High-end wireless earbuds are among the hottest items in the tech market right now, and Bose has launched a new product that may be a contender for the Top of 2021 lists: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. These earbuds are in the premium audio category and designed to go head-to-head with something like Apple’s Airpods Pro.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review
These buds pair with the free Bose Music app to give you a bit more customization and control.
Fit, feel and design
These earbuds are big and bulky, there’s no other way to describe them. With a fat oval design these do stick far out of your ears and are easily noticeable; they appear to be made more for male ears than for us ladies. Silicone ear fins do help keep them in place very securely, and from feeling like they’ll fall out if you move. So while they are huge, they’re secure and snug. When it comes to how they feel after a few hours, they stay comfortable and I was easily able to wear them for long stretches.
Similarly the case is rather large, so it’s more bag or backpack portable and would be less comfortable in a pocket. It latches closed, rather than clicks magnetically.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: Quiet Mode + Aware Mode
The QuietComfort Earbuds are built for noise cancellation, and it shows. The earbuds have a noise-cancelling sliding scale that is adjusted inside the Bose Music app that allows you to adjust the amount of outside noise that passes into your ears. This can be handy for situations where you need to allow some outside noise in or be aware of your surroundings but want to deemphasize them.
You can switch between Quiet Mode, which uses Acoustic Noise Cancelling to cancel all outside noise, and Aware Mode, which will minimize loud sounds while keeping you fully aware of your surroundings. You can also create presets for different levels of noise bleed and switch between them in the app or with a simple double-tap of the left earbud to manually and quickly switch modes.
With noise cancellation on full, you get a very quiet experience and if you needed to focus on something these would get you there. With Aware Mode you can hear pretty much everything. Both noise cancellation and aware modes are outstanding.
Equalizer options too
A quick aside; there’s also full EQ settings inside the app so you can customize the bass and treble to your liking.
Using touch controls on QC earbuds
The QuietComfort Earbuds work via touch gestures, allowing you to switch noise-cancelling modes, change the volume, and answer calls with swipes and taps. For instance, two taps on the left side will cycle through the Quiet/Aware modes, while two taps on the right will pause or play music or start or end a call. Swiping the right earbud will adjust the volume, and holding the left earbud will allow you to skip a song. Holding the right earbud will enable you to reject an incoming call or access the smart assistant on your phone. It’s a bit of a challenge to remember all the taps and sequences but it’s nice to know you have those options.
Music and sound quality
Bose has built its reputation on making headphones and audio that is designed to beat everyone else on audio quality, so the expectation is that these will sound phenomenal.
I listened to a wide variety of music, podcasts and audio on these and I can say the sound quality is outstanding. The vocals are clear and cut through. The overall sound is well balanced and you can glean a lot of subtleties from the music. The bass is powerful and thrumming, and when I added the bass boost it was even more enjoyable with out being buzzy or bone grinding.
Call and Connection quality
The call quality of the QuietComfort airbuds is similarly strong, both for the excellent noise cancelling features that make your call quieter and for the clarity of the microphones. You’ll have no trouble hearing or being heard while on a call.
Bluetooth 5.1 is the king of the day for connection, and Bose made sure that the QuietComfort Earbuds were equipped with it, as well as both the SBC and AAC codecs. This is important for both Android and iPhone users, as Android works better with SBC, while iPhone is best used with AAC. Bluetooth 5.1 also saves on battery usage, which is always important with wireless devices.
Weather resistance/IP rating
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are rated as IPX4, meaning they’re safe to use in heavy rain, but they cannot be submerged in water. You’ll be okay with splashing water, sweat, and any normal situation, just don’t dunk them in the tub.
The QuietComfort and a battery large enough to drive them for up to six hours. The case is quite chunky, and you may find it uncomfortable to carry in a pocket. The case will provide 12 hours of life or two additional full charges and is itself charged via a USB-C or Qi-certified wireless charging mat.
This might actually be the biggest disappointment with these earbuds. 12 hours of charging in the case is far below what a lot of other charging cases offer. Particularly for a case of this size, I have seen 100 hours of recharging in a case, so the fact this only has 12 hours does seem a bit subpar.
Overall review: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Overall, there is a lot to like about these headphones. For starters they are massively customizable; you can dial in your audio preferences, boost the bass, and fine tune the EQ to your liking. The adjustability of the digital noise cancellation and Aware mode is really great and means you can dial in your precise preferences and even create presets for your favourites. Plus, there’s no disputing the amazing audio quality.
When it comes to the downsides, you can kind of summit up in two words: charging case. The charging case is very big and bulky and makes it difficult to slip in a pocket. It also only houses 12 hours of additional battery life which is on the low side for most wireless earbud charging cases.
Even so, if you’re looking for high quality, feature-loaded earbuds, these are a good pick, particularly for Bose devotees. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds sell for about $349CAD/$279USD.
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