If you're ok with great rather than exceptional sound and don't require active noise cancellation, the Bose SoundLink Wireless II is a completely viable and significantly cheaper alternative to the flagship models from Bose and Sony. While the SoundLink Wireless II does have slightly weaker bass and lesser noise isolation than some of the wireless competition, that is really their only relative shortcoming (apart from lacking the Google Assistant button of its Bose sibling). If you want the absolute best you'll have to spend top dollar, but if you can stand sacrificing just a little bit of bass and active noise cancellation these headphones can save you quite a bit.Editor's Note: This gear review was updated on January 18, 2022, with more information on which products we prefer.
Bose SoundLink Wireless II Review
Pros: Great sound, comfortable
Cons: Noise isolation not on par with other high-end models
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Bose SoundLink Wireless II
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|Pros||Great sound, comfortable||Great sound quality, great noise cancellation, comfortable, user friendly features||Inexpensive, powerful bass, effective active noise cancellation, comfortable||Good sound quality, good active noise cancellation, less expensive than competitors||Fairly portable|
|Cons||Noise isolation not on par with other high-end models||Expensive, both sound quality and noise cancellation fall just short of being the best in the field||Lacks some brightness in mid and vocal ranges, headband may be to large for smaller heads||Not comfortable for those with larger ears/heads||Mediocre sound quality, not very comfortable, poor noise isolation|
|Bottom Line||A great choice if you don't care for active noise cancellation||Premium cans that offer unique features on top of great sound quality and noise cancellation||Impressively inexpensive given the sound quality, active noise-canceling performance, and comfort||An impressive combination of good quality at a reasonable price that makes for a good value||Sound quality and user experience doesn't live up to those of other, comparably priced models|
|Rating Categories||Bose SoundLink Wire...||Jabra Elite 85h||Soundcore Life Q20||JBL Live 650BTNC||Cowin E7 Pro|
|Sound Quality (30%)|
|Noise Isolation (25%)|
|User Friendliness (10%)|
|Specs||Bose SoundLink Wire...||Jabra Elite 85h||Soundcore Life Q20||JBL Live 650BTNC||Cowin E7 Pro|
|Manufacturer reported battery life (hours)||15||36||40||30||30|
|Measured weight (ounces)||7||10.5||9.3||9.1||10.6|
|Included case||Semi-hard case||Semi-hard case||Lined drawstring pouch||Lined drawstring pouch||Semi-hard case|
|Earcup padding cover material||Micro suede Alcantara||Leatherette||Leatherette||PU Leather||Synthetic protein leather|
|Charging cable length (inches)||47"||12"||40"||47"||N/A|
|Microphone for voice?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Onboard buttons||Volume, play/pause, forward/back||Volume, play/pause, forward/back, noise cancelling, voice assistant, power/bluetooth, answer/decline/mute calls, toggle between sound modes||Volume, multifunction, power, NC||Volume, play/pause, forward/back, noise cancelling, voice assistant, power/bluetooth, answer/decline/mute calls||Volume, play/pause, forward/back|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The SoundLink Wireless II offers a near-perfect balance of price and performance that provides close to field-leading wireless headphone quality at a less than premium price. If you don't mind having slightly less powerful bass than the best headphones you can buy, these headphones are a great deal.
In our sound quality testing, the SoundLink Wireless II was just behind the top-scoring models. It has exceptional clarity that is on par with the impressive Bose and Sonymodels. Where the SoundLink Wireless II falls short of these models is in the bass department. The bass is still plenty powerful to give rock ballads, and hip hop tracks solid backing but is still slightly lacking compared to the upper-tier models. The SoundLink Wireless II's clarity and bass are clear steps up from a budget model.
This is the one area where the SoundLink Wireless II does pale in comparison to the top-tier noise cancellation models. This is solely due to their lack of active noise cancellation. Bose does use fairly deep ear cups, which block out a fair amount of noise on their own, turning loud conversations into a muffled din. However, that can't compare to the active noise cancellation models, which adjust to those conversations and almost totally eliminate them.
Bose has a corner on comfortable design, and the SoundLink Wireless II is no exception. Bose uses plush, synthetic leather padding and deep earcups on all of their headphones, which makes for a cozy, hot-spot-free fit no matter your ear size.
The SoundLink Wireless II has simple volume controls and a multifunction button that acts as a play/pause button when pressed once, while multiple presses can skip tracks forward and back. Bose also includes an app that lets you adjust EQ settings for the headphones.
The SoundLink Wireless II is lightweight, weighing only 7 ounces, making them noticeably less heavy when worn throughout the day. A nice, semi-hard travel case is included, too. However, they don't fold down quite as small as other models; thus, they missed a top score in this metric.
Should You Buy the SoundLink Wireless II?
If you don't need active noise cancellation and just want great sound quality, the Bose SoundLink Wireless II is a great pair of wireless headphones. However, if you're willing to spend this much on headphones, many users may want to spend a bit more to get active noise cancellation to pair with that exceptional sound. The appeal largely depends on whether you like active noise cancellation. The price is fair considering the sound quality these headphones are capable of.
What Other Wireless Headphones Should You Consider?
If you want active noise cancellation, you're going to get a better overall value by spending more on the flagship model from Bose, the Bose Noise Cancelling 700. This model offers better performance in most test metrics and brings a better level of noise cancellation and sound quality to the table. While it does also sport a higher price tag, depending on what is important to you, this extra could be more than worth it.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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