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Part 5: Noise Cancelling Headphone Review - The Bose QuietComfort 15

You simply can't get on a plane without seeing a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones, and we were really excited to have a listen. (HeadRoom doesn't carry these headphones, but we'd sure like to!)
Bose QC15If you've read this entire article, you'll know from page 2 that these cans provide the best noise cancelling at the low frequencies, but don't do quite as good a job in the highs. Bose has continually advanced their noise cancelling technology, and these new QuiteComfort 15s have two microphones in each earpiece --- one within the ear-cup enclosure listening to the internal sound, and one listening to the world outside --- and use digital signal processing (DSP) techniques in their noise cancelling feature.Bose has been doing this a long time and it shows. The size of these cans are relatively small, but without giving up comfort around the ears. The fit on the head is secure, they run on one AAA battery, and once folded can be carried in a nice compact hard-shell case.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="340" caption="Frequency Response o fthe Bose QuietComfort 15"] Frequency Response of the Bose QuietComfort 15[/caption]We enjoyed the sound of these headphones, which have a solid tight bass and a very smooth response right up into the highs as can be seen in the surprisingly (for noise cancelling headphones) well behaved frequency response. Bose uses their "Tri-Port" vents to to tame the resonances withing the ear-cup (though this may be where they lose a bit of isolation in the highs that we've measured), and they employ some DSP corrections as well.The only problem is that they're just a bit dry sounding which may be evidenced by the second worst distortion spectra of the bunch. (Use our BuildAGraph tool to view headphone measurements.) Don't let it put you off though, all the noise cancelling headphones measure quite oddly in one way or another, and I mention the poor distortion spectra because it's so surprising given that the QC15 measures very well in most other ways. These were right up there with the three best sounding noise cancellers.
Next up, the Sony MDR-NC500D -----> First article in this series is here.

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