Bose QuietComfort 25
While the incredibly comfortable QC 25$299.00 at Dell retains the overall look and feel of it predecessors, there are design updates that seem to acknowledge that a simple black-and-metallic design no longer cuts it in the current headphone market. There's now a white-and-tan color option in addition to the more standard black-and-gray model. If that's not enough for you, you can customize your headphones for $100 extra and give them a variety of wild color combinations. It's a decidedly un-Bose move, and speaks to the influence Beats has had on headphone design.
The headband is covered by canvas-like cloth on the top, with ample padding on the underside. The circumaural (over-ear) earcups are, as always, exceedingly plush. Aqua blue grilles line the insides of the earcups, with large L and R letters identifying each cup's respective ear.
A detachable cable connects to the left earcup, and the Power switch (which light ups green and activates the noise cancellation circuitry) is located on the right ear. Bose has made a significant design improvement in the QC 25 and given it an ability previous QuietComfort models lacked: It can be used as passive headphones without power. In other words, you can still listen to audio when the battery is dead, or simply when you don't really need the noise cancellation feature running. There's no auto-off function, so it's pretty easy to mistakenly leave the Power on and kill your battery quickly, leaving you with no noise cancellation feature (but at least with a pair of still-functional headphones).
The included cable features an inline remote control and microphone. Many headphone pairs these days ship with a second replacement cable, and it would have been a nice inclusion with the QC 25 for this price.
Bose occasionally takes something as mundane as the zip-up protective case and makes it worth talking about, and that's the deal with the QC 25's included case. There's an etched diagram inside displaying how the headphones fold down to perfectly fit the case's slim contours, something other headphone companies would benefit from copying. A small compartment houses an extra AAA battery and the airplane jack adapter, handy things to keep on-hand. It isn't fancy, but it makes more efficient use of a small amount of space than most headphone cases do, allowing the QC 25 to be a better travel companion.
Bose's noise cancellation circuitry continues to be the best in the business. You can still hear someone talking to you fairly easily when the QC25 is engaged; with the in-ear pair, someone could be trying to talk to you and you might not even notice. However, the entire QC lineup including this pair manages to simply be the best at reducing the constant clamor of work environments, planes, trains, and machines.
In passive mode, the treble and bass are both dialed back dramatically, along with the overall volume level. Switch to active mode to enable the noise-canceling feature and things get brighter, deeper, and louder. If there was ever a knock on the QC series, it was that the headphones didn't sound particularly amazing. Over time, however, the line has introduced more balanced sound signatures.