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Bose vs Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones (2021): Which Blocks Out More Ambient Noise?

Bose and Sony currently stand among the top producers of noise-canceling headphones in the world. Their products are guaranteed to deliver top-notch performance and quality at reasonable costs. At present, the best models from each brand are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and the Sony WH-1000XM3. If you want to know which audio solution is right for you, have a look at how these headphones compare to each other here.

Bose vs Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones Comparison Chart

ModelBose QuietComfort 35 II Sony WH-1000XM3
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, Noise-Cancelling, with Alexa Voice Control -... Sony WH1000XM3 Noise Cancelling Headphones : Wireless Bluetooth Over the Ear Headset – Silver... 
PriceCheck Price Check Price 
Rating
 

 
Material of Construction Glass-filled nylon, fabric, steelPlastic, fabric
Weight8.2 oz9 oz
DesignOver-Ear (Circumaural)Over-Ear (Circumaural), Over-the-Head
Frequency Response Average Standard Deviation0.45 dB0.34 dB
Bass Standard Error1.55 dB3.53 dB
Treble Standard Error2.88 dB4.17 dB
Microphone Gain37.46 dB29.59 dB
Microphone Frequency Response Standard Deviation1.78 dB3.72 dB
Average Noise Cancellation21.623.1
Noise-Canceling ControlAdjustableYes
Bluetooth Codec SupportSBC, AACAAC, SBC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC
ControlsPhysical buttonsTouch gestures
Charging PortMicro USBUSB-C

Design

Bose introduces a glass-filled nylon build while Sony puts in plastic shell ear cups.

bose qc 35 ii design
The Bose QC 35 II has a glass-filled nylon build
sony wh-1000xm3 design
The Sony WH-1000XM3 has plastic ear cups

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II and its predecessor share the same overall aesthetics. However, the QC 35 II is now built from glass-filled nylon to make them sturdier. Its leather-padded outer headband is paired with soft ear pads for comfortable long-term listening. This is finished off with a reflective logo on each ear cup for added flair.

Meanwhile, Sony removed the faux-leather ear cups and replaced them with plastic shells in their WH-1000XM3. They feel chunkier but improve the ergonomics for a gentler fit on the head. At 9 ounces, it’s slightly heavier than the 8.2-ounce Bose.

Sound Quality

Bose offers a crisp, wide sound but Sony delivers richer, clearer quality especially on wired mode.

sony wh-1000xm3 sound
The Sony WH-1000XM3 delivers clearer and richer sound

Carrying over the audio qualities of the original QC35, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II gives crisp and wide sound. High and mid notes are handled well thereby creating balance. No single range of notes stands out over others which is good when equalizing music. Low notes lack depth, however, and treble sounds uneven.

The frequency response on the Sony WH-1000XM3 provides a decent bass boost along with reduced distortion and enhanced fidelity. With its new Q1 processor, it ensures that both bass-heavy content and live music recordings sound immersive and rich. The detailed and open soundstage of the WH-1000XM3 is even clearer through the auxiliary cable.

Microphone Quality

The Bose microphone blocks ambient noise while the Sony microphone struggles with background interference.

bose qc 35 ii mic
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II captures vocals clearly

The microphone on the Bose QuietComfort 35 II is able to block out ambient noise and produce clear vocals. While this makes it perfect for answering calls, it struggles with capturing sounds that are below 200Hz which is an issue if you have a deep voice.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 easily picks up voices without any alteration; hence, it’s great for making recordings. It does have a tendency to pick up background interference like the wind. This means using the WH-1000XM3 in drafty conditions or crowded areas will be a struggle.

Noise Cancelling

Bose still outmatches the Sony with regards to active noise cancellation.

bose qc 35 ii anc
With two different modes, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II blocks out background noise better

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II has two different active noise cancellation (ANC) modes, namely Low and High. Both suit different listening situations with Low adjusting noise cancellation in windy or quiet environments and High optimizing audio. The Qc35 II is better at blocking out sounds below 100Hz such as car engines too.

Trying to keep pace, the Sony WH-1000XM3 shows much progress in replacing ambient noise with excellent sound quality. It features Ambient Noise mode which allows you to hear your surroundings while blocking background sounds like pedestrians and televisions. At the same time, it attenuates more noise than Bose though not as thoroughly.

Other Specs

Bose has physical buttons and a slider but Sony has a touchpad along with higher Bluetooth codec support.

sony wh-1000xm3 touchpad
Take control of the Sony WH-1000XM3 with the touchpad

The controls on the Bose QuietComfort 35 II are found on the right side of the headphones. They include play/pause and volume buttons as well as a dedicated Action button for activating the noise-canceling modes. Bearing fewer buttons, the Sony WH-1000XM3 has a responsive touch panel for controlling the headphones with swipe gestures.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II allows for AAC and SBC Bluetooth connectivity. The Sony WH-1000XM3, however, takes it further with support for aptX, aptX HD and LDAC. Neither of them supports Bluetooth 5.0 technology though. For charging, the Bose uses a micro USB but the Sony has a USB-C port.

Verdict

Though the QuietComfort 35 II lacks a touchpad or a USB-C port, it’s clear that Bose does noise cancellation better than Sony.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 is an excellent pair of headphones that captures clear vocals, allows swipe gesture control and offers more Bluetooth codec support. However, since we’re talking about noise-canceling capabilities, Sony still cannot keep up with Bose. As evident on the QuietComfort 35 II, Bose is still the leader in creating headphones that effectively block out ambient noise.

FAQs

📌 Which one has better noise cancelling capabilities, Bose or Sony?

Bose beats Sony when it comes to noise cancelling capabilities. The QuietComfort 35 II is proof of this, equipped with two different active noise cancellation (ANC) modes, namely Low and High.

📌 Which noise cancelling headphones has better microphone quality, Bose or Sony?

The Bose microphone is able to block ambient noise quite well while the Sony microphone struggles with background interference such as the wind.

📌 How are the Bose and Sony noise cancelling headphones different in terms of sound quality?

Bose offers a crisp, wide sound but Sony is able to produce a richer, clearer quality especially on wired mode.

📌 How are the Bose and Sony noise cancelling headphones different in terms of design?

Bose introduces a glass-filled nylon build while Sony puts in plastic shell ear cups.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Andy Mathews

Lead Editor at Compare Before Buying. Product researcher and tech enthusiast passionate about consumer products, comparison charts and surfing.