A Bose NC700 Redemption Song

I wrote a review a little less than one year ago about the new Bose NC700 over-ear headphones, concluding they were not better than the preceding Bose QC35 II except in some specific scenarios.

Today, I report back to you that Bose has stepped up its game, no doubt under a bit of pressure from vendors like Apple, Sennheiser, B&O, and others entering the fray with their active noise-canceling products. Bose updated the firmware of the NC700s to 1.4.12, which includes a new equalizer function, allowing you to adjust bass, mid-tones, and treble to your liking. Many other things have improved, such as Bluetooth connectivity working faster, and device switching improvements.

The sound profile of the NC700s has improved dramatically, from already quite good to excellent in combination with the equalizer settings to your liking. And in the reproduction of sound is where we must recognize Bose is an audio company learning to improve its technology, as opposed to Apple being a technology company learning to improve its audio. For me, both the Soundport Free, QC35 II, and now the NC700 beat the competition in audio performance hands down.

Bose took the initial complaints with the NC700 very seriously, going as far as sending technical teams out to the households of everyday users to perfect the usage of their product. And it showed. The firmware upgrade breathes new life in the NC700 and the adjustments to the equalizer settings are harmonious.

Changes in the equalizer settings never seem to stress the speakers, except for a faint clicking I never heard before in Joss Stone’s Tell Me ‘Bout It. But on the whole, the NC700 has a new lease on life with this free firmware upgrade, easily and beautifully covering classical, hip-hop, country, jazz, drums, and guitar riffs.

I fail to see the practical value of the AR capabilities of the headphones, in fact, some strange microphone inflections happen when you turn your head during a conversation on a car ride with the opposing party complaining about a sudden increase in sound volume (in the previous version of the firmware). It is then when you realize Bose veers off in technology land faster than it can drive.

The NC700 headphones are ready to meet the competition, and their products will challenge these headphones on many fronts. But I doubt the audio quality will be as good as those delivered by the core competency of Bose. And, with this firmware upgrade, I can now comfortably recommend them over Bose’s own QC35.

Play Bob Marley’s Redemption Song and transport yourself. My buyer’s remorse is gone. Redemption is sweet.

The sign of an intelligent nation is its willingness and ability to reinvent itself, upstream. Let’s inspire the world with new rigors of excellence we first and successfully apply to ourselves.

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