I am a fan of Bose headphones, especially for airplane travel. Some audiophiles don’t give Bose high marks, but I’ve been happy with them. I’ve had various versions through the years starting with the QC2 and more recently the QC20 (QC stands for “QuietComfort”).
My main complaint with them now is the fact that they are corded. My phone doesn’t have a headphone jack, and I often workout with Bluetooth headphones, so my goal is to find a better option for Bluetooth headphones for travel. I had heard good things about Shure in-ear headphones, and I decided to give them a try.
Shure SE Sound Isolating Headphones
Shure has myriad options in their SE line that range in price from $49 to $899. I like the ability to have either corded headphones, such as for when using airplane IFE, or using them wirelessly, with Bluetooth. The Bluetooth option connects to the ear buds via a short cable that contains a microphone, volume control and a small pod that has an option clip.
Of the various headphone options, I went for the lower end of that scale: the SE215. I purchased this with the Bluetooth cable, and then bought an additional cord in case I want to use them wired. The idea behind this is to have flexibility when traveling. Bluetooth works much of the time, for listening to music, or using my phone for calls.
The SE215 is the lowest priced model in this line that has the ability to switch between a wired headset and Bluetooth. The Bluetooth cable sits behind the users head, and only a small device presumably contains the Bluetooth components. This also has a LED which lights when charging, and there is an optional clip that attaches to a collar. There is also an inline microphone with volume and play/pause controls. The Bluetooth cable is the same for all models, other ear buds options have more sophisticated speaker allowing for increased sound quality. You can learn more and purchase the SURE SE215 on Amazon.
Keep in mind, these headphones do not have active noise cancelling technology like Bose. Shure has trademarked “Sound Isolating,” which is basically a tight-fitting earpiece that blocks out more external noise than other headphones. In my experience, this works pretty well, and the foam ear inserts are very comfortable. But it does take a bit of effort to insert and remove them. The foam needs to be compressed similar to wearing a foam earplug. I also appreciate the convenience of the over/behind the ear wire, which keeps the cord out-of-the-way.
I definitely like these headsets, and use them a lot. Still, I’m carrying my older Bose, as well. In hindsight, I probably didn’t need to buy the cord for these headsets as I rarely use it.
What about other Bose headphones with Bluetooth?
After moving to the in-ear QC20, I haven’t been interested in their over-ear options. They are comfortable, and undoubtedly popular, but I can’t wear them for a long time, as I get too warm. Bose does have the wireless QC30, but this is pricey (as are all Bose products) and contains an odd-looking neckband, so I’ve stayed away.
The Bose QC20 is really comfortable to wear for a long time, with soft silicone pieces that fit in the ear, block sound and are easily removed. You can learn more and purchase the Bose QC20 on Amazon.
What is in my travel bag?
As of now, I carry both the QC20 and the Shure SE215. Not an ideal solution, but they are both small, and light. The SE215 is comfortable, and fits nicely behind the ears and around the neck. Sound quality is fine, but it takes some effort to put in and take out. I still love the QC20 for noise cancellation, comfort, and easy removal. This is my go-to for long flights using in-flight entertainment.
Based on my research, I have some ideas if I could design my own headphones. I’d like to have the comfort and noise cancelling of the QC20, with the lower price and portability of the wireless SE215. I expect Bose will come out with something new, and I’m sure I’ll at least take a look.
What about you? What headphones do you travel with?