Bose has long been one of the biggest names for noise-cancelling headphones, but it hasn’t made much headway in the gaming headset space. Enter the Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset, which is literally the Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones from 2017 bundled with a boom-mic-equipped audio cable and a handy desktop USB sound card with a volume wheel. Bose’s $329 asking price for the dated QC 35 II headset might seem unreasonable, but the headphones still offer some of the best active noise cancellation (ANC) technology on the market. As a still-fantastic pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones and an excellent-sounding gaming headset, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset is an Editors’ Choice winner.
The QuietComfort 35 II With Gaming Accessories
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset is identical to the non-gaming version we reviewed four years ago, with the exact same layout and components. This doesn’t mean this new model looks or feels dated by any means; Bose’s headphones tend to stand the test of time. The QC 35 IIs are just as well-designed and stylishly understated today as they were when they launched.
The headphones are all-black save for rose gold Bose logos on the earcups’ backs, and similarly colored fabric stripes on the earcups’ insides. The over-ear earpads are faux-leather-wrapped memory foam; they feel soft and comfortable around the ears. The headband is also wrapped in faux leather on the top, with padded fabric on the underside. The earcups fold inward on hinges for storing in the included hard-shell zip-up carrying case.
Besides a switch on the right earcup’s back panel for powering on and pairing the headset, all of the QC 35 II’s controls and connections sit along each earcups’ sides and bottom edges. The left earcup includes a multifunction action button that can be set to activate your phone’s voice assistant or switch between noise cancellation modes, along with a 2.5mm connector for the gaming headset cable or the separate audio cable (without the boom mic). The right earcup has three buttons: one each for volume up, volume down, and playback controls (press once to play or pause, press twice to skip forward, or press three times to skip back). Bluetooth and battery indicator LEDs and a micro-USB port for charging also live on the right earcup. A USB-C port for charging would have been slightly nicer (it’s increasingly common in wireless headphones, and is easier to plug in than micro-USB), but again, this is the exact same pair of wireless headphones as the QuietComfort 35 II.
The QuietComfort 35 II gaming headset’s accessories are what qualify it as a gaming headset. First up is its audio cable with the boom microphone. The 40-inch cable securely clips onto the bottom edge of the left earcup and plugs into the 2.5mm aux port; both connections help hold the attached boom mic steady. The microphone points forward, like a typical gaming headset mic, and is a small, black plastic capsule with a rose-gold-colored back panel mounted on a flexible black arm. A remote module with a large, sliding mute switch sits further down the wire, which terminates in a 3.5mm plug.
Besides the cable with the boom mic, the QuietComfort 35 II gaming headset also comes with a PC control module, which is effectively a USB sound card and DAC with a big volume wheel that sits on your desk. This large, black puck-shaped device sports a prominent dial on the top and a rubber foot on the bottom, with a 3.5mm port which can work with any headphones or headset and a mic monitoring button which can adjust how much mic audio is passed through the headphones, on the sides. An eight-foot cable extends from the puck and terminates in a USB-A plug.
Besides those two gaming components, the headset has all of the same accessories as the QuietComfort 35 II headphones, including the aforementioned carrying case, 47-inch aux 2.5mm-to-3.5mm cable (without boom mic), and a foot-long micro-USB cable. The carrying case is useful for toting the headphones around, along with the aux and charging cables, but it was clearly designed only for the non-gaming variant of the QuietComfort 35 II. You can wedge the stiff clip of the boom mic into the case, but the fit is snug. The PC controller doesn’t fit, of course.
The Bose Connect app lets you update the headphones’ firmware, switch between high and low noise cancellation modes (or turn the noise cancellation off), and set the function of the left earcup’s action button. It can also connect two QuietComfort 35 II headphones for shared listening. The firmware update feature is useful, but, otherwise, the app is pretty useless, especially after you set the action button to toggle between ANC modes. The app doesn’t have an EQ either and the two noise cancellation levels are very limited compared with the adjustable ANC on the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.
Wireless for Music, Wired for Gaming
The QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset works as both Bluetooth headphones and a wired gaming headset. The Bluetooth connection works with any phone, tablet, or computer that supports the wireless technology, but using the headphones wirelessly limits your voice communication to the built-in microphones rather than the superior boom mic; as a result, your voice will sound more distant and less distinct. You’ll also have to rely on the headset’s built-in battery for this mode which Bose says can last up to 20 hours between charges (though using ANC will cut down that time), generous for Bluetooth headphones. The Bluetooth connection supports AAC and SBC codecs.
The wired connection uses the boom mic (unless you use the regular aux cable, which doesn’t have a mic), and can connect to any phone, tablet, computer, or game console with a 3.5mm headphone or headset jack. The headset works completely passively in this mode, so you don’t need to worry about keeping it charged. Keeping the headset switched off also means that you won’t get noise cancellation. Turning the headset on while connected through the boom mic cable lets you enjoy both the wired audio connection and noise cancellation. Bose says the headset’s battery can last up to 40 hours in this wired mode.
The New Microphone Impresses
The boom mic is excellent and in line with the rest of the headphone’s high-quality components. Test recordings sounded clean and clear; the mic picked up my voice without any fuzziness or background noise from my laptop fan. This is a good headset for voice chat, taking video calls, and even streaming and recording (though we still recommend getting a separate USB microphone if you’re serious about content creation).
ANC and Audio: Same Great Quality
While the QuietComfort 35 II headphones are several years old, you wouldn’t know that from their performance. Bose’s ANC circuitry is still among the best, and can easily block out most street noise and the rumble of subways and planes. The noise cancellation also doesn’t affect the headphones’ sound signature, so you’ll get the same audio profile whether the feature is on or off. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and Sony WH-1000XM4 are both a bit more effective at tamping down noise, but they’re both more expensive and lack a boom mic for use while gaming. That said, Bose’s five-year-old ANC technology, and thus the QuietComfort 35 IIs, beats the majority of other noise-cancelling headphones on the market.
Musically, the QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset sounds impressive. It reproduces the kick drum hits and bass synth notes of our bass test track, The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” with a generous amount of low frequency response, producing palpable force and not distorting even at maximum (and unsafe) volume. The opening acoustic guitar plucks in Yes’ “Roundabout” receive plenty of resonance and string texture, and when the track properly kicks in, the bassline, drums, guitar strums, and vocals all maintain clarity and presence in the mix.
Don’t expect any major gaming tricks out of the box with the QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset. Remember, the headset itself is simply the QuietComfort 35 II headphones, turned into a gaming headset with the addition of the clip-on boom mic cable and the PC controller. If you want any kind of simulated surround sound, you’ll need to turn to software-based processing on your PC or game system of choice: Sony’s strong spatial audio processing on the PlayStation 5 or the good-not-great Windows Sonic on Windows 10 and Xbox. If you don’t mind paying extra, Dolby Atmos or DTS Headphone:X on Xbox or Windows 10 are other options, as is THX Spatial Audio (for Windows 10 only). Considering the price of the headset, Bose should bundle a license for one of those superior gaming surround processing systems.
As a stereo headset, the QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset unsurprisingly sounds excellent. The sounds of weapons firing and footsteps in Fortnite are full and distinct, and let me pick out different guns in the cacophony of battle. A stereo-only setup obviously doesn’t provide exceptional directionality, but the blast clarity is still impressive and pleasant in listening. I used the headset with DTS Headphone:X enabled in a match and the audio processing did offer a better sense of the general direction from which shots were coming. Again, this software isn’t included with the headset, though.
The recently released Quake remaster also sounds full and detailed using QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset, or at least as full and detailed as decades-old sound effects can. Shotguns, railgun sprays, and monster growls all come through distinctly on the headset. The game’s classic Trent Reznor-produced soundtrack also sounds great on the headset, with all the grimy mid-1990s industrial ambiance intact.
Accessories Make Great Headphones Better for Gamers
If the Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset was simply just a wired headset, its excellent sound quality alone wouldn’t justify its $330 price. However, the headset also functions as a fantastic pair of noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones and adds genuinely high-quality accessories, so it is one of the best choices available. In fact, the non-gaming version of the QC 35 II holds up so well that it still retails for $300. It would have been nice to get a spatial audio license with the headset or a slightly redesigned case that better holds the boom microphone cable, but this is still a superb package that takes a great pair of headphones and adds useful gaming functionality for a modest premium. The Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset’s combined value makes it an Editors’ Choice winner.
If you’re only interested in a top-notch gaming headset and don’t care much about noise cancellation or Bluetooth connectivity, the $99.99 Razer Blackshark V2 is one of our favorite wired headsets. The excellent, $99.99 Razer Barracuda X offers USB-C-based wireless connectivity with almost any device except Xbox consoles (you can still use a cable) and iPhones. On the other hand, if you only want noise-cancelling headphones, the $379 Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and $349 Sony WH-1000XM4 are our favorites for featuring even better ANC technology than the QuietComfort 35 II. The $199 Sennheiser HD 450BT, another Editors’ Choice pick, and the $269 Marshall Mid ANC both offer strong (but not nearly as good as Bose or Sony) noise cancellation at a lower price.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset
The Bottom Line
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset is exactly what it sounds like: a QC 35 II turned into a gaming headset. It’s an excellent pair of noise-cancelling headphones that now features a handy boom mic and a desktop volume wheel.
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