Bose, the foremost marketing machine in high-end audio, is releasing its first noise-canceling earphones this week. The Quiet Comfort 20 is a new earbud model that takes sound-canceling technology from the extremely popular Quiet Comfort 15 over-ear headphones, and crams it into a pair of in-ear monitors.
Noise-canceling headsets have two functions: one, to quiet sounds around you, and two, to produce high-quality audio. Although audiophiles gripe about Bose’s audio quality, there’s no doubt Bose has some of the best active noise-canceling technology available today. That’s a good tradeoff for Bose fans, because a lot of people interested in these earphones won’t even be listening to music –they’re looking to experience silence. Both earphones include two microphones on each earbud to record ambient noise, which is then “subtracted” from the signal that you hear. In short, these earbuds will tell anything you don’t want to hear to shut up. When you switch them on, you’re transported into your own personal quiet-time.
Because complete deafness to your surroundings can actually be dangerous in some circumstances, the QC20s include an intriguing “aware” setting, where you can still listen to music, but some outside sound is passed through to the listener.
The snug-fitting buds come with an on-cord control brick and battery about the size of a candy bar — Bose’s noise-canceling electronics need to go somewhere. If the rechargeable battery runs out, the earphones will still work, unlike other Bose headphones. There just won’t be any active noise-cancelation. It comes in both iOS and Android versions.
The QC20 will be available from Bose on August 1, Amazon by the end of the month, and those weird airport gadget vending machines before your next flight with the baby that won’t shut up.