Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Review
Pros: ANC customization, sound quality, comfort over long periods
Cons: Easy to fall out, hefty cost, not great for exercise
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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
$279 at Amazon
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|Pros||ANC customization, sound quality, comfort over long periods||Sound quality, secure fit, water resistance, very portable, battery life, great in-app EQ||Unique design, sound quality, battery life||Good sound quality, active noise cancellation, great user interface||Great price for high performance, good sound quality, portability, charging case|
|Cons||Easy to fall out, hefty cost, not great for exercise||Noise cancellation only average||No charging case, heavy, no noise cancellation||Expensive, Android users lose many of the unique features||Bulky, uncomfortable for long periods|
|Bottom Line||These buds excel with their many Active Noise Cancellation features, but that's about it||Our favorite earbuds to recommend combine great sound with a secure fit and impressive battery life to keep up with your lifestyle||These unique high-quality athletically-inclined earbuds are excellent for high-intensity activity without blocking out your surroundings||For Apple users that are willing to pay a premium for great sound and versatility, these are a great choice||A quality, high-scoring product with a price tag that won't break the bank|
|Rating Categories||Bose QuietComfort E...||Jaybird Vista 2||Bose Sport Open Ear...||Apple AirPods Pro||Amazon Echo Buds (2...|
|Sound Quality (30%)|
|Athletic Performance (20%)|
|Battery Life (15%)|
|Ease Of Use (5%)|
|Specs||Bose QuietComfort E...||Jaybird Vista 2||Bose Sport Open Ear...||Apple AirPods Pro||Amazon Echo Buds (2...|
|Waterproof Rating||IPX4||IP68 buds
|Measured Battery Life (hours)||6.5||9||9.5||5||5|
|Claimed Battery Life (hours)||6||8||8||4.5||5|
|Charging Carrying Case?||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Wireless Charging Option?||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The selling point for these buds is their impressive Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) which offers several different customization options and modes. These earbuds are perfect for those folks who will be using their earbuds in a wide variety of noisy scenarios where dialing in the noise cancellation is best utilized.
The Bose QuietComfort offers exceptional clarity. The music we played through these buds was consistently clear, balanced, and immersive. The bass, while not quite as wonderous as a few competitors, is warm, deep, and smooth. The music was also incredibly full, marking a pretty significant soundstage, particularly for earbuds. However, the sound quality did dip a bit when we jumped from music playback into a phone call.
We scored the phone calls we made with these Bluetooth earbuds from both the perspective of a caller using the buds and a receiver using a standard mobile device on the other end. The caller reported experiencing far away, muted sound, as well as a bit of volume fluctuation. The receiver reported the sound quality as generally clear but with some fuzziness and abrupt sounds as if the buds' microphone had a difficult time discerning between the speaker's voice and ambient sound. Overall, while the Bose QuietComfort buds offered great sound quality during playback—giving us clear podcasts and exceptional music--- they aren't the first buds we'd recommend if you anticipate using them for frequent phone calls.
Active Noise Cancellation
This is where these buds are truly exceptional. They have an ANC range of levels 0-10, you can set 3 favorite ANC levels and cycle through them by double-tapping the left earbud. We loved the "Auto Transparency" feature, which automatically adjusts ANC to the lowest level if you remove one earbud. The ANC and passthrough features can also be disabled if you desire. Finally, you can set a preferred "Shortcut" to enable when you touch and hold the left bud, you can choose to hear battery level, skip forward, or skip back.
The Bose QuietComfort buds offer a decent amount of customization when it comes to comfort. There are three distinctly sized ear tips and earfins which are strong but flexible enough for a secure, comfortable fit in most ears. Fair warning these buds may hang out over the front of the ear a bit just by the nature of their design. That being said, these buds are comfortable to wear for long periods and the flexible earfins didn't hit any pressure points or feel too tight. If you need a pair of earbuds for long periods of wear, like to keep a playlist or an audiobook going during a long shift, these may be just what you're looking for.
These buds scored around average in athletic performance tests relative to the other Bluetooth earbuds we've reviewed. This is impressive because the Bose QuietComfort earbuds are not designed specifically for use during intensive physical activity. The strong and flexible earfins are work pretty well to keep the buds in place while, for instance, running. But, these remain big and heavy and wiggle out of place on occasion. They're also pretty standard in resisting sweat, sporting that middle-of-the-road IPX4 water resistance rating.
The bottom line is, while the buds are comfortable to work out in, it becomes kind of difficult to keep them securely in your ears during high-intensity exercise.
Battery life is definitely the Bose QuietComfort's weak point. The specs listed for these earbuds claim that they can hold six hours of playback time per full charge, toward the lower end of the Bluetooth true wireless earbud pack. When we tested this claim by playing music from the buds continuously after a full charge, the buds actually exceeded their fairly dismal six hours of battery life claim, but only by half an hour. Six and a half hours of playback on a single charge certainly isn't awful, but in a landscape of buds that can go for upwards of eight or nine hours on a single charge, these buds' strong suit isn't their longevity.
As with most true wireless earbuds on the market, this pair comes with a carrying case that simultaneously charges and protects the earbuds.
The QuietComfort earbuds are well-made, but the larger size and shape, when compared to other Bluetooth buds, makes them a bit more prone to dropping. They aren't necessarily designed for athletic use, so they don't have many of the added durability features you'll find on other true wireless buds. They're on the heavier end of the field as well, weighing in at 0.67 ounces, meaning that while there are certainly heavier buds, these are far from compact. These buds come with a hard-shell charging case, but the case is kind of bulky and kind of thick to comfortably store in your pocket.
Ease of Use
The Bose QuietComfort earbuds are not cheap. At almost double the price of some of our other earbuds, these are actually the most expensive Bluetooth true wireless headphones that we've tested. While the buds offer exceptional sound quality and some of the most extensive ANC options we've seen, their cost can be prohibitive. Overall, these buds scored fairly standard over all of our tests and metrics, and we have trouble justifying their value when that standardness demands such an investment. If the extensive ANC capabilities are your absolute priority out of a pair of earbuds, then maybe the QuietComfort's are for you. If not though, we'd say that there are much better values than this in the Bluetooth true wireless earbud world.
If active noise cancellation customization is your end-all-be-all our of a pair of earbuds, then the Bose QuietComfort model might be exactly right for you. If you're ambivalent towards this feature, then there are definitely other Bluetooth earbuds that are stronger in other qualities that won't break the bank nearly as much as these.
— Michelle Powell and John Giammona Wilber