The Bose QuietControl 30 are above-average wireless earbuds for most uses cases, that deliver a satisfying sound quality. They're decently portable and offer more control over their noise cancellation than other Bose headphones we've tested so far. However, the noise canceling is not as strong, and although they're stable enough to exercise with the around-the-neck design won't be for everyone.
- Comfortable and stable earbud fit.
- Very low leakage.
- Above-average noise isolation.
- The neckband design won't be for everyone.
- Laggy when watching videos.
Update 9/28/2017: The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here
Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.
The Bose QuietControl 30 have a wireless, around-the-neck design that's not for everyone but feels comfortable and well-built. The StayHear+ earbud tips and the neckband fit make them quite stable to run with, although they can sometimes get tangled in your clothing, especially if you're wearing a lot of layers. They have an efficient control scheme that also gives you control over the noise cancellation with two buttons on the side of the in-line remote. The power/Bluetooth button is a bit too stiff, which slightly decreases their ease-of-use. On the upside, they're decently portable and come with a sturdy case to carry them in.
The Bose QuietControl 30 have a relatively simple design that feels high-end, thanks to the materials used in their build quality. They have a more premium appeal than other around-the-neck designs. They also come in an understated all-black color scheme that won't particularly stand out, which is ideal for some but feels a bit bland.
The Bose QC30, like the SoundSport Wireless, have the comfortable StayHear+ earbud tips that fit snugly within the ear canal. They're comfortable headphones to wear for extended periods of time without experiencing the fatigue that some other in-ear/earbuds may cause. However, the neckband fit won't be for everyone.
The Bose QuietControl 30 have a good control scheme, but the buttons are a bit stiff and difficult to press. They provide the common functionalities like call/music, track-skipping, and volume controls but also two additional buttons on the side of the in-line remote to increase or decrease the level of noise canceling. Unfortunately, although slightly better than that on the SoundSport Wireless, the inline remote is covered by a thick rubber-like material that makes the buttons a bit difficult to press especially the power/Bluetooth sync switch.
The Bose QC30 have a breathable design that won't make your ears sweat more than usual. They trap a bit of heat within the notch of your ear due to their earbud tips and stability fins, but they won't cause a big difference in temperature even during more intense workouts. This makes them a good option for sports and working out.
These headphones do not take too much space, especially when they are not in the case, as the total surface area they occupy is relatively small. However, due to their somewhat odd shape, they won't fit into all pockets but should easily fit into most bags. They're also quite easy to carry on your person if you just let them dangle from your neck.
They come with a good, hard case that will easily shield the headphones against falls, scratches and minor water damage. It adds a bit of bulk to the overall design and won't fit into most pockets but can be carried around in a bag with relative ease.
The Bose QuietControl 30 feel well built. The plastic used for the headband and the earbuds feels dense yet sufficiently lightweight that they won't get damaged if they were to fall from about neck height. However, the cables, although thicker than most in-ear headphones we've reviewed, feel like the main weak point of the build quality. They could snap if pulled on a bit too forcefully which could happen if they get caught off an item of clothing.
These earbuds have stability tips of different sizes to provide a stable fit within the ear. That, combined with the neckband, makes them quite stable to run or exercise with. However, the cables that connect the neckband and the earbuds can sometimes get caught on an item of clothing, but that doesn't happen often enough to be of concern.
The Bose QuietControl 30 are above-average sounding closed-back in-ear headphones. They have a deep, consistent, well-balanced, and punchy bass. They also have a nearly flawless mid-range and a decent sounding treble. This makes them very versatile and well-suited to a variety of genres, from EDM and Hip-hop, to film scores and podcasts. However, their mid-range is a tad recessed, giving less emphasis to the vocals and lead instruments, and their treble is a bit uneven on producing sibilances (S and T sounds). Also, they have excellent imaging, but like most other headphones, they don't have a large and out-of-head soundstage.
The bass is excellent. Their LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 10Hz, and accordingly, their low-bass is above our neutral target by more than 2dB. This indicates a bass that is deep and quite thumpy, making the Bose QuietControl 30 well-suited for bass-heavy genres like EDM, Hip-hop and film scores. Additionally, mid-bass and high-bass and virtually flat, but with about 1.5dB of overemphasis which adds to the body of bass guitars and the punch of kick drums.
The mid-range sounds great. The response is very flat and even, but with a wide and shallow dip centered around 700Hz. This will nudge the vocals and lead instruments towards the back of the mix, and gives more emphasis to the bass and treble ranges. However, at less than 5dB, the effect of this dip will be barely perceptible.
The treble range is quite decent. Low-treble is well-balanced and even. Mid-treble, however, shows a 12dB dip around 8KH and a 10dB peak at 10KHz. Both of these deviations are within the sibilance range (where S and T sounds sit). So, the S and T sounds that fall in the 8KHz dip will sound weak and lispy. On the other hand, the sibilances that occupy the 10KHz range will sound sharp and piercing. Overall, their treble is quite well-balanced and decent sounding, but uneven on sibilances.
The Bose QC30 has excellent frequency response consistency. Due to their stable and ergonomic design, if you are able to position the QC30s properly, there should be very little variance in bass SNF treble delivery between re-seats. This is assuming that the user has picked the correct sized tips (small, medium, or large) for their ears.
The imaging is excellent. Their weighted group delay is 0.09, which is one of the lowest we have measured. The GD graph also shows that the entire group delay response is under the audibility threshold, ensuring a tight and fast bass reproduction, and a transparent treble. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were exceptionally well-matched, which helps with accurate localization and placement of objects (voice, instruments, footsteps) in the stereo image.
The soundstage is poor. This is mainly due to their earbud design, since activating the resonances of the pinna (outer ear) is one of the important factors in creating a large and out-of-head soundstage and earbuds don't interact with the pinna. The Bose QuietControl 30 will feel less open and spacious than open-back in-ears, because of the excellent isolation they provide.
The Bose QuietControl 30 have a good harmonic distortion performance. The overall amount of THD is slightly elevated, but in the bass range there is very little distortion and there's not a significant rise in THD under heavier loads either. This is very good and suggest that the earbuds may be able to take a good amount of bass EQ boost, before affecting its performance negatively. However, the elevated THD in the treble range, could make the sound of those frequencies slightly harsh and fatiguing.
The Bose QuietControl 30, like the QuietComfort 20, barely leak at high volumes. This and the above-average noise cancellation make them a great option if you don't want to distract your colleagues at the office. They also deliver enough isolation to be versatile commuting and traveling headphones, although the isolation is not as good as some of the other models in the Bose line-up.
The Bose QC30 have a great isolation. In the bass range, where the rumble of airplane and bus engines sit, they achieved 18dB of isolation, which is impressive. In the mid-range, important for cancelling out speech, they also achieved about 18dB of reduction, which is great. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds such as S and Ts, they get 28dB of isolation which is above-average.
The leakage performance is excellent. The overall level of the leakage of these earbuds is very low, barely reaching significant levels. Additionally, the main portion of the leakage is between 4KHz and 9KHz which is a narrow range. This results in a leakage that mostly consists of sibilances (S and T sounds) and is very quiet and barely audible (below the noise-floor of most regular rooms).
The in-line microphone of the Bose QuietControl 30 has a sub-par performance. When used in a quiet environment, speech will sound relatively thin but quite muffled and lacking in detail. This could make understanding the conversation a little bit difficult at times. They don't fare well in noisy situations either and will struggle to separate speech from background noise even in moderately loud environments, such as a busy street.
The in-line mic has a sub-par recording quality. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 277Hz indicates that speech recorded/transmitted with this microphone will sound relatively thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 2.1KHz is poor and means speech will sound muffled and lacking on them.
- 100% SpNR
The noise handling performance of the in-line microphone is mediocre. In our SpNR test, they achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of about 15dB, which is below average. This means the Bose QuietControl 30 are best suited for quiet environments and may struggle in noisy places.
The Bose QC30 have an above-average battery life but a slightly lacking app support. They lasted about 11 hours on a single charge and have an adjustable auto-off timer accessible through the Bose connect app. Unfortunately, although the app gives you a decent amount of control over the noise cancellation, it still feels somewhat lacking in features like an Equalizer or room effects. It's a sleek and well-designed app but pales in comparison to the Sennheiser Captune app or the Sony| Headphones connect app.
These earbuds have a fair battery life of 11.4 hours when playing audio continuously at average volumes. They also have an auto-off timer accessible through the Bose Connect app that allows them to conserve a decent amount of power. They take about 2.5 hours to fully charge, which is about average but cannot be used once plugged into a power outlet.
The Bose Connect app is unfortunately not as robust as that of the competition. However, for the Bose QC30, there is an additional noise canceling slider that allows you to control the level of isolation directly from the app which is now available for the more recent releases with firmware 1.4.1. However, due to the toggles on the inline remote to control the level of isolation, you may not even need to use that feature. Other than that, it's the same as the QuietComfort 35 or the SoundLink which means you get a basic media player but a good and flexible auto-off timer.
- 10% Bluetooth
- 32% Wired
- 10% Base/Dock
- 22% Wireless Range
- 25% Latency
The Bose QC30 have a decent wireless connection that's a bit laggy when watching movies but has enough range for most use cases. They support NFC and simultaneous multi-device pairing; they have no other connection option but Bluetooth, which can be a bit limiting depending on your use case.
- 79% Multi-Device Pairing
- 20% NFC
- 0% PS4 Compatible
- 0% Xbox One Compatible
These headphones have a Bluetooth connection with multi-device pairing and NFC support. However, pairing with the power button can be a bit tricky at times due to the stiff feedback which makes it difficult for the hold-to-pair procedure.
- 13% Analog
- 9% USB
- 26% PS4 Compatible
- 26% Xbox One Compatible
- 26% PC Compatible
- 4% Optical Input
- 22% Line In
- 4% Line Out
- 22% USB Input
- 4% RCA Input
- 9% PS4 Compatible
- 9% Xbox One Compatible
- 9% PC Compatible
- 2% Power Supply
- 13% Dock Charging
These headphones do not have a dock. If you want a headphone that's versatile and has a dock, try the SteelSeries Arctis 7. However, they won't be as compact or as easy-to-carry around on your person.
The bOSE QuietControl 30 have a decent wireless range in direct line-of-sight and when the Bluetooth source was obstructed. They won't be the furthest reaching headphones, but they should be OK to use around your house and in the office
The Bose QC30 have quite a bit of latency which is not ideal for watching movies and a lot of video content. It's not more than most typical Bluetooth headphones but it won't be suitable for gaming and movies.
In the box
- Bose QuiControl Wireless Headphones
- Earbud tips (x3)
- USB charging cable
- Carrying case
Compared to other Headphones
The Bose QuietControl 30 are good commuting and office headphones that are stable enough for the gym. They barely leak and have and a well-balanced sound quality. They’re versatile for almost every use case except watching videos because of their relatively high latency. Their around-the-neck design also won’t be for everyone and they’re fairly pricey compared to competing headphones.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 are an over-ear alternative to the QuietControl 30. They have great noise canceling and one of the more comfortable over-ear designs that we’ve tested. They also have a more balanced sound quality but aren’t as portable, breathable or as stable as the QC30, which makes them considerably worse for sports. If you prefer over-ear designs, then go for the QuietComfort 35. However, if you need something more portable and don’t mind the shorter battery life of the smaller headphones, then the QC 30 are a viable alternative.
The QuietComfort 20 are an older wired version of the noise canceling earbuds from Bose. They have the same tips, so comfort, breathability, and stability-wise, they’re about equal. However, since the QC30s are wireless, they’re less likely to fall from your neck. On the upside, the QC20 have a longer battery life, no latency since they’re wired and you can more easily fit them in your pockets. However, they have a much worse sound quality so if a balanced sound is most important for you, go for the QC30s but if you need to watch a lot of video content, the QC20 are the better option.
The Apple AirPods are truly wireless headphones with a decent sound and good active features. However, they're more optimized for iOS so there are a few missing features on Android. They have a better range and they’re more portable than the QC30s but do not isolate as well so they won’t be ideal for commuting. They also lack a lot bass so the Bose have a much better sound quality overall. If you have an iOS device and prefer the compact and premium feel of the AirPods, then they’re a decent choice, but for most use cases the Bose QC30 perform a bit better.
The Sennheiser HD1 In-Ear Wireless also have an around-the-neck design but are not noise canceling like the QC30s. They have a decent design and a good app that offers more customization options than the Bose. However, in almost all aspect they perform a bit worse than the QC 30 but they’re cheaper. If you have the budget, go for the Bose instead.