We judge all headphones on a scale of 10, analyzing the categories we think are most important: sound, comfort, design, battery performance, and, if applicable, special features.
Here's how the Bose QuietComfort earbuds stack up.
The Bose QuietComfort earbuds are the audio giant’s first completely wireless offering with noise-canceling tech. The product launched alongside the Bose Sport wireless earbuds in September, and I started using them on the daily shortly after their debut.
Curiously, the top-shelf wireless earbuds arrived after a long wait and under a different name than we expected. Bose hinted that it had “breakthrough truly wireless Bose Noise Cancelling Earbuds 700” in the works during the unveiling of the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 in mid-2019. Well over a year of anticipation later, here's our hands-on review.
• Sound: 9/10
• Comfort: 8/10
• Design: 9/10
• Battery Performance: 8/10
• Overall Score: 9/10
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BOSE QUIETCOMFORT:
The buds have best-in-class noise-canceling tech
Their sound is balanced and typical for a Bose product
The earbuds are water-resistant with IPX4 rating
Their storage case is compatible with wireless charging
When it comes to blocking out ambient noise, the Bose QuietComfort wireless earbuds are hands-down the best in the business. Each bud packs two built-in microphones, which, combined with the audio maker’s patented tech, constantly work to remove unnecessary racket. This allows users to focus on the content they are listening to, or simply enjoy the silence, which I was able to do even with a busy Manhattan street below my apartment.
The noise-canceling experience is customizable via the Bose Music mobile app. There are 10 distinct noise-cancellation levels to choose from, so quiet bliss is always achievable. Users can adjust the noise cancellation and activate a transparency mode via the left bud’s touch controls.
The signature Bose sound of the QuietComfort earbuds is well-balanced and ideal for any content. Everything I listened to on the earbuds — from podcasts to my favorite downtempo tracks — sounded great.
Unlike their rivals, the QuietComfort earbuds have a solid bass output even at low volume levels, courtesy of the company’s Active EQ tech. The latter boosts the lows, allowing listeners to relish bass-rich tracks without the need for more decibels. Active EQ is great for gaming and streaming video, too.
The QuietComfort earbuds performed superbly during telephone, FaceTime, Slack, and Zoom calls while I tested them. The right bud has a microphone array that’s designed to pick up the user’s voice and to reject external noise, so participants in virtual meetings heard me loud and clear every time. With the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 being a favorite of ours for work, I wasn't surprised by the proficiency of the brand's best earbuds to date.
In line with the expectations set by their name, the Bose QuietComfort earbuds are exceptionally comfortable and ideal for prolonged use. I wore them during a full workday and didn't experience any fatigue.
The bundled ear tips have an umbrella-like shape for improved comfort and noise isolation, as well as flexible wings to ensure that the buds always stay in place. Bose has included three sizes in the product’s retail package.
At 8.5 grams each, the QuietComfort have about the same weight as Sony’s WF-SP800N noise-canceling earbuds. At 5.4 grams per bud, the Apple AirPods Pro are still the product category’s gold standard for comfort.
The QuietComfort earbuds have a pleasantly understated design with slightly curved housings and subtle Bose branding. They are available in black or soapstone, with a matching charging case.
As far as the earbuds' touch controls go, they work surprisingly well, but there’s no option to adjust the volume or to skip a track. The aforementioned feature needs to be set as a custom long press shortcut on the left bud. Long-pressing the right bud is reserved for summoning a virtual assistant.
I like that the Bose QuietComfort are water- and dust-resistant with an IPX4 rating. This means that users can enjoy distraction-free rainy walks or workouts.
BATTERY PERFORMANCE: 8/10
According to Bose, the QuietComfort earbuds can last up to 6 hours between trips to the USB-C charging case. The bundled accessory holds two additional full charges for a total of 18 hours.
Some might find the product’s carrying case a tad big, but I believe that its support for wireless charging is worth the extra bulk. I also like that the gadget has fast-charging capabilities, which can deliver up to 2 hours of wireless playback after only 15 minutes.
The battery endurance of the Bose QuietComfort is on par with that of Sony’s range-topping WF-1000XM3 earbuds, but behind that of the WF-SP800 earbuds from the same brand. To be fair, the QuietComfort earbuds are miles ahead of the WF-SP800 when it comes to noise cancellation.
The Bose QuietComfort wireless earbuds are the product category’s new gold standard. At $279.95, they are pricey, but worth the splurge for peerless noise cancellation in a small form factor.
If uncompromising audio fidelity is what you are after, the Sony WF-1000XM3 are a solid choice with a slightly lower price tag. However, Bose’s biggest rival lacks an official rating for water resistance.
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