Review: Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

Josh Sherman
5 min read

tl;dr - If you don’t have a pair, I feel bad for you. Get at ‘em!

I’ve been devout fan of not only Sony headphones but also being wireless. For the last few years I have been using the Sony MDR10RBT Bluetooth Wireless Headphones.

There was a lot to like with them. They were quite comfortable to wear for extended periods of time with glasses. They got 30+ hours of use on a single charge. I thought they sounded great as well, both wired and over bluetooth.

The problem with them, which wasn’t evident when I first got them is that they were quite bulky for travel. Perfect for desk use just not as compact as I’d like for flying. The lack of noise cancelling meant that I would have to turn them up pretty loud to drown out the plane engines. After they started to show a bit of wear on the cushions, I decided to trade them in and find something new.

Noise cancelling headphones have always made me feel closed off and claustrophobic. Over the ear headphones would pinch my glasses and cause problems after prolonged use. Then one day I tried the Bose QuietComfort 25s at the local Target.

They impressed me with how comfortable they were. They didn’t make me feel claustrophobic but still made me feel like I had shut off the world. I think it may have been because the cups sit around your ears and not don’t pinch against it to create a seal.

When looking for recommendations, I couldn’t ignore that almost everybody at AppSumo have them. My buddy Justin has also been talking them up. He said they are the item he would immediately replace if they were to get lost or break.

Side note, if you want to make the Internet a better place with me and the rest of the Sumos, we are hiring!

Even though I fell in love with the QC25s, I didn’t feel like they were going to be as portable as I would like for travel. Marketing Sumo, Nat sang the praises of the QC20’s portability and helped me with my decision. Also, I didn’t care for the QC25’s need for a AAA battery instead of an internal rechargeable battery. I’m also tired of having headphone indents in my hair from over the ear headphones. #firstworldproblems

At this point, I’ve been using the QuietComfort 20s for Apple devices in white for a couple of weeks. I love them and am unsure how I went so long without them. There is also a separate model for Samsung devices if that’s your thing.

The included case is no larger than my iPhone 6 with a BulletTrain SAFE Waller (review to come). The headphones feel sturdier than the Apple EarPods I was using before their arrival.

Even though I’m not a fan of wires, they do have their advantages for headphones. No Bluetooth pairing issues on my older devices. Consistent sound quality. No lag when using the built-in control. Not just that, when the battery dies, the headphones continue to work. In fact, you can charge the battery while using noise cancellation!

Some of my friends said they don’t always use the noise cancellation, saving battery. I almost always have it on and have to charge every few days. I’ve spent years of cranking the volume to drown out the world. It’s been nice to listen at a reasonable volume and achieve the same effect.

The QC20s come with the headphones, case, a short micro-USB cable for charging and 3 sizes of tips. The medium tips come pre-installed and I felt they were a bit tight in my ears. I ended up switching to the small tips for about a week and a half before feeling like they were a bit too loose. Theory is that the tips need broken in.

I do have two minor gripes with the QC20s, both related to the noise cancellation. First, I find the battery module to be somewhat awkward. Especially when I have my phone in my pocket and I have the module hanging outside of my pocket. There are phone cases out there that address this but I am already committed to my existing case.

The other thing is that I feel there should be a button to pause noise cancellation as well as pause your music. There are two buttons for this and I find their positioning makes it hard to hit both with one hand. If they were were on opposite instead of adjacent sides, it would be easier to snap both in one fluid shot.

People immediately start talking when they see you hit a button because they assume you can hear them. Pausing the track and I can’t hear you well since noise cancellation is on. Pausing noise cancellation and I can’t hear you well because the music is still playing. Minor inconvenience but an inconvenience nonetheless.

Even though I was targeting portability, I have yet to leave the house with them. That said, I have no doubt that their smaller footprint will be a pleasure to travel with. The noise cancellation will improve my time in the air or if I ever stop being a recluse and work from a coffee shop.

Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones - Love ‘em. Well worth the price. Would definitely buy again. May buy a pair for the wife too.

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About Josh

Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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