Does your dad love music? If so, you better give him a pair of audiophile-grade headphones for Father’s Day. The Sony WH-1000XM3, Bose QuietComfort 35 II, and Bose 700 not only sound spectacular but also boast the best in noise-canceling technology so dad can listen to his favorite songs without any distractions. Order your pick on Amazon today if you want it to arrive in time for the big day and save up to $72.
— $278, was $350
The new and improved WH-1000XM3 is Sony’s premium noise-canceling headphones offering and our choice for the best headphones of 2020. They’ve got a lot going for them. First is how cool they look. Sony got rid of the rugged, leathery finish around the earcups and replaced it with a new plastic chassis, making for a far sleeker silhouette. The change in material made the WH-1000XM3 more lightweight and slender, enhancing wearability. Plus, the swivel design of the earcups guarantees supreme comfort. The cups are ergonomically padded and made even larger for bigger ears, and the material is nicely breathable, so you won’t feel uncomfortably hot even after long wear.
Aside from their pleasing aesthetics, the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones are very solid when it comes to noise cancellation. Thanks to Sony’s new QN1 processor, this technology has dramatically improved both audio processing and noise cancellation. Turning on the ANC practically obliterated every loud sound in the environment, from people to vehicles. The WH-1000XM3 also adapt their noise cancellation based on where you are. Through Sense Engine, these headphones let in certain traffic noises like horns and sirens, so you won’t get run over by a car while listening to music.
Music sounds immaculate with these headphones, supported by 32-bit signal processing, a high signal-to-noise ratio, and low distortion. Studio recordings sound impeccable, while live recordings are completely immersive. Basses sound punchy and strong, but without overpowering the beauty and subtlety of the mids and highs.
You can operate these headphones through gestures as well as by pushing buttons. When you cup your hand over the right earcup, music will automatically pause so you can have a conversation. Swiping and tapping also lets you play/pause, skip/return tracks, and adjust the volume. Lastly, the Sony WH-1000XM3’s battery life can last an epic 30 hours between charges. Even charging these for just 10 minutes allows you to use them for five hours with active noise cancellation.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 are hands-down the best headphones that you can buy right now. They are a bit pricey, but as they say, you’ve got to spend a bit of money for real quality. They normally retail for $350, but with Amazon’s awesome $72 discount, you can snag them for $278. And if you apply and are approved for the Amazon Rewards Visa card, you get an additional $50 off instantly, reducing the price even further to $228.
— $299, was $349
The QuietComfort 35 II, or QC35 II for short, was one of our favorite noise-canceling headphones for 2019, earning a solid 4-out-of-5 rating in our review last year. Out of the box, you’ll immediately notice that these are well-crafted headphones. The earcups are encased in supple leather and the headband has soft microfiber padding. They are lightweight and fit on the head comfortably; wearing them for long periods of time won’t be an issue. You’ll find the control buttons beneath the right earcup, alongside a USB Type-C charging port and, thankfully, a headphone jack. Buttons include the standard ones: Volume control, play/pause, and track advance or reverse. There is also one that calls up either Alexa or Google Assistant for voice-activated commands. The QC35 II come with a zip-locked protective case so they’ll remain scratch-free during travel.
These headphones’ noise-canceling prowess is amazing. The feature comes in three settings: Low, medium, and high. Obviously, if you still want to hear a bit of what’s happening around you, you can set it at low. To become completely oblivious to the world for total music immersion, crank it up to high. The thunderous roar of plane engines can be completely eradicated, and quieter sounds won’t even stand a chance. These headphones are also outfitted with a noise-rejecting dual-mic system that ensures noise-free phone calls regardless of how loud your surroundings are. Bluetooth connectivity is also pretty impressive. The QC35 II can pair with multiple devices simultaneously.
As far as sound quality goes, the QC35 II are excellent. Music sounds great, with punchy bass, adequate midrange presence, and zesty treble. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better-sounding pair of cans for the price. Unfortunately, some of the music’s richness and subtlety gets lost when the noise cancellation is at its highest setting, but not enough to ruin your listening experience.
These cans’ battery life is tremendous, capable of lasting up to 20 hours when used wirelessly with noise-canceling on — and an even more impressive 40 hours when wired. Perfect for frequent flyers who travel long distances, the QuietComfort 35 II headphones are currently available at Amazon for $299 instead of their usual retail price of $349 — a cool $50 worth of savings.
— $349, was $399
For the longest time, Bose has been killing it in the noise-canceling headphones department. Sure, the Sony WH-1000XM3 may be our choice for the best ANC headphones for 2020, but frankly, Bose’s offerings aren’t that far behind. Take the Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700 (or simply Bose 700) for example. Their noise-canceling prowess is phenomenal, they’re extremely comfortable even with prolonged use, boast a gamut of top-of-the-line features, and are terrific for taking phone calls and interacting with digital voice assistants. Simply put, these headphones are the best pair you can get for business, and frequent flyers will truly want these in their arsenal.
Bose took a different approach when it comes to designing these headphones. The Bose 700’s earcups are affixed to the headband rather than having the typical yoke-style mount, allowing more pivot and tilt. We personally think this is a great ergonomic decision and actually distributes the weight more evenly, but it might not be suitable for everyone. During our test, we never experienced any pain or discomfort even with long listening sessions. Again, this might not be the case for other people. We suggest trying these on for a short while to determine whether they feel like an improvement in comfort or a step backward.
Controls for play/pause, track advance/reverse, and volume are all managed via a touchpad located on the right earcup. They’re very easy to use and we’re confident that it wouldn’t take long for anyone to master them. There are physical buttons for noise-canceling adjustment (levels 0, 5, and 10) as well as controls for power/Bluetooth pairing and summoning the voice assistant of your choice, including Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana.
We normally don’t bother with companion apps because they rarely add to the overall experience, but that cannot be said about the Bose Music app. It boasts an assortment of fun and useful features, including pairing the headphones to your phone (which can be done just as easily without the app), renaming the Bose 700 whatever you like (Bose’s name suggestions are hilarious, like Thunder Flash), exerting granular control over noise-canceling effectiveness from 0 to 10, and managing multiple paired devices. The app also lets you manage all your music services from one place and save favorite playlists as convenient presets for one-touch access.
As expected, the Bose 700’s noise-canceling is superb, capable of completely blocking out everyday noises and even the roar of a plane’s engine. Sound quality is also very good, although we did find the obvious boost in the upper midrange and lower treble regions a little harsh. This is probably due to the fact that Bose envisioned these headphones as the ideal travel companion since forward presentation in the high end will help cut through any noise the cans can’t cancel. Finally, the battery life is fantastic. The Bose 700’s total playtime with noise canceling on is roughly 20 hours and 40 hours when deactivated. Once they’ve run out of juice, you can just retrieve the headphone cable from the case and continue listening wired.
The Bose 700’s acoustic and noise-canceling performance is very impressive, although we admit their $399 price tag might be too expensive for most people. Fortunately, they’re currently on sale at Amazon for $349 — a cool $50 off. What’s more, you can score an additional $50 off instantly upon approval for the Amazon Rewards Visa Card, bringing the price even lower to $299.
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