The Bose QC15s are currently available for $299.99.
The Bose QuietComfort 15s, ladies and gents!
The ear cups have oval padding that fits around the ears.
The right ear cup has the active cancellation switch on it. Push it to the right to activate it, and a cheery green LED will turn on.
The bottom of the left ear cup is where you plug in the headphones' cord.
The band is covered in padding and can extend to provide a better fit.
The QC15s cable has a normal, 1/8-inch plug at one end, and a proprietary 1/8-inch plug on the other end (the end that connects to the left ear cup). There's also a control on the proprietary end, which allows you to control the level of amplification.
The battery goes in a little well on top of the right ear cup.
Bose headphones thankfully come with a courtesy card, and thank goodness for these things. While we were testing these headphones out, we were constantly accosted by total strangers on the street, who demanded information on our awesome headphones.
Anyway, there's also a handy instruction card in case you forget how to use the headphones.
In the box, you'll find the headphones, a travel case, a cord, some manuals, an airplane adapter, some convenience cards, and a battery.
The QC15s are a durable set of headphones. They don't seem plasticky at all, and their band has a metal core. Further, they have a removable cord, allowing you to replace the most fragile part of the setup pretty easily. The cups are also removable, should they tear.
If Bose does anything exceedingly well, it's making a swanky set of headphones. These things look great, except for the Bose branding on the outside. The Bose brand is abhorrent to certain audiophiles and will cause them to recoil in revulsion. Be sure to use your QC15s with caution.
This curve is a bit too erratic in the high end. The bass starts out slightly too loud, then gradually dips down to a more normalized value. Then, just before 1kHz, it starts increasing again, peaking above the limits a bit—the left channel more so than the right. After that small hill drops off, however, all hell breaks lose and the response graph starts looking like the worst EKG imaginable.
Overall, this isn't the worst response we've seen, but it lends itself to an odd-sounding high-end.
Also below is a gigantic picture of the airplane adapter, for your viewing pleasure.
The QC15s are meant to be portable, but don't really have the form factor for it. Like all Bose headphones, the QC15s come with a fancy case to lug the things around in. We'd recommend using it, even though it adds a lot of unnecessary bulk. The QC15s don't have a collapsible band,and their ear cups don't collapse particularly well.
Below is the case, which has a pouch to help keep the cord contained.
You can remove the headphones' pads and the small oval of felt underneath, but you can't get much further than that unless you have a tiny screwdriver.
The headphones won't work without batteries. That's annoying, since you'll have to replace the battery every so often.
Active Noise Cancellation
The QC15 might have really effective active cancellation, but it's implemented much more poorly here than other active-cancellers. You can't listen to music without cancellation turned on, so if you run out of batteries, you've also run out of luck (we are assuming you define 'luck' as 'the ability to listen to your music with a set of headphones, because seriously, is that too much to ask).
The QC15s and ATH-ANC7s are about the same in terms of aesthetics and design. Both look great and are well constructed.
The QC15 has a more erratic frequency response than the ATH-ANC7.
Both headphones have low levels of distortion, but the QC15s have slightly more across the board.
The ATH-ANC7s have less extreme, more frequent emphasis shifts.
The QC15s beat the pants off the ATH-ANC7s on isolation.
Both headphones are about the same level of comfort.
If you're looking for quality, the QC15s aren't quite as good as the ATH-ANC7s. If you want active cancellation, the QC15s are, by far, the better choice.
The QC15s look slightly more swanky and slightly better construction than the AH-NC732s.
The AH-NC732s don't have a very strong high end.
The AH-NC732s have significantly less distortion, since you can turn off the cancellation feature.
The AH-NC732s have much more significant issues with tracking.
The QC15s have much better isolation.
We thought the Bose headphones were more comfortable, but this is pretty much a judgment call: do you like over-ear or on-ear headphones better?
The QC15s have a pretty big leg up on the AH-NC732s: they have arguably better sound quality and significantly better isolation. The problem is the QC15s can't turn off the cancellation feature or play back music without a battery.
The QC3s are on-ears and the QC15s are over-ears. That's just about the only difference. Both are feature a durable construction and look nice.
The QC15 has a much better frequency response.
The QC3s had much lower levels of distortion.
The QC3s have some significant issues with tracking.
The QC15s can isolate far better than the QC3s.
Both headphones have the same kind of padding, so the only real difference is their form factor. If you like on-ears, the QC3s will be more comfortable; if you like over-ears, the QC15s will be more comfortable.
The QC15s are better headphones in just about every way.
The NC200s aren't as well constructed and don't have the same style as the QC15s.
The NC200s are less erratic in the high end, but have a less-smooth low end.
The NC200s have slightly less distortion overall.
The NC200s have more uneven tracking overall, but the QC15s have some troubles with the high-end.
The QC15s' active cancellation is much better than the QC3s'.
We thought the QC15s were more comfortable than the NC200s.
The NC200s aren't great, but they're very inexpensive. They cost 1/3 what the QC15s do. If you don't mind spending the extra money for some significant improvements, the QC15s are the right choice.
The Bose QuietComfort 15s have a lot of improvements over the QC3s. They don't have the greatest sound quality, but their active cancellation feature is absolutely incredible. Unfortunately, even this strength has a weakness: you can't use the QC15s without the active cancellation feature and the headphones won't work without a battery charge.
If you're looking for over-ears with awesome isolation the Bose QuietComfort 15s are one of the best choices out there.
Meet the tester
Mark Brezinski is a senior writer with seven years of experience reviewing consumer tech and home appliances.
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