Bose QC20i is an amazing pair of headphones which I’ve been using for more than a year now. We don’t really review a lot of audio products because we can’t write much about them. Usually, they are meant to be experienced. But, we decided to make an exception with the QC20i. Every time I take it out, people are curious as to what it is.
Make no mistake, you’ll notice that it is no normal earphone only while looking closely into it. Bose is no new company. Every audiophile knows Bose and they make some of the worlds most premium and expensive audio products. Sure, the QC20i is also expensive. But it has things to it, which no other manufacturer has done.
Bose debuted QuiteComfort technology in 2000 making the first noise isolating headphones. QC20i is premium in ear noise isolating earphones. It packs is some serious innovation.
Starting with what makes QC20i unique, it blocks in all the environment noise by processing the audio. Both the earpieces have microphones in them which capture the background noise in real time and anticipate the future noise and send in the opposite waves. This way, the noise gets cancelled! This is totally genius. The microphones are powered by a battery which lasts around 16 hours on a single charge.
The battery is both the advantage and disadvantage of the product. It is not possible to power a headphone like this without a battery. So, a battery uncomfortably dangling around at the bottom all the time. It also adds enough bulk making it feel fragile and uncomfortable for things like workouts and cycling. The battery lasts 16 hours on a single charge and can be recharged in under less than 90 minutes via micro-USB. The headphone still works if it is completely out of charge, but without the noise isolation. Without the active noise isolation, it would sound like a cheap $10 headphone. Another disadvantage of the battery is that you have to remember to turn it off every time. Otherwise, you are looking at a crappy pair of headphones the next day.
Coming to the quality of the sound produced by this device, it is definitely not good. Do not pick it if you are looking for the best sound. Since the headphone is constantly tampering with the output music, it is definitely not the best sounding headphone for $300. But if it is used in a noisy environment, this will be the only headphone which can produce any sound that you can hear! Also, Bose has never been a company producing bass heavy headphones and QC20i is no different. Do not expect much of a bass with this.
The earpieces itself rest loosely over the ears which are really comfortable. They come with a nice grip and won’t fall off with normal activity. Earpieces of three different sizes are included in the box.
A remote is present at the joint of the Y-Cable. It has buttons for Play/Pause and volume(This is the only difference between QC20 and QC20i. QC20 does not have the volume buttons). Along with this, there is another button on it’s side to switch to the ‘Aware Mode’. When this is enabled, all the background noise can be heard perfectly well. The microphone picks them up and sends it in along with your music, instead of cancelling them. This is really useful when you have to talk to someone or cross the road.
A nice cloth pouch is included in the box to protect this expensive pair of headphones. The overall package is pretty small and is not inconvenient while travelling. Should be possible to fit it in any pocket.
QC20i comes at a price tag of $300 in the US or Rs. 25,000 in India. The headphone is intended to be used by a very specific set of audience and is not for everyone. If you’re someone who is constantly in loud environments, this is a dream come true. I have an ATH M50x which I absolutely love and I tried using it in an airplane without any luck. The plane was just way too loud. But with the QC20i, I was completely shut off and could enjoy a complete movie!
If you constantly see yourself in loud environments, the price tag is justifiable and a worthwhile investment. Go to a store and experience it before buying one. If you’re someone who is not in loud environments, it makes no sense to get one of these. You can get better sounding headphones at the same price without the perfect noise isolation.
- The best (And only) noise isolating in-ear headphone ever made
- It is expensive
- A dangling battery which has to be recharged
- Not the best audio quality