Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds II offer an entire recent level of silence

Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds II offer an entire recent level of silence

MSRP $299.00

“Quiet and cozy really are the perfect words to explain Bose’s latest buds.”


  • Very comfortable
  • Superb sound quality
  • Outstanding noise cancellation
  • Superb transparency
  • Adjustable EQ modes


  • No wireless charging
  • No Bluetooth multipoint
  • Poor outdoor call quality

If there’s one company that has turn into synonymous with noise cancellation, it’s Bose. And with the corporate’s latest earbuds — the $299 Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II — Bose is clearly seeking to solidify that repute. It claims that the brand new wireless earbuds aren’t just higher at canceling noise than the first-gen product (which it can still sell while supplies last) — they’re higher than some other lively noise-canceling (ANC) headphones or earbuds you possibly can buy.

That is perhaps enough to win the corporate numerous return business in the shape of upgrades, and possibly some recent customers too. But there’s more to a set of noise-canceling wireless earbuds than simply ANC — rather a lot more — so let’s see how the QuietComfort Earbuds II stack up, and in the event that they must be your next wireless earbuds.

What’s within the box?

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II with accessories.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Along with the QuietComfort Earbuds II (or QCE II), their charging case, and a brief USB-C charging cable, you’ll also find two extra sizes of oval silicone eartips and what Bose calls “stability bands” — small silicone gaskets that fit across the body of the earbuds to offer a safer fit.

What you won’t find within the fully recyclable cardboard box is any form of real instructions. As a substitute, Bose wants you to download and use the Bose Music app for iOS and Android, which is designed to walk you thru the setup, along with providing quite a lot of settings and customizations.


Close-up of Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

When you generally liked the design of the first-gen QuietComfort Earbuds but found them a bit bulky — as we did after we reviewed them — the brand new model is a giant step in the suitable direction. Every thing about them is smaller and lighter, including the charging case. The massive, locking clamshell from the primary generation has been replaced with a smaller, rounded, flip-top design that appears somewhat just like the Google Pixel Buds Pro case, albeit still substantially larger.

Without the press-button latch, it’s way easier to open even in the event you run a rather increased risk of getting it open unintentionally. It’s still bulky in comparison to the Apple AirPods Pro, Sony WF-1000XM4, Pixel Buds Pro, and Jabra Elite 7 Pro, but you possibly can now (just) fit it in your pocket.

First and second-gen Bose QuietComfort Earbuds seen side-by-side.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II (left) and first-gen QuietComfort Earbuds. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

First and second-gen Bose QuietComfort Earbuds seen side-by-side.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II (left) and first-gen QuietComfort Earbuds. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

First and second-gen Bose QuietComfort Earbuds seen side-by-side.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II (left) and first-gen QuietComfort Earbuds. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II seen next to first-gen Apple AirPods Pro.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II (left) and first-gen Apple AirPods Pro. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Gone are the StayHear Max eartips, which integrated an oval tip with an internal ear fin — the brand new design separates fit and stability into two pieces, letting you combine and match until you discover the suitable combination.

Bose kept the lozenge-like shape of the earbuds themselves, in order that they still protrude out of your ears a bit, but nowhere near as much as before, and it also preserved the first-gen’s touch controls — you possibly can tap and swipe anywhere on the elongated outer surface.

One other consistent feature is the IPX4 rating. Meaning the QCE II are able to handling sweat or some rain, so long as you wipe them clean after a workout.

With the default suggestions and stability bands installed, I discovered them incredibly comfortable.

However the QCE II lack wireless charging, a wierd omission considering the first-gen model had this feature and price less too (Bose introduced them at $279). After I asked why, a Bose spokesperson told me it was partly due to smaller case design, and since wireless charging doesn’t matter to many individuals.

Each of those points feel odd, nevertheless, not only because products just like the AirPods Pro and Pixel Buds Pro manage to do wireless charging in cases which are smaller than the QCE II but in addition because if wireless charging doesn’t matter, why does every other set of flagship wireless earbuds offer it?

Comfort, controls, and connections

Man wearing Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

For me, with the default suggestions and stability bands installed, the QCE II are incredibly comfortable. When you don’t like the sensation of in-ear buds, they won’t change your mind, but they do an outstanding job of a sometimes tricky balancing act: getting seal while preserving fit, and staying put if you stick them in.

When you’re undecided in regards to the seal, the Bose Music app has a fit test that may confirm if you’ve got it locked.

With the ability to swipe your finger up and down for volume is more intuitive than using a single button.

I took them to the gym, out for walks, did just a few video meetings, and usually kept them in place for several hours at a time, and so they never bothered me. They aren’t as rock-solid and secure because the ear-fin-based first-gen earbuds, but I’m OK with that — I discovered the soundness bands to be a wonderfully acceptable substitute, and so they were secure enough for all of my every day needs.

The controls are also superb. I generally prefer physical buttons, but I admit that having the ability to swipe your finger up and down the QCE II’s surface is a far more intuitive process for adjusting volume than using a single button. Apparently, Apple thinks so, too, because it has added the identical feature to its second-gen AirPods Pro.

Charging cases for first and second-gen Bose QuietComfort Earbuds.

First-gen Bose QuietComfort Earbuds charging case (top) and QuietComfort Earbuds II case. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Charging cases for Apple AirPods Pro seen beside charging cases for first and second-gen Bose QuietComfort Earbuds.

First-gen Bose QuietComfort Earbuds charging case (top), QuietComfort Earbuds II case (bottom left) and first-gen Apple AirPods Pro charging case. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II charging case seen next to a Google Pixel Buds Pro charging case for scale.

Google Pixel Buds Pro charging case (left) and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II charging case. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Bose doesn’t allow you to modify basic controls like play/pause, track skip forward/back, or call answer/end, but you possibly can resolve what the long-press (Bose calls that a shortcut) does on each earbud. You may pick between changing ANC modes and activating your voice assistant.

There’s, nevertheless, excellent control over the wear and tear sensors. By default, they may auto-pause and resume your music (which works rather well) or you possibly can turn them off entirely. You may as well decide to enable auto call-answer, so in case your phone rings, you possibly can simply insert an earbud to select up the decision.

The QCE II use the most recent chips from Qualcomm, with the most recent Bluetooth version, and the connection may be very stable, well past the 20-foot point indoors and as much as 30 feet outside. That’s the great part. The not-so-good (or perhaps just odd) part is that Bose is barely utilizing what Bluetooth 5.3 can do. There’s no support for LE Audio and its corresponding recent codec, LC3, there’s no Bluetooth multipoint for simultaneous device connections, and no Google Fast Pair or Microsoft Swift Pair. There’s a workaround for multipoint, however it’s not as elegant: the Bose Music app permits you to switch between previously paired devices without having to dive into your device’s Bluetooth menu.

Granted, the earbuds’ firmware might be updated, and Bose hasn’t ruled out adding these features in the longer term. But there’s no word on if or when that may occur.

Sound quality

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II sit in their case.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The large recent technological innovation on the QCE II versus the primary gen is a feature called CustomTune. As soon as you pluck the earbuds from their case and put them in your ears, they perform a virtually instantaneous test of your ears, measuring how they channel sound to your eardrums. Based on Bose, this lets the QCE II effectively reply to the small differences in everyone’s ears, each time you wear them, and also you don’t need to create an account, undergo a listening test, or perform any tasks in any respect with a purpose to profit from it. It just happens.

You get 4 helpful presets (Bass Boost, Base Reducer, Treble Boost, and Treble Reducer), to fit your tastes.

CustomTune is presupposed to improve ANC and transparency (more on these in a moment) in addition to sound quality.

Does it work? I can’t inform you, and I think nobody else can either because there’s no strategy to disable it with a purpose to do an A/B comparison. Must you care? I don’t think so, because the underside line is that these earbuds sound really good, whether CustomTune gets the credit or not.

Bose Music App EQ settings.

Bose Music App home page.

As with the primary gen, Bose has given the QCE II a fun and vibrant sound signature that balances warm, resonant bass with clear highs and fairly detailed midtones. I believe there have been improvements too (perhaps it’s the CustomTune?), with less noticeable distortion at lower volumes. What hasn’t modified is that these buds likely won’t have audiophiles singing their praises — I believe you’ll get a more accurate performance from other models just like the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3, the Sony WF-1000XM4, the Technics EAH-AZ60, and the Astell & Kern AK UW100.

The proven fact that Bose hasn’t ventured beyond SBC and AAC codec support reinforces that it’s not after that crowd anyway.

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II offer the perfect noise cancellation I’ve ever experienced.

But what’s recent, and what I believe makes all of the difference, is that Bose now includes the flexibility to regulate the earbuds’ EQ contained in the Bose Music app. You get 4 helpful presets (Bass Boost, Base Reducer, Treble Boost, and Treble Reducer), but it’s also possible to modify each of those (or start from a neutral EQ) to fit your tastes using a three-band set of sliders. Unfortunately, there’s no strategy to save these personalized settings, something I believe Bose should consider adding now that it has come this far.

With these adjustments, you not need to simply accept the factory tuning, so bass-heads get more of what they like, while fans of podcasts or diva vocalists can emphasize the sounds they like. I still found myself sticking with the neutral EQ more often than not, however it was nice knowing I could switch it up if the mood struck me.

Noise cancellation and transparency

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II beside charging case.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Apple’s second-gen AirPods Pro weren’t available on the time of this writing, so it’s possible I might want to re-evaluate this statement. But as of immediately, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II offer the perfect noise cancellation I’ve ever experienced. Higher than the first-gen QC Earbuds, higher than the first-gen AirPods Pro, and higher than Sony’s flagship WF-1000XM4 earbuds and WH-1000XM5 headphones. It’s truly outstanding.

While on a brief flight from Latest York City to Toronto aboard a De Havilland Dash 8 — a reasonably noisy twin turboprop aircraft — I got a probability to place the QCE II in a direct comparison with the Sony WH-1000XM5 and the recently released Google Pixel Buds Pro.

The Sony offering, while excellent for a set of ANC headphones, couldn’t touch the QCE II. They let in what I perceived as roughly twice the quantity of sound. The Pixel Buds Pro faired higher, as you may expect from earbuds that completely seal your ear canals, but they too couldn’t quite obliterate those engines the best way the Bose could.

That was before attempting to play music. Once I added in some tunes, even at moderate volumes, I used to be blissfully unaware of any cabin sound in any respect. Curiously, you possibly can sometimes detect the ANC algorithms doing their magic as recent sounds turn into a part of your environment — they might be more noticeable at first but then recede into the background over the following second or two.

As awesome because the ANC is, it is advisable to make the most of the flexibility to cut back its power under certain circumstances. First, at maximum strength, I discovered that I used to be aware of the “sucking” sensation that some folks are sensitive to. Backing it down a level or two eases that feeling. Second, in the event you’re already in a comparatively quiet place and also you’re not listening to any music or other content, you’ll hear a slight background hiss.

Transparency mode, or “aware” mode as Bose calls it, also is excellent. It still falls just shy of the not-wearing-any-earbuds sensation you get from the first-gen AirPods Pro, however it’s perfectly able to letting you hear the skin world. With Bose’s optional ActiveSense system, any sudden loud sounds that occur when you’re in aware mode will probably be routinely reduced. This may save your hearing, but in addition your heart rate — as I used to be walking past a construction site last week, a sudden, very loud bang made me almost jump off the sidewalk. I wish I’d been wearing the QCE II.

A giant improvement over the first-gen is the flexibility to cycle between ANC and aware modes without going through a 3rd mode. You may still do that in the event you want — the Bose Music app actually permits you to define as much as 4 modes of noise cancellation — but you don’t need to,

Call quality

Close-up of Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Before I discuss the QCE II’s call quality, I want to handle what we said in our original review of the first-gen earbuds, since it needs some context. When Caleb Denison performed his call quality test of the QCE, he did it indoors only. On the time, it gave the impression of the suitable, ahem, call.

And once I tested the QCE II for this review, I also found the indoor call quality to be excellent. Nevertheless, I then took them outside and repeated the test, with very different results. Outside, depending on the quantity of noise from traffic or wind, your voice can sound distant, compressed, and at times very difficult to listen to. Worse still, those background noises are still quite audible.

I used to be surprised by this (especially before I noticed Caleb’s comments were based on indoor usage) so I grabbed the first-gen QCE buds and took them outside as well. They performed more poorly than the second-gen, so at the least Bose has achieved some improvement in outdoor quality, but actually not enough that I can recommend them for out of doors use. In truth, I’m undecided they might be reliably used for any situation with numerous background noise — a fairly large disappointment given each their price and their superb ANC.

Battery life

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II charging case.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Historically, Bose hasn’t placed a heavy emphasis on battery life. The corporate’s flagship Noise Cancelling 700 Headphones only get 20 hours of use (placing them near the underside of the headphone heap together with the AirPods Max) and the first-gen QC Earbuds only possessed as much as six hours per charge and a complete of 18 hours if you included their charging case capability.

There hasn’t been any change on the earbuds’ side of the equation (the QCE II still only stand up to 6 hours) however the charging case now holds three full charges as a substitute of two, for a complete of 24 hours, which at the least brings them into AirPods Pro territory for total time.

But strangely, it actually takes longer now to quick-charge them: 20 minutes will buy you two extra hours, whereas, on the first-gen, that only took quarter-hour.

The underside line

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are an updated set of wireless buds that absolutely deliver on the 2 guarantees that Bose makes right within the product name: They’re very comfortable and supremely quiet — quieter than anything on the market. And perhaps that fact alone justifies their higher $299 price, but their lack of now-common features like wireless charging and Bluetooth multipoint, plus disappointing outdoor call quality prevents them from earning our unqualified Editor’s Alternative rating.

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