Sony or Bose: Which Headphone is Bang for Your Buck Under Rs 30k?
The Sony WH-1000MX3 (left) & Bose QC35 II (right).
The Sony WH-1000MX3 (left) & Bose QC35 II (right).(Photo: The Quint)

Sony or Bose: Which Headphone is Bang for Your Buck Under Rs 30k?

When it comes to sound, Bose has a plethora of accolades which is why it’s considered to be “the best”. Sony is another brand which has been snapping at Bose’s heels for a while vying for the top spot in the audio accessory market in India.

Last year, Sony launched the WH 1000-MX2 over-the-ear headphone to take on a market favourite, the Bose QC-35 II. Loaded with tech, the Sony audio gear did prove to be stiff competition, but didn’t have the kind of comfort Bose offered.

Now, Sony is back with an upgrade, the WH 1000-MX3 which also comes under Rs 30,000.

So, the big question remains. Do I still go for a Bose or try the new Sony?

Design & Ergonomics

The Bose QC35 II is a tried-and-tested headphone that delivers excellent comfort and fit. It’s snug and feels cozy on the head. Since the inner padding is deeper, people with big ears are recommended to pick a Bose. It’s lightweight at 235 grams which is why long music listening sessions won’t be any problem.

The Bose QC35 II comes with active noise cancellation.
The Bose QC35 II comes with active noise cancellation.
(Photo: The Quint)

Yes, the Bose QC35 does have an industrious look to it with the exposed hinges and screws, but true to its brand, its is a sturdy product.

Sony has worked a lot on the design of its new headphones. To start, the exterior finish on the ear cups of the WH 1000-MX3 is much smoother this time around. The headphone carries lesser bulk and is light at 254 grams.

The fit and feel have improved drastically with the addition of the cushion on the top hinge and better cushions for the ear cups.

Better cushions on the XM3 is a welcome upgrade.
Better cushions on the XM3 is a welcome upgrade.
(Photo: The Quint)

The tolerance of the bands is much tighter this time which means no more gap between the head and the headphone. This also makes the headphone sturdy.

If you’re okay with the extra-protruding cups on the Sony then I’d say both are equally comfortable. I felt the Bose QC35 II was more snug around my ears, but the softer cushioning on the Sony’s ear cups compensates for its generous size.

Sound Quality

There is a considerable difference in the sound quality of both there headphones. The the QC35 gives much more emphasis to the mids and vocals but mellows down in terms of bass. I would call the bass — well-balanced.

The QC35 from Bose comes with fast charging. 
The QC35 from Bose comes with fast charging. 
(Photo: The Quint)

The ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) works well and it manages to cancel out lower frequency sounds well, but struggles when it comes to higher frequency sounds. A big bummer I feel is that Bose only offers three options for noise cancellation: High, Low and Off.

The MX3 lets you control ambient audio and noise cancellation.
The MX3 lets you control ambient audio and noise cancellation.
(Photo: The Quint)

Sony goes one step ahead in terms of sound with its update. The MX3 brings with it the same driver as before, but new processing chips which make the ANC and sound better. You get better mid-range punch and bass is significantly deeper and much cleaner than before.

Yes, the Sony MX3 does offer more bass than the Bose without overdoing it, and that’s awesome.

MX3 offers 30-hours playtime! Need more?
MX3 offers 30-hours playtime! Need more?
(Photo: The Quint)

It’s a no brainer that the ANC technology on the Sony is much superior to that of the Bose. Sony's ANC lets you tamper with ambient noise, which is great for safety especially when walking on the road. It also automatically detects the sounds around you and filters the right sound that is supposed to reach your ears.

Battery Life & Other Features

The Sony WH-1000MX3 comes with a fast charging battery and it’ll easily give you 4-5 hours of playtime with just 15-minutes of charging. If you use it without ANC, it’s bound to give you more life.

The QC35 from Bose too offers fast charging, but you get 2.5 hours of playtime with 15-minutes of charging. The QC35 let’s you connect multiple devices at one time. There is no such feature in Sony.

 The Bose QC35 II supports a 2.5 mm headphone jack.
The Bose QC35 II supports a 2.5 mm headphone jack.
(Photo: The Quint)

What I didn’t like about the QC is that it supports a 2.5 mm headphone jack while the Sony comes with a 3.5 mm standard audio jack. Since finding a 3.5 mm audio jack is easier, I’d give extra points to Sony.

In terms of overall playback time, the Sony headphones offer a company claimed 30-hours of playtime while with Bose you get 20 hours. It is clear here, which is the one to pick.

Physical buttons or touch?
Physical buttons or touch?
(Photo: The Quint)

The microphone on the Sony really let me down on several occasions. During calls, the person on the other end would often complain about interruptions and echos. The QC35 has similar issues. Not the best gizmos for telephonic conversations.

Sony MX3 comes with its own dedicated app which allows you play around with the equaliser and also assign the Google Assistant a button. The Bose QC doesn’t offer any dedicated app which means you’re dependent on their-party apps.

Both Sony and Bose offer NFC connectivity with their headphones.
Both Sony and Bose offer NFC connectivity with their headphones.
(Photo: The Quint)

A real deal breaker is that you need to sacrifice a physical button on both to activate the voice assistant. For example, on the Sony, you can use the ANC button for toggling ambient noise/ANC or the Google Assistant. You can’t do both simultaneously.

Which One to Buy?

In terms of ergonomics and comfort both the Bose QC35 II and the Sony WH-1000MX3 walk shoulder to shoulder. For that extra bass I’d recommend the MX3, especially if you’re listening to more of hip-hop and alternate rock.

The QC35 is ideal for classic tracks and music which focus more on vocals. You can take your pick accordingly.

Where the Sony beats the pants off the Bose is the techie additions like Noise Audio, Smart Listening, Quick Attention Mode, and multiple microphones.

This upgrade from Sony is definitely a bang for your buck product and something that matches Bose’s audio prowess. If you want a tech-loaded, sturdy and long lasting headphone the Sony WH-1000MX3 is the way to go. If you crave simplicity, yet good sound, Bose it is.

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