Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones Review

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The Bose QuietComfort 20 is one of the first noise-canceling models the company has ever produced, and it has managed to defy the odds and set industry standards for over 20 years. All of this is mostly due to the quality of these slick earbuds and the fact they have two built-in microphones on the outside that will help you battle outside noise with relative ease.

The sound is clear, like a drop of fresh water from a mountain spring, but it may not be enough for people who love that heavy bass line. Hey, when you’re creating a top-of-the-line noise cancellation set of earbuds, you need to compromise on frequency range and power output among other stuff.

So many things can go wrong when designing a new pair of noise-canceling headphones. They can be uncomfortable or won’t fit people with small ear lobes. There are hundreds of reasons why the audio equipment community can deem a certain model a bust.

After you receive this label, it becomes hard to promote new models from your line that the audience will accept at first sight, and it’s all because of that one little fail you had, trying to dominate a field you weren’t even involved in.

Remember, there’s a vast difference between speakers that fall into a certain category. That’s why a company that creates top-notch on-ear bass-heavy headphones may struggle to create a pair of noise-canceling earbuds. It’s an entirely different playing field. Thinner cords, smaller drivers, and comfort become essential; you must start thinking about endurance and functionality …

These are all some topics that Bose took into consideration before creating their top-selling QuietComfort line of earbuds.

The company that excelled in producing some of the most durable headphone pieces decided to conduct its due diligence and create a robust set of earbuds capable of canceling environmental noises to the extent that you’ll be able to sit in a room full of people and only hear your favorite music playing. They’re so good we’ve even included them in our list of the best noise cancelling earbuds.

We’ll explain our reasoning in this review of the QuietComfort 20 model, but remember how this is a serious piece of audio equipment ready to withstand you going to the gym and running a mile back home. This isn’t the only instance where you can use this noninvasive earbud as their design will allow you to wear them to the 9 o’clock meeting or during a late night out with your colleagues.


The Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

It is the perfect choice for every occasion, which isn’t a coincidence because Bose is known as a company leading the way regarding noise-canceling equipment. After all, they debuted their first QuietComfort headphones model in 2000, at the beginning of the new millennium.

We’ve seen everything we could imagine coming from Bose’s production line over the past 20 years, and we were always amazed by the quality maintained throughout such an extended period.

We loved the QC15, one of the best on-ear models the company had to offer, and we certainly enjoyed the innovative over-the-ear type of headphones that the QC3s represented. No matter how good the QuietComfort line became, we’re still stuck with the good old 20 model that also comes in a 20i option, the same earbuds adjusted for Apple product users.

I know you can build an entire home entertainment system for that kind of money, but listen out to what we have to say about the Bose QuietComfort 20, and we’ll leave it up to you to decide whether this set of headphones is worth that amount of dough.

Functional Design

The Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

The biggest problem for users looking for earbuds capable of canceling environmental noise is how they’ll fit when they place them in their ears. Everyone has a unique earlobe structure, and we all have our preferences when we use headphones. Some of us adore the bulky industrial design present with gaming products, while others enjoy wearing a slick set of bass headphones that will go unnoticed during most of your day.

The QC20 makes everyone happy by employing a modern design that fits most styles and can adjust to your needs. Weighing only 42.5 grams (1.5 ounces), Bose surely found a way to create a set of earbuds you won’t even feel while wearing and are yet capable of canceling surrounding noises.

People usually connect this type of earbuds with the necessity of jamming them deep into your ear so you get better results and protect yourself from as many sounds as possible. This is not the case with the QC20, as their design allows them to sit loosely on the tip of your ear and maintain the same level of acoustic noise cancellation. This makes them both the more comfortable and health-friendly options simultaneously.

Bose has patented the TriPort design, which they use for most of their earbud products, and the QuietComfort 20 isn’t an exception. This design eliminates all outside noises, ranging from the decibels a crowded bar can produce to the sound of a jet engine while you’re at the airport.

How is this even possible? Does the design of the headphones have anything to do with the noise cancellation?

Yes, it does, because Bose’s TriPort design implements two tiny outside microphones that actively mimic whatever sound is produced in the outside world. To accomplish this, the manufacturer has created a top-of-the-line microchip capable of recognizing the sound the earbud microphone needs to reproduce. Hence, you get the chance to enjoy your music in peace.

All of this means nothing if you can’t place the QC20 inside of your ear, and that’s why Bose promoted another innovation that makes this pair of earbuds even more customizable to the specific needs of the individual.

The “StayHear+” ear tips are created so anyone can use these earbuds without discomfort. With the help of a cone-shaped set of wings on the tips, you can stick the QC20 just below your outer ear.

You can play around with the different sizes until you start noticing a difference in the level of noise cancellation.

Excellent Build Quality

When you use a Bose product, you can put your mind at ease when thinking about durability and how long this product will withstand your constant harassment. Besides being lightweight earbuds, the QC20 is a strongly built audio equipment.

Besides strength, you’ll also find out how every piece has its function, and it won’t stand in the way of the overall effectiveness of this tiny portable sound system.

A good example of this is the position of the lithium-ion battery, which is placed on the very cord of the earbuds. If we hadn’t mentioned it here, you wouldn’t have noticed something between the plug and the earbuds.

Just kidding, it’s located in the control pod, where you also have your shutdown button and connectivity status icons to check whether everything is OK with your speakers.

You can recharge it using a standard USB connection, and what’s unique about this set of cups is how they’ll continue playing your music even when the battery is dead. You won’t benefit from the effect of the noise cancellation feature, but you’ll still be able to keep listening to what you already have on.

We’re emphasizing this because tons of high-quality speakers completely shut down the power once the battery is drained and can’t support the noise-cancellation feature.

Now that we’ve learned so much about the design and quality of the build of the Bose QuietComfort 20 model, let’s explore how good the sound this stable set of earphones produces regularly.

Sincere Yet Impressive Sound Quality

When you start developing the sound signature you’ll create for your newly created set of speakers, I’m talking from the company’s perspective; of course, you need to decide between going for a more powerful sound and trying to make everyone happy.

What we by this is that not everything can sound good if you have a driver that gives an advantage to deep frequencies to reproduce some heavy bass lines.

The team at Bose decided to go in the opposite direction and compile a set of audio elements to produce a clear sound that wouldn’t mix tones from different frequency ranges. This is great for people who enjoy listening to different types of music and use their earbuds for something other than that. Still, real audiophiles will probably be left unsatisfied as they’re always looking for colorful and emphasized notes.

Don’t get us wrong. The sound the QC20 can produce is out of this world when we try to rate clarity and is most definitely capable of handling all musical extremes, but it may prove insufficient for some people.

This is pretty common when we explore noise-canceling headphones and earbuds, as you’ll always need to sacrifice a little bit on sound quality to achieve that perfect balance inside your customer’s earlobes.


If you’re looking for a set of earbuds you can wear in the gym and during conference calls, the Bose QC20 won’t disappoint you. You’ll use them for years without problems and eventually change them just because you get bored. People looking for a deeper bass experience accompanied by colorful highs and lows should look for robust headphones.

We would love to learn more about your experience with the QuietComfort 20 model or its 20i version, so don’t hesitate to fill out the comment section with your thoughts and questions about the product.

We’re here to help you make the educated choice.

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Author: Outeraudio

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