Bose has been at the top of the pack when it comes to audio products for a while now, entering any market that seems successful, typically with a device geared toward audiophiles. Many Bose products do come at a premium, but that price tag usually ensures a level of quality that is above the standard fare. The Bose QuietComfort II Earbuds fit right into that profile, delivering exceptional audio quality and a really impressive feature set, albeit at a fairly high price point.
The QuietComfort II are Bose’s second foray into the Bluetooth earbuds market, taking on lessons from the first generation and building a better set of wireless in-ear headphones. Connectivity is simple, audio quality is superb, and the active noise cancelation on the QuietComfort II is top of the class. Those in the market for earbuds that are looking for an option that hits a high audio benchmark regardless of if they’re listening to music on a phone, gaming on a Steam Deck, or watching movies on a TV will appreciate what Bose has on offer.
Specs and Design
The Bose QuietComfort II Earbuds package includes:
- 2 earbuds in either Black or Soapstone (white)
- Earbuds charging case with USB-C port for charging
- USB-C charging cable
- Three sizes of silicone ear tips
- Three sizes of stability bands
Bose has chosen to go with a design that doesn’t mimic in-ear headphones without the cable. The QuietComfort II Earbuds are small enough that they don’t feel heavy in the ear, but also big enough that they don’t feel loose. With three ear tips and three stability bands included, it’s practically a given that they will fit a wide variety of users but our model fits perfectly right out of the box. However, those that are curious should know that the small size tips/bands and the large size tips/bands are what come shipped with the Earbuds. Mediums are pre-installed.
The QuietComfort IIs will last up to about 6 hours on a single charge and the charging case will hold roughly 3 additional charges. Simply place the Earbuds back into the case and they will start charging immediately, first in a kind of quick charge mode meant to give about 2 hours of use in 20 minutes and then a full charge, which takes about three hours (for full charge on the Earbuds and the case). It is worth mentioning that the QuietComfort II charging case only has a USB-C charging port and does not support wireless charging. While a lot of the more expensive competition comes standard with this feature, it’s surprising that Bose did not opt to include it.
Controlling audio on the QuietComfort II Earbuds is easy. Each earbud includes support for several gestures: a single tap, a double tap, a press and hold, and a swipe. Bose has designed the tap and double tap to control audio content like pausing, answering calls, or changing listening modes, while the swipe action controls the volume – down to lower it and up to raise it. And press and hold will bring up a phone’s voice assistant like Siri.
Outside the swipe, which is a bit finnicky and sometimes takes a second to register, the gestures work extremely well for controlling content. Certain actions are relegated to one earbud or the other, so users will have to learn which one to tap for answering calls, for example, but it becomes second nature quickly.
QuietComfort II Audio Quality
The audio quality on the Bose QuietComfort II Earbuds is exceptional. Oftentimes, low-end earbuds will deliver audio that is tinny, harsh, or has an inherent buzz to it, but as a high-end option, the Bose Earbuds meet a greater standard. Audio is crisp, there is a good amount of punch to the bass elements, and things like voices and sound effects come through with a nice clarity. Music envelopes the user in all the right ways, making it so they can pick up on all the tiny details.
For gaming, we found that the QuietComfort II Earbuds did well to replicate surround sound in a number of titles. The 9mm drivers are powerful enough to pull the music from the sound effects and the background noise, while also mixing everything together in a way that nothing is drowned out. Using the Earbuds with the Steam Deck, for example, matches the high bar aurally that Valve’s handheld sets graphically.
At the end of the day, with Bose users get what they pay for and expect. In the case of the QuietComfort II Earbuds, the bare minimum is high quality audio and these more than meet that expectation. Even without all the bells and whistles of the Earbuds, the 9mm drivers are plenty capable of impressing.
The right Earbud on the QuietComfort II also features a microphone that is solid but nothing to write home about. It is strong enough to pick up the user’s voice in noisy environments and there are no major knocks about the microphone. Most are buying the Earbuds for the audio it produces not the audio it captures.
Active Noise Cancellation
Great audio is expected from the Bose QuietComfort II Earbuds but it only gets better when paired with some top class features. Using the QuietComfort II Earbuds is made simpler with Bose Music app, which acts as a HUB for the audio devices. From the app, users can select which device to pair through Bluetooth, manage volume level, and control EQ settings to dial in audio.
The Bose Music app is also used to set the QuietComfort II Earbuds to Active Noise Cancellation mode or Transparency mode, called Aware mode. The QuietComfort II’s Transparency mode is up there with a lot of transparency mode offerings out there, made better by a technology that Bose calls ActiveSense. Basically, what ActiveSense does is use the microphones in the Earbuds to monitor the surrounding noise and usually lower its intensity to not distract the user. Because Transparency modes are really only capturing audio using a microphone or microphones and passing it into the Earbuds, ActiveSense is there to mitigate any unexpected anomalies. It makes it so you can still hear someone yelling your name, but it won’t blow out your ears if a car backfires nearby.
But the real jewel of Bose’s arsenal is its Active Noise Cancellation software. It’s truly remarkable how strong the ANC is on the QuietComfort II Earbuds, to the point it can practically drown out the outside world with no audio playing. Being able to deafen outside noise when listening to music or gaming can be crucial in a lot of situations – especially while traveling – and the ANC on these Earbuds feels like magic.
It can’t be overstated how much the Active Noise Cancellation pushes the QuietComfort IIs over the edge into a top-tier Bluetooth earbud option. For over-ear headphones it’s much simpler to achieve the noise blocking that is necessary for gaming immersion, but on Earbuds it is more difficult. Bose nails it easily.
Combining the ANC and the transparency mode with ActiveSense is where things get even more exciting. Within the Bose Music app, users can create custom listening modes that deliver a balance between ANC and Aware. Depending on the situation, the user can filter in just enough outside audio so they aren’t oblivious to the world, while using the ANC to keep the focus on the music/game. Or they can dial the ANC almost all the way down to ensure they aren’t missing any important audio cues. Again, the Aware mode is very useful, but it doesn’t hit any levels we haven’t seen before. It’s the ANC that, while working on its own or with Aware, that makes the QuietComfort IIs so incredible.
With the Bose QuietComfort II Earbuds, users get top-tier audio delivery with some features that are ahead of the class. The Active Noise Cancellation is at the forefront of making the Earbuds so great, but the Aware mode is no slouch either. There is a lot of customization available too, both in terms of listening modes, EQ, and also with the different ear tips and support bands. The QuietComfort IIs are also rated IPX4 water-resistant so they can be used for a workout without concern of sweat damaging its electronic components.
But of course, it’s the price that will determine whether the QuietComfort II Earbuds are worth buying. At $299 they are at the very top of the Bluetooth Earbud range and therefore will not be feasible for a lot of users. However, if the price is not much of an issue, the quality is hard to overlook.
Bose QuietComfort II Earbuds are available now for $299. Game Rant was provided a pair of Earbuds for this review.