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Should you buy Bose QC35 headphones? If you live in a city, absolutely



Noise canceling
Me on a walk through New York’s Financial District
wearing my noise canceling headphones.

Business Insider

  • Living in a city can be stressful, particularly because
    of the noise pollution.
  • I tested out a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to
    see how they would affect my quality of life.
  • I loved how they helped me relax and felt they were
    well worth their $350 cost.

Living in New York City comes with a whole host of unique
stressful situations — delayed subways, traffic snarls, and
crummy weather that can range from hurricanes to blizzards to
extreme heat. 

But there’s one stressful condition New York offers that I wasn’t
ready for: noise pollution. 

The Environmental Protection Agency defines noise pollution as any
“unwanted or disturbing sound,” which pretty much sums up a day
in the life in any city, particularly a heavily populated one
like New York. 

In addition to being annoying, excessive noise is legitimately bad for your hearing
and overall health
. Exposure to sounds that are above 85
decibels can permanently damage your hearing. Exposure to noises
as low as 65 decibels — about as loud as the hum of an air
conditioner — can increase your blood pressure, heart rate,
and the stress hormones in your blood, according to Ted Rueter,
founder of Noise Free America.

After learning all that, I started to wonder how I could prevent
not only my daily noise-related stress, but also the potential
long-term damage to my hearing.

The answer lies with noise-canceling headphones. 

Noise-canceling headphones generate sound waves that are designed
to cancel out most outside noise, making them helpful in reducing
your exposure to noise pollution. Also, because they nullify
ambient noises, you’re likely to listen to your music at a lower

I wore a pair of noise-canceling headphones around New York City
for a week to see if they would boost my quality of life and
protect my hearing. Here’s what I found.

The headphones

bose qc35ii
Bose’s QuietComfort 35
noise-canceling headphones

Villas-Boas/Business Insider

When I set out on this project, I wasn’t sure which headphones to
try. But after a few days searching for the best options on the
market, I decided on Bose’s QuietComfort 35

The headphones, which are now in their second generation, are
almost universally beloved. Both my sister and boyfriend own them
and can’t stop talking about how great they are. Meanwhile, my
colleague Tony called them his “go-to pair of headphones for
everyday use” when he reviewed them earlier
this year. 

The headphones cancel or muffle most ambient noise, they sound
great, and best of all, they’re incredibly comfortable. 

Their only downside is that they cost $350, which is more than I
would normally be comfortable paying for headphones. Luckily,
there are deals on them from time to time — right now, you can
find them for $50 off, according to CNET.

The results

I wore the QuietComfort 35s as much as I possible could over the
course of more than a week. I wore them every day during my
commute, on walks during my lunch break, and occasionally at the
office. (I don’t typically like wearing headphones while I work,
but I tried it for this experiment.) I used the headphones for
listening to music, making calls, and occasionally just to block
out the ambient noise.

The result: A major boost in my quality of life. 

Here’s what I noticed:

  • I slept better. I felt less stress, and as a
    result, I slept more deeply and clenched my jaw less than I
    normally do. 
  • I was more relaxed and focused when I started work each
    My 20- to 30-minute commute went by more
    quickly and seemed easier than ever before. 
  • I was less stressed when I returned home from
    Usually when I get home at the end of the
    workday, I’m a little cranky and need some time to unwind and
    relax. But when I arrived home after wearing
    the QuietComfort 35s, I was in a much better mood than
  • My neck aches and headaches were more mild.
    I’m prone to getting terrible migraine and tension headaches,
    and knots in my neck and shoulders. Those didn’t disappear
    completely, but I noticed that after wearing the headphones, I
    wasn’t constantly massaging my neck. And I went more than a
    week without taking ibuprofen. 
  • I enjoyed my music more. Listening to music on
    my train ride and walks can be an exercise in frustration,
    since I’m always having to adjust the volume, trying to balance
    between having it loud enough to hear but not too loud to hurt
    my ears. The in-ear headphones I typically wear have never been
    comfortable for me — I’m always having to jam them back in my
    ears. But with the Bose headphones, which are an over-the-ear
    design, I didn’t have to worry about any of that and could just
    zone out and enjoy my songs.
  • Perhaps most importantly, I enjoyed city life
    It’s a privilege to live and work in New York,
    but it can also by physically and psychologically taxing. It’s
    easy to get worn down by the daily grind of life here. Being
    able to block out the city’s excessive noise makes living here
    significantly less stressful and makes me appreciate the sights
    and people much more. (That being said, it’s extra important to
    be visually aware of your surroundings when you’re wearing
    headphones that muffle noises such as car horns and

Additionally, I felt like I was doing a better job of protecting
my hearing — although I realize that may have just been my

Noise-canceling headphones are expensive. Most people don’t have
a spare $350 or more to spend on such a device. 

But to me, a few hundred dollars seemed like a small price to pay
for better health and a happier life. 

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