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- productBose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphonestagged by nightmancometh, 9/10/13
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Bose QuietComfort 20 discussion thread - Page 3
Gear mentioned in this thread:
i'm on my third pair of qc20's , and all 3 seem to be developing the same problem - the bass response on the left side is reduced over time , this applies to both music and sound cancellation i.e. the left side gets worse at both reproducing bass, and at cancelling external low frequency sounds
what i suspect is happening is that if you leave the USB plugged in when you plug or unplug the stereo jack, it causes a voltage spike which damages the left side driver... the clue is that you will hear a popping sound when you plug and unplug the earphones with the USB plugged in, which does not happen if the USB was not plugged in
I have been a long time reader of Head-fi but joined today so I could respond to this thread. First off, I use various headsets all day for IT support calls and getting email messages read to me on the fly. I own almost all decent in-ear/earbud headsets that have been produced. If they have a mic and make noise I have probably purchased them. They are essential to my day and productivity and I have been in a constant battle to find the perfect set.
I am also now on my 3rd set of QC20i's. These buds produce a very slight white noise which is the result of the noise canceling operating. All three sets have had this. If you have worn a pair of QC2 or QC15 the effect is identical but slightly less pronounced. I'm sure for those not use to Bose NC it could be off putting but it is by far their best NC implementation yet. I believe that these headphones are going to suffer from problems over time caused by the microphones deteriorating. On a set like this sweat is going to be a problem and moisture seems to cause low frequency muddiness. The first set was returned due to the left headphone getting dunked in a glass of water as I carelessly let it dangle around and went to take a drink. (I know dumb mistake) I dried the earbud but days after that point the NC did not match and the left bud took on a sort of low droning especially when the awareness mode was selected. It still cut noise but was not as accurate as the non dipped right ear. Bose warranty being amazing I went into the store and was given a new set. Determined to be extra careful I continued forth with the new set.
On a daily basis they are great to use although the microphone is not in an ideal place for clarity. I often find myself holding the microphone up so clients can hear better. I have been told on multiple occasions that it sounds quiet unless I do this. This second pair became my full time go to set. After about a week using them daily at the gym and sometimes falling asleep with them in my ears I began to notice the low frequency muddiness similar to the issue with the left ear on the first set. I put the headphones in dry rice for 24 hours and what do you know they improved almost 100%. I went back to wearing them at the gym and after a long run in 90 degree heat I noticed near the end of the run that the droning issue was back. Upon inspection they were wet from sweat. I went into the Bose store again and explained the issue. I was told they were not meant for exercise and the sales guy offered to replace them.
Set 3 has been fine as I am making sure to care for them better. Bose has created a really nice set of headphones but the sensitivity of these headphones is going to be a problem long term. The microphones hearing the noise they are supposed to be canceling accurately is essential to them functioning well. I do not think the unplugging the phones is causing a voltage issue but instead they are sensitive to moisture. To my sensitive ears just a slight difference in NC response between the two ears is enough to frustrate me.
All this said, they are the best total package I have found to date. They are decent but not amazing headphones but the NC is as good as it gets. Easily better than the QC15s in a much smaller package.
From a recommendations standpoint Bose needs to move the microphone to the right ear cord at the chin level. Similar to the MIE2 yet leave the controller for pause/play/volume and awareness in the center. That would be the ultimate configuration and allow you to easily rock a single earbud and tuck the rest away neatly as well as give better outgoing call quality. The battery pack should be able to detach leaving a 3.5mm 4 pole connector for direct non powered usage. You could also then have multiple batteries and the ability to do without the battery completely.
I am currently looking at doing a set of custom ear tips for these as they are with me every day and will be for the foreseen future. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I already have ear molds completed for other earphones. I am just looking for someone who is creating custom tips for these earphones.
Just wanted to add my 2 cents. I've owned my QC20is for a month or so and love them. I had to move to a new area in the office that was more open and quite a bit louder, so I wanted something to use to help keep focus. For me they do an amazing job! I can still hear some things like my keyboard and thin voices if I don't have any music playing, but when I have something playing at a medium volume, the world is dead to me.
I previously owned a set of Audio-Technica ANC-7B, but had to return them because they caused a lot of discomfort with the NC turned on. The NC was decent, but the clogged ears feeling and general discomfort was too much. The QC20s were a very nice surprise - absolutely no discomfort whatsoever with the NC turned on. I can still hear a pop whenever I take them out or turn the NC off, but it's no big deal.
Sound quality is pretty decent and has the typical vanilla Bose signature; not all that different from the AE2s I used to have (with less of an emphasis on bass). The only other IEMs I have to compare with are my Klipsch S4s and to me the QC20 sounds better than those.
The only issue I've had (and it's a minor one) is that I can't charge them from my laptop while I'm listening to them due to the ground loop. Not a big deal since it has decent battery life. At any rate, I don't think I could work without these now; cuts down on all the office chatter and cancels out a ton of other noise. If you keep an eye on eBay, you can usually find an open box for ~$215-230.
I have a few complaints about the QC 20i's and they don't concern the sound or the NC. The NC is superb as others have noted, it's so unexpected for a phone that doesn't even seal into the ear canal. I think they're the most comfortable iem's I've ever had and that prompted me to buy the MiE2I's for just casual listening even though I'm not crazy about the MiE2i's sound which is relaxed but not very detailed - it's OK but the QC20i's sound is much much better.
Now the complaints:
The way they are packaged is idiotic. I actually returned 2 pairs as soon as I opened the package. The very thin plastic insert has a very sharp edge - then they pack them and pull the cord so tightly that in one case the cord was kinked and actually nicked and in the other it had a sharp indentation that I couldn't smooth out. The other issue is the case - what were they thinking? It's so small that the cord coming from the both ends of the battery module has to be very sharply bent. All they needed was to make it a lousy 1/2 inch longer! Finally, the wires just give me a bad feeling that they and/or the connections are not going to last long. The short connector to the battery cord could easily have been made a 1/2 inch longer as well. Lots of complaints about this. I understand the rationale for keeping it short but they missed it by 1/2 inch IMHO. I really wanted to keep these for the NC and decent sound but due to what I believe are some real weaknesses in construction I took a completely different direction and just bought the Sony XBA - 3H's which obviously have far superior sound but no active NC - Pretty decent isolation though. If I was taking public transit daily and/or flying a lot I would have kept the QC's regardless of the other issues. So for now, it's the XBA H3's for "serious" listening and the Bose Mie2I's for casual on the go comfort
Here's my thoughts on these.
I had been lusting after these or actually the QC15 ever since I tried them at a Bose store but was always apprehensive of the price that comes along. I also looked at a couple of other cheaper options and actually bought Audiotechnica ANC-33IS last week.
Tried them on a 10 hour long flight on exit row window seat. Not impressed. I guess that seat has plenty of other high pitch noise which no NC will be able to cancel. Besides noise cancellation they are no where near as good as the Audiotechnica ATH-ES55 I have as my regular headphones.
So I am on my way back and found the QC20 at a nearby Bose store for USD 199.00 Factory Renewed. I could not let that by, I was prepared to spend USD 239.00 for a promotion they had going for QC15 but that ended when I actually went in to buy but found the QC-20 instead.
As a background into what I listen to... mostly instrumental guitar and very little lyrical music but 99% of the times it is Buckethead, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Dave Sharman...
This is the kind of equalization I apply...
I had purchased Shure SRH-440, Audiotechnica ES-55, AKG-K451 and some Creative earphones but finally decided in favor of ES-55 as the "go-to" headphones. Kept the K451 as "maybes". Shure lost mainly due to portability and Creatives were not in a level playing field anyways. ES-55s are particularly super excellent at what I listen to.
SO, I have tried the QC-20 in somewhat noisy environment and this is what I gather from my use for the last couple of days
- There IS a noise floor. It IS noticeable if no music is playing. So if you are looking at buying them purely to block out the noises, you'd be better of using ear plugs OR one of those 3M noise protection products.
- Audio quality is NOT good with NC turned off.
However with NC turned ON...
- The equalisation I apply works beautifully well !
- The soundstage is somewhat even less constrained than ES-55 and I haven't noticed any loss in fidelity as yet. The ES-55s are a little brighter but I have to turn the volume up to get the full effect. QC-20 have ever so slightly smoother/weighed down/buttery sound signature BUT I like the sound and can live with it.
- When riding the tram (the downtown San Jose to Mountain View route if someone is familiar), with NC turned ON... I am indeed blocked away from noises if there is music playing through them. I am currently using iPad mini(retina) as the source and keep the volume at Level 5. It's somewhat uncanny experience to begin with but it makes that journey VERY comfortable.
- In the office, they are able to cut off the HVAC hum, and surprisingly if there are people talking maybe 3-4 feet away, those are blocked out as well.
In SUMMARY, I like them so far. NC actually works (works better than cheaper Audiotechnica ANC earphones). They are comfortable. I can sleep with them on (just use a softer pillow).
The Audiotechnica ANCs are going back to Amazon. I might even sell off the ES-55s to dilute the cost of QC-20s.
The final test will be on my 11 hours long return flight again on an exit row window seat with all the noise that comes with it.
Here's hoping it was money well spent.
Update on this.
On the long haul flight back on the same seat location where Audio-Technica failed to deliver, the QC20 did exactly what I wanted a noise-cancelling earphone to do. They cancelled noise. THEY DID.
The slight annoyance would be the noise floor which is noticeable when no audio is playing, but there are several ways to counter that.
There is a price to be paid, but I think it's worth it if you do several long hauls.
Another update : Use on train with caution !. It seems these are sensitive to rapid change in pressure. I had a nasty surprise while riding the train and got a nasty click-bang when a train crossed the train I was on. It is a very short impulsive disturbance but may turn out nasty if/when you are not expecting it. The train I was on touches 100mph at one point and any train approaching from the opposite direction will create an "interesting" very rapid pressure deviation at that speed.
In general, these will not perform very well in a situation where pressure varies. Another way to put it, they perform very well in a pressurized aircraft cabin.
Just paired them up with Nokia Lumia 920 + Nokia BH121 Bluetooth. I am no longer worrying about the dangling battery unit of the QC20. The headphones remain plugged in to the Bluetooth Unit and then remain in my "jacket/coat/some convenient" pocket. If I can clip the BT unit conveniently, I do that OR otherwise the phone is accessible as well.
More importantly, the sound quality from Lumia phone sending via BT unit is apparently no worse than using a wired headphone directly plugged in. The wired units in question are Audiotechnica ATH-ES55 and AKG-K451.
In summary, if you have a Lumia phone, then going BH121 Bluetooth route should make things more convenient and in general better then worrying about that dangling and prone to damage Battery Unit on QC20
Edited by funkypiano - 5/12/14 at 6:02am
I also bought these after my colleague suggested I try them on at the office. I was very sceptical, but WOW! One odd thing I have found is that I have felt slight nausea when using them. I googled nausea + noise cancelling and it indeed seems to be an issue for some. I do have tinnitus as well, so maybe it's linked... (beware of loud listening dear Head-Fi'ers!!)
These earbuds are simply a masterpiece. Best earbuds so far never produced in a electro acoustic history.
Better than Etymotic, Piano Forte VIII or anything.
This is OUTSTANDING.
- Bose QuietComfort 20 discussion thread
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