels. Protip: do not play any punk with these headphones without equalizing them first.

The Bose Quietcomfort 45 make podcasts and spoken-word content sound okay.

Where the Bose Quietcomfort 45 does well is in newer mixes that are much more vocal-heavy (or the much-maligned stomp-clap-‘HEY'” genre that includes Mumford and Sons or Imagine Dragons). Logic’s 2020 album No Pressure and Lil Nas X’s Montero will sound far, far better than the aforementioned older song. You may find podcasts sound particularly better than on bassier headphones, too.

Using the EQ in the Bose Music app, in your music player app like Amazon Music, or one on the system level, please drop the 3-20kHz range by about 5dB; your hearing will thank you. We’ve also created a more detailed table if you want to enter exact tweaks into your equalizer:


How good does the Bose Quietcomfort 45 microphone sound?

The microphone sounds okay enough. Bose knows its stuff, but it’s not like you’re going to be able to squeeze blood from a stone. Small embedded mics do fine, but they’re not going to replace a dedicated studio mic anytime soon. Still, take a listen and tell us what you think:

Bose Quietcomfort 45 microphone demo (Ideal):

Bose Quietcomfort 45 microphone demo (Wind):

Bose Quietcomfort 45 microphone demo (Street):

How does the microphone sound to you?

255 votes

Bose Quietcomfort 45 review: The verdict

A photo of the USB-C port of the Bose QuietComfort 45.
Zak Khan / Android Authority

If you get the Bose Quietcomfort 45, you’re getting a competent set of noise cancellers. The addition of an EQ to the Bose Music app is also good news.

Unfortunately, the Bose Quietcomfort 45 are not currently worth the money, considering you can get the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 for $379 at Amazon, or the Bose QuietComfort 35 II for $319.91 at Amazon. Really, the biggest downside to grabbing the older headset is the micro-USB port. However, you can find the Quietcomfort 45 for $279 or less sometimes, and in that case, they do make much more sense.

The Bose Quietcomfort 45 are great noise-cancelling headphones that update a classic, proven model. But there are better value headphones out there.

When you consider that the Bose Quietcomfort 45’s problems really are something that could be coded away or developed for, I’m not comfortable telling you that this isn’t a good headset, or that you should avoid it altogether, especially now that the app has an EQ included if you’ve got the latest firmware installed.

Bose QuietComfort 45Bose QuietComfort 45
Bose QuietComfort 45
Excellent ANC • EQ adjustable • Comfortable ear pads
An ANC headset that provides comfort and ease of use.
The Bose QuietComfort 45 does an excellent job cancelling outside noise, and it sounds great for podcast listening. It has a decent battery life, and the fast-charging USB-C adds another 180 minutes with only a 15-minute charge.

How do the Bose QuietComfort 45 compare to the Sony WH-1000XM5?

Tchriusop-down view of Sony WH-1000XM5 beside the Bose QuietComfort 45 on a metal surface
Chris Thomas / Android Authority

Near the top of the headphones pile are the Sony WH-1000XM5. While the WH-1000XM5 might be a win for Sony, there are still reasons to go with the QC 45.

Starting with the price, the Sony WH-1000XM5 come in at just under $400 at MSRP, while the Bose QC 45 are sometimes on sale for $279. Still, even at their original price, the Quietcomfort 45 are about $60 cheaper than the XM5.

A chart compares the Sony WH-1000XM5 and Bose QuietComfort 45 ANC performances to one another, revealing that the two headsets are very close.
Chris Thomas / Android Authority

As for features, you can fully disable ANC on the XM5, but the QC 45 don’t let you do that without dropping into transparency mode. If you elect to enable ANC, the two headphones are pretty close, but Sony’s cans do better in the higher frequency range, as seen in the chart above.

The Bose QuietComfort 45 has less objectionable bass emphasis, but a lack of higher-quality codecs may frustrate you.
Zak Khan / Android Authority

The two headsets are both a bit wonky regarding their out-of-the-box frequency response profiles, as seen in the chart above. The QC 45 bump up bass notes less than the WH-1000XM5, but they also amp up the high notes to sometimes irritating levels, as mentioned.

Our sister site SoundGuys has a full breakdown of the Sony WH-1000XM5 vs Bose Quietcomfort 45 if you’re still undecided. And while you’re at it, there’s also the Sony WH-1000XM5 vs WH-1000XM4 to consider. In this price range, it might also be worth considering the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 vs WH-1000XM5, too.

What are some alternatives to the Bose Quietcomfort 45?

If you don’t want to spend the hefty sum of $329, you may want to look into a few other models of headphones to ensure you’re not overspending. For example, the Sennheiser PXC 550-II ($299.99) offer quite a bit more bang for the buck, and include creature comforts like in-app EQ and more audio quality-focused BLUetooth codecs like aptX.

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 lying on a tree stump outdoors.

If you’re still considering the Bose Quietcomfort 45, definitely take a good, hard look at their predecessor, the Bose Quietcomfort 35 II ($319). While they don’t have a USB-C port, they cost less, and they perform about on par with the newer headset.

Of course, when you get down to cost, some may find the Sony WH-1000XM4 ($348) or the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 ($329) to be much more their speed — we have a comparison of these two models to help you decide, too. If you have no set budget, the AirPods Max ($449.99) will provide a measurable step up both in performance and features.

If you want a more portable alternative to the Bose Quietcomfort 45, the Bose Quietcomfort Earbuds ($199) may be best suited for you. You get the advantage of Bose’s StayHear Max ear and wing tips, which keep the buds in place no matter what. With the IPX4 rating, you can even exercise with the Bose Quietcomfort Earbuds as they share the same IP rating as the Bose Sport Earbuds ($129).

Don’t miss: The best headphone deals

There’s also the Sony WF-1000XM4 ($278), the sibling to the famed Sony WH-1000XM4. Sony’s flagship true wireless earbuds have an IPX4 rating and slightly better ANC than the QC Earbuds. The default sound quality is a bit wonky but you can EQ the sound in the Sony Headphones Connect app.

We like the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless ($118) too, because they’re a value-packed pair of ANC earbuds with a solid mobile app. The blocky shape may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the aptX, AAC, and SBC support surely makes up for it.

Frequently asked questions about the Bose Quietcomfort 45

Follow these directions to connect the Bose QC 45 via the BLUetooth menu of your phone:

  1. Slide the power/Bluetooth switch to the right. Hold it in that position for three seconds.
  2. The headset will relay, “Ready to connect,” and the status light near the volume controls will blink blue.
  3. Open your device’s BLUetooth menu; SettingsBluetooth.
  4. Enable BLUetooth on your device.
  5. Select “Quietcomfort 45” from the list of available devices.

You can also use the Bose Music app (iOS and Android) to pair your QC 45 to your phone or tablet. The app will prompt you with specific pairing instructions.

Yes. In fact the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 got better ANC through a firmware update. Just because their headphones have some sort of shortcoming right now doesn’t mean it won’t get fixed in the future.

Yes, in February 2022, Bose added an EQ to the Bose Music app via a firmware update. Make sure you’ve got the latest firmware installed, and you should find the EQ there in the app.

At this point, if the connector is an issue for you, you may want to just get the newer headphones. That isn’t something that can be easily fixed.

Yes, the QC45 supports BLUetooth multipoint, so you can sync to two devices simultaneously.

No, the Bose QC 45 do not have a proximity sensor, so they cannot detect if they’re being worn. The Sony WH-1000XM4 and WH-1000XM5 can do this, but the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 cannot, either.