Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review: They beat AirPods Pro on sound and noise canceling but not design

It took Bose fairly awhile to get them into shops, however the brand new $280 (£250, $AU400) noise-canceling QuietComfort Earbuds are lastly right here. In some ways, they’re wonderful true wi-fi earbuds, notably in relation to their sound and noise-canceling, which is arguably the very best on the market proper now in a set of earbuds. Efficiency-wise, they clearly have a leg up on Apple’s best-selling AirPods Pro true wi-fi noise-canceling buds. Nevertheless, the AirPods Professional’s smaller design, considerably extra comfy match and superior voice-calling capabilities make it laborious to declare the Bose the straight-up champ. Finally, it is determined by what your priorities are.


  • Finest-in-class noise canceling with transparency mode
  • Prime-notch sound
  • Comfy, safe match
  • Rock stable wi-fi connection
  • Respectable battery life for noise-canceling earbuds (as much as 6 hours)
  • Wi-fi charging (and USB-C)
  • Respectable voice calling with sidetone “self voice” characteristic
  • IPX4 splash-resistant

Do not Like

  • Buds are pretty giant (they stick out of your ears)
  • Noise discount for calls may very well be higher
  • Fairly expensive

Prime-notch noise-canceling

Let’s begin with the noise-canceling. Bose was, in fact, the gold normal for lively noise cancellation (ANC), however Sony and others have upped their noise-canceling recreation lately. The QuietComfort Earbuds, previously often known as the Bose Noise Canceling 700 Earbuds, do not disappoint in that division. As I stated, they’re arguably the very best true wi-fi earbuds on the market for muffling sound round you.

You may toggle by three customizable noise-canceling settings, together with a transparency mode that lets sound in — it is the quantity “0” on the settings — by tapping the left earbud utilizing the contact controls. At their high setting, these did a greater job at muffling sound than the AirPods Professional and Sony WF-1000XM3, a noise-canceling chief within the class.

I did not take the Bose earbuds on a aircraft — like a whole lot of people, I am simply not touring on planes today — however I’ve an air con system in my house that is fairly loud and does a good job simulating airplane cabin noise. The QuietComfort Earbuds nearly utterly eradicated the fan sound. Whereas the Sony and AirPods Professional did an excellent job tamping down the sound, the Bose was higher.

I additionally used them within the streets of New York to spectacular impact. They do not get rid of all noise, however you’re feeling fairly sealed off from the world and it is value noting that for security causes, lots of people use the transparency mode when strolling across the metropolis to listen to site visitors. This may additionally come into play should you had been working in trafficked areas.


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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: Finest noise canceling


On a aspect observe, I do assume Bose ought to label “0” as transparency as a result of some individuals may learn it merely as noise-canceling off. It could have additionally been good if Bose had a detrimental quantity that will increase sound from the skin world. That characteristic was obtainable in its limited-release Hearphones (now discontinued), which had been designed to reinforce sound. “The aim with transparency in our QuietComfort headphones is to faithfully mimic what the world would sound like with out the buds in your ears,” a Bose spokesperson informed me. Apple has the identical intention for the AirPods Professional’s transparency mode.


Bose’s new QuietComfort Buds subsequent to its Sports activities Buds, which do not have noise canceling.

David Carnoy/PJDM

Wealthy sound

The QuietComfort Earbuds additionally sound higher than the AirPods Professional. They’re simply richer sounding with higher element and extra highly effective bass that is additionally well-defined. The Bose are proper up there with the best-sounding true wi-fi earbuds and go toe-to-toe with the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, which retail for $300. They work properly for a wide range of music genres however followers of hip hop and EDM will discover they’ve loads of kick to their bass.

The Sennheiser is a bit more laid again than the Bose. The mids (vocals) are just a little extra ahead with the QuietComfort Earbuds, which is a bit more aggressive general with extra vitality within the bass. On well-recorded tracks like The Police’s “Spirits within the Materials World,” Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill,” Marvin Gaye’s “Interior Metropolis Blues” and Frank Zappa’s “Evening College” which have a good variety of devices taking part in on the identical time, you possibly can distinctly hear every instrument so these are fairly articulate headphones. Bob Dylan’s “Man within the Lengthy Black Coat” sounded clear and open.

They match comfortably and securely however they don’t seem to be precisely discreet.

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With modern tracks comparable to Main Lazer’s “Know No Higher” and Travis Scott’s “The Plan” (from the Tenet soundtrack), the Bose sounded extra dynamic than the Sennheiser and had bolder bass that hit tougher. Some individuals might favor the tonal steadiness of the Sennheiser — all people’s ears and brains are totally different in any case — however the level is the Bose delivers high-quality sound. For higher or worse, at present there is no equalizer within the Bose Music app for iOS and Android that permits you to tweak the sound. 

Name high quality analysis

The QuietComfort Earbuds additionally good for making calls and have a sidetone characteristic (Bose calls it “self voice”) that permits you to hear your voice within the earbuds so you possibly can modulate it and never shout. However they don’t seem to be fairly nearly as good because the AirPods Professional for calls, primarily as a result of their noise discount (capacity to scale back background sound) is not as robust. Nonetheless, they’re considerably improved on this space over Bose’s earlier SoundSport Free, which solely had mono sound in a single bud for calls.

The QuietComfort Earbuds successfully diminished a specific amount of ambient sound within the streets of New York throughout calls and callers stated they may hear my voice properly, although they did choose up some background noise. My voice was clear and I may hear callers rather well (the noise-isolation is nice throughout calls). It is attainable that Bose may tweak the firmware to enhance the background noise discount, although proper now it is merely good not not stellar. It is not on the extent of Bose’s full-size Noise Canceling 700 Headphones or Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus and even some sub-$100 earbuds I’ve reviewed lately.

Bose StayHear Max suggestions — I bought a decent seal with the biggest tip. A decent seal is essential for optimum sound and noise-canceling. 

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You can use a single bud — both left or proper — for calls or listening to music and while you pull one bud out the opposite one routinely goes into transparency mode so you haven’t any weirdness of listening to one bud with noise canceling on.

You rise up to six hours of battery life on a single cost or about an hour greater than the AirPods Professional. The buds are sweat- and weather-resistant, with a splash-resistant IPX4 rating — the identical because the AirPods Professional.

Probably because of the truth that the Bose incorporates the most recent Bluetooth 5.1 normal, my wi-fi connection was rock stable and the buds paired simply with each my iPhone 11 Professional and a Samsung Galaxy Observe 10. However there is no multipoint Bluetooth pairing that makes switching between a pair gadgets, together with a Home windows or Apple PC, a seamless affair. It’s important to manually swap between gadgets and it does not all the time go in line with plan with Home windows PCs particularly.

Dimension issues

As I hinted within the intro, the QuietComfort Earbuds do have some downsides. The AirPods Professional and well-liked Android-oriented buds like Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus and Galaxy Buds Live are considerably smaller and lighter and have actually compact charging instances. You gotta love that. In that sense, these buds are extra just like the Sony WF-1000XM3, and maybe the ethical of the story is that to get actually good sound and noise canceling you merely must go together with a bigger earbud (jamming the electronics, high-quality driver and a battery sufficiently big to energy the bud for at least 5 hours is an engineering problem).  

I did discover the QuietComfort Earbuds comfy to put on. They use Bose’s new StayHear Max suggestions which have an built-in wing. With the biggest tip I bought a decent seal and actually safe match. And whereas they’re smaller than Bose’s earlier SoundSport Free, the QuietComfort Buds do stick out of your ears a good quantity. And should you tuck the case into the entrance pocket of a decent pair of denims, let’s simply say it leaves a noticeable bulge.

That stated, the case is smaller than the case for the Beats Powerbeats Pro, so it isn’t gigantic. It has wi-fi charging capabilities (in addition to USB-C charging) and offers you an additional two expenses. There’s additionally a fast cost characteristic that banks two hours of battery life with a 15-minute cost.

The worth query

I can not examine the Bose to every thing that is on the market and a few individuals will get on my case for speaking a lot in regards to the AirPods Professional, however they’re (as far as we all know) the best-selling true wi-fi noise-canceling earbuds and Apple simply added a brand new — and downright spectacular — spatial audio virtual sound feature to them. And regardless of a listing value of $249, the AirPods Professional have roughly settled to a street price of $219, they usually’ve lately been on sale at main retailers for as low as $199. In different phrases, they’re a pretty different to the QuietComfort Earbuds for anyplace from $30 to $80 much less. 

I believe it comes down as to whether you possibly can reside with the Bose’s bigger measurement and general design. For lots of people, the reply will probably be no. The AirPods Professional’s smaller type issue and lighter design (sure, they’re just a little extra comfy than the Bose) will outweigh the Bose’s efficiency benefits. As I stated, the QuietComfort Earbuds clearly sound higher and have higher noise canceling. It is no contest. That stated, the AirPods Professional do not sound dangerous in any respect (they sound good however not nice). Nor do they lack efficient noise-canceling (it is also good).

After speaking to a couple people who’ve each the AriPods Professional and Bose QuietComfort buds (with the lengthy delay for Bose’s next-generation buds to reach, some Bose followers could not wait and went out and acquired the AirPods Professional), it looks like they may each have a spot in a single’s headphone arsenal. “Will go together with the AirPods Professional for on a regular basis use and calls and the Bose for motion pictures, extra crucial listening and planes,” one twin proprietor informed me who finds the AirPods Professional extra comfy.

Personally, I lean towards higher sound so I have been gravitating towards the Bose for on a regular basis listening even with the AirPods Professional sitting on my desk.    

Bose’s Sport different

The opposite Bose different is the cheaper Sport Earbuds ($180, £180, $AU300), which have the identical IPX4 water-resistance ranking however no noise canceling and an hour much less of battery life. They do not sound fairly as dynamic and their bass does not go fairly as deep because the bass on the QuietComfort Earbuds, however they’re well-balanced with good element and punchy bass. General, they sound wonderful and likewise are good — although not nice — for making calls. Whereas they do stand out from your ears, they’re smaller and lighter than the QuietComfort Earbuds and their case is about 30-40 p.c smaller.

Sports activities Earbuds (left) are just a little smaller and lighter than QuietComfort Earbuds.

David Carnoy/PJDM

I discovered them barely extra comfy and whereas you should use the QuietComfort Earbuds for sporting actions, the Sport Earbuds will probably be higher for runners (for biking each the Sport Earbuds and QuietComfort Earbuds stand out from your ears and create wind noise — the Galaxy Buds Reside are higher for biking). If you happen to do not want lively noise-canceling or do not like its sensation, the Sport Earbuds will definitely match extra individuals’s budgets. They compete properly towards different earbuds of their value class and do sound barely higher than cheaper fashions just like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus. Nevertheless, the Buds Plus are extra discrete.

As for whether or not it is value spending the additional $100 on the QuietComfort Earbuds, I believe that if nice noise-canceling is what you are after, you should not hesitate. They’re expensive at $280 and can hopefully come down in a bit in due time. It might be additionally good if Bose managed to enhance the noise discount for calls a bit by a firmware improve. Different corporations, like Jabra with Elite 75t, have performed simply that and sometimes superior earbuds like these and the AirPods Professional do enhance over time.

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David Carnoy