Just opening up a thread to point out some of the key things to look out for when purchasing a set of Bose QC20`s. I own both the real and fake sets and thought it would be helpful to alert some potential buyers to the main differences and similarities. Looking on Amazon, it seems most of the poor reviews these earphones were receiving reflect the qualities of the fakes rather than the poor performance of the originals.
First off, I bought my fake QC20`s from an eBay seller with good feedback who had sold a handful of QC20`s, all of which had garnered positive feedback. I received the earphones quickly and they were evidently NOT sent from China.
Upon opening the shipping box it wasn`t clear that they were fake. Many have mentioned that the fake pairs have no shrink wrapping however mine came with decent quality shrink wrapping. The box was also damaged inside the shrink wrapping. In comparison to the real box, there is very little contrast on the front cover as indicated by the image of the QC20`s, the opening of the tips is not visible on the fakes and the white tips blend into the white background. Also the cardboard used is a little darker than the stark white authentic box. The blue is also a little more vibrant on the real packaging but it`s hard to tell without having a real set to compare.
Note Poor contrast near the earphone tips on the cover, there`s also numbering on the inside of the real box
I`m not sure if this is universal but the blue flap on the innards of my fake set was on the wrong side of the box. Also the flap overlaps the edge of the internal box whilst on the real packaging the flap lies flush with the edge of the box. Again the colour is different.
The flaps are in different orientations
Onto the earpieces themselves, they were actually quite convincing. For one, the noise cancelling actually worked and the build wasn`t completely terrible but hardly as good as a $300 earphone should be. However the sound immediately confirmed that they were fakes, it was extremely muddy with absolutely no highs and exceedingly warm mids with no semblance of clarity or detail. Notably, the noise cancelling makes a loud pop when enabled and doesn`t cancel much sound. Most reviewers mention their fridge and air conditioner sounds disappearing, and the fakes DID block these sounds. Luckily I also have a set of QC25`s and there was simply no comparison between their noise cancelling, the 25`s were much much better. The real QC20`s are almost as good as the QC25`s and also block voices and other sounds, the fake pair only block low frequency.
The silicone tips are a good indicator of authenticity. On the fake pair they are poorly cut, you can see this in the wings and sound tube. However the fake tips are still comfortable and fit exactly the same way as the real tips but they are a little thinner and I found them not to seal as well. The fake earpieces have inconsistent build between the right and left pieces. There is differing gaps between the silver grill and housing, one was actually pretty close to the real set but the other had a larger gap. The plastic on the fake set is also glossier, the real set are matte and have a more consistent finish with the two segments marrying flush as opposed to the fakes which have some overlap and edge. Also the grills on the fakes have the same sized holes throughout the pattern whilst the pattern on the real set slightly increase in size as it fans out. The Bose logo is also a little cruder with a larger black outline. The silver rings around the strain reliefs are also uneven and poorly finished.
There is a gap between the tips and housings on the fakes
The microphone holes on the fake controller are rough to the touch whilst the real controller is more solidly built and the holes are flush with the housing. The volume buttons on the real controller are higher than the play/pause button whilst all three buttons are the same height on the fakes. The aware mode button simply turns off noise cancelling on the fakes but on the real pair there is a definite discrepancy between aware mode on and turning the entire electronics off on the control box, it keeps the amp switched on and turns the nc off. When the nc is off on the real pair, there is a big difference in sound quality and the volume is reduced whilst on the fakes there is only a small difference in sound quality and the volume actually increases when the nc is off.
Finally the control module is very rubbery and grippy on the real model, being slicker and semi-matte on the fakes. It`s hard to tell in the images but in person if the module is reflective it`s probably fake. The silver end of the control module doesn`t match up on both halves on the fake. The short cable between the jack and control module on the real set is very flexible whilst the fake set`s cable is the same as the cable leading to the y-split.
The fake tips are both labeled with an “s” whilst the reals tips are appropriately labelled
Moreover the real QC20`s are packaged with two cable ties and the shirt clip comes attached to the cable, the fakes are packaged with only one cable tie and the clip is in the carry case.
Ultimately the fakes cost almost as much as I paid for the real set which I later bought at a JB HiFi outlet for the equivalent of around $250 US. Bose doesn`t move much on the price but most retailers will negotiate and you can often find them on sale for cheaper than the fake sets anyway. If possible always buy them from an authorized retailer with some sort of store front or showroom as the internet sellers will use pictures of the authentic product in their advert and send a fake set even if they are a national seller with good feedback.