The Bose QuietComfort 35 II has been out for 3 years now and currently has 4.6 out of 5 stars on 27,439 ratings. So, I won’t get too much into the details of the headset and focus more on the new gaming add-on (which was released less than a month ago: October 2020).
This isn’t Bose’s first gaming headset, so shouldn’t be confused with the A20 Aviation released back in 2015. Part of what makes the Bose QC35 unique is that it comes with digital noise canceling, which gaming headsets typically don’t have. To block outside noises, you would look toward headsets like the ones made by David Clark that have passive and Electronic Noise Cancelling, used for Esports and aviation. Bose took this approach with their iconic noise canceling feature and combined it with a portable option for music and a PC plugin for computer gaming.
The idea has potential, and as a music headset, the QuietComfort 35 II is great. As a gaming headset, the noise canceling is great. But, unfortunately, it falls short in customization when comparing with Razer, HyperX and SteelSeries. All of which I’ve owned gaming headsets for.
The main reason for this is that Bose doesn’t have a hardware or software configuration tool. While they do for mobile devices in the form of the Bose Connect app, they don’t have anything for your PC. Instead, the headset uses the default operating system’s audio software, which is really, really limited.
This is fine for PS4 gaming, but not so much for PC.
For instance, you are stuck with stereo sound. As many gamers know, this is bad for games where listening for the enemy position is important. Such as enemy footsteps and gunshots in FPS (games like Overwatch and Call of Duty). In comparison, my HyperX Cloud Flight S has 7.1 Surround Sound and my Razer Kraken Tournament Edition uses THX 7.1. Both work well for Spatial Audio. Not so for the Bose.
Another issue with not having configuration software is that you can’t adjust the amount of bass or treble. In some games, you want little to no bass . . . otherwise explosions may overwhelm. And enhanced treble can help clarify specific noises you want to watch out for. In other words, there’s no equalizer for the Bose gaming headphones. Not unless you look to third-party solutions.
If these sound customizations were not enough of a setback, then consider the mic as well.
- There’s no mic sensitivity setting, so it picks up unwanted noises. I found it picked up mouse clicks and mechanical keyboard presses. Also picks up the whooshing sound of my desk fan. Thus, you are forced to use push to talk unless you want to annoy your teammates.
- There are no enhancements such as volume normalization, ambient noise reduction, and vocal clarity.
- There is no game-chat balance that lets you increase chat volume and lower game volume for those instances where you are having a difficult time hearing teammates.
That said, the mic does have decent voice quality, though. My gaming buddy said I was easy to hear and understand.
This headset is really comfortable. Lighter than all my other gaming headsets. The headband has a soft, thick, cloth padding. The earcups have a leathery material that feels soft against my skin. Works well with my computer glasses, too. Doesn’t uncomfortably press the temples into my skin or ears, yet still has a tight seal to block outside noises. I’m able to wear this headset for hours without discomfort. That said, I did notice that heat can build up inside the earcups, causing sweat to form on my ears—depending on how active I am and how hot the temperature is around me.
The headset stays on my head well without adding too much pressure. I’m able to raise and lower my head without it shifting, and it stays in place when violently shaking my head from side to side.
PC desktop controller
The PC desktop controller comes with a nice, long cord. I measured it at 8-feet 3-inches (99”). The long cord is good for people who have their tower further away from their desk. When coupled with the length of the headset cord (which is 3-feet 9-inches), it offers plenty of total length.
There’s no adhesive like some other desktop controllers I’ve had, instead, it relies on weight and a rubbery bottom. I weighed it at 161.5 grams. The rubbery ring at the bottom adds a fair amount of friction as well as scratch resistance. With these things combined, I find the desktop controller stays in place pretty well. Unless you give it a good bump.
The top of the controller is a large, analog dial. This makes raising and lowering the volume a simple and quick process. No having to hold down a button or press it several times. Speaking of buttons, there’s only one on the controller. This is used to activate mic monitoring. There are 3 preset volume settings for the mic monitoring: low, medium and high. While not as exact as what software would let you do, I find the volume presets are just fine.
There isn’t a mute button on the controller. I wish Bose would have programmed it so that pressing on the analog dial would act as a mute, but instead, they put the mute on the headphone cord.
Note: I tested it on both Windows and macOS. It worked on both.
I won’t get too much into the noise canceling since, as I said, this is a feature highly reviewed on the non-gaming version of the headset. But I will say it works pretty well, particularly for blocking voices. My cat will nag me when I’m gaming. With this headset on, I can see her mouth open and close, but not hear the meow.
(Sorry kitty, gaming time.)
But there’s one thing I didn’t think of. I couldn’t hear my own voice very well, either. When I was chatting in game, it felt odd not hearing myself clearly. I’ve never been one to use mic monitoring, but I do, now. Just so I have a sense of my own voice when calling out plays.
I got the headset to work better when using it with . . .
I took the THX 7.1 USB Audio Controller that came with my Razer Kraken and plugged the Bose QuietComfort 35 2 Gaming Headphones into it. Doing so got me around a lot of the limitations mentioned above. I now have surround sound, can control the game-chat balance, lower the bass, and access all the other features that come with the Razer Synapse 3 software. I like using the QuietComfort 35 II with the Razer THX Audio Controller much better than Bose’s controller, and the Bose headset is better than the Razer Kraken. I get the noise canceling, Bose quality speakers and mic, and comfort. To me, this is a win, but only comes as a hack of sorts.
Unfortunately, since the headset is older, it uses the older Micro-USB plug for charging instead of the newer USB-C. Makes it feel a little dated but isn’t unforgivable. It also doesn’t come with a wall charger, so you have to use your own charging device (which is the new norm, unfortunately). The Bose QuietComfort 35 Series 2, when combined with the mic and PC desktop controller, makes for an interesting Gaming Headset. The good is the comfort and noise canceling, but bad is the lack of customizing software. As mentioned, there are ways around that. I just hope Bose invests resources in developing their own PC configuration tool someday.