Audio specialist Bose has unveiled a new range of noise-cancelling headphones at a European press event held last week.
Bose has a long history of noise-cancelling technology, but this is the first time that the manufacturer has incorporated noise-cancelling technology into wireless headphones.
Each model incorporates microphones that measure outside noise and send the data to two proprietary digital chips – one for each ear. These produce a noise-cancelling signal in less than a fraction of a millisecond.
The Quiet Comfort 35 (pictured) is designed to be rugged yet lightweight and has simple buttons on the right earcup to control on/off, volume, play/pause and and answer/end calls. It is said to feature a custom-engineered Bluetooth system for “consistent connection anywhere”.
In addition to the around-ear Quiet Comfort 35, the range also includes the in-ear Quiet Control 30 in-ear. With these the user can control just how much noise-cancelling they want using a simple slider on their smartphone app or a button on the in-line controller.
As Bose points out, it is particularly appropriate to offer this feature in the in-ear model as this is most likely to be used by those walking, jogging, cycling or doing whatever outdoor activity they choose. Users can turn down the noise-cancelling to stay more aware of their surroundings.
Completing the range are the SoundSport and SoundSport Pulse models. Aimed more at the sportier user who enjoys music while they are working out, the SoundSport features eartips that are said to stay put. This model also offers a wireless range of 10 metres, if you don’t want your smartphone with you while you’re training. Battery life is six hours for the SoundSport and five for the Pulse model.
The final model launched by Bose is the SoundSport Pulse, which is the same as the SoundSport except for the fact that it includes a heart-rate monitor in the earpiece. It is also said to be compatible with fitness apps such as Runkeeper and Endomondo.
All models also feature new EQ circuitry that adjusts the low and high frequency balance, so that when you turn the sound down, you don’t lose all the bass.
Retail prices will be £289.95 for the QC35, £229.95 for the QC30, £139.93 for the SoundSport and £169.95 for the SoundSport Pulse.
The QC35 and the SoundSport were available for pre-order from June 5, while the QC30 ad SoundSport Pulse are scheduled for September rollout.
Come on, feel the noise
Q: How difficult was it to lose the noise you wanted to filter out without compromising audio quality?
DG: We want to cancel as much as we can over as wide a range of frequencies as we can. For any given use – consumer, aviation, military – you have to look at the noise environment and think about three things: the passive reduction of higher frequencies, which comes from the physical structure, around or in your ear; the physical experience of wearing the thing, how much it clamps and how heavy it is; and then the active cancellation. You have to figure out how to attack those three things and achieve a balance, so that the low-frequency active and the high-frequency passive are brought down together.
Q: Some quieter sounds do get through, so it’s not brick-wall…
DG: Well, at the moment no, but I would love to create that brick wall – then we can bring the voices back if we want to. The real reason it’s like that is that the current system manages the transition from active to passive and there’s a region in there that lets voices through. A microphone is at the core of a feedback system and it’s always a little bit behind. Today, our systems work in the digital domain, but it took us a long time to do that. It has to be super-fast and digital actually slows things down a little bit.