I realize I am very late in writing my review on these headphones, but they are one of my favorite travel accessories and one that I rarely leave home without. Bose introduced the original QuietComfort 20 headphones back in 2013 and there have not been any significant changes since their original release (and thats a good thing).
I have been a longtime fan of Bose headphones ever since I purchased the QuietComfort 2 model several years ago. When Bose introduced the QuietComfort 3, on the ear headphones, I was not convinced the noise cancelation was going to be nearly as good as the over the ear models, but I was wrong. So when Bose introduced the QuietComfort 20, in-ear noise canceling headphones, I seriously doubted the abilities of the headphones and questioned the seemly high price tag.
Comfort & Sound Quality
When first putting the StayHear+ earbuds into your ear, outside noises begin to fade away. Unlike other Bose in-hear headphones, the QC20’s feature a tip which fills the ear canal and blocks out exterior sounds even without music playing. With music playing and noise cancelation turned off, majority of sounds are eliminated, but when the noise cancelation is turned all outside noise is removed. I was genuinely surprised by the QC20’s noise canceling abilities especially given their compact size.
When noise cancelation is turned on, there is a very high pitched ringing sound which you eventually become accustomed to, but definitely reduces overall sound quality. I still prefer the Bose QuietComfort over the ear models for sound clarity and quality, but the Bose QuietComfort 20 headphones are still quite impressive.
I primarily use the QC20 headphones while traveling domestically and comfort is rarely a concern. For longer flights (5+ hours) the StayHear+ earbuds started to become incredibly uncomfortable. I definitely do not recommend getting these headphones if you plan on using them primarily for long haul travel.
The headphones feature an inline microphone with volume buttons and a play/pause button that make the QC20’s perfect for everyday use. Also included on the the central control module is a side button to turn on/off the noise cancelation quickly in case you need to hear outside noises such as boarding announcements. Bose also allows the headphones to be used in passive mode which means you can listen to music or talk on the phone when the battery is low or dead. One of the most annoying features of early QuietComfort models was the inability to listen to music when the batteries were empty.
Battery life for the QC20 headphones is generous at approximately 16 hours and the battery is easily recharged via a USB charger which can be plugged into a wall charger. You can use the headphones while the battery is charging, but do not forget the battery is plugged in when you get up from your seat. Unfortunately, the batter on the QC20 headphones is not replaceable. After extended use, the battery will eventually fail completely and the entire pair of headphones will have to be replaced. The bulkiness of the battery, located just a few inches from the 3.5mm headphone jack, can be a bit frustrating at times.
The Bose QuietComfort 20 headphones are one of my favorite travel accessories, but with the elimination of the headphone jack from the current iPhone and the current range of headphones offered, the decision to purchase these headphones has become much more difficult. I have been happy with the headphones for years now and will continue to use them until the battery ultimately fails. Their compact size, noise canceling abilities, and initial battery life make the Bose QuietComfort 20 headphones my favorite travel accessory for domestic travels.