Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II review: Noise-cancelling kings

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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
Battery
6 hours
Water-Resistance
IPX4
Weight
6g
Alex Choros
Group Reviews Editor
Read More
November 10, 2022
3 min read

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Quick verdict: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II could use a few more modern trimmings like multi-point and wireless charging, but they've taken the crown as the noise-cancelling earbuds to beat. 

pro
Pros
pro Excellent noise-cancelling
pro Long battery
pro Great sound
con
Cons
con Large case
con Out of the box sound needs some tweaks
con No multi-point or wireless charging

It's hard not to associate Bose with noise-cancelling, but in the true wireless earbud space, Sony's WF series (like the excellent WF-1000XM4s) have been the buds to beat over the last few years.

Sony's reign has come to an end, however, with the launch of QuietComfort Earbuds II. Bose's new earbuds pull it ahead of the competition, and should be the new go-to for anyone looking to make the world a little quieter.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

How much do QuietComfort Earbuds II cost in Australia?

Store
Price
More info
Amazon
From
$429
The Good Guys
From
$429

QuietComfort Earbuds II noise-cancelling and sound quality

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

The QuietComfort Earbuds II live up to their name thanks to extremely good noise cancellation. Even a quick listen immediately proves they're in the top tier when it comes to earbuds, but I'd say they're currently best in class.

There are some situations where the AirPods Pro 2 perform slightly better; midrange noises like insect chirps were damped more by Apple's offering, for example. But these kinds of differences become negligible when you're listening to music. The QuietComfort Earbuds II also make up for this by being better at blocking lower-end frequencies like deep rumbles. Both sets are impressive, but Bose takes the win here.

Conversely, the AirPods Pro 2 are just that little bit better when it comes to their ambient mode. They just sound that little bit more natural than the QuietComfort Earbuds II.

In terms of audio quality, the QuietComfort Earbuds II sound great for the most part. My only ding is that there's slightly too much treble emphasis. This isn't extreme enough to cause sibilance, but an issue that became noticeable when putting the buds through the paces with our testing playlist.

In Portishead's "Humming", the high-pitched snare drum became distractingly obvious. I found similar issues in our clarity tests - Radiohead's "The National Anthem" and Opeth's "The Funeral Portrait" - where the frantic brass and shredding guitars overpowered the rest of the mix.

While we judge audio products on their out-of-the-box settings, this is easy enough to fix. The Bose companion app has a fair robust EQ. You can tinker with it yourself, but I found the "Treble reduction" preset balanced out the earbuds nicely and solved the aforementioned issues.

Microphone quality isn't bad, but recordings sound less natural than what you get on a pair of AirPods.

QuietComfort Earbuds II battery & design

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II next to AirPods Pro 2

The QuietComfort Earbuds II deliver up to six hours of battery per charge, which is on the higher end for noise-cancelling earbuds. You get a total of 24 hours with the charging case, which is a little less impressive, especially given the chonky the case is. It's about 1.5x times larger than the AirPods Pro case. You'll definitely notice it in your pocket.

It's worth noting you can't entirely disable noise-cancelling on the QuietComfort Earbuds II (just like the QuietComfort 45 over-ear headphones), so there's no way to get extra battery in a pinch. Your only choices are having it on, or swapping to ambient mode.

Just like the battery case, the QuietComfort Earbuds II are rather thicc. They're noticeably bulkier than a pair of AirPods. As such, I was surprised by just how comfortable the QuietComfort Earbuds II are. I've worn them for hours at a time, almost forgetting they're there.

I'd partly attribute this to the wing-tip stabiliser. It gives your ears another point of contact with the buds, and helps balance them. This also results in the most secure feeling fit I've had on a pair of earbuds lately. In the box, you'll naturally find different-sized silicon tips, but there are also three sizes of wings.

As with most other earbuds, the QuietComfort Earbuds II rely on touch for playback controls. The implementation is better than most earbuds, only requiring a gentle tap to pause your music, for example. It doesn't feel like you're driving the buds into your ear canal. At the same time, they're not so sensitive that adjusting the buds is going to pause your music.

In terms of other features, the QuietComfort Earbuds II are rated IPX4 for sweat resistance, which makes them perfect for the gym. Just note that the case isn't. On the other hand, they are missing multi-point, wireless charging, and any kind of fast pairing, which are weird omissions for high-end earbuds in 2022.

Are the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II worth buying?

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are a great pair of earbuds where my only real complaints are the bulky case and a lack of a few modern trimmings. These don't distract from the excellent noise cancellation; it's genuinely impressive that earbuds can block out this much noise.

Retailing for $429, the QuietComfort Earbuds II are a little dearer than the competition, but not egregiously so. If you're not put off by the large lad of a battery case, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are a great buy.

How do the QuietComfort Earbuds II compare?

Product
Rating
Active noise-cancelling
Water resistance
Availability
Jabra Elite Active 4Jabra Elite 4 Active
3.3 out of 5 stars
3.25
From
$179
6 hrs (buds)
28 hrs (case/total)
propro
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 ProSamsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$349
5 hrs (buds)
23 hrs (case/total)
propro

Disclaimer: Pricing and deal information only accurate as of the last page update. 

How we review wireless earbuds

When we review earbuds, broadly speaking, we're looking at five main considerations:

  • Sound: Obviously. Do they sound good? 
  • Comfort & Design: Are they nice to wear? 
  • Features: Is the battery good? Is the connectivity reliable? What's the noise-cancelling like?
  • Vibe: What's the overall experience like? 
  • Value: Are they good for the money?

While audio products can be quite subjective for many reasons, we have standardised testing procedures across the team designed to help us look at the category in a consistent way. You can read more about how we review wireless earbuds here

Alex Choros
Written by
Alex Choros
Alex Choros is the Group Reviews Editor for Clearlink Australia's local websites - Reviews.org, Safewise, and WhistleOut - and the Managing Editor for WhistleOut Australia. He's been writing about consumer technology for over eight years and is an expert on the Australian telco sector, to the point where he knows far too many phone and internet plans by heart. He also contributes to Gizmodo and Lifehacker, and makes regular appearances on 2GB. Outside of tech, Alex loves long hikes, red wine, and death metal.

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