Category Archives: Audio

My Review: Bose QC 35 Headphones

Long time no write I know. Soz.
Welcome to my review of the Bose QC35 headphones. This is my first ever Bose product, and, I must state now that I am not the original owner of these. I don’t have any of the original packaging, just the carry case, headphones themselves, audio cable, airplane adapter and USB charging cable.

Slight spoiler alert, I’m not too bothered about not having the original packaging; it doesn’t look like I’ll be selling these any time soon.

Background

So, this is the first product of Bose’s I have ever tried, and I wanted them ever since I tried them in a Bose store, but then I didn’t get a very good sense of how these headphones really performed, just that they had a very nice first impression.
Fast forward just under a year, someone was selling them for quite a discounted price, so I jumped at the chance.

Features and specs

When you buy these knew, you get the headphones, weighing in at 300G, quite a nice carry case with plenty of space for the headphones and all cables. I can’t say anything about the presentation in the box because I didn’t get it.

They are Bose’s current top of the line noise cancelling model; the next model up from the QC 25’s, and let me tell you, it’s a much needed upgrade. Instead of using AAA batteries for the noise cancelling tech, Bose has integrated a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which offers up 20 hours of listening time, and charges via micro USB. But, I think what enticed me more towards these headphones instead of any of the other Bose models, was the added convenience of Bluetooth.
It doesn’t feature aptex connectivity, but does feature NFC (for one-touch paring if your device supports it). The battery life doubles to 40 hours if you’re listening via the 3.5MM jack. It also features a 3 button remote for control of music, volume and calls on the right ear cup. The 3.5MM jack is on the left cup, and the micro USB on the right. The music controls only work via bluetooth, and there is no in-line remote on the cable.
You can clearly feel the microphone used for calls on the right ear cup, but that isn’t the only microphone in the product. Bose’s sound sucking technology uses microphones inside and outside the ear cups to truly isolate you from any sound.
Design wise, the headphones look similar to their predecessors. The switch on the right cup acts as an on/off switch and to pare a new Bluetooth device. The headband is quite chunky, and is padded with leather, as are the ear cups. And I will tell you now, they’re comfortable. The outside of the cups are aluminium too, which is a nice touch.

You can also download the Bose connect app for your smartphone, but this doesn’t offer up any audio tweaks, it allows you to update the software, adjust the sleep timer, change their bluetooth name, voice prompt language and use Bose’s “music share” feature to share audio to another pare of headphones at the same time. That really is it for the app.

Speaking of voice prompt’s, the headphones have text-to-speech technology that lets you know how much battery you have left when you turn them on, and which device it is connected to. It can also tell you the name of the person who is calling when the phone rings. The headphones can connect to 2 devices at once, but remember up to 10 devices. When you are connected to 2 devices, simply start playing music on your first device , and if you stop and start playing something on the other one, the headphones will switch. Handy if you are listening to your iPod (other portable music players are available), and get a phone call. If you want to force it to connect to a 3rd device while it is already connected to 2, simply slide the switch to the right until it tells you it is looking for the device you want, and if it finds it, it will disconnect one of your other devices.

To start paring, simply hold down the on switch, and the headphones will tell you “ready to pare”. Simply look for the Bose’s under your bluetooth menu on your device, and select them, and bingo, you’re connected. How easy was that?

So, what do I think?

Now that I’ve covered everything I can think of to cover about the features, design and specifications, it’s time to get into why you’re reading this. What I think of them.

Quite simply put, I think they’re well worth their £300+ price tag. The first thing I thought when I sat down to do some proper listening was wow.
These have made me appreciate the music I’m listening to, more than other headphones have, … and I own a lot of headphones.

I thought the active noise cancelling would impact the sound of the music greatly, but Bose seem to know what they’re doing in that department. (I’d hope they would, they’ve been the market leaders in this field for years). Even without the active noise cancelling turned on, they still do block out quite a lot of noise, but slide that switch on, and you get whisked away to a world where only the music you’re listening to exists.

The noise cancelling does apply pressure on your ears, but this is normal, and once you get used to the strange sensation of being at one with your music and your own thoughts, you don’t notice at all; only when you turned the headphones off while still waring them do you notice how much they have been blocking out.

The noise cancelling tech is very good at blocking out low rumbles, e.g. engines, but I find that it also does well with blocking any noisy environment. In fact, it’s so good at blocking noise that when you’re on the phone, the headphones allow the phone mic to pass through so you don’t end up shouting at the person on the other end of the phone. The only scenario which the headphones don’t perform well with is wind. Because there are microphones on the outside, the wind does cause you to hear wind noise in your headphones, but I’ve read that this is the case with any active noise cancelling cans.

Sound wise, they just sound excellent with anything that I’ve thrown at them, and I’ve thrown a lot at them. I’ve given them 320K spotify streams, 256 AAC iTunes match files, 320K cd rips, and very high quality FLAC files, and it’s handled all with ease.

These headphones use a digital equaliser that adjusts the sound on the fly for you, and even at lower volumes, you don’t lose any quality.

The first album i pressed play on was a 320K CD rip of Ed Sheeran’s latest album ÷ streamed via bluetooth from my MacBook air using iTunes. From the first upbeat opening guitar chord of ‘eraser’ to the closing piano chord of ‘save myself’, I was hooked. (And not just because it is a fantastic album that even after several listens I’m still as impressed as release day).

The headphones kicked the album up a notch. I’ve listened to this album on a lot of different sources and these headphones certainly knew what they were doing with it. Bass frequencies were certainly prominent but not so overpowering that it’s uncomfortable to listen to. You certainly get to experience the broad frequency spectrum that these headphones can offer.

I tend to listen to a lot of hiphop and r&b; songs that pride themselves on their baselines, so I was eager to see what these headphones would make of say, drake’s 2016 Views album. So that’s exactly what I played next.

Again, I was impressed by the headphones ability to make you lose yourself in what ever you’re listening to. Certainly, in a song like Too Good, drake’s tone can be easily determined on top of the rest of the music. Similarly in a song like ‘One Dance’ it is hard not to tap your foot.


I’ve listened to a lot of different music through these over the past couple of months (also the series 13 Reasons Why on Netflix); as anyone will tell you my shuffle is varied; I’ve been listening to iTunes shuffle while I write this, so I’ve heard everything from Lethal Bizzle to Takethat), and the only thing I have really come across is that it is very quick to notice when you are listening to a lower quality of recording; baselines aren’t as tight, and the rest of the spectrum can sound a bit muddy; still listenable though. This isn’t really a problem, unless you start listening to anything below 320K mp3 or 256K AAC.

Something good to round off this sound section though, they are very quick to highlight background elements in a track, say, background reverb on vocals, or a guitar or piano. Acoustic recordings sound very good.

When I Switched to a cable instead of using bluetooth, I didn’t notice a dramatic step up in quality, which speaks volumes about how good these things are via bluetooth, and how good bluetooth audio technology is these days. I’ve tried bluetooth headphones in the passed where the switch is definitely noticeable.

The lack of an EQ doesn’t bother me really; I’ve found myself not wanting to ever tweak anything.

Battery life is very respectable, although I haven’t done any timed tests, I am finding Bose’s claims to be very accurate, as I have only had to charge these things a handful of times since I got them, and I’ve certainly put these things through their paces; listening for hours at a time. They are really comfortable to ware for long periods ; I could easily use these on a long hall flight.

The head band is very adjustable, to make sure that what ever the size of your head, the headphones will fit snuggly around your ears.

Verdict

I’ve ben trying out these headphones for the passed couple of months and I can honestly say I’m impressed. From the research and from what I’ve read, the QC 35’s were the upgrade the QC 25’s didn’t know they needed. Apart from the batteries. I can imagine that got irritating. I wouldn’t know, having never owned a Bose product before.

To summarise, very worth the price tag, and if you are in the market for a high end set of noise canceling headphones, certainly consider these, as I believe they offer superior sound quality.

A bit expensive I know, but if you want to pick them up on Amazon, click here.

Thanks for reading, and see you in the next one.

My review: IWantIt IBTLI14 Wireless Speaker Dock

I am a representative for the bar at college, which means I get to make decisions that could affect the bar, if we have any activity nights, etc.
In the old college bar, we had space for a pool table, stage and all this lovely stuff, but when we moved over to the new building, we only had the canteen, which as you may be able to imagine does not have space for a pool table. (It barely has space for us all to eat in it.) So, the pool table sat there, not being used and looking very forlorn. A staff member had made some noise about possibly buying it for a club he’s a part of or something like that (it was a while ago and the details escape me). We negotiated a price with him and eventually came to £50 which we were all happy with. The idea was to use this £50 to buy games or other activities to do in the bar. Long story short, I tried asking people what they wanted a few times but every email I ent out got minimal responses. I talked to the manager of the bar a few weeks ago and asked if the money was still there as on nights where I don’t DJ there are a small rather rubbish set of computer speakers on the bar that really don’t go loud at all. I asked her if she thought it was a good idea to replace them and use the money we have to buy something nicer. She agreed it was a good idea and asked me to find what I wanted. Enter, the IWantIt IBTLI14. I had a budget of £50, and this thing looked incredible for £49.99. (I’ve done a bit of research by the way, and amazon has the same dock for over £100, and this one is on sale at curries which is where we got it from.)

What does £49.99 get you?

For £49.99 you get:

  • An apple lightening dock
  • Bluetooth
  • USB play and charge
  • 3.5MM aux
  • 2 internal speakers rated at 30 W (15 W + 15 W)
  • signal to noise ratio of 50DB
  • A remote

What’s in the box

There’s not that much in the box, you get the dock itself with none-removable power cord, the remote, a 3.5MM aux cable and the paperwork.
First impression
When I first took it out of the box my first impression was the size; I was expecting something a lot smaller for £50, however on first look, it looks like this thing could put out some serious loudness, which is what we wanted from it as our old speakers didn’t go loud at all.

Description

On the front of the dock you’ve got the 2 speakers behind cloth, on the top you’ve got 4 buttons (a source selector, pause, and volume down and up). On the back you have a power switch, the permanently attached power cord, an Aux Jack (cable included) and a USB port. On the top you’ve got a release mechanism that pops open the lightening dock, and that’s about it for describing the unit.
The remote is your typical remote you’d expect to get with a dock like this; a rather small affair with a coin cell battery. On the remote you have a power button in the top left, then a source button then you have previous play and next, underneath previous there is a mute button, and under that is a treble down control, opposite that is a treble boost control, below those you have the same for bass and then volume is at the bottom.

Review

We’ve been using it pretty much every night in the bar since we got it, and I’ve honestly got to say, we made an excellent choice. It does exactly what we wanted, and them some. However, for this review I’ve borrowed the unit to really get a feel of how it performs.
Sound wise, it’s more than capable of going to a very high volume, which was one thing that surprised me. Paring with Bluetooth is simple, the unit defaults to this when first turns on. You can tell this as it admits a beep, and then the unit is in paring mode. Paring is as simple as tapping the device in your Bluetooth settings, Waiting for the connection to take place, and then enjoying your music. For my own listening, I would recommend that the EQ be all the way up for both, as this seems to make the unit sound its best. I really like the way the unit is designed, the wooden finish makes the unit aesthetically pleasing to look at, and also means that it doesn’t attract as many fingerprints or dust as a glossy finish.
Sound wise, it can pump out some volume, however, like with most systems, it does start to distort the lower frequencies at higher volumes. Speaking of that, lower frequencies are presented quite well, the midrange frequencies can sometimes get lost, vocals are well presented. Overall is a nice listenable sound, the one thing that really lets it down is the stereo separation. Nothing can really be done about it, I just think that the speakers are maybe a little bit too close together, and it’s hard to distinguish between them while casually listening. I have noticed that things do seem to get a little bit better once you start turning the dock up.
The remote can sometimes be very temperamental, as is the case with the majority of these sorts of systems, however I’ve found that for the most part, it’s responsive when pointed directly at the unit, however sometimes my iPod refuses to respond to the previous, play and next buttons when docked, but pointing it at either a combination of the speakers or the iPod itself seems to work. The line-in function works as expected, and one thing I have noticed, unlike some other systems like that, you don’t notice a change in quality greatly when playing from a Bluetooth and a wired source. As with most of my reviews, I’m using the review product while I write the review and this is no exception. I am currently playing a Spotify playlist, and it’s sounding all right in the background. The remote is responding quite well from where I’m sitting; which for once, is not right next to the dock, I’m sitting in a chair next to a radiator because it’s a little bit cold, and the dock is on a table against the opposite wall.

Verdict

This is a lovely purchase, and if I had the need for one in my daily life, I wouldn’t hesitate to grab this one. It has a couple of shortfalls with the sound, but for what it is, it’s certainly not bad.
I have no idea what USB play and charge is at all, however the USB port does charge my phone, but I don’t know what the playing function of that is, as the sources cycle between Bluetooth, aux and iPod. I reached out to curries to ask them if they had a PDF manual as I couldn’t find a thing anywhere else online but I didn’t have any response. The Bluetooth function of this dock has to be its best feature. And it certainly can provide room filling sound for say, a gathering, or a barbecue.
Thank you for reading, and see you in the next one.

My review: Chromecast audio

When google announced this little box of tricks that connected to your speakers and turned any normal system into a fully connected one, I was intrigued to try it out.
I’m going to run through getting it out the box, setting it up and how I find the range of apps available. My main one that I will be using though is spotify connect however I will me trying out other services like google music.

Google music

Speaking of Google music, I’ve been having a bit of trouble with uploading my own collection. The music manager application is completely inaccessible to mac and windows users due to the way its designed and built. I tried the web app for chrome and on mac it’s a little bit difficult as chrome isn’t the best of browsers to get around, but I managed to get a few tracks uploaded. However, I tried uploading a big folder but I can’t see the status of the upload; progress, ETC. Anyway, back to the main point of this post.

Unboxing

It’s a very nice google style box; the same type (just a bit smaller) that my nexus came in. You don’t get a lot in the box but the device itself is presented first. If you don’t know what one looks like, it’s a small round disk, with grooves on it like a vinyl.
A picture of the Chromecast audio
It has an input for the micro USB cable, a 3.5 output jack and a button which I think resets the device although I’m not sure. Surrounding the device in the box is a small 3.5MM to 3.5MM cable; trust me it’s small. Once you’ve lifted the device out there is a very nice power adapter and a longer usb to micro USB cable then I was expecting. Good quality as well. And that’s it.
Setup was the easiest thing I think I’ve ever done, plug the device in to power and your system, choose add a device in the Chromecast app, choose Chromecast audio, join the WiFi network it has created, play a test tone, enter a name, join your WiFi and then you’re ready to start casting things. It is as simple as that.
Of the apps I had installed on my phone, I could cast from: Google play music, spotify and TuneIn radio.

First impressions and review

Spotify was my first choice as it’s the service I use the most and pay for. I loaded up a playlist, hit the button to choose a spotify connect device and my Chromecast appeared straight away. One double-tap, and pleasing tone later, music stopped playing from my phone and through my speakers. Honestly it was so easy I found myself thinking “surely it can’t be this simple”, but it really is.

I went into the Chromecast app just to play around and see what settings I could tweak and fchange. You can change the name of your device, the WiFi network, timezone, time format, language, turn the feedback sounds on and off, turn on and off guest mode (more that in a bit) and turn on something google is calling “high dynamic range, for AVRs and HiFi systems”. I turned this on as I had it connected to my 2.1 system at the time and it made one hell of a difference. Before it sounded a bit flat and boring but this made the sound louder and boosted all the frequencies. As I write this (not at the time of posting) I’ve got it connected to our sound bar playing a spotify station and the ‘high dynamic range’ is making a big difference there as well. I then moved on to tune in because I thought “Hey! £35 internet radio!” But alas, this was not to be had. Every station I tried to cast brought up an error saying that I couldn’t cast it. I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to use this as a radio but Spotify is good enough.
Screenshot of error in TuneIn radio
I also tried a couple of tracks that I had stored in my google music library and no problem there, tap cast and they start playing. I also just tried Rdio and the app is a little bit difficult to get around but I managed to get that playing through the Chromecast audio no problem.

I would like to see more apps, e.g. it would be nice to have an app that could cast your music stored on your phone, but I suppose google users have that with play music. Also, Google did try and get Apple music support on board but it never came through. I have yet to try this with android but as soon as I do I will be back with my experience.

Verdict

It’s a lovely little device that works like a dream, as long as you have a Rdio or SPotify subscription or are a google play music user. It does exactly what it says on the tin though, it’s turned my speakers from boring offline speakers to WiFi-enabled ones that I can play Spotify one without paying over the odds for a dedicated streamer or something like a Sonos system.
Thanks for reading, and keep watching out for more reviews in the future.
Thanks!