Why, even as an audiophile, I prefer the Bose?

I’m used to high-end Hi-Fi systems, and my goal is to put sound quality before any other criteria when buying audio stuff. I had the opportunity to test these two headphones for several hours. And here is why I chose the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II.

Physical comfort

The Bose is lighter. A little, but lighter. No difference in a 15 minute trial, but after one hour the difference is there. While it is not huge, but it is there.

Then, the clamping force of those headphones is a little more high for the SONY. Again, very little, but enough to make the Bose more comfortable.

These two criteria of “physical comfort” can be summed up as follows: the Bose and the SONY are of equal comfort during the first hour of listening, beyond, advantage to the Bose.

Audio comfort

I wear my headphone for long periods at work, which is quite different from critical listening. I need the music to be somewhere a little “distant” to not become the number one destination (vs critical listening). It is also necessary that the headphone does not put forward frequencies that “hurt”.

The SONY produces a rich and very detailed sound. But he has two major drawbacks to my taste (everyone is different):

1. The bass is too present.
2. Although the sound imaging is correct, the sound stage seems very small giving an impression of oppression; the sound does not envelop the listener but rather comes from the inside of the head.

On these two points, the Bose has much softer (but very precise) bass and has a wider sound stage allowing the listener to breathe and even to forget the headphone.

Noise reduction

Honestly, both are at the same level. Sometimes the SONY seems slightly better but at the cost of a small feeling of oppression.

Conclusion

Although the sound quality is a top priority for me, I must admit that the SONY disappointed me on some points that overcome the sound quality.

So, the Bose seems be a better choice better choice for me. It is possible to adjust the EQ on the SONY, but I have not been able to find the settings that eliminate the listening fatigue (at least, never as much as the Bose).

Yes, the SONY is more Hi-Fi than the Bose. But in the case of a noise cancelling headphone (so a non-critical listening at home, the user is often focused on something else), the Bose is more comfortable than the SONY.

I will also add that the Bose, although not having a perfect sound delivers a  “playful, enjoyable” sound, and more “clear” than the SONY. On the other hand, it is less rich and detailed in the second part of the frequency spectrum.

There is room for improvement for SONY and the world of noise-canceling headphones in general.