"Pretty darned amazing"4.0 starson by jdzions
Pros: Smaller and lighter than the QC2; rechargable battery; great active noise suppression
Cons: Expensive; less passive noise suppression than closed-ear designs
Summary: I bought a pair of Quiet Comfort 2 headphones on the day they went on sale; for the past couple of years they've been my companion on dozens of airplanes, trains, and buses, airports and hotels. So when the QC3's came out I figured "what the heck, give'em a try, you can always return'em".
I like the fact that they're smaller than the QC2. The case is smaller, as well, leaving more room in my backpack for spare laptop batteries and other stuff. (If you're a woman, the smaller size of the QC3's means you won't look as goofy as the QC2's might have done to you.)
Near as I could tell, Bose added a couple dB of active noise suppression which compensated for the loss of passive suppression from the switch to an on-ear design. I have always had a preference for circumaural headphones; pressure right on my ears tended to be wearing after a while, and caused the temple pieces on my eyeglasses to leave bigger impressions than usual on the side of my head. The QC3 had a lighter pressure than I was expecting; after wearing them for 4 1/2 hours on a SEA-PIT flight, I was amazed at how comfortable they still felt.
Many reviewers have commented that the price seemed outrageous. Were it not for Bose customer service, I might agree; but their commitment to making things right has won me over. I am on my third pair of QC2 headphones, but I only paid for the first.
The QC2 (like the QC3) comes with a 12 month warranty. My first pair of QC2s broke 13 months after I purchased them; a plastic part snapped right where the rotating pin at the top of the left earpiece attaches to the headband. This wasn't due to abuse; it looked like a design fault to me. On my way through the airport to board my flight home, I stopped at a Bose sales kiosk and showed them my headphones. The salesman listened to my story, took down my information, took the broken headphones from my hands and gave me a brand new pair.
14 months later, same failure. Same place. On my next outbound flight, I again took the headphones with me and went to the Bose kiosk. This time, the person I spoke to was a senior Bose engineer who'd been out on the road going from city to city talking to customers about their product. I showed him the headphones, explained my history, and asked him what was going on. He explained exactly what the problem was, how they'd redesigned to eliminate the flaw, and how to tell the difference between a pre- and post-redesign pair. He also said he didn't have a pair on-hand to give me, but that I should go to any Bose location and get a replacement. When I returned home, I took the pair (#2) to the Bose store in a nearby mall and got a replacement (#3), no questions asked.
I used to use Sony noise-cancelling headphones. Flimsy, but cheap. And also crappy quality. Two pair failed the same way (top headband hinge parted); a third pair had cable quality issues. Sony never replied to my emails. I won't buy another pair of their headphones, that's for sure.
I still haven't decided if I'm going to use the QC3's or keep my QC2's and hand the 3's to my wife for her use. But Bose gets to keep my money on this one. (I'd love to have the QC3 electronics and rechargable battery combines with the QC2 circumaural ear cups; I'd sigh but still whip out my credit card. I'm sure my daughter needs a good pair of headphones.)
I truly believe the Quiet Comfort 2 pair that I've been using has preserved my hearing; I've spent a lot of time on airplanes, including turboprops, and my rate of hearing loss due to age and abuse seems to have slowed down in the past few years. (But I'm still getting older, darn it.) Preserving my hearing is worth a couple hundred dollars.