Bose Quiet Comfort QC 20 Noise Cancelling Headphones: Shut out the world, give me the music!

Noise cancelling headphones bring to your mind the chunky grey globs that sit on each ear, and can be folded 90 degrees to store them. It is common to see a lot of frequent fliers using them to cut off aircraft noise and enjoy some peace and quiet. No doubt, the concept has been well received worldwide.

But a lot of users who are constantly on-the-move found it challenging to lug a box along everywhere. It was only a matter of time before Bose decided to capture this market by introducing the QC 20 – the younger cousin of the QC 15/QC3 series.

What is remarkable about this transition from the chunky headphones to the in-ear model is the fact that Bose had to accommodate the battery, the noise cancellation and compression technology and volume control – all in the tiny, light device. The battery panel dangles efficiently in the cord that connects the earphones and the input jack, complete with a USB charging socket and noise cancellation on/off buttons.

The QC 20 comes with ear buds in multiple sizes. A first-time user of the device will feel that the buds are considerably larger than normal ear buds found in regular headphones, but once you dabble between the buds and figure out which one suits your ear the best, the music experience is quite impressive. 

There is a drastic cut off in background noise the moment you turn on the noise cancellation feature – and the effect is more intense on a pair of in-ear headphones. The quality of music is as good as the non in-ear versions from Bose, though one tends to feel that at times, the bass gets killed just a little. Having said that, the overall sound quality is impressive. The USB charging capability (in comparison to having to use batteries as in the earlier variants) is a good feature that allows you to charge on the go.

The QC20 can be used in two ways: you can  choose to block out the noisy world completely and enjoy their music or  with the push of a button on the cord’s Y-joint, you can switch to new Aware mode, which keeps the music playing, but allows surroundings to be heard clearly:  useful when you need to be aware of traffic noise on the street or announcements in an airport.

The QC20 works with most Android, Windows  and BlackBerry phones; the QC20i headphones are designed specifically for  Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod.  In India, the QC 20 / 20i costs Rs. 22388.  Reviewed October 22 2013