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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Review

These buds excel with their many Active Noise Cancellation features, but that's about it
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Credit: Bose
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Price:   $279 List | $279.00 at Amazon
Pros:  ANC customization, sound quality, comfort over long periods
Cons:  Easy to fall out, hefty cost, not great for exercise
Manufacturer:   Bose
By Michelle Powell and John Giammona Wilber  ⋅  Jul 29, 2021
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 14
  • Sound Quality - 30% 9
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Athletic Performance - 20% 7
  • Battery Life - 15% 6
  • Portability - 10% 6
  • Ease of Use - 5% 7

Our Verdict

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are designed for the person who wants excellent playback sound quality in a variety of situations. Whether you're at home, on a busy commute, out for a walk, or just hanging out in a noisy area, these earbuds offer extensive Active Noise Cancellations functionalities that will ensure that you're always hearing your music, and the world, at the levels you want to. However, it seems that these buds were designed exclusively for this specific feature. They aren't the most portable, and their battery life leaves quite a bit to be desired. If you're looking for wireless earbuds that fall into the "active-wear" category, you're probably better off looking elsewhere.

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Pros ANC customization, sound quality, comfort over long periodsSound quality, secure fit, water resistance, very portable, battery life, great in-app EQUnique design, sound quality, battery lifeGood sound quality, active noise cancellation, great user interfaceGreat price for high performance, good sound quality, portability, charging case
Cons Easy to fall out, hefty cost, not great for exerciseNoise cancellation only averageNo charging case, heavy, no noise cancellationExpensive, Android users lose many of the unique featuresBulky, uncomfortable for long periods
Bottom Line These buds excel with their many Active Noise Cancellation features, but that's about itOur favorite earbuds to recommend combine great sound with a secure fit and impressive battery life to keep up with your lifestyleThese unique high-quality athletically-inclined earbuds are excellent for high-intensity activity without blocking out your surroundingsFor Apple users that are willing to pay a premium for great sound and versatility, these are a great choiceA 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%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Comfort (20%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Athletic Performance (20%)
7.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Battery Life (15%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Portability (10%)
6.0
9.0
5.0
10.0
9.0
Ease Of Use (5%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Specs Bose QuietComfort E... Jaybird Vista 2 Bose Sport Open Ear... Apple AirPods Pro Amazon Echo Buds (2...
Weight (oz) 0.67 0.47 1.04 0.38 0.47
Waterproof Rating IPX4 IP68 buds
IP54 case
IPX4 IPX4 IPX4
Measured Battery Life (hours) 6.5 9 9.5 5 5
Claimed Battery Life (hours) 6 8 8 4.5 5
Carrying Case? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Charging Carrying Case? Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Wireless Charging Option? Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Microphone? Yes Yes Yes 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.

Performance Comparison


The QuietComfort earbuds impress the most when it comes to their...
The QuietComfort earbuds impress the most when it comes to their active noise cancellation ability and customization.
Credit: Laura Casner

Sound Quality


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.

The feeling of setting up a new episode of your favorite podcast on...
The feeling of setting up a new episode of your favorite podcast on your new buds.
Credit: Laura Casner

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.

Comfort


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.


Enjoying the full range of customizations available to him through...
Enjoying the full range of customizations available to him through the Bose Music App.
Credit: Laura Casner

Athletic Performance


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.

Shoes: On, Sun: Out, Buds: In
Shoes: On, Sun: Out, Buds: In
Credit: Laura Casner

Battery Life


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.

Portability


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.


The QuietComfort utilizes touch sensors over buttons, improving the...
The QuietComfort utilizes touch sensors over buttons, improving the sleek look of these buds.
Credit: Laura Casner

Ease of Use


The Bose QuietComfort buds are one of our higher scoring buds in terms of user-friendliness. Their user interface consists of touch sensors that consistently work and are intuitively placed, but they don't give any sort of tactile or audible confirmation when they register a tap. These buds also feature a plethora of customizable options that are only viable through the Bose Music App, which, while not necessary to use the buds, we highly recommend if you intend on personalizing your tech. While these buds are extremely reliable and quick to set up out of the box, it would be nice if the app wasn't your sole avenue for customization.


This model isn't a great value for most people, but in our opinion...
This model isn't a great value for most people, but in our opinion, the value is there for those seeking to block out the outside world and focus.
Credit: Laura Casner

Value


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.

Conclusion


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