The Bose QuietComfort 20 are a good set of earbuds that will impress you with their isolation performance. They are well-designed, comfortable and very stable. However, their audio reproduction is somewhat average-at-best and a little dark. ON the upside they barely leak and will block enough noise to be a solid recommendation for frequent commuters.
- Excellent noise isolation.
- Simple, durable design.
- Comfortable stable fit from the StayHear+ tips.
- Slightly bass-heavy audio reproduction.
Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.
The Bose QC20 are well-designed, comfortable earbuds. They are lightweight, durable and the "StayHear+" tips offer a cozy and stable fit. The buttons are well-positioned, and the control module is flat and portable. They come with a decent pouch that makes them easy-to-have on you at all times. Unfortunately, the rubber finish on the control module will wear a little over time.
Quite comfortable, especially because they are "earbuds" and don't enter the ear canal like "in-ear" headphones. The "StayHear+" tips actually improve the stability of the headphones. Also, unlike their bigger brother, the Bose QuietComfort 35, these headphones don't cause too much discomfort (the feeling of pressure) when noise-cancelling is activated.
The buttons are well-designed and each has a distinct feel to it. The Control Module is very thin and easily fits in tight pockets.
The Bose QuietComfort 20 are stable earbuds that won't easily fall out of your ears. They offer a variety of stability tips that help them maintain their stable fit.They work well as gym headphones and are stable enough to be used while running. Unfortunately, they're not wireless, and the long cable can easily get hooked on something, which will pull the headphones out of your ears.
The Bose QC20 are very portable headphones. They don't take too much space and will comfortably fit into your pockets, purse or bag. The control module makes them a little larger than basic in-ear headphones but is flat enough, to not add additional bulk to the design.
Comes with a soft fabric case that will protect the headphones from scratches and prevent them from getting tangled in your bag. It also doesn't add much bulk to the already small headphones so it will still fit in your pocket or bag. However, the soft fabric will not shield your headphones from water damage or high physical stress.
The Bose QuietComfort 20 are a sub-par sounding pair of closed-back earbuds. They have a powerful bass, and a good mid-range, but a lacking treble. Additionally, their bass is excessive and boomy, their mid-range is slightly recessed, their treble is uneven, and have a poor soundstage. On the plus side, their delivery is consistent from person to person, which is good, especially for an earbud design.
Good bass range performance for the Bose QC20. LFE is at 21Hz, which is excellent. However, the entire bass range is consistently above our target by more than 4dB, making the sound of these headphones noticeably bass heavy and boomy.
Good mid range performance. Low-mid is overemphasized by more than 3dB. This is the continuation of the bass overemphasis and makes the mid-range sound cluttered and muddy. Additionally, the dip centering 900Hz pushes vocals/leads slightly to the back of the mix.
Sub-par treble range performance. The overall response is rather inconsistent. Low-treble is above our target by more than 2dB, giving a subtle V shape to the frequency response. Additionally, the lacking high-treble means the sound of the Bose QC20 headphones will lack airiness and brilliance.
Good frequency response consistency. Due to the earbud design, if the user is able to achieve an air-tight seal, then the bass delivery should be very consistent. The consistency in the treble range is also good and dependent on the placement, but more prone to variations.
Poor soundstage. Due to the closed-back design, these headphones don't have an open and spacious soundstage. Additionally, due to the earbuds form factor, the Bose QC20 doesn't interact with the pinna resulting in a soundstage that is located inside the head.
Good imaging performance. Phase error is rather elevated in both bass and treble ranges, having a subtle negative effect on the imaging of the Bose QC20. However, the L/R drivers of our test unit were very well matched.
Decent harmonic distortion performance. The amount THD in the bass range is low, and not highly affected by an increase in volume. However, the bumps centering around 500Hz and 3KHz are affected by an increase in volume making the sound slightly harsh at those frequencies.
The Bose QC 20 have excellent noise isolation performance. They attenuate a great deal of ambient noise and would be highly recommended for traveling and noisy commutes. The earbud design fits well into the ear and provides a tight seal that leaks no sound.
Very impressive performance overall. Once the active noise cancellation is enabled, these little earbuds provide up to 30dB of reduction at 90Hz and nearly as much reduction in the treble range. They do less in the mid range, however this seems to be a characteristic of earbuds and in-ears. The "Aware Mode" button on the in-line remote opens up the headphones to surrounding sounds, which makes it easier to have a conversation.
Excellent leakage performance. The Bose QC20 earbuds leak very little sound, even at high volumes.
Average microphone performance. Speech recorded with the microphone of the Bose QC20 will sound noticeably thin, but quite clear and intelligible. However, they are not very good at separating speech from background noise, and wouldn't be suitable for use in environments louder than a busy office or a street.
Average recording quality. LFE is at 515Hz, making recorded speech to sound noticeably thin. However, the rest of the range is produced quite well, up to 18KHz, which is the HFE.
- 100% SpNR
Mediocre noise handling. The in-line microphone on the Bose QuietComfort 20 is on a long cable and sits rather from the mouth. Therefore, they achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of only 12dB.
The Bose QC20 only have noise canceling as an active feature. Therefore they do not receive a score for wireless or audio personalization via an app. However, they have a rechargeable battery that delivers up to 19 hours of continuous and keeps on streaming audio when connected to a power source. They also do not take too long to charge which is a plus.
The Bose QC20 have an above average battery life. They last around 19 hours and don't take too long to charge. They're also capable of playing audio when charging, which makes them good headphones use at the office or if you have access to a power source on the train or plane. Unfortunately, if you leave them on they will run out of battery because there is no auto-off timer.
No compatible app.
In the box
- Bose QuietComfort 20 Headphones
- 3 pairs StayHear®+ tips (S, M, L)
- USB cable
- Carrying case