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What: Bose QC25 noise-cancelling headphones

Price$399

Tech Talk verdict: Don’t leave home without them.

Almost always when you see pilots on television or in the movies they’re wearing green headphones with a DC logo and I’ve never seen these in the stores. A mate of mine flies Airbuses and while they’re a whole lot quieter than the Cessnas he used to fly in and out of the mountains of Papua he still needs noise cancelling headphones. He seemed like the guy to ask about them.

Turns out they’re are made by the David Clark company that specialises in headphones and headsets for aviation, aerospace, military and industry, so you’d think they’d have to be about as good as it gets. Not so according to the man who flies for a living. The pair he bought cost twice as much as Bose noise cancellers and, he said, weren’t a patch on them. Maybe that’s why I noticed, in coverage of the search for Flight MH370, that while the pilots were using DCs the crew up back were wearing Bose.

bose bBose has just put out a new set of noise cancellers – it calls them Quiet Comfort 25 – that present several improvements on the old ones. And I speak from experience here, I’ve been using Bose noise cancellers pretty much since they were released to the general public.

The most noticeable improvements are in the packaging. The new carry pack is a bit fatter but has much less width. This is because the headphones fold and pivot to squeeze into a tighter space. And in an unused corner there’s a holder for a spare battery and the plug that connects with the in-flight audio system. These little critters are easily lost and surprisingly expensive; again I speak from experience.

One of the most endearing things about the Bose is that the cord can be removed entirely, which is handy when you want to go to an aircraft bathroom or take a nap, maintaining noise cancelling without waking up being strangled by a cord. And you’ll want to maintain noise cancelling because when you take the headphones off the cabin noise hits you so hard you wonder how all those other poor sods can stand it.

The QC25s are powered by a single AAA battery good for 35 hours, or you can pay an extra $50 for the QC3s with a rechargeable lithium. When the battery runs out you can still listen but you lose noise cancelling.

The QC25s are still so comfortable you can wear them solidly from Melbourne to Los Angeles, and they sound terrific with superb definition and surprisingly strong bass. These new ones have a phone control and a microphone and are compatible with most phones, including Windows models, and they come in black or white.

But they don’t have Bluetooth. If you want that try Sony’s MDR-ZX750BN ($279) with a battery life of around 13 hours using Bluetooth and 24 without it.

Published October 2014

 

 

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