Bose QuietComfort Earbuds evaluation: They beat AirPods Professional on sound and noise canceling however 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, significantly with regards to their sound and noise-canceling, which is arguably the most effective on the market proper now in a set of earbuds. Efficiency-wise, they clearly have a leg up on Apple’s best-selling AirPods Professional true wi-fi noise-canceling buds. Nonetheless, the AirPods Professional’s smaller design, considerably extra snug match and superior voice-calling capabilities make it arduous to declare the Bose the straight-up champ. In the end, it is determined by what your priorities are.


  • Greatest-in-class noise canceling with transparency mode
  • High-notch sound
  • Snug, safe match
  • Rock stable wi-fi connection
  • First rate battery life for noise-canceling earbuds (as much as 6 hours)
  • Wi-fi charging (and USB-C)
  • First rate voice calling with sidetone “self voice” function
  • IPX4 splash-resistant

Do not Like

  • Buds are pretty giant (they stick out of your ears)
  • Noise discount for calls could possibly be higher
  • Fairly dear

High-notch noise-canceling

Let’s begin with the noise-canceling. Bose was, after all, the gold commonplace for energetic noise cancellation (ANC), however Sony and others have upped their noise-canceling recreation lately. The QuietComfort Earbuds, previously often called the Bose Noise Canceling 700 Earbuds, do not disappoint in that division. As I mentioned, they’re arguably the most effective true wi-fi earbuds on the market for muffling sound round you.

You possibly can 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 quite a lot of folks, I am simply not touring on planes nowadays — however I’ve an air-con system in my residence that is fairly loud and does a good job simulating airplane cabin noise. The QuietComfort Earbuds virtually fully eradicated the fan sound. Whereas the Sony and AirPods Professional did 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 remove all noise, however you’re feeling fairly sealed off from the world and it is price noting that for security causes, lots of people use the transparency mode when strolling across the metropolis to listen to visitors. This is able to additionally come into play should you had been working in trafficked areas.

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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: Greatest noise canceling


On a aspect be aware, I do suppose Bose ought to label “0” as transparency as a result of some individuals might learn it merely as noise-canceling off. It will have additionally been good if Bose had a damaging quantity that may increase sound from the surface world. That function was out there in its limited-release Hearphones (now discontinued), which had been designed to enhance sound. “The objective 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 advised me. Apple has the identical goal for the AirPods Professional’s transparency mode.


Bose’s new QuietComfort Buds subsequent to its Sports activities Buds, which haven’t got noise canceling.

David Carnoy/CNET

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 Wi-fi 2, which retail for $300. They work effectively 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 total with extra power within the bass. On well-recorded tracks like The Police’s “Spirits within the Materials World,” Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill,” Marvin Gaye’s “Inside Metropolis Blues” and Frank Zappa’s “Night time College” which have a good variety of devices enjoying on the similar time, you may 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.

David Carnoy/CNET

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 want the tonal stability of the Sennheiser — everyone’s ears and brains are completely different in any case — however the level is the Bose delivers high-quality sound. For higher or worse, presently there is no equalizer within the Bose Music app for iOS and Android that means that you can tweak the sound. 

Name high quality analysis

The QuietComfort Earbuds additionally good for making calls and have a sidetone function (Bose calls it “self voice”) that means that you can hear your voice within the earbuds so you may modulate it and never shout. However they are not fairly pretty much as good because the AirPods Professional for calls, primarily as a result of their noise discount (means to scale back background sound) is not as sturdy. 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 certain quantity of ambient sound within the streets of New York throughout calls and callers mentioned they might hear my voice effectively, although they did choose up some background noise. My voice was clear and I might hear callers rather well (the noise-isolation is nice throughout calls). It is potential that Bose might 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 currently.

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

David Carnoy/CNET

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

You stand 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 ranking — the identical because the AirPods Professional.

Probably because of the truth that the Bose incorporates the newest Bluetooth 5.1 commonplace, 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 units, together with a Home windows or Apple PC, a seamless affair. It’s important to manually change between units and it would not at all times go in response to plan with Home windows PCs particularly.

Measurement issues

As I hinted within the intro, the QuietComfort Earbuds do have some downsides. The AirPods Professional and common Android-oriented buds like Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus and Galaxy Buds Dwell are considerably smaller and lighter and have actually compact charging circumstances. 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 have to go together with a bigger earbud (jamming the electronics, high-quality driver and a battery sufficiently big to energy the bud for no less than 5 hours is an engineering problem).  

I did discover the QuietComfort Earbuds snug to put on. They use Bose’s new StayHear Max suggestions which have an built-in wing. With the most important tip I acquired 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 mentioned, the case is smaller than the case for the Beats Powerbeats Professional, so it is not gigantic. It has wi-fi charging capabilities (in addition to USB-C charging) and provides you an additional two expenses. There’s additionally a fast cost function that banks two hours of battery life with a 15-minute cost.

The worth query

I can not examine the Bose to all the things that is on the market and a few individuals will get on my case for speaking a lot concerning 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 digital sound function to them. And regardless of a listing value of $249, the AirPods Professional have kind of settled to a avenue value of $219, they usually’ve lately been on sale at main retailers for as little as $199. In different phrases, they’re a horny different to the QuietComfort Earbuds for anyplace from $30 to $80 much less. 

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

After speaking to some 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 as if they might 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 films, extra important listening and planes,” one twin proprietor advised me who finds the AirPods Professional extra snug.

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 would 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 proud of 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/CNET

I discovered them barely extra snug and whereas you need to use the QuietComfort Earbuds for sporting actions, the Sport Earbuds shall be higher for runners (for biking each the Sport Earbuds and QuietComfort Earbuds stand proud of your ears and create wind noise — the Galaxy Buds Dwell are higher for biking). For those who do not want energetic noise-canceling or do not like its sensation, the Sport Earbuds will definitely match extra individuals’s budgets. They compete effectively towards different earbuds of their value class and do sound barely higher than inexpensive fashions just like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus. Nonetheless, the Buds Plus are extra discrete.

As for whether or not it is price 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 dear at $280 and can hopefully come down in a bit in due time. It would be additionally good if Bose managed to enhance the noise discount for calls a bit by a firmware improve. Different firms, like Jabra with Elite 75t, have achieved simply that and infrequently superior earbuds like these and the AirPods Professional do enhance over time.

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