A few months ago, some owners of Bose’s Quiet Comfort 35 II noise-canceling headphones complained that recent firmware updates had degraded the effectiveness of that noise cancellation. Sounds that were once eliminated by Bose’s signature NC have been more audible after the update, and this drove some people to downgrade their firmware to restore performance. Bose has since blocked the ability to downgrade firmware, however, in a move that it says was meant to “address identified security concerns.”
In an update posted to its community forums, Bose noted that it’s still working on the addressing the degraded NC issue. “Our engineering and service teams remain dedicated to getting to the bottom of what’s going on here,” Bose wrote. But the company is asking affected customers for a bit of face-to-face help. Seemingly unable to get the full picture of what’s happening in its own engineering labs, Bose has scheduled in-person visits with QC35II owners so it can test and observe the headphones “in a live setting.”
The company has already conducted a few of these visits and has shared some early details:
What did we learn from our visits?
The biggest item we were able to take away from the home visits so far were new test cases for our engineering team to take a look at, particularly around the way that users update firmware. As a result, we modified our procedures to accommodate these new findings and conducted extensive testing. Even though testing completed without issues, we’re encouraged by this finding and excited to visit more users so that we can uncover more possibilities.
Coordinating these visits is no small task, as the process between initial contact and the first visit can be extensive. We are still trying to coordinate more visits and have been responding to survey participants, usually within 24 hours of completion.
Any QC35II customers within “a reasonable distance” from Bose’s Framingham, Massachusetts, headquarters can fill out a survey if they’re willing to let the company come over. The process will start with a phone call, during which Bose will decide whether to arrange an in-person visit. It seems like the company doesn’t mind doing a bit of traveling, as even people in bordering states are eligible.
When the problems initially arose, Bose insisted that it hadn’t tinkered with noise cancellation in any recent firmware, and it encouraged customers to go through normal support channels for servicing. But this latest effort at least shows that the company is taking this situation pretty seriously. If there’s really an underlying issue, Bose is determined to find it.
Interestingly, Bose’s community manager says the company is “looking into implementing other changes, such as ways to give you additional control to better manage your product so that it works the way you want.” That’s awfully vague, but hopefully more specifics will emerge in the coming weeks.
Bose has a new flagship set of very good noise-canceling headphones on the market now, the Noise Canceling Headphones 700. But the QC35IIs remain available for sale at a lower price, so there’s every reason for Bose to keep working away on this.
This continued customer service push comes after Bose discontinued its unique Sleepbuds earlier this month over a battery issue that resulted in unpredictable performance and random shutdowns. The company has said it remains dedicated to producing future products that aid those who have difficulty sleeping.