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The Serious Bose Quiet Comfort 2 Thread

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
Please, please don't turn this into a Bose bashing thread.

Okay, maybe this thread will sink like a rock, but.....

I have some Bose Quiet Comfort 2s I am trying for 90 days. They are expensive, $300. I have tried many high isolation headphones and will opine right out of the box that these are major players for high comfort, high isolation headphones. In short, they sound good, provide superb isolation, and are very comfortable. I have heard so many high isolation headphones that either sound bad or are uncomfortable that I know, Bose has made a valiant effort here.

I want to focus on sound quality here.

As I listen to them more and more, I am pegging the Quiet Comfort 2 colorations. The highs are well extended but slightly soft. The mids are really, really nice. There's an unfortunate hump somewhere between the mid bass and the low bass. These phones would satisfy bassheads.

So what I would like to do is compare notes with people who have actually listened to these for more than a couple of hours. Quick listens or A/B comparisons at a Bose stores don't count. If you say they sound like dreck, I will, quite frankly, not have much need for your opinion.

I am trying to decide whether to keep these. I'll probably try out the Beyer 250-250s in the process too. I don't know if they'll hold up comfort or isolation-wise. I suspect the 250-250 overall sound qulaity is a little better. But I need comfort and isolation too. I like the mids on these much better than the AKG 271s. Truly. They are about the same as the AKG271s for comfort, and they isolate better than the AKG 271s. The AKG 271s have smoother but much softer bass.

If you A/B these with HD280s, the HD280s are less comfortable, the QC2s have much more bass than the HD280s, and the HD280s are a little bright while the QC2s are a little soft. The QC2s are more musical, the HD280s more analytical. Taking into consideration noise cancellation, the QC2s have significantly better isolation.

Any other serious, experienced opinions?

Thanks!
post #2 of 40
It's rather quiet here in the serious Bose thread. If anyone wants to join me in my I found a good use for the Boostaroo thread, maybe we can found Team Not Up For Consideration at Head-FI.
post #3 of 40
Well, I'll bite.

The Bose QC2 is excellent for its product class, but I don't think it would replace a good general purpose headphone in non-noisy situations.

OK, first some qualifications -- the QC2 is a successor to an earlier product, the Bose Quiet Comfort (below, I call these the QC1). While they share some common design elements, the QC1 is vastly inferior to the QC2, both in terms of convenience (the QC2 is an integrated unit, the QC1 required a separate power/processing box), comfort, sound quality, and effectiveness.

Moroever, as anyone who frequents audio boards knows, it is lots of fun to bash Bose, and to some degree, they do deserve it. The usual complaints are that they are overpriced (this is true, but it is true of a great deal of audio equipment, especially special-purpose audio equipment), their speakers tend to perform poorly at low frequencies, and they have some aggressive marketing techniques. These complaints all have some basis in fact. However, I think that in some circumstances this taunting is more extreme than the products deserve (it seems to me that on audio bboards, people tend to fall to one extreme or another -- either a product is wonderful -- this is usually the case when the author owns the product -- or, as one poster has said, they "suck a**". The truth, of course, is that audio is a continuum. Now, Bose has a very active commercial business selling products including airplane pilot headsets with noise cancellation. According to my pilot friends, those products are ranked at the top of their class.

Now the first thing to know is that the headphone has a built in adjustment -- "a hi/lo" level switch. This makes a difference in the impedance/amplification of the device, so you'll want to experiment to get this right.

Next, the headphones are circumaural and extraordinarily comfortable -- only my Sony F1 is more comfortable. I fly a lot to Asia, and I can wear the QC2 for the entire flight, whereas (except for the F1) the longest I have been able to wear any other headphone is about 3 hours. They cut down on low frequency noise effectively (and are far better than other noise cancelling headphones I have tried, including the Sony V6, Sony noise cancelling headphones and the one's in business and first class on United.) Compared to the Etymotic 4Ps, the QC2 performs worse on high frequency background noise
but much better on low frequency noise (since this travels through the body and especially through microphonics in the cord.) They are far better at noise reduction than the V6 or any other noise cancelling headphone I have tried. The headphones come with a kit that includes a component for watching in flight movies on airlines such as US Air that use a specially sized plug component for listening to movies or inflight audio.

Since airplane background noise contains primarily low frequency components, the QC2 works great. For fan noise (e.g., when a noisy air conditioner or noisy computer fans are blowing), they cut out the lower portion of fan noise, but there is still some high-frequency component remaining. Since the design is basically a closed headphone design, one gets at least that level of protection on all sounds.

Like all noise cancelling headphones, these headphones produce a small degree of hiss. This is sharply reduced from the QC1 and even the Sony noise cancelling headphones. But it is still there, as you'll notice if you are in a completely quiet environment. But I wouldn't choose these headphones to listen to in a completely quiet environment.

As far as audio fidelity is concerned -- it's an improvement over the QC1. I use these headphones to listen to while travelling, so I'm less concerned about perfect playback as much as I am with convenience and noise blocking. But I find the audio quality to only be fair -- besides the light hiss, there is too much attempt to "round" the sound with some boost in the bass. I have to try running these headphones with the "high" switch turned on to see if I can reduce the bass boost that way. These, to my mind aren't especially accurate headphones, but I think the idea of audiophile listening on airplanes or in noisy environments is absurd.

No problem driving these headphones (even though they appear to nominally have a very high impedance).

Unlike other noise cancelling headphones I've tried, these headphones have no passive mode -- they always require power on to reproduce sound.

Bottom line: these headphones are outstanding at what they set out to do. They are comfortable, convenient, and effective. However, they are not designed for general listening. While I've seen posts about people desiring audiophile quality while being a passenger in an airplane, I think this is just absurd. The QC2 lets the listener actually hear the soundtrack on the airplane movie, and is good for casual listening. Unlike the Etymotics, they don't have microphonics (troubling on an airplane) and they they don't jab up against the back of the ear.

I recommend them without reservation to anyone who can afford them and plans to use them when travelling.
post #4 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by Davie
It's rather quiet here in the serious Bose thread. If anyone wants to join me in my I found a good use for the Boostaroo thread, maybe we can found Team Not Up For Consideration at Head-FI.
oops, spoke to soon...
post #5 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by Davie
It's rather quiet here in the serious Bose thread. If anyone wants to join me in my I found a good use for the Boostaroo thread, maybe we can found Team Not Up For Consideration at Head-FI.
(With apologies to Rabbi Tarfon): You are not required to complete the thread, but you are not free to withdraw from it.
post #6 of 40
I wil try to follow up with as serious and thoughtful a review of the Boostaroo

But seriously, the main problem I've had with other noise cancellation headphones is that they are too inefficient for my portables to drive. The main problem I've had with Bose is price-to-quality ratio. Assuming I can get over the second, will the QC2 help me with the first? In other words, are they as easily driven as other highly sensitive portable headphones such as the Sennheiser PX100 or Portapro?
post #7 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by Music Fanatic
(With apologies to Rabbi Tarfon): You are not required to complete the thread, but you are not free to withdraw from it.
Who's Rabbi Tarfon? I found the quote in a Japanese history book, actually.
post #8 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by Davie
I wil try to follow up with as serious and thoughtful a review of the Boostaroo

But seriously, the main problem I've had with other noise cancellation headphones is that they are too inefficient for my portables to drive. The main problem I've had with Bose is price-to-quality ratio. Assuming I can get over the second, will the QC2 help me with the first? In other words, are they as easily driven as other highly sensitive portable headphones such as the Sennheiser PX100 or Portapro?
Well, I usually drive them from either an iPod or a Panasonic palmtop DVD player. Both can drive them well, although one needs to use the built-in amplifier (the high level position).

As far as price-to-quality ration, that really refers to the price of products with comparable quality. As I suggest in my lengthy note above, I don't think their is a comparable product (there are other noise cancelling headphones, but the effectiveness of their noise cancellation is quite inferior to Bose.)
post #9 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by Music Fanatic
Well, I usually drive them from either an iPod or a Panasonic palmtop DVD player. Both can drive them well, although one needs to use the built-in amplifier (the high level position)
I was just at J&R testing out the iPod with my Sennheiser PXC250s and it did a pretty fair job with them. It seems like the iPod has a stronger amp than many other portables. Maybe this is due to the fact that it uses an internal Lithium Ion batter instead of trying to squeeze the most out of a couple of AAAs.
post #10 of 40
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much. That is extremely helpful to me. I do appreciate it. I agree that there is a problem with the bass and that it compromises the overall audio quality.

Quote:
Originally posted by Music Fanatic
Well, I'll bite.

The Bose QC2 is excellent for its product class, but I don't think it would replace a good general purpose headphone in non-noisy situations.

As far as audio fidelity is concerned -- it's an improvement over the QC1. I use these headphones to listen to while travelling, so I'm less concerned about perfect playback as much as I am with convenience and noise blocking. But I find the audio quality to only be fair -- besides the light hiss, there is too much attempt to "round" the sound with some boost in the bass.

I think the idea of audiophile listening on airplanes or in noisy environments is absurd.

Bottom line: these headphones are outstanding at what they set out to do. They are comfortable, convenient, and effective. However, they are not designed for general listening.
post #11 of 40
Steve,

Could you do a quick QC2 vs. PX100 comparison for a potential Bose convert?

Also, I assume the HN100s are going back.
post #12 of 40
Thread Starter 
Davie, the QC2s are very easy to drive from a portable using the "hi" setting.

Bose calls this an "attenuation" switch, so I'm not sure if it's not so much an amplifier setting as some extra resistance added in the "low" setting. I honestly don't know which it is.

Does anyone know?

Quote:
Originally posted by Davie But seriously, the main problem I've had with other noise cancellation headphones is that they are too inefficient for my portables to drive. The main problem I've had with Bose is price-to-quality ratio. Assuming I can get over the second, will the QC2 help me with the first?
post #13 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by Davie
Who's Rabbi Tarfon? I found the quote in a Japanese history book, actually.
BTW, I don't want you to get the impression I thought the Talmud was Japanese...
post #14 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by Steve999
Davie, the QC2s are very easy to drive from a portable using the "hi" setting.

Bose calls this an "attenuation" switch, so I'm not sure if it's not so much an amplifier setting as some extra resistance added in the "low" setting. I honestly don't know which it is.

Does anyone know?
Does the "hi" setting affect sound quality at all, or battery life? And what kind of batteries does the QC2 use?
post #15 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by Davie
BTW, I don't want you to get the impression I thought the Talmud was Japanese...
The quote is a very famous one, and is from a work called Pirkei Avos: The Ethics of the Fathers. It is included in most Jewish prayer books. To give you a little more context, here is a more complete quote:

(2:15) Rabbi Tarfon said: The day is short; and the task is great; and the laborers are lazy; and the wages are abundant; and the Master of the house urges on. (2:16) He used to say: It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work; yet, you are not free to desist from it. If you have studied much Torah, a great reward will be given to you, for your Employer is trustworthy to reward you for your labor. And know, that the reward of the righteous is in the time to come.
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