Bose QuietComfort 20

Small and quiet - this is how we would describe the QuietComfort 20 in-ear headphones. As a product of the QuietComfort series, these headphones are also designed to completely block out ambient noise. The active noise suppression from Bose is nothing new, we have already tested the QuietComfort 15. However, it is the first time that the technology has been built into the small housing of in-ear headphones. That’s why we took a closer look at the Bose QuietComfort 20, the test is available afterwards.

First impression: nothing special on the outside

Dr. Amar Bose is said to have been unhappy about the sound quality of the existing headphones during a scheduled flight more than 30 years ago. Since that time, no decision has passed the boss of the company when it comes to eliminating noise from headphones.

Sony already tried to produce an MP3 walkman in 2007, which tries to eliminate noise by means of an integrated noise suppression. Unfortunately this and all other attempts in this area were unsuccessful. The principle has remained the same until today: Microphones measure the sounds of the environment, a small computer then calculates an opposing signal within a very short time, which neutralizes the noise in the user’s ear.

Bose has developed its headsets and headphones over generations until it was felt that the QuietComfort 15 was the best possible product. However, some people are not fans of on-ear headphones. They want small earplugs that disappear in their pocket and can deliver music anytime, anywhere. Bose took on this challenge and developed the QuietComfort 20, which was tested here.

On the outside, the QC 20 doesn’t look too exciting - it looks like any other in-ear headphone. But the exciting thing about this product is on the inside.

Sound: The experience in a vacuum

Admittedly, we were sceptical when we heard about the QC 20 concept. Noise-canceling in such a small package? All the more surprising was our first impression when we tried out the headphones. Of course, the test was not carried out in a quiet room, but on the move: we boarded the train at rush hour to be sure that our fellow human beings were making enough noise. As soon as you put the earphones in your ears, not much happens at first, after all something is still missing: switch on the noise cancelling.

It is difficult to describe the experience. You feel more or less like a hero in a film, next to which a grenade has exploded, but without the annoying beeping. The fully occupied wagon doesn’t make any noise anymore, the mouths of the people around me move, but you can’t hear their voices. One feels like in a vacuum.

Those who read our test for the Bose QuietComfort 15 should know that we weren’t entirely convinced by the sound of the headphones, at least not for the price. Bose proudly charges 299.95 euros (RRP) for the QuietComfort 20. In terms of sound, however, it’s a Bose product: soft but dominant bass and clear trebles, at least clearer than those of the QC 15. The mid-range is also more present than we’re used to from other Bose headphones. In terms of volume, they are clearly superior to the on-ear models - they can really make a lot of noise.

Extra key: Listen at the touch of a button

Additional key: Listening at the touch of a button

Additional key: Listening at the touch of a button

Switching off ambient noise at the touch of a button has its advantages in everyday life, especially if you are on the move a lot. But there are situations in which you want to “listen in”. Fortunately, the Bose QuietComfort 20 has a wired remote with a special button that turns off the noise cancelling function and turns on the built-in microphone instead. So you can talk on the street without having to give up your music.

In addition to this special button, the wired remote control also offers all the other functions you would expect: The music can be paused or stopped, played forward or backward and phone calls from the smartphone can also be accepted. For Apple fans, there is a special version of the Bose QuietComfort 20, the QuietComfort 20i, which is designed for Apple devices.

Wearing comfort: Another plus point

Without the noise-canceling function turned on, the Bose QuietComfort 20 headphones isolate external noise very well. It fits perfectly in the ear, which is made possible by the ear inserts supplied in three different sizes. The flexible earpiece temples are very practical: They provide additional support, which is especially important during sports.


With the QuietComfort 20, Bose has developed a remarkable in-ear headphone that has convinced us in all categories. The only drawback is the price - but these headphones are worth their money.

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