Bose QuietComfort 15 (QC-15) Long Term Review

imageSeveral years ago, I posted a long term review of the Bose QuietComfort 15 (QC-15) over-the-ear headphones, complete with the picture that you should see on the left. 

Based on the comments I received, I decided to update the blog post.

If you are looking at this post right now, your are probably in one of three categories: 1) you have already purchased the headphones and are looking for reviews to validate your decision and make you feel good, 2) you’ve already purchased it and your headphones are screaming with howls of feedback, or 3) you are shopping for headphones.  If you are in the first category, prepare the nerd rage.

First of all, let me say that the QC15s currently being sold have been supposedly reengineered.  The original QC15s had problems with stress fractures on plastic headband; I purchased the second generation, roughly five years ago.

I’m easily distracted by noise.  A slammed door, shrill giggle, or a foreign language conversation can destroy my productivity by pulling me out of the zone.

So after I flew back from Japan in business class, and was given a complementary set of QC15s for eight hours, I decided to purchase a set.  After eight solid hours of flying, there was no pinching or pressure points, and I found that I wasn’t as mentally tired as when I normally fly overseas.

Since I would be wearing them for six to eight hours continuously in a noisy environment, they seemed like a perfect fit. 

Keep in mind that most QC15 buyers wear them intermittently when traveling or at home, and hardly ever for eight hour stretches like I did, every workday.

The cord is replaceable, so you don’t have to worry about a chair rolling over the cord and having to figure out how to repair the headset – you simply unplug the damaged cord and plug in a new one.

The sound quality was fantastic, provided you have a charged battery.  When the battery was dead, the headphones were non-functional.  I was using a battery every two weeks, so I had to keep a stash of batteries at my work desk.  I switched to rechargeable and found that I was changing and charging the battery every week.  I went back to lithium batteries.

However, within the first year, the black leather ear cushions started to flake off.  I would end up with black specks of leather on my ears and face.  At first, it wasn’t entirely obviously to me it was from the ear cushions.  I would go to the bathroom, look up in the mirror and I would see black specks on my face.  This appears to be a common issue.

Next, the adhesive holding the fake leather to the inside of the ear cups gradually let go, exposing the foam insulation.

Lastly, the headphones developed a loud piercing high pitched feedback squeal,  The squeal would start around the four hour mark and then if I turned my head I would get a random high decibel squeal, like someone let loose with an air horn.

As time went on, the usage time to get the feedback decreased, until is would only take 30 minutes to an hour to get a shriek.  I ultimately cracked the headphones open to cut the microphone in a futile attempt to get rid of the feedback.  It didn’t work.

Ultimately, the headphones ended up in the trash can. 

The squeal has also been reported heavily with the Bose Aviation headset (MSRP $1095),  Before my QC15s started developing a feedback squeal, I was interested in getting a set the A20s.  Not anymore.

And to answer most of the comments on the previous post:

Yes, Bose would have accepted the damaged set as a trade in, and I could have walked out with a brand new pair for $129. 

However, I would end up paying another $129 for a set of headphones that loudly squeals like a stuck pig, eats batteries, and leaves leathery pepper flakes all over my face and clothes. 

No thanks.