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- Bose QC20i
- Silence is golden (and expensive, too).
Bose QC20i Review$299.95
Silence is golden (and expensive, too).
When it comes to noise cancellation, lots of people look to Bose to hand over the golden silence—and with good reason. This year, Bose added its first compact option to an already well-loved lineup: The QC20i (MSRP $299.95) are active noise canceling earbuds that can absolutely crush the clamor of your everyday hustle and bustle.
The flip of a switch is all you need to quiet the commotion of the outside world, and the compact form factor makes the QC20i the perfect fit for your travel bag, too. The tradeoff? When your battery loses power, so does the A+ audio quality.
Design & Features
Designed with peace and quiet in mind
The QC20i's biggest claim to fame (and that fat price tag) is definitely active noise cancellation. Three hundred dollars is your ticket to silencing bawling babies, loquacious ladies, and yippie Yorkies. And that's not even the impressive part. These earbuds quell even the most powerful of outside noises—passing motorcycles, roaring city buses, and even jackhammers get reduced to mere whispers. I want to be clear: This noise cancellation is incredible. With the click of a button, my approaching train became little more than a soft whoosh. Just flip the switch and outside noise falls to as much as 1/16 its original loudness. Just take care: Dulling this much outside noise isn't safe for a solitary walk home.
Top-notch results—until the battery dies.
The QC20i's overall soundscape is almost perfectly on-point. Unlike studio-grade headphones, these earbuds do place a fair amount of emphasis on the bass range, meaning the sound profile isn't as flat and dynamic as many purists require. Either way, listeners get distortion-free sound, unhampered by clipped acoustics and the like. Just keep that battery charged.
When you turn ANC on, sound quality improves. Volume doesn't drop in the upper midrange like before, so even with the prominent bass, music retains a fine level of detail. Essentially, when ANC is on, listeners who prefer bass-driven sound—accented by delicate upper midrange details—will fall in love with the QC20i.
Powerful isolators with winning sound quality
The QC20i (MSRP $299.95) earbuds may not have the best audio quality on the block... but they can silence the entire block. If you don't mind a bass-forward soundscape, and if the slight pressure that occurs in the ears as a result of active noise cancellation doesn't bother you, you'll likely find a great friend in these Bose earbuds. If a firm foundation in bass doesn't suit you, then the QC20i won't be your cup of tea.
Many of us just need some peace and quiet, and the QC20i is very formidable in that regard. Maybe you fly a lot, which makes you nervous. Zooming around the sky in a metal tube just doesn't feel right, and screaming infant twins in aisle 6 make matters worse. Maybe your bathroom is getting remodeled. Whatever the noisy case might be, the QC20i can fight the madness—with Jedi-like strength. Many in-ears can hush the high-pitched noises of the world, but the QC20i can handle the booming roars of a train crashing down its tracks. For that reason, the QC20i seems well worth its weighty price.