The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II launched in Manhattan (good) in collaboration with New York Fashion Week (also good) on the same day as Apple’s latest product launch (erm, bold), and I was there to give them a chance.
In some ways, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are the company’s only second attempt at True wireless noise canceling headphones (although it did release some sport-focused models as well) and, spoiler alert, they appear to be equipped to compete, and compete hard, in all significant respects with the greats like the Apple AirPod Pro Y Sony WF-1000XM4.
With a confirmed price of £279 / $299 / AU$429, the QuietComfort Earbuds II are priced to take on the leading true wireless rivals on the planet. And if the (admittedly brief) time I spent listening to them, and having them explain some of the technology to me, is anything to go by, the planet best true wireless earbuds I should be worried.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: Design
Unlike the original QuietComfort Earbuds, which were, let’s not be shy, outright units, the new QC Earbuds II are more realistically sized. They are of the ‘hanging stem’ school of design, but the stem is short and, thanks to the many options for olives and ‘stabilizing fins’, they are comfortable and secure. A total weight of 6g per earbud doesn’t do any harm in this regard either, that’s pretty light for this type of earbud.
The build quality is everything you’d expect from a) a product costing this much money and b) a Bose product. At launch, the QuietComfort Earbuds II are yours in a ‘triple black’ finish (which is indistinguishable from ‘black’, to be honest), with a ‘soapstone’ variant to follow.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: Features and Battery Life
The Bose uses Bluetooth 5.3 for wireless connectivity and features support for SBC and AAC codecs. The company’s much-hyped involvement with Qualcomm kept me waiting snapdragon sound compatibility, but that’s not the case at launch. Bose tells me there will be a number of upcoming updates via over-the-air updates in the near future, but it wouldn’t be specific.
Sound is delivered via a pair of 9.3mm full-range dynamic drivers, one per earcup, obviously. Bose, as usual, isn’t specifying a frequency response, but having heard the QCEII in action, I’m prepared to estimate that they range from “extremely deep” to “very loud.”
QC Earbuds II aim to customize both their audio response and noise-canceling characteristics to the wearer’s individual ear canal using a signal that is played each time they leave their charging case and are placed in the ear. ‘CustomTune’ is what Bose calls the system.
Battery life is six hours on the earbuds themselves, with a further three full charges in the (newly compact) charging case – these are competitive figures, if hardly groundbreaking. Charging is via USB-C, and after about 20 minutes the power should be good for a couple of hours of playback.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: sound quality
Naturally, 10 minutes with a pair of truly wireless earphones in your ears isn’t enough to establish the minutiae of performance, but it’s more than enough to reveal whether or not a product is competitive. And the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are deeply competitive.
When it comes to audio performance, Bose’s preference for robust, well-shaped low frequencies, a fairly snappy overall presentation, and good midrange perception stand out. The (nicely updated) Bose Music app offers a host of EQ tweaks via a clean graphical interface, but left to their own devices, the QC Earbuds II are a dynamic, spacious and rhythmically adept listener.
Of course, Bose isn’t the only brand that can offer you a totally enjoyable audio experience with its true wireless in-ear headphones. Where the QuietComfort Earbuds II seem to put an appreciable distance between themselves and their nominal competition is in the quality of their active noise cancellation.
The Boses seem remarkably efficient at reducing external sounds. Without affecting their sonic signature in the slightest, they deal decisively with ambient sounds anywhere in the frequency range, leaving you alone with your music, and they do so without introducing any password hints that interfere with the quality of the music, and much more. less. that impression of pressure on the ear that less capable designs indulge in.
I’m mindful not to get carried away with a brief demo, but the QuietComfort Earbuds II’s noise-cancelling capabilities feel like a game changer in the market.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: Early Verdict
I generally like to reserve judgment on a product until I’ve had time to live with it. And it will take many more hours of listening before I know exactly where I think the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II rank in the ‘true wireless first’ pecking order.
But as of now, it seems likely that they will offer stiff competition to the best alternatives out there; if you’re thinking of buying right now, you should definitely wait to see the final verdict on these.