The Bose QC 35 II has been one of the most well-received Active Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones. It has been a reliable companion that has been one of the first headphones that have shown the true capabilities of ANC. Its ANC is capable of blocking almost any distracting noise in busy environments.
Aside from the product itself, Bose has many outstanding industry-leading services that have set the bar for other companies to follow. Bose offers a 90-day risk-free trial that lets you try if you like the sound quality, the ANC, or even the color of the product (we’ll get more into that later). It does cost a restocking fee, but this prevents buyer’s remorse if you are not happy with the QC 35II.
Bose also offers free shipping and return shipping if you decide you do not want the product. They also offer interest-free installments when buying through their website.
One unique feature that Bose offers over its competitors is the ability to add custom colors. The customization tool is intuitive and allows you to change the color of almost any part of the headphones. The only thing that is missing here is the ability to add custom artwork on the faceplates, but overall the customization tool allows you to achieve the perfect look.
The customization found in Bose’s website is a lot better than the alternatives. Skins such as Slickwraps are not as durable as real paint. Companies who do custom paint jobs like Colorware voids the original manufacturer warranty. With Bose’s inhouse customization, there are no risks, and you get all of that for an additional of only 50 USD.
It is also worth noting that Bose runs a lot of discounts during the year. At the time this article is posted, the QC 35II is currently on sale.
However, despite all the great things about the Bose QC 35II, it has its fair share of flaws. The biggest ones being the sound quality and the ANC technology. Bose hasn’t been known as an audiophile product, and it shows in the QC35 II.
It isn’t a bad sounding product, but it is obvious that it is targeted towards the lifestyle and consumer market rather than the audiophile market. The bass is forward and is full of energy, but it sometimes gets in the way of the other frequencies. The ANC is also arguably not the best anymore.
Things are starting to change, and Bose’s competitors have started to catch up and even surpass the QC 35II. Audiophile brands like THX, Sony, Audio Technica, and Beyerdynamic have entered the market, each with their own unique twist to the wireless headphone formula. If you are someone who wishes to have a better sounding and more modern feeling version of the Bose QC 35II, then we have the perfect list for you.
The best all-rounder alternative to the QC 35II is the Sony WH1000XM3 due to its vast and well-implemented features. But if you want the best sounding alternative and are willing to sacrifice a few key features like ANC, then the Drop THX Panda is the best alternative. Of course, there is still plenty of great sounding and feature-packed models, so keep on scrolling to learn more.
Also, if you are interested in other wireless products, we have an article for the Best True Wireless earbuds in the market. We also have an article for the Best APTX Bluetooth Headphones for those looking for the best wireless headphone experience.
Sony WH1000XM3 – Best All-Rounder
The Sony WH1000XM3 has been topping the list of best wireless headphones (including our own list ever) since its launch. Its incredible performance in the market is largely due to its well-rounded and well-implemented set of features. Its ANC, in particular, is so good that it has set the standard for all headphones to follow.
Its sound quality is no slouch, either. The WH1000XM3 has a fun sound signature that emphasizes the bass. It is similar to the QC 35II’s sound signature, but it is arguably better here. The bass is punchy and clear without extending to the midrange.
Vocals are still present and not lacking in any way. Unlike other Bluetooth headphones that have a similar sound signature, the WH1000XM3 retains the clarity on the high frequencies. This makes the overall sound fairly balanced while keeping things lively.
Compared to the Bose QC 35II’s implementation, the WH1000XM3 sounds clearer and more defined compared to the QC 35II. The QC35II is known to have a hollow-sounding midrange and bloated bass. The bass is also known to overextend into the midrange, further causing vocals to take a backseat. This is not the case with the WH1000XM3.
As for the ANC, the WH1000XM3’s Active Noise Canceling feature is currently the best in the market. Compared to its competitors, the Sony perfectly balances comfort and noise cancelation.
Previous iterations of ANC, such as the one found in the QC 35II, are notorious for introducing pressure sensation to your ears, which can quickly get uncomfortable. Trying to reduce this sensation often means reducing the effectiveness of the noise-canceling feature.
However, this isn’t the case for the WH1000XM3. Sony has done an impressive job of keeping the pressure sensation minimal. You can really turn up the levels of the ANC without having any unnatural feeling.
One feature that the Sony WH1000XM3 has that is absent in the QC35 II is the support for Qualcomm’s APTX codec. What this essentially means is that The Sony WH1000XM3 will have less latency when watching videos. This makes the WH1000XM3 better for watching movies and playing mobile games.
The build quality and comfort are also top-notch. Just like the Bose QC 35II, the Sony WH1000XM3 is easy to carry around and comfortable for long listening sessions. The WH1000XM3 can also be folded and stored in its included carrying case.
In terms of comfort, the WH1000XM3 can easily be worn for more than 5 hours. Its battery life can also last for around 30 hours. The charging port has also been updated to USB Type-C.
Overall, the Sony WH1000XM3 is the complete package. It has everything from a reliable ANC to great sound quality. It does everything the Bose QC 35II does, but the execution is better in almost every way.
And it is not just the QC 35II. The Sony WH1000XM3 manages to beat almost every wireless pair in terms of overall features. If you want an all-rounder pair that is reliable for almost any situation, then the Sony WH1000XM3 is worth a look.
The Sony WH1000XM3 sets the standard for ANC. It perfectly executes almost all of the essential features of a wireless headphone and sets the standard for this list.
While the sound quality is marginally better than the Bose QC 35II, it is still not the best on this list. It is still, however, a great sounding headphone, so do not let that scare you.
Drop + THX Panda – Best Sounding
Consumer and Lifestyle audio is great but is not for everybody. Some users, such as the ones found in the audiophile community, are more demanding when it comes to sound quality. Their requirements are usually not met by the usual bassy and fun sound signature that is implemented on most consumer-grade headphones.
However, all of this changes with the Drop + THX Panda. Drop is once again changing the game by collaborating with THX in order to create a wireless headphone that is optimized for the audio enthusiast market. It is not perfect since it lacks some features that have become a standard in wireless headphones, but its sound quality alone is enough to knock any of its competitors out of the water.
Starting with the codec support, the Drop + THX Panda carries over has support for APTX and LDAC codecs for lower latency. This has become a standard in headphones and TWS earbuds, so it is nice to see it here in the Panda as well.
In terms of controls, the Panda has a unique approach. It incorporates controls by utilizing a joystick for volume control, track selection, etc. This is more efficient compared to having multiple buttons with different functions, such as the one found in the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless. It takes less time to get used to and is almost as fast as touch-based controls.
One major omission from the Drop Panda is Active Noise Canceling. For most headphones that are trying to compete with Sony and Bose, this is a massive deal-breaker. However, the Drop Panda is an exception.
But of course, the feature that separates the Drop Panda from the likes of top models like the Sony WH1000XM3 and the Bose QC 35II is its sound quality. The Drop Panda utilizes planar magnetic drivers that are based on the Oppo PM series drivers (found on models such as the Oppo PM1).
This arguably more technical and superior driver has the ability to reproduce a more detailed sound. Low notes have more power in them and have that slam that is often associated with planar drivers. They also do not distort as the volume increases.
The high-end is smooth but does not lose detail or clarity. Mids are detailed and not recessed, unlike most wireless headphones. This is a pleasing sound signature that can be used in extended listening sessions.
The Bose QC 35II’s sound quality does not even hold a candle to the Drop Panda. The clarity and detail retrieval of the QC 35II is noticeably inferior to the Drop Panda. Even casual listeners will clearly hear the difference.
And if you are worried about the lack of ANC, the Drop Panda still has passive noise isolation. It is enough to isolate most noises in packed environments. It won’t completely block loud noises such as plane engines, but it does an excellent job of bringing it at a tolerable level.
In the end, this is purely a wireless headphone built for audio enthusiasts. If sound quality is your priority and you don’t mind not having extra features, then this is the wireless headphone for you.
With its well-tuned planar magnetic drivers, the Drop Panda is the most technical and best sounding headphone on this list.
The Drop Panda is purely an enthusiast-grade headphone. It lacks a lot of features that are present from other headphones on this list, such as ANC and a dedicated smartphone app.
Philips PH805 BT – Budget Pair
While most of the headphones on this list are great headphones, they are undeniable, not cheap. Some users are not willing to pay that much just for a pair of headphones. Luckily, there are now alternatives that are able to compete despite having a lower price tag.
One of the budget pairs that stand out is the Philips PH805BT. Philips is well known in the audiophile scene for creating the SHP9500, a budget pair of high-quality open-back headphones that manages to beat more expensive offerings from other brands. They are also known for higher-end models such as the Philips X2HR that is very competitive in its price range.
Philips aims to reproduce their success with those models with this budget pair of ANC headphones. In terms of the build quality, the PH805BT is noticeably lower quality compared to the Sony WH1000XM3 and Bose QC 35II. It does not feel cheap, nor does it feel like it would break easily.
However, the materials used, the quality of the plastic, and some of the mechanisms reflect the lower price point. The buttons also take a hit. It is not as well implemented as the Drop Panda’s joystick, and it is not as fast as the touch-based controls on the WH1000XM3.
In terms of the battery life, the Philips PH805BT manages to last for up to 25 hours. It is nice to see that a more budget-oriented product can keep up with the battery life of more expensive models.
In terms of the sound quality, the Philips PH805BT has a fun sound signature predominantly led by its strong bass reproduction. The bass may be a bit too strong and can get in the way of the midrange. But on the flip side, the bass is more refined compared to other budget pairs. They remain punchy and retain their clarity even in louder volumes.
The highs are well controlled, and the midrange does its job. They do not stand out in terms of the sound quality, but they do an impressive job of keeping up with the higher-end models. Compared to the QC 35II, the PH805BT does not sound better but does not sound worse either. Fans of the QC 35II’s fun sound signature should feel right at home with the PH805BT.
Another thing that the Philips PH805BT does well is the ANC. ANC is usually reserved for higher-end models, so it is nice to see budget pairs rocking this feature too. ANC is not as good as the WH1000XM3 and Bose QC 35II, but it works well enough in blocking ambient noise.
Overall, Philips has done it again with the PH805BT. While it is not as good as the rest of the models on this list, it is certainly a great alternative. If you do not have enough budget for the higher priced models. Then the Philips PH805BT is worth a look.
The Philips PH805 BT has the essential features and the sound quality to keep up with the more expensive options on this list. This is the best choice for users who are in a tighter budget.
Due to its lower price point, there are noticeable compromises in the Philips PH805 BT such as its build quality and ANC. The ANC works, but it is not as effective as the other options on this list.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless
Sennheiser has a long history with headphones. They are the makers of the highly acclaimed Sennheiser HD660s/HD600 series in the audiophile and professional recording industry. They are also the makers of the Sennheiser Momentum, a popular competitor of popular consumer-grade headphones such as the Beats Studio, Beats Solo, and Bose headphones.
Sennheiser’s latest wireless ANC model, the Momentum 3 Wireless has all the features that you would expect from a lifestyle headphone in this price range. With Sennheiser’s reputation, It is extremely competitive to the Sony WH1000XM3 and is one of the best alternatives to the Bose QC 35II.
Like most headphones in this category, the Momentum 3 Wireless is lightweight and has a foldable design. The Momentum 3’s ear cups are smaller than its competitors, which at first glance, makes them look like on-ears. The Alcantara material used on the earpads adds to the overall premium appeal of these headphones.
The Momentum 3 Wireless also features a very competitive ANC feature and a smartphone app. This app can control the EQ, as well as add several other features such as the headphone locator. It also utilizes USB Type-C for charging.
As for the sound signature, the Momentum 3 Wireless has a bassy and fun sound signature that sits perfectly in line with the WH1000XM3 and Bose QC 35II. Just like the rest of the Momentum series headphones, the Momentum 3 Wireless is a well-tuned headphone that showcases Sennheiser’s experience. The Momentum 3 Wireless’ bass is not bloated and does not bleed into the midrange.
The midrange is clear and full of energy. The high-end is well controlled and does not cause any listening fatigue. This is a considerable upgrade over the QC 35II’s muddier bass and hollow midrange.
In terms of the ANC, the Momentum 3 Wireless sits between the WH1000XM3 and QC 35II. Its approach is more modern and more effective than the QC 35II. However, it is still noticeably not as good as the WH1000 XM3. It is still, however, very well implemented, and you should not notice the differences unless you compare it directly to the WH1000XM3.
Another feature where the Momentum 3 Wireless excels is its support for multiple connections. It also comes with a snappy reconnect feature that should come in handy in areas with strong interferences.
One of the major drawbacks in the Momentum 3 Wireless is the controls. Various controls, such as the volume, skip track, and ANC, are controlled via buttons.
While buttons are typically not an issue, the implementation is the problem. There are way too many buttons making simple tasks confusing. Sony, Bose, and even the Drop Panda’s implementation are more efficient and easy to deal with.
Another downside is the on and off functionality. This is done by folding and unfolding the headphones. While this seems to be a great feature, it also means that if you forget to fold your headphones, then the battery would easily get drained.
Overall, despite the few downsides, the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless is a great sounding alternative to the Bose QC 35II. It may not be the most convenient, and it certainly doesn’t have the best control implementation, but fans of a bassy and fun sound signature will greatly appreciate Sennheiser’s tuning on this headphone. See full specs on Sennheiser.
The Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless inherits the sound quality that made the Momentum series well respected. Fans of Sennheiser’s tuning will enjoy this model.
The control scheme found in the Momentum 3 is not as efficient as other models on this list. The power on and off mechanism, while unique, is also not the best.
Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC
Another reputable professional audio company that is a worthy competitor to Bose is Beyerdynamic. Just like Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic is known for creating the DT series, which has been a staple in the professional recording industry. While they are relatively new to the consumer headphone market, they have been making very well received wireless products such as the Aventho Wireless and its successor, the Lagoon ANC.
As the name implies, the Lagoon ANC is Beyerdynamic’s entry to the wireless lifestyle headphone market. Its ANC feature and fun bassy tuning make it a suitable competitor to the likes of the Bose QC 35II and Sony WH1000XM3.
The ANC is better than the likes of the Audio Technica ANC 900BT, but still needs a bit of catching up to do to get to Sony’s level. It isn’t a bad implementation. It just isn’t as effective as Sony’s implementation. In combination with the passive noise canceling, it will suffice everyday use case scenarios.
Build quality is excellent, as expected from Beyerdynamic. However, since this is an original design and not based on a tried and tested design, the comfort isn’t quite on the same level as the Sony WH1000XM3. Also, despite being small, the Lagoon ANC still manages to have an over the ear design. This makes it more comfortable than the Aventho Wireless.
The sound quality of this unit is one of its best features. It once again features Beyerdynamic’s signature V-shaped sound. Compared to other offerings such as the Sony WH1000XM3 and Bose QC 35II, the Lagoon ANC sounds more open, natural, and detailed.
Compared to the QC 35II, the bass in the Lagoon ANC hits harder. It is also clearer compared to the QC 35II’s muddy bass. The midrange is also noticeably better than the QC 35II’s hollow-sounding midrange. Vocals feel more natural and sit better in the mix.
It is nice to see that Beyerdynamic is still implementing their class-leading sound even on casual oriented products. This makes this pair a solid choice for anyone who does not want to compromise the sound quality over convenience.
Overall, the Lagoon ANC is a good attempt by Beyerdynamic. The future revisions or future products are only going to keep on getting better from here. If you are in the market for a high fidelity Bluetooth ANC headphone, then you should check this out. This may even be a better choice compared to the Aventho Wireless, depending on your preferences.
The Lagoon ANC manages to capture Beyerdynamic’s iconic sound signature. This unit is one of the best sounding on this list.
Beyerdynamic is getting closer, but they still need to improve their ANC implementation to catch up with the likes of Sony.
Audio Technica ANC900 BT
Another competitor to Bose is a classic Japanese company that has been around for decades. This company is none other than Audio Technica. Audio Technica has been renowned due to their continued success in the professional audio and audiophile market.
Audio Technica is responsible for creating the ATH M50X, which has been a staple in professional recording studios. The M50X’ has been so popular that people have even used it as a portable pair. This has resulted in Audio Technica creating a wireless version, the ATH M50X BT.
However, since the ATH M50X BT is big and bulky and does not support ANC, that model was not really considered a direct competitor to the likes of the Sony WH1000XM3 and Bose QC35II. But with the release of the Audio Technica ANC 900BT, we now have a true competitor from Audio Technica.
In terms of sound quality, Audio Technica has opted for a different approach compared to Bose and Sony. The ANC 900BT has a flatter signature compared to the more bass-heavy WH1000XM3 and QC 35II. The bass is still punchy and tight, but it allows vocals to be louder in the mix.
In terms of the ANC implementation, it works better than the QC 35II but is still behind the class-leading ANC of the WH1000XM3. It is not as effective in blocking low-frequency noise, such as air conditioners, when compared to the WH1000XM3.
The rest of the features in the ANC900 are fairly standard in the premium price range. It supports APTX codec for lower latency, and it has an excellent build. While it does not have any special features apart from its excellent sound quality, there really isn’t anything wrong with it either.
Overall, the Audio Technica ANC900 BT is a well-crafted product. It has an excellent build quality, sound quality, and ANC implementation that allows it to compete with other offerings in this list. Fans of Audio Technica’s sound signature who are looking for a Bose QC 35II alternative will surely enjoy the ANC 900 BT.
Audio Technica has made a well-tuned headphone with the ANC 900BT. It is a headphone that will benefit fans of a more natural and less bass intensive headphone.
The ANC on the ANC 900BT is still not as effective as the industry-leading Sony WH1000XM3.
Stephen is a musician, cinematographer, and headphone enthusiast who is passionate about reviewing audio equipment. He has been playing guitar for at least a decade, which introduced him to professional recording equipment such as headphones and in-ear monitors. With the help of reviews and online content, he was able to learn the ins and outs of the hobby. His goal is to give back to the community by providing quality content to help others enjoy the beautiful (and expensive) world of audio.
Favorite Headphones: Sennheiser HD660s