Bose QuietComfort 15 (QC-15) Long Term Review


Three years ago, I purchased a set of the Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling over-the-ear headphones.  Here is my long term review of the product.

I’m easily distracted by noise.  A slammed door, shrill giggle, or foreign language conversation can destroy my productivity by pulling me out of the zone. 

So I after I flew back from Japan in business class, and used a pair (provided by American Airlines) for eight hours, I decided to purchase a pair of QC15s.  After 8 hours, there was no pinching, and pressure points.  Oddly enough, I wasn’t as mentally tired when I arrived in Houston. 

Since I would be wearing them for six to eight hours a day in a noisy environment, it seemed like a perfect fit.

What I liked

  • The cord is replaceable, so you don’t have to worry about a chair rolling over the cord and having to figure out how to repair the headset – you simply unplug the damaged cord and plug in a new one.
  • The sound quality is fantastic.
  • The headphones are very comfortable.  I wore them for six hours a day, only taking them off when I left my desk or someone stumbled into my cubicle.

What I didn’t Like

  • If you don’t have a battery, you don’t get any sound. I was using a battery every two weeks, so I had to keep a stash of batteries at my desk.  I switched to rechargeable batteries, and quickly found that I was changing the battery every week or week and a half.
  • Within the first year, the black leather in the ear cushions started to flake off.  I would end up with black specks of leather on my ears and face.  At first, it wasn’t entirely obvious to me it was from the ear cushions.  I would go into the bathroom, look up in the mirror and I had these dirty specks on my face.  This appears to be a common issue.
  • Next, the adhesive holding the fake leather to the inside of the ear cups gradually let go, exposing the foam insulation.
  • Lastly, during the third year, the headphones would develop a loud piercing high pitched feedback squeal. 

The squeal would start around the four hour mark and then if I turned my head I would get a high decibel squeal, like someone lets loose with an air horn.  I kept using the headphones, but the time to required to produce the squeal would decrease every week. 

I ultimately cracked the headphones open and cut the microphone in a futile attempt to get rid of the feedback.  It didn’t work.

I was using the headphones approximately six hours a day, five days a week, for 50 weeks a year.  That equates to 250 days, or 1,500 hours of usage per year.  $300/4,500hrs = $0.6666 per hour, or approximately $.40 per day to experience black flakes randomly appearing on my clothes or face with air horn quality shrieks.

Ultimately, the headphones lasted about 3.5 years and ended up in the trash can. I’m intensely disappointed in Bose.

I’m now using some Sony in ear buds that cost $20.  If they last 3 years, the cost per hour will be $4.444 x 10-3.  Much better bang for the buck and no flakes or shrieks.

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21 Responses to Bose QuietComfort 15 (QC-15) Long Term Review

  1. Kevin D says:

    You shouldnt of thrown them away. Bose has a program which allows you to trade in your old sets and get a new set for about $129.00.

  2. Majid says:

    Prese su amazon: io le uso in treno, le ho prese per sosiitutre delle JVC e la riduzione del rumore e8 decisamente migliore.Sono grosse e scaldano parecchio, il cavo sembra deboluccio e mi aspetto si rovinere0 presto: per quello che costano potevano inserire nella confezione direttamente un ricambio.

  3. Alice says:

    mine squeal too, it’s frustrating

  4. Fuc you says:

    Holy fucking shit, your $300 headhpones ONLY lasted 3.5 years. What a load of FUCKING BULLSHIT! Those fucking cans cost you $1.65 per week, and they didn’t last you a life time?? How many thousands of dollars have you spent on shitty coffee at Starbucks, you fucking hipster. You may be disappointed in Bose, but I can’t imagine how disappointed your parents are in your self-entitled ass

  5. Enrique says:

    Man, if you complain that you spent in a year 26 AAA batteries, let’s see, a package of 24 AAA alkaline batteries Walgreens brand costs $12.99, then each battery costs .54 cents or like you said, $5.54 X 10 to minus 1 power! You complain that you spend about a half a dollar every two weeks to operate your headphones? Hello??? I bet that the $12.99 you can buy 48 batteries at COSTCO. And anyway, using the headphones 1,500 hours per year that’s a lot of use. Nothing is eternal. Try wearing the same clothes everyday for a full year (1,500 hours), and let me know if the fabric will not degrade, colors will wash out, break, or the seams will start to become loose.

    I hope that your $20 Sony ear phones sound as good as a Bose. By the way, I owned a Bose QC1, and lasted me 5 years, I trade it for a Bose QC-15, and no problem with the sound or the flakes you describe…probably because I use them sparingly and not daily for 5 hours.

    You can always buy replacement earpad/cushions at eBay for about $20 a pair, and if your headphones are faulty, you can always walk into ANY Bose store at any mall, and ON THE SPOT, bring your old QC-15, pay $129, and take home a new pair. That only works for upgrading old quiet comfort, QC-15 and QC-3 (QC-3 is $149.00).

    I have owned headphones from KOSS, Senheisser, Bose, Apple, Skull Candy. The earcushions they all breaks around your ear with extended use… it’s call normal wear and tear. Your body produces sweat and oils,; they degrade leather, fake leather, foam and insulation.

    • Joe Turner says:

      So let me get this straight… I have a set of headphones that eats batteries, loudly squeals like a stuck pig, and leaves leathery pepper flakes all over my clothes and face. I should pay another $129 for a new pair? I don’t think so. My $20 earphones have been working perfectly since I trashed the QCs.

  6. Enrique says:

    Looking at your justification, if a $20 earphone does the work, then I must ask why in the very beginning you spent $299 + tax for the qc-15’s. A $20 earphone is NEVER is going to sound like a $200+ headphone, but that’s your choice. I am very happy with the sound of my qc-15’s, I rate them outstanding in sound quality when compared to other headphones and earphones.

  7. Akshat Arora says:

    Reading your review it feels like you were more than happy with your QC15 for a majority duration of its life. Its only when you decided it was time to throw them away you realized that it was this expensive. I would also suggest that when and if you buy a ferrari please don’t do calculations like the above one you will be in for a big surprise(even a heart condition, considering you already are penny wise to have gone through such an effort).
    And for next time if at all you buy a QC 15 or other premium headset from Bose sell it off for a 100 bucks on craigs, at least someone else can trade them in for $129 and save a few bucks whilst enjoying these premium headphones.
    P.S – I am an owner of the QC15 and have gifted them to family and everyone has been amazed at there quality viz. a viz. other pedestrian headphones.

  8. Lol says:

    i’m not a bose fan whatsoever but jesus this is possibly the dumbest thing i’ve ever read.

    do your $20 headphones that you keep referencing do active noise cancelling?

  9. Pingback: Qualitätsmängel bei Bose am Beispiel des QuietComfort 15 Kopfhörers | Post von Roland

  10. Errol says:

    I literally have to change the battery in my QC15’s every day and a half. I’m surprised I’m the only one who has this issue. This is my only problem with the headphones, they eat batteries.

  11. The piercing squeal is a fault easily remedied, and of COURSE the ear pads deteriorated, if they made them tougher they wouldn’t be anywhere near as comfortable – that’s why you can purchase a set of replacements for like $10…

    Binning them makes you a bit of an idiot my friend!

  12. Rick says:

    My QC15s have just done the same. BOSE is over priced to start with but I still pay because nothing beats them. An you think that $300 is a lot? I also spent $1100 for a BOSE aviation headset. The nice thing about that is that they attend many of the large air shows and operate a service facility in their booth. For pilots who have a BOSE headset, they will replace the ear cushions and microphone muff for free and test the headset for functionality. One year, they replaced the cord -gratis. That’s what you pay for.

  13. richard eva says:

    I own the bose qc15 since 2009
    and they still work in 2015 and they are use everyday. almost
    but i did replace the ear pads with velour ones its last longer and looks and feels more
    comfy and also i made my own cloth headband this took a few weeks to get right.
    but it will last alot longer than the leather headband.
    also i made my headband a little thinner and wider than the orginal
    but its also hooked up to the fiio e17 useing the dac feature on my labtop
    but i use both the e17 and e12 when useing my portable cd player
    its makes the headphones sound so much better over all.
    they sound good as they were but i wanted to add a little extra oophh
    so this is what i came up with, this is not high end audiophile grade sound
    but it is a improvement over all and i rank it up there as
    closed back warm bright sounding version of the hd650
    if that headphone was a closed back design
    okay the bose qc15 does not have the open echoy sound that the hd650
    but an open back is diffrent to a closed back
    and i prefer a closed backheadphone
    because i find a open back not matter how good it sounds
    defeats the purpose of a headphone
    headphones are ment for listening to music without disturbing others
    open back headphones don.t do that.
    also open back headphone are more like listening to speakers than headphones
    just my view on this,

    also i find high end headphones to big to fit on my tiny head
    its why i prefer the bose qc15 spot on fit.
    and are super comfy

    and even though you need to use a battery at all times
    this does not bother me.

    since they act diffrenty than normal headphones
    the bose qc25 is an upgrade of the bose qc15 but its a refined upgrade not
    a huge upgrade. i did think about getting a pair but to be honest
    iam to used to my bose qc15
    and getting rid of them would be hard for me
    since i have used them for so long and nothing sounds
    or feeling quite like them

    also they have this old school looking going for it wich i really like as well
    and i love the little green light that comes on when in use
    the qc25 does not have a light at all.
    its a small touch but a nice one.

    so over all for me the perferct headphones
    yes other headphones can sound better but it depends
    on what music your into and where your listening
    to it as well.
    also on a side note headphones were not ment to used with mobile phones
    because mobile phones tablets are not dedicated music devices
    not like a pc or labtop or a personal cd player or a desk top cd player
    okay a computer is not a dedicated music device either but its much better
    sounding than mobile and useing a dac helps as well.

  14. I was quite happy with my QC15 headphones as well – until they failed after 3 years. Bose does NOT repair them and they do NOT sell replacement part. Instead they want you to buy a replacement set for $100+. With a defective $3 circuit board I cannot justify spending another $100 on this product. In other words this was my first and last Bose product.

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