Both generations of Bose's QuietComfort 35 headphones have long been some of the most popular noise-cancelling cans around, and rightly so. They're known for delivering both excellent sound quality and first-rate noise-cancelling that can keep the world out when you want some peace and quiet to enjoy your tunes (or audiobook/podcast/movie/game).
However, after Bose recently rolled out a round of firmware updates to the original QC35s and more-recent QC35 IIs in June, some users have complained that the noise cancellation feature seems to be less effective than before.
According to users on the Bose Community forum (opens in new tab) and Reddit (opens in new tab), firmware update 3.0.3 for the first generation QC35s alongside firmware 4.5.2 for the QC35 IIs has “has totally destroyed the ANC”. However, it seems that not all users have been affected. Some have reported that updating the firmware via the Bose Connect app and then resetting the headphones has caused no issue.
Exactly what may have triggered the problem is as yet unknown.
We’ve reached out to Bose for a comment but were still awaiting a formal response at the time of publication. However a report from The Verge (opens in new tab) states that the audio manufacturer is aware of the issue, but that the company has claimed that nothing in the update (opens in new tab) should be a cause for degradation in noise cancellation performance.
Not the first time…
If you're feeling a sense of déjà vu here, that may be because a similar scenario has played out before. Back in 2017, Bose rolled out firmware 1.2.9 for the original QC35s, and immediately after users took to Reddit (opens in new tab) to complain about sound quality degrading. In that instance, Bose also claimed there was nothing wrong with the update.
The company has also discouraged users from downgrading the firmware if they’re facing problems. According to a Bose Community forum manager in 2018, doing so “can create unexpected behavior in a product and negatively impact or reduce functionality”.
In the 2017 case, Bose said too few people had sent back their devices for the company to identify the core problem. This time, however, there seem to have been enough complaints online, including a petition on Change.org (opens in new tab), for Bose to take the proactive step of removing the latest firmware updates until it can investigate further. Here's hoping they find a fast fix.