The very best noise-cancelling expertise I’ve encountered
Industrial design is small, comfy, and engaging
Bluetooth 5.3 radio serves steady streams over surprisingly lengthy distances
No aptX or LDAC audio codec assist
Six-hour playtime and 18-hour backup battery capability isn’t prime of the category
Larger and heavier than Apple’s AirPods Professional
Price ticket would possibly put you off
With CustomTune sound calibration, best-in-class noise cancellation, and a smaller, smarter bodily design, Bose isn’t simply reaching for the crown with the QuietComfort Earbuds II, it’s already seized it.
Value When Reviewed
Greatest Costs At present: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
There’s a lot innovation within the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II that these breakthrough buds deserve a brand new title—and demand critical consideration by anybody out there for a brand new high-end cell audio expertise.
However instantaneous title recognition is difficult to come back by, so Bose is to be forgiven for merely attaching a roman numeral to its greatest noise-cancelling in-ear headphones. After per week of great exercise in my ears, the QC Earbuds II have turn into my go-to, top-of-the-pile faves.
This evaluation is a part of TechHive’s protection of the very best noise-cancelling headphones.
Bose is celebrating a first-of-its-kind sound personalization expertise right here—the corporate calls it CustomTune—that calibrates each these earbuds’ audio efficiency and their noise-cancellation prowess to every consumer’s ears. Powered by a personalized model of Qualcomm’s QCC5171 Bluetooth chipset and Bose’s a long time of proprietary DSP algorithm growth, CustomTune works its magic with out a lot as a “Sure, please” from the consumer.
The processing occurs routinely everytime you take away the buds from their case and put them in your ears. In lower than half a second, a self-triggered musical woosh check tone measures how your ear canals “warp” that tone. The circuitry compensates for any distortion, customized tunes the buds’ equalization, and likewise enhances noise cancellation to offer each the best frequency curve and what Bose is looking “the very best noise discount” ever present in any earbuds or over-the-ear headphones. As I’ll get into in a bit, my listening assessments point out that’s not simply hyperbole.
The QuietComfort Earbuds II have been bodily redesigned as nicely. They appear a lot cooler and the consolation stage is manner up. You gained’t be listening to many ideas of “if in case you have the sooner mannequin, there isn’t a lot must improve.”
Overlook the geeky, boxy, rectangular look of the unique. Whereas that enabled a much bigger sound discipline than the competitors might ship, it additionally broadcast a brash, “take note of me” bodily persona that was, how can I say this properly, distinctive. Bose’s redesign additionally eliminates the outsized stabilizer wings that had been fused to its predecessor’s ear ideas. These annoying appendages needed to be fastidiously shoved into every of your ears’ concha to maintain the buds from falling out.
These nonetheless are usually not essentially the most petite buds, however the QC Earbud IIs are actually extra discrete in look and extra comfy for long-term use. They’re about one-third smaller and 20 % lighter, with a again that’s been re-shaped to cling tighter to the ears. And there’s now a two-piece (as a substitute of built-in) ear tip Match Equipment that permits you to individually swap between three sizes of silicone ear ideas and three sizes of tiny, barely-there stability bands. The latter additionally hug the concha fairly nicely, with out making a painful pest of themselves.
If I had my druthers, I’d rename this stuff the Bose Bliss Buds, as a result of they carry out with such relaxed grace and assurance. They sound pure, nicely balanced, and detailed with no matter form of music you throw at them, from bass-rich dance pop and hip hop (Ariana Grande, Da Brat), to stomping rock (Foo Fighters, AC/DC), to big-band countrypolitan (Lyle Lovett’s new beaut 12th of June)—all method of jazz and high-toned classical, too. They carry the fog and add area round every voice and instrument.
I’m listening to manufacturing prospers beforehand buried in mixes, subtleties that add to the sense of three-dimensional presence, environment, musical intrigue, and romance. Take the additional soupçon of Hammond B3 vibrato emotionally enriching the late Joey DeFrancesco’s collaborative album session with Van Morrison, The Prophet Speaks. Or the delicate, ethereal interaction of muted trumpeter Enrico Rava and keyboardist Fred Hersch on the oh-so-tasteful The Tune Is You. Classics are value revisiting for beforehand hidden touches that now come out of the shadows, such because the semi-buried, second stage of background jingle-jangles I’m now listening to from ace percussionist Victor Feldman on Steely Dan’s “Do It Once more.”
Stephen Colbert lately acted shocked when visitor James Taylor shared how he was everywhere in the manufacturing on Joni Mitchell’s basic album Blue. Mr. Late Present ought to have listened on these buds, as a result of J.T.’s candy guitar chording jumps out in plaintive and trademarked reduction. And for follow-ups, Steve, transfer on to my favourite younger L.A. folks rocker of the hour—Madison Cunningham—so clear in lyrical intent and playful with mod electronica results on her new album Revealer as these buds, um, reveal.
Noise-cancelling earphone expertise has lengthy taken knocks for dulling the sound efficiency or introducing undesirable hiss—as soon as thought-about mandatory byproducts when eliminating these droning jet engine or rumbling prepare sounds that wearers wished to flee. It’s the rationale purists have lengthy demanded a swap on their earphones to show noise-cancelling circuitry off.
However get this: The Bose QC Earbuds II don’t want no stinking defeat swap. Out of the field, noise cancelling is at all times on—even once you swap modes from Quiet (full noise cancellation) to the choice Conscious Mode with ActiveSense, which selectively permits some exterior sounds once you don’t need to lose contact along with your environment. For those who insist, it’s attainable to damp down the noise cancellation to a decrease stage or seemingly to a full “off” place by wonderful tuning and storing one or two elective “create mode” settings, obtainable within the Bose Music app.
Nonetheless, I defy you to detect any dereliction within the QC Earbud II’s musical supply with noise cancelling cooking. Bose’s CustomTune circuitry calibrates the noise-reduction sign to your ears and the wants of the second with surgical precision, focusing on frequencies that had been beforehand tough to cut back with out taking a blunt axe to every little thing within the forest.
I heard this for myself throughout a latest go to to my neighborhood swimming pool. After placing within the Bose buds, I might kiss goodbye—concurrently—the loud boombox soundtrack (“Eye of the Tiger”) pumping up an aqua aerobics class, the screaming tykes and gurgling water fountain aerating the newborn pool, and a few close by gabsters speaking about—gee, I’ve no concept. If Bose ever does rename these earbuds, it also needs to contemplate retagging Quiet mode as Oblivion, because of the best way it takes you out of your zone and deep into the music.
Making or taking cellphone calls when carrying this stuff is likewise a pleasure—the talker on the different finish intones with a brighter presence than I’m used to listening to on my high-grade Ooma web cellphone rig at dwelling. And from the opposite finish, I’ve been complimented on how clear and crisp I sound.
However take word: Whereas Bose’s noise cancellation does eradicate virtually all environmental sound distractions within the wearer’s ears throughout cellphone calls, the listener on the different finish will not be fairly as lucky. Bose says the microphone (considered one of 4 in every bud) devoted to calls and Apple/Android voice help presents “improved voice pickup enabled by an up to date noise removing algorithm,” but it surely’s not fairly the identical.
Sure, these buds are higher than others at blocking out wind interference once you’re exterior, however when carrying the buds and answering a name in my kitchen, I used to be begged to “please flip down the TV,” which I’d beforehand set to blast stage for testing functions. Comically, this loud “breaking information” chatter wasn’t bothering me in any respect on my oblivious, noise-cancelled finish. I’d even forgotten the telly was on.
Are Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II straightforward to arrange and function?
These earbuds couldn’t be easier to get going. Simply level your smartphone’s digicam on the QR code on the bundle to obtain the Bose Music app. As soon as open, it’s going to search and discover your earbuds and doubtless instigate a firmware replace. Be affected person; mine took virtually half-hour to finish.
The earbuds will then routinely begin looking for Bluetooth connectivity to your streaming supply—or you may change that up by tapping the Bluetooth refresh button on the again of the charging case. The Bluetooth 5.3 radio in these buds is kind of strong. I might journey two home flooring away from the music beaming from my iPhone 12 Professional and nonetheless maintain onto a steady sign.
The buds arrive with the medium dimension (of three) silicone ear ideas and the smallest of three sizes of silicone stability bands pre-installed. I ran the “Match Take a look at” within the Bose app, which instigated a CustomTune violin swoop sound, then immediately declared I had a superb seal. Later, I made a decision the buds had been a mite tight, so I switched to the smallest-size ear ideas and once more obtained a superb match endorsement.
With this mixture, I can comfortably take heed to music (and speak on the cellphone) for all 6-plus hours this stuff will play on one cost. If taking a break, returning the Bose buds to their dental-floss-sized case shortly tops off their batteries. The case can re-charge absolutely depleted buds in a single hour, whereas a mere 20-minute cost offers as much as two hours of playback. The case itself absolutely recharges (for 18 hours of backup energy) in three hours through USB-C. A brief (12-inch) USB-A-to-USB-C cable is included, however an AC adapter will not be.
Perform-duplicating capacitive contact controls on each left and proper earbuds supply a fast-tap choice to pause and play (which is simple to set off by accident) or reply a name, whereas a well-finessed up/down finger slide raises/lowers the quantity. Two faucets on both bud will skip a observe, three faucets replay the earlier observe, and a protracted maintain on both aspect both prompts your cellphone’s voice assistant or shifts by way of the 2 preset noise-cancelling modes and two customized noise-cancelling modes when you determine so as to add them.
Customizable adjustment of bass, midrange, and treble settings is enabled within the Bose Music app. However actually, I discovered the CustomTune EQ was so spot-on and satisfying, so near “because the artist wished me to listen to the music,” that I’ve largely left the EQ flat. Even listening to rock and rap, I’ve by no means felt the necessity to crank up the bass greater than a pair notches, though all three EQ settings could be adjusted plus or minus a full eight steps.
What’s coming subsequent?
Updates to the Bose Music app and linked QC II earbuds “can be launched over time so as to add new options and advantages,” says the maker. I might readily think about them including spatial audio assist to succeed in characteristic parity with headphones and earbuds from the likes of Sony and Apple. An automated “pause audio playback when the wearer speaks” choice, as discovered on Sony’s intelligent new LinkBud-S buds, can be welcome, too.
When all is alleged and completed, nonetheless, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II don’t want a lot within the tweaking division. For those who simply can’t stand black buds, a Soapstone (off-white) shade variant can be obtainable later this 12 months on the similar $299 value because the shiny Triple Black model you may choose up now. However consider all of the musical enjoyment you’ll miss whereas ready.
With CustomTune sound calibration, best-in-class noise cancellation, and a smaller, smarter bodily design, Bose isn’t simply reaching for the crown with its QuietComfort Earbuds II, it’s already seized it.