Friday, April 10, 2015

Bose Quiet Comfort 20i - in ear headset with active noise canelling

The Bose QuietComfort 20i is a in ear headset with active noise cancelling.

When I saw a video review about a noise cancelling headset at JimsReviewRoom (about the Bose QC25 over ear) I was quite impressed and I got curious.

A bit later I found a new stand within one of our local tech shops so I could try the QC25 my self ... damn I was impressed how good all the noise of that store and all it's customers was gone.

I was thinking about getting the QC25 but they are big over ear headphones, which makes them a bit to tall for me to handle them with my usual travel and commute behavior. But I decided to get a pair of the QC20i, the first in ear headphones from Bose with that amazing noise cancelling.
After using them for a while now I can tell, I'm loving them.

What was in the package?

The package included the headset itself, a cable for charging (micro USB), a carrying case and three sets of ear tips in different sizes (S, M and L) with M preinstalled at the headphones.

Contained within the package

According to Bose the lithium ion battery will last about 16 hours and charge up in about 2 hours. For my usage so far I would say this numbers are quit accurate.

Build quality

The build quality feels solid and well done. Of course, long term usage needs to be seen but I am very optimistic this will last for me for a long time. The battery (a flat part close to the plug) feels very nice as well with it's soft rubbery finish. The ear tips are very soft and I nearly can't feel them placed in my ears at all.

The headphones with medium ear tips


Like I mentioned, the ear tips are very soft but also stick good and secure within my ears. I did not test the other sizes (S and L) as the medium sized tips, which have been preinstalled fit quit fine for me. Even after several hours of straight use I don't feel any pain or even notice that I am still wearing them.

Wearing the headphones with medium size tips

Usage / active noise cancelling

When I was putting the QC20i into my ears and activated them the first time I was very impressed how much they filtered out of the environment sound even without an active audio source connected to them. At that time I was speaking with my wife when I turned the headphones on, she was not "muted" completely but the impression came to me that she was talking to me at about 20 meters away at the end of a long corridor (in fact, she has been about 1 meter away). I let her try it the same way and she was very impressed as well.
Now when turning on even very quiet music most of the environment noise is gone nearly completely.
When at a street, you don't hear the engines of the cars near you anymore, just the moving sound of the wheels on the road is to hear but not the engines anymore.

At the cable remote there are some buttons for play/pause and the aware mode. The iOS version of the headset also provides volume up and down buttons which are not working with Android but that's not a Bose problem, it's more about the protocols used on Android for that.

Be careful when using this at the street as you could easy miss a car near you, just as it would be an electric vehicle. This is what the aware mode was made for from Bose.

Aware mode

The aware mode lets you listen to your music and still filters out some of the noise around you but also lets pass some of the things happening so you get a lot more involved into your environment again while still using the benefit of good sound with some noise filtered out.
The Aware mode can be switched on or off at the cable remote along with a play/pause function.

The battery pack with some control LED and the power switch

Out of battery

According to Bose you can use this headphones even when the battery is empty and enjoy the full sound quality.
Yes, you can use this even when the battery is out of juice but honestly, the sound quality is no where near to what you get with the headphone powered on. But still, at least you can use it till you charge it again which does not take to long, only about 2 hours to charge it full and ready for another 15 to 16 hours of usage.


As it is an in ear headphone it does take a lot less space than an over ear headset.
The included bag is large enough to fit in the headset with it's battery pack at the cable, keep it save from twisting the cable and protecting the ear tips from getting to much dirt and dust on them. The packed size is small enough that it fits into most coat pockets, maybe a bit to large for most trouser pockets.
The case also includes a little side pocket for the charging cable.

The bag with the headset inside


The microphone is located at the wire remote control, which means it can be covered by a jacked if worn below it. But that does not differ much from other cable headsets.
The voice quality for the communication partner is quite ok, while the quality for me using the QC20i was very good, especially as no other noises where disturbing my phone calls.


To me this headphones are absolutely great. When I use it and walk around the city or at very crowded places I nearly feel as if I would be just an observer, not related to the things happening around me, that great is the effectiveness.
At the time I am writing this article, I am sitting at a coffee within a shopping center but it feels as if I would be all alone by my self.
This headphones are also a huge help when you have to work concentrated in noisy areas like an open plan office.
Sure, with about 250,- Euros they are not cheep, but absolutely worth the money in my opinion, especially if you have to concentrate in noisy environment or just want to enjoy music without disturbing sounds.