With the QuietComfort Earbuds II, Bose defends its reputation as the master of active noise cancellation and leaves the competition behind. Sound and wearing comfort are also first class. Only small things disturb.
Together with the German company Sennheiser, the US manufacturer Bose is one of the pioneers of active noise suppression, in which an opposite polarity signal (anti-sound) ideally neutralizes a disruptive sound wave. In English, the principle is called Active Noise Canceling (ANC). In 1986, both companies presented headphones for the first time, which were intended to make the work of aircraft pilots easier. 14 years later, Bose released the first commercial ANC headphones, the QuietComfort 1, which continues to this day. The current model is the QuietComfort 45.
About two years ago, Bose presented its first wireless ANC earphones. The pioneer was a little late in the game, but it boasted what was probably the best noise suppression in this device class at the time. And the manufacturer has managed the same feat again with the second generation, the ANC of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II sets new standards.
When you open the packaging, you first notice that the charging case is relatively large, especially compared to the small box of the Airpods Pro. However, it is flat enough to be pocket-sized. The 6.2 gram light earphones themselves are also quite large, but this is not a problem. Because their body is shaped in such a way that it almost perfectly fills the auricle. This makes the earplugs very comfortable and they can be worn for a long time without pinching.
The shape also helps the earbuds seal tightly. However, the prerequisite for this is that the silicone attachments, which are only available in three different sizes, fit. You can determine whether this is the case with a fit test in the associated app.
Additional silicone straps, which are also available in three sizes, ensure a good hold. They have a fold on the edge that "claws" into the auricle. The QuietComfort Earbuds II sit so securely that you can also go jogging with them. It helps that the earphones are protected against sweat and splash water according to IPX4. The inside of the box also withstands some moisture in case you forgot to dry the earbuds.
If the earphones fit perfectly, you will be rewarded with noise cancellation that is not far removed from the ANC of many headband headphones. The noise in trains or in traffic is almost completely eliminated, and irregular noises such as clattering keyboards or construction site noise are dampened so much that soft music is enough to hear nothing more. So far, no other earphones have done this better.
This also includes a transparency mode that lets outside noise through. However, ANC is not necessarily switched off completely. Because you have the choice to activate "ActiveSense". Then the noise suppression intervenes when it gets too loud in the environment.
Touch controls are simple. With one, two or three taps you control playback and phone calls, you change the volume by swiping up or down on an outside. You can't change much about it, it's only possible to determine whether long taps switch through the modes or whether a voice assistant is called up.
When it comes to sound, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are also top class. To optimize it, they play a sound after you use them. This is to adapt the sound to the ears. The result is powerful, very pleasant bass that reaches far down. But they never exaggerate or even plop uncomfortably on the eardrum. Well-defined mids determine the sound, clear highs complement it with many details. The stage is wide by earphone standards.
The sound is not neutral, it is rather warm, which will please most users. However, some might perceive it as a bit dull. Then there is the option to adjust bass, mids and treble in the app equalizer. But you can't get a mercilessly neutral sound like with the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3.
The QuietComfort Earbuds II establish a very stable connection via the current Bluetooth standard 5.3. However, unlike other earphones, they cannot be connected to two or more devices at the same time (multipoint). High-resolution codecs such as aptX are also missing, only AAC and SBC are available.
Bose specifies the runtime as up to six hours, which the practical test roughly confirmed. It's not great, but okay. Empty buds are filled in an hour. The case has to be connected to the cable for three hours, it cannot be charged inductively.
All in all, the Bose QuietComfort are some of the best earphones you can buy right now. The active noise cancellation is outstanding, the sound is excellent. On top of that, the earbuds are very comfortable. At 300 euros, they are just as expensive as the Apple Airpods Pro 2. You also have to criticize small things like the missing multipoint connections and that the case cannot be charged wirelessly.