Reader favorite: Bose QC20 Headphones


Best all around noise cancelling earphones

Cool Tools’ founder Kevin Kelly reviewed Bose QC20 Headphones in 2015, and was one of our most popular posts of this year. — MF

The new Bose QuietComfort 20 earbuds are by far the best noise cancelling traveling earphones I have ever used. I fly a lot and I am less fatigued after a long flight when the background roar of the plane is erased so I’ve been a long-time fan of noise cancelling earphones.

I have bought and used many reputable brands of noise cancelling headphones over the past two decades. Most of these models (Sony, Panasonic, AudioTechnik) are much cheaper than Bose gear. But I kept returning to Bose, despite their outrageously sky-high price, because their noise cancelling was noticeably better.

I have followed the Bose models as they got smaller and more compact — a significant factor since I have to carry the headsets my whole trip. With genuine hesitation, I bought their most recent version, a set of tiny ear buds, the QC20. I normally find earbuds uncomfortable after an hour. But for some reason, I can (and regularly do) wear these for 12 hours straight. I even sleep with them on. Their noise cancelling is as good or better than the fitted ear cup versions. Their audio quality is fine for my purposes, watching a movie or listening to music from my phone.

Best of all for me, they pack into a tiny fist sized pouch, along with their battery and controls. They just disappear into my small daypack, with almost no additional weight — something I think about when I am hauling my bag around for a month. The non-removable battery is rechargeable via USB, lasts me for about 16-20 hours. Without a charge, external sound inputs will still play, just without noise cancelling. There is no way around it; these are expensive at $300. But if I lost these, I’d immediately buy a new pair. Nothing else is as portable and effective.

-- KK 04/3/17