10257484_7.jpgSound or silence? You don’t usually have much control over how loud your world is going to be. As a parent of 4 kids, my surroundings might be a bit louder than most, and if I had a dollar for every time I wished for or asked for ‘just 5 minutes’ of pure quiet, let’s just say I’d be one wealthy individual.

I had to move beyond the baby stage with my kids before I rediscovered how music was a great substitute for silence in a loud and busy world, and it really does soothe this stressed out mom when I need a bit of alone time in the midst of chaos. As long as I have my kids in eyeshot of whatever I was doing, I’d plug in my ear buds, turn the tunes on low, and enjoy a little me time right in the middle of a gaggle of people.

The ear buds did the job, but until I tried a pair of Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling in-ear headphones, I had no idea the value of blocking out background noise. Whether you’re on a train, plane, bus, studying in a library, or in my case, constantly in rooms full of small people, noise cancelling headphones will block everything but whatever you’re really trying to hear.

If you’ve never tried noise cancelling headphones, you’re in for a life changing experience, and the sound quality for any music you play is spectacular too. After two days I was taking my Bose headphones absolutely everywhere and actually imagining places where I could have used them in the past.


The Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling in-ear headphones are the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying, but you’d never know that just by looking at them. They have a very unassuming style and look just like you’d expect ear buds to look. They have silicone eartips with what appears to be a tiny shark fin, and that fin stabilizes the bud in your ear. Follow the cord and you have an inline remote control and microphone, so you can take calls if you’d like to.

The compartment that holds the lithium ion battery is slim, light, and barely noticeable when you’re wearing them. It lets you set whether you want to ‘talk through’ or use the noise cancelling. When noise canceling is turned on, the light is green. When you’re in Aware, the mode that lets you hear what’s going on around you, there’s no light at all. You’ll also see a light when you’re charging your battery.

IMG_3512 copy.jpgEnjoy the silence

The first thing I noticed when I started using the Bose QC 20 noise cancelling in-ear headphones is how surprising it is that they could make such an amazing noise cancelling headphone in an ear-bud form. I’ve tried a lot of ear buds but I’ve never experienced this level of quiet before. You just pop them in your ears, turn on the noise canceling, and they block sound. It’s that simple.

To really get a feel for how much outside noise they can reduce, I tried them in a number of different ways. After charging the battery I turned on the noise cancelling, plugged them into my computer, and didn’t even bother turning on the music. I know, you sort of need to listen to something to get the most of headphones, but I wanted to see just how much noise the ear buds can block.

Without the noise canceling button on I could still hear what was going on around me fairly clearly. Things were definitely quieter, but I could hear them. Then I flipped the button on the noise canceling, and suddenly, everything was quiet. It actually shocked me at how the Bose Q20’s muffled sound even without music playing. My boys were playing Lego Batman right in front of me, and I kept flipping the off and on switch to see how much of the music/enthusiastic yelling I could hear. It wasn’t much, and that’s a good thing.

But the moment the Bose QC 20 noise cancelling in-ear headphones really shine is when you plug in to your favourite music. They have TriPort headphone technology built in, and that means your music should sound crisp and clear, with deep, rich bass sounds. I put on Apple music’s MixTape , and I couldn’t stop flipping through song after song. The music came through crystal clear, and you could feel the bass ever so slightly, but it was never distorted no matter what I listened to.

IMG_3514 copy.jpgWith noise cancelling on, I couldn’t hear a single thing my kids were saying. Their mouths were moving, but as far as sounds are concerned they weren’t even in the same room. Even when they were yelling, it barely registered. The noise cancelling is so impressive, you won’t be able to stop trying it out in different settings. I flipped them on mid-conversation a few times and like magic the person in front of me was muted. You really get the feeling you’re in your own world, and that’s pretty impressive when you never get any me time.

When you get your own pair, I highly recommend putting on twenty one pilots ‘Stressed Out’ and cranking it. You’ll instantly know exactly what I’m talking about when I say the sound quality is flat out amazing, and it’s a bigger bonus that all you’ll hear is your music: no background sound involved at all.

10257484_2.jpgLong lasting battery

The battery pack is where you have the option to turn your noise cancelling on or off, and you can get approximately 16 hours per charge. Charging the battery took me about an hour, even though it was completely dead when I plugged it into the USB.

There is a little bit of good news/bad news about the battery. The bad news: it’s not replaceable once it wears out. I did some searching and read online that it should last for approximately 500 cycles. The good news: 500 cycles should take a user at least 3 years if you charge it 2-3 times per week. The battery doesn’t just die off, it slowly loses capacity to recharge, but you can still use the headphones without the battery so it’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.

Give a pair of noise cancelling headphones to someone you love

I understand how travelers would love the Bose Q20 headphones. They’re soft on your ear and they shut out the world, and anyone who commutes anywhere would enjoy blocking out all the sounds around them. But in my opinion, I really think every parent should be able to have a pair of these. I’ve never worn them when they kids need me, but when they are playing in front of me and I can see them or when I’m making dinner and just need to shut out the world for awhile, they take you away.

I love the Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling in-ear headphones, and was so impressed with how they performed for silence, for music, and for comfort. Although I’ve got other pairs of in-ear headphones, I’ll never reach for a different pair again.

You can find the Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling in-ear headphones on Bestbuy.ca. 

Shelly Wutke

By Shelly Wutke, Editor Appliances and Home & Lifestyle

From blenders to laptop computers, I like to take everything I write and put a personal spin on it. As a Vancouver freelancer for 5 years, I’ve written for the Globe & Mail, The Vancouver Province, Chicken Soup for the Soul (grab your hanky, that one is a tear jerker), and on too many websites to list. My personal website is at survivemag.com and if you like Twitter, come find me and chat at @kidswap. 

Shelly Wutke
Editor TV & Home Theatre
I'm a Vancouver freelancer and tech enthusiast. When I'm not writing you'll find me on my farm with my alpacas, chickens, and honeybees. Visit my website Survivemag