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The $429 Bose QuietComfort Ultra lives up to its name

Bose was the answer to the question “What headphones should I buy for a flight?” for years. The QuietComfort line was known for blocking plane noise on long flights. Apple and Sony have risen to the top of the category in recent years, making the question harder to answer.

In mid-September, the company again took a stand. With the $299 QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, $349 Headphones, and $429 Ultra Headphones, the beloved line was getting a revamp. The latter replaces the $379 (now $279) Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

The naming convention is simpler and more streamlined. You know how the Quiet Comfort Ultra Headphones compare to the Quiet Comfort Headphones (they’re more ultra). You’ve probably balked at the price, as any reasonable, non-independent, wealthy person would. Although the premium headphone race has heated up, the products are not cheaper. The half-grand mark is tantalizingly close.

Are $429 Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones worth it? I cannot answer that for everyone. If any, these are them. Bose makes the most comfortable, best-sounding headphones I’ve tried with top-notch noise cancellation. These items are authentic.

Luckily, Bose delivered the pair before a cross-country flight this week. Unfortunately, I forgot to check the auxiliary jack size. It’s been a while since I’ve worn Bose headphones on a flight (thank Sony), so I forgot they have a 2.5mm port instead of 3.5mm. Try whatever they ship in the box if all else fails.

I cannot use the new QuietComfort seatback entertainment this trip. No problem—there was nothing good on. For the rest of the flight, these lightweight, well-padded seats with soft linings are unmatched in comfort. Active noise cancellation was also effective at eliminating plane white noise and the back child’s shrieking. The technology isn’t there yet for that last bit.

Although the ANC is good, I had to switch to “aware” mode when using the headphones during a podcast. It was too hard to hear myself when activated, which threw me off (sorry, interviewee).

One complaint, besides pricing The battery life is inferior to other over-ear pairs like Sony’s WH-1000XM5 and Beats Studio 3. It got me through a cross-country flight and should get you through a day, but it’s the Ultras’ weakest point.

 

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