Bose QC25

The QC25 is a noise cancelling headphone released by Bose in 2014, as the new model in the QC serie started in the early 2000s with the QC1. It’s a small, light and ultra nomad over-ear with a carrying case and great isolation (as it should be with ANC headphones). Comfort is excellent : correct clamping force, adequate headband padding and deep earpads.

○ Release : 2014
○ Current status : Discontinued
○ Type : Over-ear / Closed-back
○ Measured weight : 208g 
○ Impedance : 50 Ohms 
○ Sensitivity : ~100.7 dB/mW 
○ Average used price : $80-110

Sound Impression

Most ANC headphones make a compromise : implementing the active noise cancelling but worsening the sound quality. The Bose QC25 is no exception and overall sound a bit muffled with some midrange issues.

The bass is quite good and extends well, but muddy for my tastes. It’s also a bit too elevated relative to the (lower)-midrange, creating a surplus of warmth. Midrange is just decent, with some honkiness around 1-2 khz but it’s not bothering me that much, it honestly looks worse in measurements. Treble is where I encounter the biggest issues ; there is a massive lack of mid-treble and extension. I need to apply some EQ : +4 dB around 10 khz to help sharpening the sound and avoiding a dead presentation.

Technicalities are ok for a $150 pair of ANC headphone, but below any similarly priced good passive closed-back alternative. Nothing really sticks out, between the smallish soundstage, the dynamic range compression and the lack of resolution and finesse.

I bought the QC25 only for plane use. I’m not moving a lot in that case so the cable is not annoying, and I knew going for the QC35 II would not have improved the sound quality, for a +60% price increase, it’s a bit disappointing. The new Sony WH-X1000M3 seems a solid ANC headphone with good balance between isolation, sound quality and build. I would recommend either the QC25 or the Sony XM3 depending on your use.

I sold my QC25 and bought a pair of IEMs (Etymotic ER2XR) for travelling / plane use. The ER2XR is an absolute upgrade in sound quality, while having solid isolation (but worse comfort than the QC25).

Measurements & Resources

Warmish tilt from 20-30hz to 1 khz. Upper-midrange is quite forward but didnt sound too shouty to me. Treble from 4 to 20 khz is recessed, just like I heard it.

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