Best Headphones for Traveling Digital Nomads? Bose QC35 vs. Sony 1000XM3 vs. Audio Technica ATH-M50X ReviewAudio

I'm sitting here in a loud cafe in the middle of the busiest street in Warsaw, Poland. They're constructing a festival platform across the street and the noise from the drilling, banging, and commotion are almost unbearable. Luckily, I have on the new Bose QC35 headphones as it makes everything seem quiet and normal again. Here's a big secret, I don't even have music playing. It's just on and it's allowing me to focus and keep my sanity while traveling and coworking.

 Bose always had the reputation of being overpriced and selling more of their brand name than actual sound quality. In fact, I would never buy any of their home sound equipment, speakers or upgrade to their car audio systems. But, trust me when I tell you that these headphones are worth every penny, especially if you spend any time in busy cafes, planes, trains or buses which if you're a digital nomad like myself, I'm sure you do. This is my review of the new Bose QC35 Noise Canceling headphones as well as a comparison with the much more budget friendly Audio Technica ATH-M50X headphones as well as the new Sony WH1000XM3.

Audio Quality and Value

Bose does not make the best sounding headphones, you can get better sounding headphones for a lot less money. If you want highest performance for sound quality at the lowest price, pick up a pair of the Audio Technica ATH-M50X headphones as they are by far the best value for money and the best sound quality for music. The Bose headphones still sound awesome with super crisp highs, clear mids, and decent bass, but the M50's will blow them away if you're listening side by side, especially considering they're half the price. 

Here's a video review of the Audio Technica headphones by my favorite tech reviewer, Marques Brownlee (MKBHD), but keep reading for why I bought the Bose QC35's instead even though they're almost twice the price.

2019 Update: The new SonyWH1000XM3 is the new "King" even according to MKBHD for slightly better sound and noise cancelation. However, I've tried them both side by side and still prefer the Bose QC35 for digital nomads and those who travel often. The Bose is slightly smaller, lighter and less bulky. Plus I really like the physical on/off switch with the Bose, especially since it's easy to turn on the Noise Cancelation feature without playing music, just to sit in quiet. I'm sure Bose will come out with an even better version in a year or two, but if you're comparing the Bose QC35 and the Sony 1000XM3 right now, either will be great, but I'd go with the Bose.

Also the Bose lets you connect to two audio sources at once and easily switch back and forth, meaning you can connect to your phone and laptop. You can also share one audio connection using the Bose Connect App's Music Share option. This allows you and a friend to both listen to the same music or watch the same movie each with your own headphone's on, assuming you both have your own Bose headsets. It's perfect for couples, so buy two. 

Active Noise Canceling 

The number one reason why I bought the Bose headphones instead of the Audiotechnica's was for the active noise canceling. If you've never experienced it before, find someone at your local coworking space, ask your neighbor on the plane, or head down to a store that sells headphones and ask nicely for a demo. 

When you put on the headphones, you'll notice that the world around you instantly sounds a little bit less crazy. But that's the case with any over ear headphones. The real magic happens when you turn the switch from red to green and turn on the active noise canceling feature. Instantly, the world shuts the fuck up and quiets down. It's the ultimate way to relax even in a busy environment and has been a lifesaver in busy cities and loud environments.

On planes, once you've flown with these headphones, you'll never want to go back to not having them. The human ear can get used to hums, buzzes, engine roars and outside noise but turning these headphones on seriously sounds like you shut off the engines and allows you to truly relax and enjoy the ride, movie or music. The Bose QC35 headphones cost $349 but are worth every penny especially if you fly more than a few times a year and noise canceling is just one of the reasons.

My favorite pair of travel friendly headphones, the Bose QC35

Bluetooth Wireless and Battery

I didn't even realize I wanted bluetooth headphones until Apple forced it upon us with the new iPhone 7 release which is getting rid of the headphone jack. But now that I've been using wireless headphones for about a month, the thought of having a cable limits my freedom. With these headphones, I can stand up, walk around, grab some water, or even do some pushups during my break without taking them off or pausing whatever I'm listening to.

The best thing about the Bose QC35's is the fact that they now have a built in rechargeable battery which are way better than using AAA batteries.

The only issue I've had is the fact that more than once I had forgotten to turn off the headphones when I put them back in the box and woke up the next day to 0% battery left making the headphones unusable. The good news is they charge super quick and through any USB port so within 2 hours they were completely charged again and now I'm much more careful turning them off whenever I take them off my head.

Build Quality and Comfort

My favorite thing about Bose headphones in general are their durability and build quality. For the past two and a half years I've been using a pair of Bose SoundTrue headphones that until this point have been my favorite headphones to travel with as they are super lightweight, comfortable to wear all day, fold down into a slim case and are great to travel with.

The new QC35's are slightly bigger, heavier, and the case is a bit larger as well, but with the addition of being wireless and having noise canceling, they're worth it.

Overall, the Bose headphones are better for digital nomads and those who travel often as they come with a great case, fold flat, and are built to be tough. Here's another video by Marques reviewing the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones.

Overall Thoughts

I'm a big believer in value and to be honest, paying $349 for a pair of headphones is a splurge, especially since I bought mine in Amsterdam for 349 Euros so it was actually a bit more. If you want to save some money you can either get the Audio Technica's for the best sound quality, the Bose SoundTrue's for the budget lightweight, most comfortable headphones to travel with.

Or if you simply want the best, and see the value of having bluetooth and noise canceling, get the Bose QC35's which are my vote for the world's best headphones for travelers. If you can't afford to spend $349 on headphones right now, write it down as a goal and make it happen. Don't ever say you can't afford something, ask yourself how you can.

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD

Like this Post? Share it!

Like This Post? Share It!

travel 2231571109352328178

Post a Comment

  1. Yo Johnny,

    If you have the Bose app on your phone for the headphones, you can set it to auto power down after a certain time so that it doesn't drain your battery when you forget to turn it off.

    1. Hey Chris, thanks for the heads up, I actually have it setup to autopower down but it still drained my battery, not sure why. I think their software still needs some updates as it's glitchy.

  2. Hey Johnny!

    Thanks for this post and the recommendations. I was in Singapore a couple months back trying to get work done in a cafe and was thinking I need something to block out the music the were playing.

    What about earphones or earbuds? Do you have any that you would recommend to cancel out noise?


    Khairul Izad

    1. Happy to share. In ear earbuds are fine for blocking out some outside noise but they're uncomfortable for me to wear for long periods of time which is why I prefer full sized, over ear headphones.

  3. I was considering these, but I love the bose i20 in ear noise cancelling earphones so much. When I'm travelling light on a month trip I just find on/over ear headphone too big!

    1. The QC35's take a bit of room in my backpack but it's not a big deal and are worth it on trains and planes. I also keep a pair of apple earpods (the free ones) for when I walk around the city listening to podcasts.

  4. I find over ear headphones impossible for sleeping on planes, mainly because I have to have my head to the side. I am thinking about getting buds for the plane but over ears for other situations. Full noise cancelling would be supreme.

    1. Hey Kathry, I don't actually sleep in my headphones, I just use standard ear plugs when i'm ready to go to sleep. I haven't tried the Bose Noise canceling ear buds but would be curious how they are. The over ears are better for working and more comfortable to wear for hours on end though.


Please take a second to log in before you comment. I've turned off the anonymous commenting option. I'm open and respectful with you, please be the same back. Stay positive, trolls and spam comments will be automatically deleted.


Home item

Blog Archive

Are you an Insider yet?

Search this Blog

Keep in touch


Any product or service I recommend on this blog I personally use and would recommend to both friends and family. All links on this site are affiliate links so please use them in the resources page or anywhere on the blog if you want to give me credit for referring you.

If you want to learn more about how to start your own blog and make money as an affiliate by earnestly recommending products, check out my course Income Boss.

Featured Post: Read Me!

2020 Travel Plans and 2019 Recap: 11 Countries Traveled!

Want to start an online business?

Want to start an online business?
A post written for friends and family - Step by Step instructions on How to start your own online store.