Bose’s authentic true wi-fi earbuds, the SoundSport Free, sounded implausible however have been foiled by connectivity issues and audio / video sync points that the corporate by no means absolutely resolved. Additionally they lacked lively noise cancellation, which is the function that Bose constructed its complete model round. This allowed Apple, Sony, and others to grab the market with merchandise just like the AirPods Professional and WF-1000XM3 earbuds.
However Bose is bored with ceding floor to its opponents, and it’s returned with the QuietComfort Earbuds. Due to their utterly redone design, the QuietComfort Earbuds are free from the frustrations that got here with the SoundSport Free buds. They nonetheless sound terrific — and now, they’ve bought ANC. It took Bose some time to get right here, however the QuietComfort Earbuds ship the most effective noise cancellation you will get in true wi-fi earbuds proper now.
The large query is how a lot that’s value to you. At $279, the QuietComfort Earbuds are a $30 enhance over the AirPods Professional and in hanging distance of Sennheiser’s $300 Momentum True Wi-fi 2. And whereas Bose has averted any inherent flaws with the earbuds themselves, there are nonetheless minor annoyances like an awkwardly massive carrying case and restricted onboard controls that lack a lot customization.
At 0.3 ounces (8.5 grams) every, the QuietComfort Earbuds weigh about the identical as Sony’s 1000XM3 buds within the ear, however the AirPods Professional (0.19 ounces, 5.4 grams) have them beat for all-day consolation. Bose’s earbuds are additionally bigger than the AirPods Professional in each dimension and stick out farther from the ear — although to not the identical foolish diploma because the SoundSport Free.
However even when they’re not essentially the most discreet or svelte, the QuietComfort Earbuds nonetheless really feel excellent in my ears, because of Bose’s StayHear Max ear ideas, which have an built-in, versatile silicone wing that tucks into the ridge of the ear for added stability. Each the medium and large-sized ear ideas labored for me and created a good seal, however I finally discovered that mixing the 2 led to the most effective prolonged consolation. (There’s a purpose producers recommend making an attempt that!)
As soon as they’re in place, the QuietComfort Earbuds aren’t going wherever, and I’d be assured taking them for a run or by an intense fitness center routine. They’re rated IPX4 for water and sweat resistance, so sweat and the occasional splash of water needs to be advantageous, however keep away from rainstorms. One factor value mentioning is the occlusion impact; since Bose didn’t go for a vented design just like the AirPods Professional or Pixel Buds with pure airflow, in case you have a very tight seal with the QuietComfort Earbuds in, your inside voice may sound louder than regular, and in silent environments, you possibly can hear your self respiration. I seen this after I first began utilizing them, however it’s since gone away — both as a result of the match modified barely or I’ve gotten used to it. Some persons are extra delicate to these items than others.
The charging case for the QuietComfort Earbuds is… quite a bit. It’s nowhere close to as compact because the AirPods Professional case or the instances for Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus or Google’s Pixel Buds. (The aforementioned Sennheisers additionally win out right here.) I notice that is largely as a result of Bose earbuds’ bigger dimension, however it nonetheless makes for an ungainly bulge in no matter pants pocket you place them in. The case’s chonk issue isn’t a deal-breaker for me, as I at all times have a backpack with me for stowing it in. However at twice the thickness of an AirPods case, it could possibly be for some.
Opening the case is extra of a course of than common since Bose put in a latch that you simply’ve bought to launch by urgent the button on entrance. This takes firmer strain than anticipated and might get annoying at occasions. On the plus aspect, you gained’t have to fret about your dear earbuds skittering throughout the ground in the event you drop the case. The entrance of the case has 5 LEDs to point battery cost stage; Bose estimates as much as six hours of steady listening time for the earbuds themselves, plus two further costs from the case. These numbers are all very par for the course. The case helps wi-fi charging and has a USB-C port in the event you choose to plug in for sooner top-offs. (Fifteen minutes of charging can provide you two hours of playback time.)
Bose retakes the noise cancellation crown
The audio high quality and noise cancellation of the QuietComfort Earbuds simply outweigh the complications from coping with their awkward case. Bose has taken a noticeable lead over opponents and is nearing the noise cancellation effectiveness of full-size headphones. As an alternative of a easy on / off toggle just like the AirPods Professional, Bose enables you to select between 10 ranges of noise canceling. At 10, these earbuds do an astonishing job of hushing the world round you — higher than Apple, Sony, and different opponents. Avenue noise simply fades away; the fixed hum of an air conditioner or the whir of a fan all however disappears. I’m not touring a lot by aircraft for the time being, however I’m sure these would do a greater job at muting cabin noise than different earbuds. You possibly can even use the QuietComfort Earbuds in noise-canceling mode even when there’s no audio enjoying in the event you’re simply in search of some peace and quiet.
On the other finish, dropping all the way down to zero places the earbuds into full transparency / ambient mode. Bose has managed to tie Apple at making it virtually really feel such as you’re not sporting earbuds in any respect. The transparency mode on the QuietComfort Earbuds sounds extremely pure and can attraction to individuals who need a greater sense of their environment when exterior. If you take out both earbud, the one in your different ear robotically goes into full transparency — since Bose figures you’re most likely making an attempt to listen to one thing. (Music additionally robotically pauses when an earbud is eliminated.)
You possibly can double faucet on the left earbud to change between three “favourite” ranges of noise cancellation. The defaults are 10, 5, and 0. I didn’t see any want to change these up, however you possibly can set them to no matter you need within the Bose Music app. Bose additionally enables you to select your most well-liked motion for a long-press of the left bud: it will probably both announce battery standing or skip to the following tune. Sadly, that’s the place customization of the controls finish. These are the controls you’re left with:
- Double faucet on the correct earbud to play or pause audio / reply a telephone name
- Contact and maintain the correct earbud to activate Siri or Google Assistant / decline a telephone name
- Double faucet on the left earbud to change between noise cancellation presets
- Lengthy press on the left earbud to examine battery stage or skip to the following tune
- Swipe up or down on the correct earbud to extend or decrease quantity
Bose launched the onboard quantity controls a pair months after the QuietComfort Earbuds initially shipped, and also you’ve bought to allow them within the Bose Music app earlier than you should utilize them — in any other case nothing will occur. I haven’t had any issues with the swipes to regulate loudness, so it’s a pleasant addition. There’s nonetheless no means of going again to the final tune with the earbud controls, nonetheless.
In my time testing the QuietComfort Earbuds, connection stability between the buds and my telephone has been largely flawless. Possibly that’s the results of upgrading to Bluetooth 5.1 or different inner adjustments, however both means, it’s a serious enchancment over the SoundSport Free, which suffered frequent audio dropouts. That’s not a priority this time round. Nor did I discover any audio / video sync mismatches when watching content material from YouTube, Netflix, or Prime Video on my telephone and laptop computer. Bose has efficiently tackled the primary flaws of its authentic true wi-fi earbuds.
Sound high quality remains to be high notch. Bose isn’t shy about sculpting the audio; the corporate’s Energetic EQ boosts high and low frequencies at decrease volumes in order that music nonetheless feels dynamic even while you’re not cranking it. The QuietComfort Earbuds are very bass-forward and pack a wallop for hip-hop and EDM tracks. However the highly effective low finish additionally interprets nicely to different genres. To my ears, these have a wider, richer soundstage than the competitors (maybe apart from Sennheiser).
No matter what style you’re enjoying, the highs are detailed with out ever coming off as harsh or shrill. Sadly, Bose’s app doesn’t provide any method to alter the EQ for individuals who don’t love the default sound signature. Customized EQ is an choice on the over-ear Noise Canceling Headphones 700, so it’s a bummer to not see it on these premium earbuds.
The QuietComfort Buds additionally deal with voice calls nicely. They’ve a “self voice” function that permits you to alter how a lot you possibly can hear your personal voice on a name so that you don’t find yourself talking too loudly, and so they do a pleasant job of choosing up your voice and lowering background noise in order that others can clearly hear you. Solely the correct earbud can be utilized standalone for calls and audio.
Sadly, Bose didn’t embody multipoint in these earbuds, to allow them to solely pair with one gadget at a time. Simultaneous pairing remains to be uncommon for earbuds — and a novel energy for Jabra — however when you think about that Apple’s AirPods Professional can now robotically and immediately swap between Apple units, the QuietComfort Earbuds positively take a usability hit. Multipoint is a longtime function on Bose’s headphones, however for no matter purpose, the corporate’s engineers couldn’t make it work right here.
So sure, Bose’s new, almost-$300 QuietComfort Earbuds nonetheless have downsides. The earbuds are on the bigger aspect, and their case is an absolute unit. They lack multipoint. However there’s additionally loads of good: Bose has leap-frogged everybody in noise cancellation (establishing itself as a pacesetter as soon as once more) and give you great-sounding earbuds that work reliably. As soon as the world is again to workplace life and boarding planes commonly, I feel that’ll be a compelling combo — assuming you’re not already carrying round a pair of AirPods Professional or Sony 1000XM3s, that’s.
Replace December seventh 2:30PM ET: The assessment has been up to date to mirror the brand new onboard quantity controls that Bose added to the QuietComfort Earbuds after their launch. The general rating stays unchanged.
Images by Chris Welch / The Verge