Sony WH-1000XM5 Versus Bose NC700 Versus Bose QC45

Please refer to the table below for a summarized comparison version for Sony WH-1000XM5 Versus Bose NC700 Versus Bose QC45.

Buy Sony XM5 on Amazon for $398

Buy Sony Bose NC700 on Amazon for $379

Buy Sony Bose QC45 on Amazon for $279

If you want to support me, please click the link above if you want to purchase any of the headphones in this review, as it will really help me to fund my next review. The links above are affiliate links, and they will generate some commissions for me if you purchase at no additional cost to you.

Please read below for a more detailed comparison.


So the new Sony WH-1000XM5 has some new improvements, like better acting noise cancellation, better sound, better feeling of leatherettes, and better-sounding microphones for phone calls. However, their all-new design is a bit of a problem. But today, we will compare the WH-1000XM5 to both the Bose NC 700 and Bose QC45.

I am rather excited to talk about the Bose QC45 today because, after a recent update, the Bose QC45 did get a measurable ANC performance improvement which was a surprise but a very welcomed one.


The WH-1000XM5 retails for $349, a $50 price increase from their predecessors. The NC 700 also used to retail for $400 when they first came out, but now they retail for $380 regularly. And also, keep in mind these are the oldest headphones here. They came out back in June 2019.

But then there is the Bose QC45, which came out in the fall of 2021, and they retail for $330 and routinely like to go on sale for $280. Personally, I think that if you’re looking for a pair of ANC headphones to travel with, the Bose QC45 are now my top pick.


The XM5 has completely departed from the XM4 design, and instead, they have a similar design to the Bose NC700. Sony’s take is much bulkier than Bose’s, but the important thing is that both headphones are partially collapsible, like the Bose QC45 and Sony’s previous headphones.

And the fact that the XM5 aren’t fully collapsible means that they will have a more significant carrying case than a pair of fully collapsible headphones, like the QC45. But the thing is, even though the NC700 have a similar style case to the XM5, the XM5 case have a significantly larger footprint than the NC 700, and it’s significantly thicker as well.

The case is borderline unmanageable for me, making traveling with these headphones a big hassle, especially since I’m so accustomed to traveling with my XM4, XM3, and now Bose QC 45. The NC 700 case is smaller than I want but manageable. But overall, if you’re looking for a pair of headphones to travel with, among many other reasons, the Bose QC45 headphones are my top pick because of their smaller case.

But with the case out of the way, let’s focus on the headphones themselves. From a material standpoint, the XM5 use recycled plastic on the ear cups with a slight feel, and we’ve got plastic arms on the headbands. The XM5 headphones feel like they could be more premium.

The QC45 and NC 700 feel more premium and sturdy compared to XM5. With the QC45, we’ve got a primarily plastic body with a smooth finish and your classic clicking headband. But then there are the NC700, which also have smooth plastic ear cups.

But what makes these headphones look and feel very premium is that they have an exposed stainless steel headband, and underneath the headband, there’s a whole lot of padded silicone, which feels great. My main problem with the NC700 is that the ear cups don’t glide smoothly when you extend the headband.

In contrast, the Sony XM5’s approach is much smoother by comparison. But finally, we are given the ability to adjust the leatherette on the headphones directly. Sony has always struggled with the leatherette on their 1000X series. It’s always felt very plasticky. However, with the XM5, the leatherette feels much better.

It doesn’t feel supple or have any grain to it, like the leatherette that you’ll find on either Bose headphones, but it feels much smoother. The easiest way to explain the leatherette on the XM5 is that it feels slightly like silicone but with less friction overall. The leatherette on the XM5 is a significant improvement, and I like it, but Bose’s leatherette still feels more premium.

Headphone’s Appearance and Fit

All these headphones are big-head approved, but the XM5 have the most clamping force, whereas the QC45 headphones have the least. So if you have a big head or prefer a looser fit, the QC45 are the way to go.

Overall, the QC45 are the most comfortable headphones for multiple reasons. First, the QC45 are the lightest headphones weighing 234 grams, and I categorize these as ultra-lightweight. Then surprisingly, the XM5 weigh in at 250 grams, even though they look pretty bulky, and I categorize these as lightweight. Finally, the NC700 weighs 274 grams, which I categorize as average.

Overall, having a pair of lightweight headphones will contribute to overall comfort because they’re much easier to forget than you have on, but then there are the earpads. Both Bose headphones have broad and deep earpads, so they’ll have no problem accommodating huge ears or ears that stick out a lot.

Whereas with the XM5, not so much as the earpads have a very wide diameter, they’re very shallow and more shallow than the XM4 and XM3. The earpads on the XM5 are so shallow that they press down on my average-sized ears, and it gets uncomfortable after a while.

But the biggest issue with the XM5 is it’s a very thin and minimally padded headband. With the XM5, I can only wear these headphones for 45 minutes tops because at the 45-minute mark, they create a hotspot on the top of my head, and I have to take them off. This is unfortunate because hotspots have never been an issue for their predecessors, whereas hotspots are nonexistent with the QC45 and NC700.

So I can wear either of these headphones for hours without any problems. The headband on the QC45 has a decent amount of surface area with a decent amount of padding. And then there’s the NC700 headband, which has a lot of padding, and its silicone headband does a fantastic job of conforming to your head and dissipating any pressure.

So overall, the QC45 are the most comfortable headphones among the bunch cause they’re the lightest, have the least clamping force, have roomy ear pads, and their headband doesn’t create a hotspot on the top of your head. Even though the NC700 are 24 grams heavier than the XM5, which is noticeable, they’re still way more comfortable than the XM5.

Finally, I also want to point this out quickly, and it’s completely subjective, but the XM5 look so bulky when they’re on your head. I’m not the biggest fan of the bulbous headband on the NC700; they look much sleeker than the XM5 and the QC45, which examine the most normal.

Technical Specifications

I will admit this is an area where the XM5 easily outperforms the Bose headphones. The XM5 have an advertised life of 30 hours with their ANC turned on, and if we were to use them with their ANC turned off, they can go for as long as 40 hours. In general, the XM5 do have above an average battery life.

But then there are the Bose NC700, which have an advertised battery life of 20 hours, and ANC turned on. Even though a battery life of 20 hours is doable, it is below average compared to the rest of the competition. However, with the NC700, you can always use them with their active noise cancellation turned off and extend their better life that way, just like how you can get with the XM5.

For Bose QC45, unfortunately, you can’t use these headphones with their active noise cancellation, or ambient mode completely turned off. With their ANC turned on, these headphones have an advertised battery life of 24 hours, which is average. I still wish they could have used these headphones with their ANC completely turned off either so they could extend their battery life or so that you can take a break from their cabin pressure if you are in an area that doesn’t need active noise cancellation.

Next is the charging method. These headphones are charged via a USBC port as they should, but the XM5 have a much better fast charging number than both Bose headphones. With the XM5, if you charge them up for three minutes from a dead battery, they’ll get you three hours of playback time.

Whereas with both Bose headphones, if you charge them up for 15 minutes, the QC45 will get you three hours of playback time, and the NC700 will get you three and a half hours. So definitely, fast charging is something that Bose needs to work on, especially for forgetful daily commuters.

Regarding Bluetooth connectivity, you can connect these headphones to two devices simultaneously, which is great for power users. Regarding overall performance, all of these headphones have zero latency across the board when watching movies or videos on your phone, whether you’re an iPhone or an Android.

Next is the audio codex; both Bose headphones use SBC and AAC, which will be perfectly fine whether you’re an iPhone or an Android. However, with the XM5, these headphones support SBC, AAC, and Sony’s LDAC, their in-house high-res audio codex.

However, if you want to utilize LDAC, then you have to be an Android user, and you’re only going to be able to be connected to only one device at a time with these headphones. But thankfully, all of these headphones still have an audio jack, and I am thankful for this because I was worried either Bose or Sony would copy Apple and remove the audio jack connector on their headphones.

It was a very foolish decision on apple’s part. The only thing you must look out for is that the XM5 still use a standard 3.5-millimeter audio jack, whereas both Bose headphones use 2.5-millimeter audio jacks.

Also, you can’t use the USBC port on any of these headphones as a wired connection as you can with other headphones, and you also can’t use any of these headphones while they’re charging, but they can all be used passively.

Sound Quality

The XM5 headphones have slightly better separation and sound more open than the XM4 and XM3. However, their bass has less physicality, so you’ll get less kick out of them than you would with either XM4 or XM3. Despite that, the XM5 still have way more physicality in their bass than the Bose QC45 or NC700. So if you need that kick in their bass, the XM5 is still the way to go.

But even though the XM5 have better separation than its predecessors, the XM5 still don’t sound anywhere near as open as the QC45 and NC700. So if you still want something with better instrumental separation, then either of Bose’s options or the way to go here.

However, one significant detail I have to point out here is that in the new firmware update that the QC45 has got. They now have an adjustability queue, just like the NC700. Now you can go in and raise the bass on either the QC45 or NC700, but even if these headphones had their bass set to 10, you would get less physicality out of them than you would with the XM5.

Overall, I like how the QC45 and NC700 sound, but I can understand why some people will feel that these headphones sound flat. It’s not that they’re flat; you don’t physically feel their bass.

So for that reason, I still maintain that the XM5 are the people pleasers here because whether you like a neutral or vocal focus eq, like on the Bose, the XM5 should also deliver. If you want more bass-heavy eq, the XM5 should also provide it, even though they have less bass than their predecessors.


When it comes to the media controls, both the NC700 and XM5 have touch pads. These touchpads are easy enough to use, but Sony’s touchpad is better for a few reasons. First, it is larger, so it’s easier to use and a little more accurate. Whereas Bose’s touchpad sometimes does miss. But more importantly, you can swipe and hold to continuously raise or lower your volume with the Sony. Whereas with Bose’s, you have to do a swipe for every step. But then there are the QC45, which still use physical buttons.

This feature can be a deciding factor for some people because they want to avoid dealing with the touchpad on their headphones. But something that the XM5 has that neither of Bose headphones have are wear sensors. So when you take the headphones, they will pause your music automatically, and when you put them back on, they will start playing your music again. I don’t care for wear sensors on my headphones, so I usually turn that feature off, but they’re there if you want.

Active Noise Cancellation

As I mentioned earlier, the 1000 XM5 are back to you being the king of active noise cancellation after being the throne by the AirPod Max for the last year. However, I’m also very excited to talk about the active noise cancellation on the QC45 because, after their 2.0.4 firmware update, they got a measurable improvement in their active noise cancellation.

The QC45 block out noticeably more noise than the NC700. Very curious, given that the NC700 are priced as being more premium than the QC45. But then there are the XM5, which block out more noise across the board, and they really excel when it comes to blocking out higher frequency sounds.

However, the thing with the XM5 is that they now have noticeably more cabin pressure than their predecessors, and they even have a little more cabin pressure than the QC45, whereas the NC 700 have the least amount of cabin pressure. The XM5 have less cabin pressure than the AirPod Max, so they don’t give me headaches.

I try to find a balance between cabin pressure and the amount of noise blocked out. Even though the QC45 have some cabin pressure, they block out almost as much noise as the XM5. So even though technically, yes, the XM5 blocks out the most noise, I prefer the ANC on the QC 45. This comes from someone who has always been relatively sensitive to cabin pressure.

Ambient Mode

Ambient mode is a feature in some headphones that allows users to hear their surroundings while wearing them. When the ambient mode is enabled, the headphones will use microphones to capture external sounds and play them through the headphones, mixing them with the audio being played or muting them altogether.

This feature is handy when you need to be aware of your surroundings, such as when walking in a busy street, working in an office, or taking public transportation. By enabling ambient mode, you can listen to music or take calls while still being able to hear important sounds in your environment, such as approaching cars, announcements, or conversations with colleagues.

All of these headphones have an ambient mode; however, none of these ambient modes sound as natural as the AirPod Max ambient mode, but they sound very natural nonetheless, and they don’t have any constant hissing in the background.

For the QC45, you’re stuck with one ambient mode setting. It sounds fine, but you can’t adjust it to your liking like you can with the other two headphones. Overall, the ambient modes on all these headphones are good, but they could be better than the XM4 or XM3 ambient modes for two key reasons.

First, all three of these headphones pick up a noticeable amount of wind noise when walking outdoors, whereas the microphone array on the XM4 and XM3 do a much better job of rejecting wind noise. But then there’s also the active ambient mode on the XM4 and XM3, which, if there’s a sudden loud noise, they’re going to turn off your ambient mode automatically and save you from going deaf.

When the XM4 detected that loud noise, they turned off their ambient mode, and when that loud noise stopped, they turned it back on. Whereas with the XM5, they don’t do this. Then there is the QC45, which almost gets it right but are too lenient on every back end. The QC45 did better than the XM5 and the NC700, which just let in everything.

Overall, the ambient mode on these headphones is decent, but they all have room for improvement. However, the AirPod Max, XM4, and XM3 ambient modes are better.

Speak to Chat Feature

The XM5 have Sony’s speak-to-chat feature, which works like this. When I start talking, these headphones will automatically lower the volume of my music and pump in all of the ambient sounds around me. So I can quickly talk to someone without touching the headphones.

These headphones will stay in this state for a preset determined amount, which you can adjust through the app or cancel the speak-to-chat feature by double tapping on the touchpad.

Honestly, I’m not a really big fan of speak-to-chat because it’s very easy to activate it accidentally. If you’re talking to yourself very quietly, that will activate it. That will trigger it if you’re singing along to your music or laughing. On rare occasions, if there’s a loud enough outside noise, that will also activate it. So that’s why I don’t use this feature.

I prefer to use Quick Attention mode on the XM5 because it’s more intentional, and the Bose NC700 have a similar feature called Conversation. These features allow you to quickly lower the volume of your music and pump in all of the ambient sound around you so that you can promptly talk to someone without removing your headphones.

I prefer the Bose method because once it’s activated, you can just let go, and both hands are free. In Sony’s method, you must keep the touchpad covered the whole time, which gets uncomfortable and awkward after a while. My only gripe is that, unfortunately, the QC45 don’t have a Conversation mode, and Bose could and should add this feature in the future update.

Microphone Test

All these headphones have usable microphones for phone calls, but the Bose QC45 sounds relatively shallow. This drawback is where the QC45 are a downgrade from the QC35. Unfortunately, this has not been addressed in any recent form or update.

The Bose NC700 have better clarity, and I actually can’t believe I’m about to say this, but the XM5 have the best clarity. However, there is some constant hissing in the background, but what’s impressive is how XM5 headphones handle ambient noise.

For the microphone test, I played road noise in the background, and if we switched to my lapel microphone, you would hear all of this road noise. But it would be significantly reduced if we switched to the Sony XM5. Whereas with Bose NC700, it’s not as reduced, and you can clearly hear some noticeable road noise in the background.

Then, finally, the QC45, where you can hear even more road noise, and my voice still sounds a little shallow. However, when blocking out the chatter, the QC45 do a decent job, and the Bose NC700 do a slightly better job. The winner would be the XM5, which blocks out the most noise pollution.

If we switch to my lapel microphone, we will hear all the chatter from the test sound. But if we were to change back to the XM5, the interference would be significantly reduced. So after five generations, Sony finally has a better-performing microphone than both Bose headphones because they manage to block out more ambient noise.


The ANC on the Sony XM5 also blocks out more noise than the QC45 and NC700. They have more physicality in their bass and have a longer battery life than both Bose headphones, and they also have a few extra little bells and whistles.

Unfortunately, the Sony WH-1000XM5 falls flat regarding comfort and convenience; these qualities take precedence when considering ANC headphones. Unlike Bose QC45 and NC700 headphones, you can’t wear the Sony WH-1000XM5 for hours because they’re thin and minimally padded.

The XM5 headband creates a hotspot on the top of your head; their shallow ear pads are not for everyone. And then there’s just their bulky design and case. It might not seem like a big deal, but traveling with this case can be a huge hassle, and it’s the first issue that I noticed with the XM5, given that I’m so used to traveling with either my XM4 or XM3 and the latest favorite is the Bose QC45.

The Bose QC45 is now my top pick when recommending ANC headphones. They have a super small case, they’re super comfortable, and they should fit anyone without any problems. The QC45 also block out almost as much noise as the XM5 with not a whole lot of cabin pressure, and they also have decent battery life.

In addition, the QC45 are more affordable than the XM5, which is a very nice plus. But the QC45 has issues, like a subpar microphone for phone calls. I wish they had a Conversation mode, adjustable ambient mode, and the option to turn off their ANC if not required.

But still, I would go with the QC45 rather than put up with the XM5. Finally, there are the NC700. These headphones are in a very awkward place. They’re built as being more premium than the QC45, but the QC45 outperform them.

I wouldn’t pick up the NC700, but I’m looking forward to the NC700 Gen 2. If you made it this far, you enjoyed the comparison of Sony WH-1000XM5 Versus Bose NC700 Versus Bose QC45.

Buy Sony XM5 on Amazon for $398

Buy Sony Bose NC700 on Amazon for $379

Buy Sony Bose QC45 on Amazon for $279

If you want to support me, please click the link above if you want to purchase any of the headphones in this review, as it will really help me to fund my next review. The links above are affiliate links, and they will generate some commissions for me if you purchase at no additional cost to you.

Thank you for reading, and I hope this comparison did help you make up your mind about which headphones suit you the best.