PROS

  • Engaging audio performance with deep lows and bright highs
  • Fantastic low- and high-frequency noise cancellation
  • Useful Active Aware mode
  • Water-resistant build

CONS

  • No way to turn off noise cancellation altogether
  • The case doesn’t support wireless charging

BOSE QUIETCOMFORT EARBUDS II SPECS

TypeIn-Canal
WirelessYes
True WirelessYes
Connection TypeBluetooth
Water/Sweat-ResistantYes
Active Noise CancellationYes

Bose released the QuietComfort Earbuds, its first set of truly wireless noise-canceling headphones, two years ago. Since then, Bose has occupied a prominent position in the market for in-ear active noise cancellation (ANC), but Sony has given it a run for its money with the $279.99 WF-1000XM4, and many more competitive models at lower price points from companies like Anker, Jabra, JBL, and Sennheiser aren’t as far behind as they once were. But the brand-new QuietComfort Earbuds II ($299.99) raised the bar significantly.

Simply said, they provide excellent noise cancellation for both strong low-frequency sounds and higher-frequency noise. Anyone who enjoys deep bass and clear highs should want the Bose audio characteristic, which is still expertly crafted. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II quickly receive our Editors’ Choice award for providing the greatest in-ear noise cancellation we’ve ever experienced. We reward items for being the best at what they do.

A Secure Fit and Decent Battery Life

The QC Earbuds II protrudes from the case in a way that so many truly wireless earphones don’t, and are available in Triple Black or Soapstone variants (black or grayish-white, respectively). Each earpiece’s body is encircled by silicone stability bands, which come in sizes S, M, and L. These bands form a type of ridge that makes it simple to remove the pair from the case. This will be a relief if you’ve ever struggled to remove the shiny AirPods from their slick casing.

Fitness

Together with the bands, the oval silicone eartips (also available in sizes S, M, and L) offer a snug in-ear fit that hardly ever needs adjusting. In addition, the QC Earbuds II is far more streamlined than their predecessors, looking less like beetles crawling into your ear and more like earbuds should. However, they still fall on the chunkier side of the in-ear range. The earpieces have wide, flat stems that extend vertically and bear the Bose logo. The ports in the driver enclosure, which is a bit big, are covered in acoustic mesh to keep out dust and moisture.

Earbud’s Feature

The audio is delivered internally by 9.3mm dynamic drivers (Bose still stubbornly withholds the frequency range). Four microphones are housed in each earpiece, including an internal and exterior pair for ANC as well as two beam-forming mics for voice recognition. The headphones are Bluetooth 5.3 compliant and work with the AAC and SBC codecs but not AptX. That compares favorably to the second-generation AirPods Pro, but the Sony WF-1000MX4 also supports the LDAC codec, which can handle high-resolution audio. Unfortunately, this forces Android users to choose between the ineffective AAC option and the default SBC option.

Each earpiece’s stem has a capacitive touch control panel on the wide outside strip. To control playing and answer or switch calls, simply tap one of the earbuds. Double taps advance a track (or end or reject incoming calls). Triple taps advance a track backward. Finally, swiping up or down will raise or lower the volume, correspondingly. These controls, which are identical on both sides, are simple to operate.

A shortcut, as described by Bose, can also be activated by touching and holding either earpiece. In essence, you may individually designate this gesture to either activate your voice assistant (just the default one on your device; no third-party ones) or switch between the various ANC modes. We don’t see why Bose didn’t just make this part of the default control structure as there are just two alternatives available and you may give a separate shortcut to each earpiece. It’s sad that the only control modification option available in the program is to choose what this gesture accomplishes.

Water Resistance

You shouldn’t worry about wearing the earpieces during exercise or a small rain shower because they have an IPX4 classification, which indicates they can survive minor splashes and mist from any direction. Although Bose claims it delivers a minimum amount of resistance to any remaining sweat that may be on the earpieces when you dock them, the case is not IPX4-rated. The Jabra Elite 7 Pro, which has an IP57 rating, outperforms this degree of water resistance by a significant margin.

The new case is a huge improvement over the old one, but it’s still fairly big by most people’s standards, and the battery life isn’t that great either. A front LED shows the charging state, an inside LED flashes a variety of colors depending on the pairing mode, and the flip-top lid reveals the charging stations. Although most pairing procedures are automatic, there is a reset/pairing button on the back of the device and a USB-C charging port on the bottom (you get a USB-C-to-USB-A cable in the box). At this price, it’s surprising that the case doesn’t support wireless charging.

According to Bose, the QuietComfort Earbuds II has a six-hour battery life on a single charge and an 18-hour battery life in the case. Of course, depending on your preferred listening volume, your results may differ. According to Bose, a 20-minute charge can provide up to two hours of listening time and a fully charged battery takes three hours from empty to full. All of these estimates fall within the typical range; they are neither egregiously low nor particularly high (especially in light of the strong ANC).

Conclusion

Instead of being an incremental upgrade, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II is a true advancement. The app has a few new capabilities, the earpieces and case have a new design, and the active noise cancellation is the best we’ve ever experienced from a set of headphones. The typical bass-forward and bright Bose sound profile will appeal to the majority of listeners, but if you’re seeking the highest audio quality, we still recommend the Sony WF-1000XM4 because it supports LDAC and has better in-app EQ. The ANC performance here, though, is undeniably a significant improvement for the overall category, earning the QC Earbuds II our Editors’ Choice award for noise-canceling earbuds.

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