Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds II get serious about noise cancellation

Bose does not want Apple hoard everybody the center of attention today. Up to date Apple showed off its latest AirPods Pro modelBose showed off the QuietComfort Earbuds II: $299.99 wireless earbuds that claim to offer the “world’s best noise cancellation,” according to Bose’s press release. They are available for pre-order today. in black (white arrives the first week of October) and shipping begins September 15.

I spent about 10 minutes in the new headphones at the launch event, during which Bose bombarded the press with a cacophony of sounds from everyday life (trains, planes, cars) to show off two new features: CustomTune sound calibration and Sound Mode. aware with ActiveSense. . Is awesome; ANC always makes a big difference, but the jump sounded particularly great. With the “Silent” mode activated, I had to make a lot of effort to hear the background sounds.

The CustomTune process recalibrates each earbud locally every time you take them out of the case. Play a quick start chime, then calculate how your ear canal warps the sound and adjust accordingly. Instead of relying on a one-size-fits-all ANC filter to work its magic for everyone’s ears, this one leaves the guesswork to an algorithm. You and I have both heard countless companies say they adjust the sound to the anatomy of your ear, but this was pretty convincing.

The white version of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II will ship in early October, without the initial release.
Image: Bose

The other new feature, ActiveSense, works in Aware mode: Bose’s name for its transparency mode, which lets outside sound in and adapts ANC sensitivity in real time based on noises around you. Each earpiece has four microphones: one inside and three outside. Bose says this microphone array can “detect, measure, and send unwanted noise to a proprietary electronic chip” to cancel it out in “less than a fraction of a millisecond.” Here too I was impressed. The ambient sound was much more realistic and much less noisy and distorted than what I’m used to. We’ll have to wait and see if the seemingly solid microphone quality translates into good-sounding voice calls.

The QuietComfort Earbuds II use Bluetooth 5.3, though they lack multipoint pairing, which is an odd omission at this price point. Bose claims they can last up to six hours with ANC on, and the USB-C charging case (without wireless charging) supports an additional 18 hours of battery life. A 20-minute charge in the case can provide up to two hours of playback. They have IPX4 water resistance, which is good for sweat and light rain, but probably not for a downpour. The buds ship with three ear tips and three stability bands.

Bose needed to show something good to justify launching on an Apple event day. We’ll have to spend more time testing, but in my brief time with the demo unit in a controlled environment, the sound quality was stellar in “Silent” and “Aware” modes, enough that I considered ditching my over-ear. WH-1000XM3s. While their nondescript design may limit the impact they’ll make today, keep them locked for our review to see if the QuietComfort Earbuds II can deliver on the Bose hype.

A woman wearing Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, looking happily into the distance.

At a quick glance, the QuietComfort Earbuds II could pass for some of Bose’s other wireless headphone models.
Image: Bose

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