wall street journal
Two years after launching its beloved noise canceling QuietComfort earbuds, Bose is finally giving us a second act with its fantastic QuietComfort Earbuds 2. These upgraded headphones offer a surprising level of noise cancellation technology and are set to compete with popular, comparable earbuds, such as the Sony WF-1000XM4 and second-gen AirPods Pro.
The recent addition to the Bose lineup offers an almost unimaginable level of active noise cancellation against all types of noise, all with a secure fit and the company’s newly optimized spin on adaptive ANC. Bose’s latest buds make this a major upgrade without skimping on audio quality, and are certainly more attractive than previous QC earbuds.
I spent an entire week wearing these earbuds around the house, at the gym, for walks and even on the subway. Here’s what you need to know before investing in a pair of the powerful, $299 Bose QuietComfort II.
If you’re up for the best noise cancellation you can get on a pair of earbuds, the $299 Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 are for you. If you have longer battery life, wireless charging, and more advanced audio, choose the Sony WF-1000XM4 or the new AirPods Pro.
Let’s start with the style. It makes sense that these headphones were announced at New York Fashion Week because Bose took things a few levels above their previous, much heavier design. In fact, I handed my former QuietComfort earbuds to my 6’5″ husband because they were too cumbersome for my everyday listening needs. In return, he could pull off the big size and still, take advantage of excellent sound quality.
In comparison, the QuietComfort 2 has evolved, taking on a more populist stem-type design with a basic oval shape, though the thicker stem is shorter and sweeter and each earbud weighs only 6 grams. They also lose the feathers of the previous iteration, and although I worried the earbuds would become less stable, I was rewarded with a comfortable, secure fit in the gym, too. Simply stick them in your ears and give them a brief twist to lock them in.
Bose claims the QC2 is a third smaller than their original design and they come with three different sized tips and a kit of stability bands to help you find the right fit. I tried them all and found that no matter what I wore, the sound quality and noise cancellation remained the same—though the medium-sized tip felt most comfortable to me.
And though they’re fairly small and lightweight, each earbud has a total of four microphones, two of which are related to ANC and a pair that helps recognize voices for making and receiving calls.
Touch controls are intact out of the box, so you can tap or swipe to control playback and volume, and take or reject calls. But if you’re interested in customizing shortcuts, you’ll need to head into the Bose Music app for iOS or Android. Here I could easily add the ability to easily switch from Quiet to Awaremode (more on that below) by long-holding my right earbud and activating my voice assistant with my left. I found all of these controls to be simple to set up and consistently reliable to use.
The app also lets you do things like customize the sound balance with the equalizer and four different presets (two for bass and two for treble) and choose 10 different additional ANC modes like Commute, Relax, Run, and Work . When I have to attend Zoom meetings at home, I use the Work presets, and I don’t have to worry about traffic, construction, or those weird baby sounds.
Oh, and they also have an IPX4 sweat and water-resistant rating, which is a nice addition to a workout, running/exercising outside, or just lounging at the pool or beach.
For the $299 price tag, they also come in a flip-top charging case and you can choose from a matte triple black at launch, with Offwhite Soapstone arriving on October 14th.
The biggest update to the new QuietComfort 2 is noise canceling, and we’ve held them to a high standard since Bose introduced this technology. Luckily, the ANC on the QC II is outrageously good – in fact, it’s the best I’ve ever used.
This is due to the way it responds to Bose’s Adaptive ANC, which it refers to as CustomTune technology. This process only calibrates your earbuds’ noise canceling each time you take them out of the case and put them in your ears. Once the earbuds are sealed correctly, which you can check in that Bose Music app, a small chime lets you know that a microphone inside the bud is measuring your ear canal, then audio immediately. Customizing Feedback and Noise Canceling Filters – This Specific Use for Everyone. Bose claims that if you put them back in the dock and someone else decides to donate them, the ANC will automatically recalculate and they’ll get their own CustomTune profile. Of course, no one knows what anyone else is listening to, but for now we’ll listen to them.
In real life, that meant I enjoyed complete silence in Quiet mode, with CustomTune constantly adapting to whatever environment I happened to be in. When walking around my Brooklyn neighborhood, it blocked construction work, traffic, and general crap at Prime Trader. Which is equally good shopping time. And when I used them at home, I could mute ambient TV noises and TikTok mishegas from my teen’s phone, and enjoy the silence whenever someone asked me for anything. Which can be a blessing in my house.
I did notice that it didn’t completely block out the noise when the subway train pulled in, however when I took out one earbud, I realized it was quite muted and I certainly couldn’t hear the normal noise at the rest of the station. While I’m not expecting a problem with ANC and airplane engine noise, I’m curious to see how comfortable they feel for extended periods of time on my next long-haul flight.
The other component of this new ANC is called AwareMode. And although most noise-canceling headphones include something that lets you hear your surroundings more naturally while you listen, the QuietComfort 2 earbuds personalize it even more by using the default ActiveSense feature. The idea is, while I’m waiting for that subway, it’ll just mute the sound of the train coming in and take off, then go back to its normal transparency. While it didn’t quite do the trick with a train, it worked better with outside noise, such as construction or a large truck on the road. Although I haven’t had a chance to review them extensively, Apple’s newly announced second-gen AirPods Pro offer it as well, and we’ll be doing a more in-depth comparison on the two soon.
I loved being able to easily switch from Quiet to Aware by holding my right earbud longer, and more when it comes to things like talking to Trader Joe’s checkout clerks, listening to my subway change, and chatting with friends. So I did it often. on the road.
As mentioned, I was very disappointed to see my last pair of QCs drop because of their theft. And my husband still likes to remind me how much better his music sounds on him than on his AirPods. So now that the QuietComfort 2 is all mine (they have strict hands-off orders), I’m thrilled to report that the audio quality for music, movies and TV, and podcasts all sound great.
Listening to my gym playlist, hip hop tracks like Kanye West’s “Power” deliver a dynamic sound with a serious kick on the bass and percussion. The more complex, more complex “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence provided subtlety and texture on the piano solos and high-end vocals, while the pop anthem “Faith” by George Michaels was gracefully swell with its opening organ notes and subtly sharp. The catchy staccato guitar throughout the song.
Better Battery Life and Bluetooth
Bose says the QuietComfort 2 offers up to six hours of battery life, which is the same as the new AirPods 2 and a few hours less than our current best noise canceling earbuds pick, the Sony WF-1000XM4. I got about four days on a single charge with my low to moderate usage but the charging case pumped things up with another 24 hours. This should get you through most flights and trips, but the case offers about two hours of playback on a 20-minute charge and an hour on a full charge. The case itself gets fully recharged in three hours.
The included Bluetooth 5.3 might not beat your heart, but it extends the range from 30 feet past the original QuietComfort earbuds to 100 feet, and instantly connects you to pre-paired devices. Which is good, because I flip flops from my MacBook to my iPhone to listen and have never had a problem doing so with the QC II.
Battery life still low and no multipoint
In my time using the Bose QuietComfort 2 earbuds, my battery never drained. However, even with the charging case’s additional 24 hours, it’s still six hours behind the promised battery life of the second-generation AirPods Pro and about 10 hours behind the Sony earbuds. It’s a big time.
I was also disappointed that Bluetooth 5.3 didn’t offer multipoint so I could connect to more than one device at a time, but my guess is that Bose wanted to do one thing best—and that didn’t beat ANC. Can go, at least my ears.
And finally, for the $299 price tag, I was expecting wireless charging for the case, which the QuietComfort II doesn’t offer.
As a fan of the Beats Fit Pro, especially when I’m at the gym, I miss Apple’s Spatial Audio feature, which delivers a 3D, surround sound feel while listening – also upgraded on the new iPod Pro 2 has gone. Sony also offers a similar feature with its 360 Reality Audio. Unfortunately, you won’t find a comparable feature on the QuietComfort 2.
As the arbiter of noise-canceling technology, it makes sense that Bose has overtaken the QuietComfort 2 headphones. And although CustomTune earmapping may sound like a marketing gobbledy gook, if you’re serious about finding the highest level of ANC, it hits the bullseye. And, in addition to blocking out all that noise you don’t want to hear, the earbud’s Aware mode is easy to switch on with just a single tap, and gives a natural sound entry to outdoor sound when you need it — like travel. doing, shopping or even at home.
Although the QC 2 aren’t leaders in battery life or software extras (you’re better off with the $279 Sony WF-1000XM4 or the $249 AirPods Pro 2 if those are a priority), they do have better noise cancellation than any other wireless earbuds. We do. Used to date – all in a sleek, comfortable design. And if that’s $299 for you, it’s nothing to sneeze at (though I won’t hear you unless I have Aware Mode).