The Bose QuietComfort Ultra earns their name and maybe even their $429 price tag

For years, any time someone asked what brand of headphones they should buy for a flight, the answer was one simple syllable: Bose. The company’s QuietComfort line has long been synonymous with drowning out airplane noise on long flights. But in the past few years, the question has become more difficult, because companies like Apple and Sony have taken over the category.

Back in mid-September, the company once again planted its flag in the sand. The much-loved QuietComfort line is getting a shakeup, with three new entries: the $299 QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, $349 QuietComfort Headphones and the $429 QuietComfort Ultra headphones. The latter (which, as the title suggests, is our current focus) replaces the $379 (now $279) Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700.

As far as naming conventions go, it’s simpler and more streamlined. At least you know where the Quiet Comfort Ultra Headphones stand in relation to the QuietComfort Headphones (they are, you know, ultra ultra). You’ve probably balked at the price tag, as any reasonable, non-independently wealthy person would. The premium headphone race may be heating up, but that hasn’t made the products any cheaper. We’re about to reach half a grand here.

Are there any noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones worth $429? That’s a question I can’t answer at all. All I can say is that if there is, it’s them. Bose makes some of the most comfortable and best-sounding headphones I’ve ever tried, coupled with best-in-class noise cancellation. These things are, in fact, the real deal.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

Fortunately, Bose was able to deliver the pair before a cross country flight earlier this week. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me to double check the size of the auxiliary jack. What can I say, it’s been a while since I wore a pair of Bose headphones on a flight (thanks to Sony for that), so I forgot that the headphones themselves have a 2.5mm port, rather than the more fundamental. 3.5mm. If all else fails, just go with what they send you in the box.

So, no rear seat entertainment via the new QuietComfort for me on this trip. It’s fine, nothing fancy. As for the rest of the flight, you can’t beat these things in terms of comfort – they’re light and well padded with a soft lining. The active noise cancellation also did an excellent job canceling out the white noise of the plane and even the little screaming baby in the back. Not entirely on that last bit, though – the technology just isn’t there yet.

The ANC is good enough, however, that I have to actively switch to “awareness” mode when using the headphones during a podcast. With it activated, it was actually very difficult to hear myself speak, which threw me off (sorry to the interviewee on that one).

Aside from the price, there is one notable complaint. Battery life isn’t on par with other over-ear pairs, such as Sony’s ‎WH-1000XM5 and the Beats Studio 3. It got me through the aforementioned cross country flight, and should get you through a day without a problem, but may be Forewarned that this is one area where the Ultras lack competition.

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