Both professionals and users say that the QuietComfort 15 headphones live up to their name, combining superb noise cancellation with a very comfortable fit. Reviewers also agree that their overall sound quality, while not the best possible, is excellent when compared to other noise-canceling headphones.
Superb noise-canceling with good sound. Every review we've seen agrees that these Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones provide the best noise cancellation you can possibly get. Experts also agree that they sound better than other noise-canceling headphones. However, that still means audiophiles who prize sound quality over noise cancellation should probably look elsewhere. In terms of what to reasonably expect, David Carnoy of CNET describes the sound as "stuck inside your head," while James Hutchinson of PC World Australia says "close noises become dull and distant, like you're standing in another room with the door closed." Still, reviews say few noise-canceling headphones sound better, and those with effective noise-canceling typically sound worse.
Comfy, but a little warm. Reviews consistently say the Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones fit very comfortably. The British publication What Hi-Fi? describes them as "relatively lightweight and winningly comfortable," while Laptop magazine says their comfort is "unsurpassed." The only quibble reviewers have with them is that their closed, over-the-ear design can cause your ears to overheat. Hutchinson says the ear cups "get quite sweaty on hot days," and Carnoy says, "It can get a bit steamy inside the cups." However, he adds that this problem is typical for over-the-ear headphones and, compared to others, the QuietComfort 15 actually "breathes" fairly well.
Quality comes at a price. Good noise-canceling headphones don't come cheap. The only other model we found with strong recommendations, the PSB Speakers M4U 2, costs even more than the Bose QuietComfort 15; those PSB headphones do provide better sound quality than the QuietComfort 15, but aren't as effective at canceling noise.
Most reviewers conclude that the Bose QuietComfort 15 is worth its price tag, given their excellent noise cancellation, good overall sound quality and comfortable fit. However, a few reviews at Amazon.com indicate the headphones' durability is disappointing for the price, with problems ranging from headphone transducer failures to worn-out leather padding. Also, the Bose warranty is only one year, half that offered by some other top headphone makers, including Sennheiser and Bowers & Wilkins. Still, if blocking outside noise is your top priority, you won't do better than these Bose headphones -- at any price.
A panel of audio experts at TheWirecutter.com tests 11 sets of noise-canceling headphones and names their favorites. The Bose QuietComfort 15 is the top pick overall, with noise cancellation that trounces the competition.
Review: The Best Noise-Canceling Over-Ear Headphones, Geoff Morrison, Sept. 6, 2012
ConsumerReports.org includes the Bose QuietComfort 15 in its current rundown of headphones of all types and price tags. Headphones ranging from bare-bones budget models to luxury cans are rated for sound quality, sensitivity and, where appropriate, noise reduction, and then ranked compared to competing products.
Review: Headphones, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
3. Which? magazine
This British consumer advocacy magazine includes the Bose QuietComfort 15 among the headphones it rates. Sound quality, comfort and fit, sound leakage and build quality are all assessed.
Review: Headphone Reviews, Editors of Which?, As of May 2014
After hands-on testing, David Carnoy finds that the Bose QuietComfort 15 offers the best noise-blocking abilities he's seen, as well as better sound than most noise-canceling headphones. He also finds them very comfortable. Their biggest downside is price, combined with the fact that they need a battery to work.
Review: Bose Quiet Comfort 15, David Carnoy, March 12, 2013
The Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones get an Editors' Choice award and 4 out of 5 stars from PCMag.com's Tim Gideon. He says these headphones deliver the best noise cancellation available. But Gideon notes their audio can be "overly bright" and distorts at high volume levels.
Review: Bose QuietComfort 15, Tim Gideon, Aug. 20, 2009
6. Laptop Magazine
Michael Prospero awards the Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones 4 stars out of 5 and an Editors' Choice designation. He says the noise cancellation is excellent, even on airplanes and the New York City subway, but the slightly weak bass is best for "mid-range music."
Review: Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones Review, Michael A. Prospero, Nov. 25, 2009
7. Good Gear Guide by PC World Australia
Hutchinson gives the Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones 4 stars out of 5 for their good build quality, effective noise cancellation, and clear sound quality. However, he warns that they won't block the noise of a truly "fierce" wind, and the inside of the ear cups can get quite hot.
Review: Bose QuietComfort 15 Noise-Cancelling Headphone, James Hutchinson, Feb. 18, 2010
8. What Hi-Fi?
British audiophile magazine What Hi-Fi? names the Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones as its best noise-canceling headphones for 2013. This short review gives them a perfect five-star rating, describing them as "winningly comfortable" headphones with well-balanced sound and "superb noise cancellation."
Review: Bose QuietComfort 15, Editors of What Hi-Fi?, Not dated
We found more than 1,800 reviews for the Bose QuietComfort 15 on Amazon.com, with an overall rating of 4.4 stars out of 5. Owners find the headphones comfortable, with superb noise cancellation that's great for air travel; however, some think their sound quality could be better.
Review: Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® Headphones, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of May 2014