#Gadgets

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: Very good ANC plus good ear fit

Bose is a well-known brand for noise-cancelling headphones, but its first attempt at true wireless earbuds, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, was not very impressive. They were bulky, expensive, and lacked some features that competitors offered. However, Bose has redeemed itself with the second-generation model, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II (QCE II), which are smaller, lighter, more comfortable, and more advanced than their predecessors.

The QCE II are among the best true wireless earbuds you can buy right now, especially if you value noise cancellation and sound quality. They offer the world’s best noise cancellation that adapts to your environment and your ear shape, thanks to the CustomTune technology that optimizes the sound performance for each ear. They also deliver a balanced and detailed sound that is enjoyable for any genre of music.

The QCE II are not perfect, though. They still have a relatively short battery life of up to 6 hours per charge, and they do not support wireless charging or high-definition wireless codecs. They also have mediocre call quality and touch controls that can be finicky. And they are not cheap either, costing $299 at launch.

If you can afford them and don’t mind their shortcomings, the QCE II are worth considering for their excellent noise cancellation and sound quality. They are a significant improvement over the first-generation model and a strong contender against rivals like Sony and Apple.

Design

The QCE II have a sleek and elegant design that is available in two limited-edition colors: Midnight Blue and Eclipse Gray with brushed bronze logos. They are much smaller and lighter than the original QCE, measuring 1.5 x 1 x 1 inches and weighing 0.3 ounces each. They also come with soft silicone eartips and stability bands that are available in three sizes (S/M/L) to ensure a comfortable and secure fit.

The QCE II have an IPX4 rating, which means they can resist splashes of water and sweat, but they are not fully waterproof or dustproof. They also have touch-sensitive surfaces on each bud that allow you to control audio playback, noise-cancellation modes, call functions, and voice assistants. However, the touch controls can be inconsistent and unresponsive at times, and they do not support volume adjustment.

The QCE II come with a charging case that is also smaller than the previous model, measuring 3.5 x 2 x 1.25 inches and weighing 2.6 ounces. The case has a USB-C port for charging and four LED indicators to show the battery level. The case can hold up to 12 hours of extra battery life for the buds, but it does not support wireless charging.

Noise Cancellation

The QCE II have the best noise cancellation of any true wireless earbuds on the market right now. They use a combination of passive isolation from the eartips and active noise cancellation (ANC) from six microphones on each bud to block out external sounds. The ANC is adaptive and personalized, meaning it adjusts to your environment and your ear shape automatically.

The QCE II use CustomTune technology to optimize the sound performance for each ear. The buds send out a chime to learn your ear canal’s unique shape and then calibrate the noise cancellation and sound quality accordingly. You can also take a Fit Test in the Bose Music app to make sure you have the right eartips size for optimal performance.

The QCE II have three noise-cancellation modes: Quiet Mode, Aware Mode, and Off Mode. Quiet Mode is the most effective mode that silences background noise completely or almost completely. It is ideal for situations where you want to focus on your music or podcasts without any distractions.

Aware Mode is a transparency mode that lets you hear some ambient sounds for safety or convenience reasons. It uses ActiveSense technology to adjust the level of transparency depending on how loud or quiet your surroundings are. For example, it can mute loud noises like sirens or horns while letting you hear softer sounds like voices or announcements.

Off Mode is a mode that turns off ANC completely and relies only on passive isolation from the eartips. It is useful for saving battery life or when you don’t need any noise cancellation at all.

You can switch between these modes by tapping and holding on either bud or by using the Bose Music app. You can also customize which modes you want to cycle through in the app.

Sound Quality

The QCE II have a balanced and detailed sound quality that is suitable for any genre of music. They use dynamic drivers with neodymium magnets to deliver clear highs, mids, and lows without any distortion or harshness. They also have an adjustable equalizer in the Bose Music app that lets you tweak the bass, treble, and midrange levels to your preference.

The QCE II have a wide soundstage that creates a spacious and immersive listening experience. They also have good stereo separation and imaging that make it easy to locate different instruments and vocals in the mix.

The QCE II support Bluetooth 5.3 for wireless connectivity with compatible devices within 30 feet of range. They also support AAC and SBC codecs for wireless audio transmission, but they do not support aptX or LDAC codecs for higher-definition audio quality.

Battery Life

The QCE II have a decent but not outstanding battery life of up to 6 hours per charge with ANC on. This is slightly better than the original QCE’s 5 hours per charge but still lower than some competitors like Sony’s WF-1000XM4 (8 hours) or Apple’s AirPods Pro (4.5 hours).

The QCE II’s charging case can provide up to 12 hours of additional battery life for the buds, which means you can get up to 18 hours of total listening time with ANC on before needing to plug in again.

The QCE II support fast charging via USB-C cable that can give you up to 2 hours of playback time with just 15 minutes of charging time.

However, the QCE II do not support wireless charging via Qi-compatible pads or devices, which is a feature that some rivals offer.

Call Quality

The QCE II have mediocre call quality that can be affected by background noise and wind interference. They use four beamforming microphones on each bud to pick up your voice clearly while reducing ambient sounds.

However, they do not have any dedicated noise-cancellation microphones or algorithms for calls like some competitors do. This means that your voice can still sound muffled or distorted in noisy or windy environments.

The QCE II also have some latency issues when making calls or using voice assistants like Siri or Google Assistant. There can be a noticeable delay between when you speak and when you hear a response from the other end.

Verdict

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are an excellent pair of true wireless earbuds that offer the best noise cancellation and sound quality in their class. They are comfortable to wear, easy to use, and stylish to look at.

They are not flawless though; they have some drawbacks such as no wireless charging support, no high-def wireless codecs support, mediocre call quality, and high price tag.

If you can overlook these shortcomings and afford to splurge $299 on them, then you will be rewarded with an amazing listening experience that is hard to beat by any other true wireless earbuds right now.

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