Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs Bose QuietComfort 45: which headphones should you buy?

It’s a very good time to be shopping for the best over-ear headphones. Between the Sennheiser Accentum Plus, Bose QuietComfort 45, and myriad of other competing models, there’s a huge range of quality headphones ready to rock your ears, block out environmental noise, and give you the comfort needed for long listening sessions, whether you’re traveling, working, or lying on the sofa with The Tortured Poets Department playing on loop.

But how to choose which headphones are right for you? In this guide, we’ll run you through the major differences between the Bose QuietComfort 45s, one of the best headphones on the market since they released back in 2021, and new-kid-on-the-block Sennheiser Accentum Plus, to help you decide whether excellent legacy headphones or a new modern upstart are the way to go.

Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs Bose QuietComfort 45: Price and release dates

Sennheiser Accentum Plus and Bose QC 45 headphones side by side

Both the Sennheiser Accentum Plus and Bose QC 45 headphones look similar, but the latter is more easily collapsible. (Image credit: Henry St Leger)

The Sennheiser Accentum Plus are surprisingly affordable for ANC headphones with touch controls and such a premium finish, at just £199.99 / $229.99 / AU$399.99. That’s an increase over the £159 / $179 / AU$299 Sennheiser Accentum, but not a huge one, making the Plus model a sensible upgrade for those who can afford it.

The Bose QC45 headphones are a little pricier at $329 / £329 / AU$499, and getting a little long in the tooth – the QC45s came out in 2021, and have a formal successor in Bose’s new QuietComfort model. You can still buy the QC45s in a few retailers, but it’s getting harder to find stock across the board. The Accentum Plus, meanwhile, released in early 2024 and feels a little fresher.

Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs Bose QuietComfort 45: Features

The Sennheiser Accentum Plus, a flashy 2024 model, has a few more features that are immediately apparent, including touch controls; while there is a single button for power (and which also activates Bluetooth pairing), most controls like playback or volume are navigated through touch-based gestures, sliding a finger vertically or horizontally across the right earcup.

The Bose QC45s are simpler in this regard, with a small handful of clickable buttons (volume, power, etc) without any touch functionality, and one button on the left earcup for switching between ‘Quiet’ and ‘Aware’ modes – to block outside noise or let it filter in, respectively.

This is largely a matter of preference: touch controls can feel more sleek, and are usually included in high-end models these days, but are occasionally harder to control and easier to activate by accident. Trying to adjust your headband and shooting up the volume unintentionally isn’t a great feeling, though it didn’t happen often in our tests.

Both headphones feature ANC, or active noise cancellation, which is an audio suppression technology that records outside noise through your microphone array and cancels out the sound with opposing frequencies. This is now an industry standard for headphones above $100-200, and a must-have for most listeners, helping you to hear your music, podcasts or calls more clearly in noisy environments (offices, trains, etc). However, the way they use ANC is quite different.

Black over-ear headphones

The Bose QC 45s are all about clickable buttons – no touch controls here. (Image credit: Henry St Leger)

The Bose QC45s feature standard ANC, with the option to turn on the noise suppression (‘Quiet’) or use external microphones to let outside noise filter in (‘Aware’). It does work brilliantly, filtering out harsh sounds and some ambient noise so you can focus better on what you’re listening to, without totalling cocooning your ears from the world. There is, sadly, no option to turn off ANC entirely, which would no doubt help with its limited battery life.

The Bose Music app also includes an EQ setting to enhance bass, mid or treble output – not crucial per se, but particularly handy for boosting bass output or tailoring a good sound profile to the kind of music you like.

Sennheiser’s Smart Control app is similar, but has preset sound profiles, and even a slider for gradually phasing environmental sounds in or out – so you can control exactly how much the outside world comes through – or an ‘adaptive’ ANC function that responds automatically to the sounds around you, turning the ANC up or down as needed. There are also more optional smart features, like pausing playback when the headphones are taken off your head, or automatically connecting to a call when you put them on.

Neither headphone comes with a built-in smart assistant, but uses whatever assistant is active on your phone. Both feature similar Bluetooth standards too, though the Accentum Plus' Bluetooth 5.2 nudges a little ahead with the addition of Bluetooth LE (Low Energy), aiding power efficiency and no doubt helping with their hefty battery life (more on this below).

Black over-ear headphones

The Sennheiser Accentum Plus headphones have the edge one sound, thanks to newer tech. (Image credit: Henry St Leger)

Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs Bose QuietComfort 45: Audio performance

Of course, few things are more important with headphones than the sound – part of the reason people buy over-ear models, particularly, is that you get room for larger drivers, better audio detail, and a larger soundstage.

The Bose QC45s offer excellent sound recreation, clear vocals, great instrumental separation, and a relaxed sound profile that prevents ear fatigue for long-term listening. That last point means the QC45s aren’t overly prominent on the bass end, despite some ample 40mm drivers, and are lacking some of the audio precision of newer headphones that draw out more texture from individual notes. But there’s no doubt that it’s a pleasant listening experience that your ears can handle for long periods, and the overall balance makes the QC45s good for most genres of music, and most people.

Black over-ear headphones

The Bose QC 45s can fold up easily into a portable case – great for frequent travellers. (Image credit: Henry St Leger)

Sennheiser’s Accentum Plus headphones have a similar sound profile, if a little fresher. You’ll find balanced frequencies that don’t disappoint when it comes to vocal/instrumental detail, and 37mm drivers that offer a consistent, but not overpowering bass response that can still punch through at the right moments. Sennheiser’s more advanced EQ settings certainly help, as does a bass boost feature with a more noticeable impact than the simpler Bose app’s EQ – though this is partially due to Sennheiser softening high frequencies to accentuate the difference more.

The Accentum Plus’s main gains are in its smart features, though they do have a slight edge in the audio department. Listening to Billie Eilish’s ‘What Was I Made For’, there’s a slightly wider soundstage on offer, with sharper, more layered vocals and a touch more audio detail, really helping the listener appreciate the full texture of Eilish’s crooning voice as it ebbs and swells into earshot. The vocal tension in Ethel Cain’s breathtaking track ‘Crush’ also comes through more clearly, with subtle vibrations that are hard to pick up with Bose’s older model.

Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs Bose QuietComfort 45: Design

There are some key differences in design philosophy between the Bose QC45s and Sennheiser Accentum Plus worth thinking about.

The Bose QuietComfort 45s are, as the name implies, focused on comfort. They’re almost unrivaled for long-haul flights, with a focus on comfort and listenability over anything else. Unlike the Accentum Plus’ touch controls, Bose sticks with more precise buttons for volume, power, ANC, and Bluetooth activation.

There’s a huge amount of flexibility in how you arrange Bose’s headphones. The QC45s are fully collapsible, making them compact and portable at a moment’s notice, and extending the length of the headband to suit your head size is simple enough.

Pair of black headphones cases side by side

The Sennheiser case is a little bulkier, and made of a soft synthetic material, unlike the Bose QC 45 hard case (Image credit: Henry St Leger)

The Sennheiser headset is a little more rigid in its construction. There’s considerably more tension in the headband, ensuring that the Accentum Plus cans fit snugly, though making them a bit more oppressive during long listening sessions. While you can twist the earcups, there’s no way to ‘collapse’ them as with the Bose model, meaning they’re a little bulkier in transit.

The QC45s also come with a superior, hard carry case that can handle a jolt or two. Sennheiser’s headset comes packed in a semi-structured soft case with considerably less protection.

Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs Bose QuietComfort 45: Battery

The Sennheiser Accentum Plus

(Image credit: Future)

Sennheiser is a clear winner in the battery life department, with a listed 50 hours and the ability to gain five hours of use from a breezy 10-minute charge. The Bose QC45s, by contrast, lasts up to 25 hours, with a fast charge feature that provides three hours after a 15-minute charge.

Both are sufficient for a full day’s use – not that we’d recommend using headphones for 24 hours straight – but Sennheiser pretty much doubles the time needed between charges, making it far more convenient whatever you plan on using them for.

Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs Bose QuietComfort 45: Verdict

The Bose QuietComfort 45 on a computer desk.

(Image credit: Future)

For most headphone shoppers, the Sennheiser Accentum Plus will be the most impressive option, with a lower retail price, advanced touch controls, better audio detail, superior ANC, and more widely available retail stock.

But we wouldn’t write off the Bose QC45s just yet. For those prone to long listening sessions – say, 10,000 miles in the air – its perfect marriage of physical comfort and relaxed sound recreation makes it a better bet, especially with its compact design and brilliant hard case. I’ve tested many headphones over the years, and there’s a reason the Bose QC45s are my go-to travel option most of the time.

Bose’s model is aging a little, so it might be smart to check out the new Bose QuietComfort model, or high-end QuietComfort Ultra for those who can spend the extra cash. For the price, though, it’s hard not to recommend Sennheiser’s newer model, with all of the modern enhancements that it brings.

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Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.