Pros : Bose QuietComfort 20 – compact headphones that have good sound, very comfortable to use and have excellent sound insulation. The system for suppressing external noise in this model is active, and runs on a built-in lithium-ion battery. Its full charge is enough for 16 hours of operation of the device.

Cons : the high price, the sound is inferior to some competing models of the same price category. The battery cannot be changed.

Bottom line: even with some criticisms and a high price, the Bose QuietComfort 20 are the best in-ear headphones with an active noise reduction system. For avid travelers, they present a good “compact” alternative to full-size models, such as the Bose QuietComfort 15.

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This model comes in two versions – the standard QC20 and designed for use with Apple QC20i gadgets. Both of them cost the same, $ 250. Are Bose QuietComfort 20 Headphones Worth the Money? Well, first I will list their advantages, and then I will definitely point out the disadvantages. And whether to buy this model or not, you decide for yourself.

Bose QuietComfort 20

Arguments for

To begin with, the Bose QuietComfort 20 earphones are very securely fixed in the ear and are very comfortable to wear. They weigh about 43 grams come with a small carrying case that closes with a zipper. This makes them very attractive to travelers.

The headphone design is reminiscent of the Bose MIE2i and you don’t need to put it deep in your ear, like some other models of stereo phones in this class. On the contrary, they sit quite freely, which makes them so comfortable for prolonged use.

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The design of the headphones is made in accordance with TriPort’s proprietary design to save enough space for Bose sound technology, as well as two microphones of an active system for suppressing external noise. As in all similar models, the system picks up any external noise – whether it is the rumble of train wheels or the noise of airplane turbines – and returns the same signal in antiphase. Due to this, the noise completely disappears, and you can listen to music in relative silence. The corresponding sound processor used in QuietComfort 20 headphones is patented by Bose.

The QuietComfort 20 earphones come with StayHear + elastic earplugs in three different sizes, fitted with snap-on wings. I started with the largest inserts that worked best and made sound insulation even more effective. A lithium-ion battery is integrated in the control unit on the cable. It charges via a standard Micro-USB cable, and according to Bose, it provides up to 16 hours of operation. Unlike the QC15 model, these headphones will work even when the battery is completely discharged – of course, without an active noise reduction system. I note that the sound in the “passive” mode is very good, but when you turn on the noise reduction system it becomes more dynamic and saturated.

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At the point of connection of the cables from the left and right headphones, there is a second control unit of small size for volume control. There is also a microphone for talking on the phone and a button for Aware Mode. When you use the latter, the system of suppressing external noise is turned off, and you can hear what is happening around – for example, announcements by speakerphone on board the aircraft. This is a very useful feature, and in general, in my opinion, the headphones showed excellent results as a headset for the phone.

The active noise reduction system in this model is impressive. You will never think that “earbuds” with such a loose fit in the ear and letting in so much sound from the outside can work well with noise reduction. However, this model can. Being on the street of the metropolis at rush hour with these headphones I hardly heard any ambient noise, which should be recognized as an excellent result.

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Like the rest of the Bose headphones, the QuietComfort 20 sound quality is good, but not great. The general character of the sound of stereo phones can be called smoothed. This means that it is suitable for listening to any music, both in the sense of genres and the quality of the recording itself – both well-recorded and not very well. The sound is comfortable and pleasant, but not too detailed. And although there is plenty of bass here, its quality is also only satisfactory.

Of course, if the headphones use active suppression of external noise and the associated digital processing of the audio signal, then the sound quality does not benefit from this. Such stereo telephones usually do not sound as good as ordinary ones, and sometimes high-frequency noise is heard in them (in the case of QuietComfort 20 it is minimal). In other words, if sound quality is the most important thing for you in the world, then you probably shouldn’t buy headphones with active noise cancellation, and in this price category there are a lot of regular in-ear headphones that outperform QuietComfort 20. These are not the stereo phones that make you listen to the entire music collection while sitting at home, but a good choice for the traveler.

But although I have other, better-sounding headphones at my disposal, I found that I could not deny myself the pleasure of using the QC20 every day because of their exceptional comfort and good isolation from street noise.

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I also tested the headphones on the plane, and although the noise reduction quality of the QC15 turned out to be higher, the Q20 was much more comfortable with long listening. In addition, since these are in-ear headphones, you can put your head in them on the headrest cushion without fear that they will come off. Of course, the small dimensions of the QC20 make it possible to accidentally lose them accidentally, but I know people who forgot in the pocket of the front seat on the plane and much larger items, including the iPad and QC15.

Arguments against

As for the criticism, it all relates to the battery and the control unit on the cable. Firstly, it’s rather strange to have a battery dangling on the headphone wire. This will prove even more unpleasant when the built-in battery fails (and this will happen sooner or later) – due to the impossibility of replacing it, you will receive MIE2i headphones with an already unnecessary block on the wire. When I asked Bose about this, I received the following answer:

“The lithium-ion battery cannot be replaced. When fully charged, the battery provides up to 16 hours of operation and is designed for 500 charge / discharge cycles. With intensive use of the headphones, charging will occur every 2-3 days, that is, the battery will last for 3 years using the headphones. After 500 charge / discharge cycles, the battery will remain operational and active noise cancellation in the headphones will work, although the battery life will decrease. All lithium-ion batteries have these characteristics. “

By the way, if you forget to turn off the noise reduction system (as I did several times), then the battery will completely discharge. With such a cost for the headphones, one could come up with some kind of electronics auto-off circuit when not in use.


Despite the shortcomings noted, I really liked the Bose QC20. Their sound may be inferior to conventional $ 250 in-ear headphones, but overall it’s good. In addition, stereo phones are very comfortable to wear and equipped with an excellent system for suppressing external noise. In addition, they will occupy a minimum of space in your luggage.

Many people will find the cost of these headphones overpriced and will be right in their own way. But for a certain category of users who are interested in purchasing stereo phones, the QC20 is a very attractive offer. On the other hand, if you travel frequently and don’t want to carry large, full-size headphones such as QuietComfort 15 or Beats Studio 2013 (which sound better but have a lower quality noise reduction system), then the QC20 will be a good alternative. It will also be a good choice for those who would like to get a model with a good system of active noise reduction, but do not want to wear overhead stereo phones.

However, keep in mind that as soon as the built-in battery fails, the noise reduction system will stop working forever. If this does not bother you, and the cost of the QC20 does not look intimidating, then I see no reason not to recommend these headphones for purchase.

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