Audiophiles love both Sony and Bose for the great headphones they make. Both these companies are renowned for their sound quality, design and the overall look and feel.
Many users have personal preferences too, as some like Sony better than Bose and vice-versa. But to give you a neutral opinion, we are going to compare two great products from these two companies in this review.
Though Bose has been in the niche of noise-cancelling headphones for a long time, QC35 is its first entry into the world of wireless headphones. It was launched about six months before Sony released its MDR 1000x. Sony, on the other hand, wanted to release a feature-packed model to take on its competitors head-on, and MDR 1000x perfectly fits this description.
We will be talking about Sony MDR 1000X and Bose QC35 and will be comparing the two to understand which of the two is better and what they offer.
Table of Contets
Sony MDR 1000x vs Bose QC35: Pros & Cons and Verdict
In this section, we will be comparing the two headphones across different parameters, so it’ll help to know which headphones scores better in which parameter, and hopefully this should make it easy for you to make a choice between Sony MDR 1000X and Bose QC35.
Since the design is one of the first things you’ll see, all companies place a fair amount of emphasis on it. Bose and Sony are no exception and they have come up with a simple and minimalist design that is sure to appeal to you.
Bose has experimented with different materials in QC35. It has used stainless steel for the headband to act as a good reinforcement, and the outer plastic covering is made of nylon plastic, as this is stronger than regular plastic. There is also the soft Alcantara automotive fabric for the padding to give an extra touch of softness.
While these materials give a good look to these headphones, the use of plastic does not give a premium look to it. Use of plastic of any kind takes that premium look from headphones, and this is the case here too. To make up for it, the ear pads are made of a good quality material, and the best part is they are replaceable.
There is a clear marking of left and right on the inner side of the ear cups and these are large enough, so you can’t miss them even if you want to. The overall grey colour is mild and nice, and it pairs well with any costume. There is a power button on the right-hand ear cup and this makes it easy to turn them on and off. Otherwise, it is a standard and good looking pair of headphones from Bose.
Sony MDR 1000x, on the other hand, is a different story altogether. They have used metal instead of plastic and this gives it a nice and rounded look. The metal is covered with a soft and glossy coating and this adds a touch of richness to the overall look of Sony. There seems to be plastic used only on the outer side of the adjustment area and on the edges of ear cups, which makes it less obvious to see. But the one area that could cause some problem is the plastics present along the inner side of the headband. Many users have complained that this plastic is weak and gives out a creaking sound after some time. Personally, we had no such problems though.
The outside of the ear cups are covered in leatherette and this also adds to the luxurious look of Sony MDR 1000x. The ear pads are thick and nice, and they are replaceable as well. Sony MDR 1000x comes in a completely black colour and also in a beige/silver combo.
Finally, which of the two looks better? This is too close to call and depends to a large extent on user preferences. Some might prefer shallow ear cups while others may prefer to have deep cups so their ears don’t touch anything. Considering these preferences as well as our personal experience, both the headphones are winners in this category.
While the design is for aesthetics, comfort is what you feel while you wear a pair of headphones. Both of these aspects are equally important to get the right look and feel.
Before we go on it is imperative to mention that the feeling of comfort varies for each individual. So, a pair of headphones that feels super comfortable for us may not always be the best for you. So, it is best you try them on to get a feel for them. That said, this overview is to give you a broad introduction to the different comfort features of each headphone and our personal take on them.
When it comes to Bose QC35, it feels lighter than Sony MDR 1000x and does not clamp down as much as Sony. This definitely makes it more comfortable to wear, especially if you plan to wear them for extended periods of time. But then, the one thing that is a little uncomfortable with Bose QC35 is its headband. This padding for these headbands is stiff, probably to balance out some weight of the ear cups. This means, you’ll have to put these headphones at exactly the right place on your head to get the most comfortable fit, otherwise you’re sure to feel a little discomfort.
When you get the right position for these headphones, they are super comfortable and you even forget that you have them on your heads. The memory foam on the ear cups padding is also soft and perfect. They are a little airy, so you don’t sweat after wearing them for a few hours. Also, they sit comfortably on your ears to give a nice and soft touch. In addition, the ear cups of Bose QC35 is spacious, so your ears will never touch anything.
Another aspect about Bose is that the weight is equally balanced between the two sides, so you will feel balanced when you wear them.
What about Sony MDR 1000x? Well, it is not any behind either. The soft padding on the head makes it comfortable to wear for long periods of time while the padding on ear cups is soft and feels luxurious. One aspect here is that the ear cups are shallow and are filled with soft foam that gently cradles the ears. This is not something that many people like, as they don’t prefer to have their ears touching anything when they wear their headphones. That’s a personal preference though. If this is something that you don’t mind, go for it.
The overall winner when it comes to comfort? Bose QC 35 is the winner because it really makes you feel comfortable after you have got the head fit right. Sony is not far behind, but the shallow ear cups could make it uncomfortable for many people, especially if you’re not used to it.
3. Sound Quality
Both these companies are well-known for their top-notch sound quality, so it is no surprise that both Sony MDR 1000x and Bose QC35 score well on this parameter.
MDR 1000x produces the most natural sound that you can ever hear, despite the fact that it has active noise cancellation. It has warm tones that gives a soothing feeling when you listen to instrumental tracks. At the same time, it has a balanced level of bite and punches for those EDM tracks. None of the notes sounds muffled or lagging. The level of detail is simply amazing, and it almost feels like the sound is coming directly from the MDR 1A lineup of drivers.
These headphones, however, are not as neutral as they should be, and this is why they are not ideal for analytical purposes. If your job is to critically review or analyze a piece of recording, then these headphones are not for you. But if you want to listen to great music, then these are your perfect choice.
The vocals are clear and crisp and there are no distortions whatsoever in the high notes. This is why you never get tired even when you listen to high notes at reasonably good volumes. Bass is not punchy as you would get in other headphones, and there is a soft touch to it. But nevertheless, all these aspects make it a fun experience to listen to Sony MDR 1000x.
The best part is Sony maintains the same level of quality even when they are wired and unpowered. This is surprising because many headphones falter when switched between wired and wireless modes. Somehow, they seem to sound better in any one of the two modes instead of both, But Sony is an exception, and it has proved once again that it is capable of making some of the best sound and audio equipment in the world today.
Moving on to Bose QC35, this is one of the best headphones that Bose has made so far with noise cancelling technology. Similar to Sony MDR 1000x, this pair of headphones too, have a warm touch to the notes. This is why you can wear these headphones and listen to music for a long time without feeling fatigued. And this is where the similarity ends.
The bass of QC35 is punchy and aggressive, thereby making it a good choice for bass heads or anyone who likes to listen to bass heavy genres. Also, the bass is more immediate and this offers fresh feel to the overall bass. When it comes to the highs though, there is a little more sparkle than it should have and this feature distorts the sound, especially when heard at the highest volumes.
Mid tones are quite good, but in some tracks we were able to notice crackle that feels like it has been sculpted artificially, just to enhance the sound output. There is no specific pattern and you can hear this crackle across tracks of all genres. We are not able to pinpoint to any specific pattern or genre, but it continues to exist.
Also, these headphones are not as balanced as they should be. Bose has its own proprietary active EQ controls that kick in automatically. Sometimes, these EQ controls tend to be a little off, and that’ when the music starts sounding a little off. For example, when you crank up the volume for bass-heavy tracks, the bass also gets cranked up and it sounds too punchy. Though this automatic setting is not too bad, it is very noticeable and the worst part, there is no way to turn it off! So, whether you like it or not, you’re forced to listen to these EQ controls and that can kind of be frustrating at times.
We tried the wired and unpowered side of Bose QC35 and they sound quite bad. The mids are hollow and the bass sounds way too aggressive for normal hearing. The highs just drop abruptly into nothingness. Why is this happening? One possible explanation is that Bose is doing quite a bit of sculpting to ensure that the sounds are more natural and for this it needs power. When you take off the power source, everything goes haywire.
Does this mean Bose headphones are bad? Not at all. They deliver good quality sound, provided you keep them powered on. If you decide to go to the unpowered side, the sounds are very different.
Now that we analyzed the sound quality of both these headphones, which do you think is the winner? Undoubtedly Sony MDR 1000x because they sound a lot more natural and balanced when compared to Bose’s QC35 in the powered mode. There is a measure of evenness to all mids, lows and highs, and we cannot say the same about Bose QC 35 because it’s bass is a little too punchy.
When it comes to the wired and unpowered mode, Sony is way better than Bose. In fact, this is something that Bose should consider for other models too. Too much sculpting is not always pleasant to the ears and could cause complications in the unpowered mode, just like what happens with QC35.
In all, Sony MDR 1000x is the winner when it comes to sound quality.
4. Noise Cancelling Technology
It is extremely difficult to give high-grade sound output along with active noise cancellation because noise cancelling technology interferes with the way sound is heard. Essentially, there are small microphones present in the headphones that analyze the sound outside your ear cups. These microphones compare that outside sound with the sound of your music to generate an anti-noise sound wave so that the outside noise blends well with your music and there is no interference whatsoever from it.
Due to this process, the sound you hear may at times sound bizarre because it is mixed with the outside noises. But that’s not the case with both Sony MDR 1000x and Bose QC35.
In fact, we can go to the extent of saying that Sony MDR 1000x provides the most natural sound ever in any headphone with active noise cancellation. But that doesn’t mean Bose QC35 is bad either. Bose has been in the field of noise cancellation far longer than any other company, and this has also given a big edge to Bose in this niche. But, we think Sony is catching up with this model of headphones because Sony engineers have done an incredible job with noise cancellation, so much that it is comparable to the leader itself.
When it comes to a winner in this category, we think it is too close to call. This is a surprise because Bose wins hands-down in this category when compared to other models, but not with Sony this time. Both the headphones offer excellent noise cancellation and it is so blended in with the sounds that you will have to take your headphones off to know if a sound came from your headphones or from something happening outside.
One word of caution here. Such high levels of noise cancellation are not always good, especially if you plan to wear your headphones for a workout outside your home, or even for that matter if you plan to go for a walk, bike or run. If you’re wondering why, it’s because you need to keep noise at bay, but not so much that you are unaware of the dangers around you. For example, let’s say you’re going on your bike and there’s a car honking behind you. Suppose you’re unable to hear it because of active noise cancellation, it could end up being a far more serious situation for you. This is why we would not recommend wearing active noise cancellation headphones when you’re on the roads.
This is another important aspect and often a major determinant too. Bose QC is quite expensive, and you can rarely find it on sale. On the other hand, the Sony MDR 1000x retails for a higher price, but you can often find it on sale on Amazon.
So, there is a $50 difference and this brings up the question of whether Sony’s MDR 1000x is worth the extra price, especially if you don’t find them at a sale. We think yes, considering that the sound quality is much better, Otherwise, there isn’t much difference between the two that would warrant the extra cost.
Which of the two is a winner? Bose QC35 is the winner because it comes packed with features and is reasonably priced for what it offers. That said, if you find Sony MDR 1000x for a lower price, go for it by all means as it is a better headphone at that price. But if you can’t find any discounts, well it is up to you. If you prefer the superior quality of Sony’s audio output, buy MDR 1000x, otherwise, stick to Bose QC35.
Sony MDR 1000x vs Bose QC35 – Final Verdict
After comparing both these headphones in-depth across various parameters, Sony MDR 1000x is the winner, but Bose QC35 is not that far behind either.
The sound quality of Sony is top notch and the introduction of active noise cancellation has made it really an excellent pair of headphones for audiophiles. Though it is priced a little higher than Bose, it is definitely worth your money if you care about great sound.
Bose, on the other hand, is a good choice too but pales when compared to the sound quality of Sony. This is more evident in the unpowered and wired state.
Sony MDR-1000x and Bose QC35 are two top-notch, powerful and well-built headphones that score big on the market. If you’re looking for a quality product, you must choose between these two.
In all other aspects though, both the headphones are equally matched. Surprisingly, active noise cancellation is excellent in Sony and this is a surprise because Bose is the company known for this technology.
All that said, our pick between the two is Sony MDR 1000x.