QuietComfort Earbuds review: Bose's new noise-canceling earbuds that could be an AirPods Pro killer

You may have to compromise on size and price.

Engadget JP (Translation)
Engadget JP (Translation) , @Engadget_MT
2020年10月12日, 午後 07:37 in egmt
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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.


The audio equipment manufacturer Bose will release the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, fully wireless earbuds with noise-canceling features, on October 15. They will be priced at 30,000 yen (excluding tax) and are available for pre-order at electronics retail stores.

We had a chance to try out the actual device before it goes on sale, so we'll give you a review with a focus on noise cancellation and sound quality.

Satisfied with the noise cancellation and the lack of fatigue

Noise cancellation in the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds works by using multiple built-in microphones to pick up noise and then returning the opposite-phase sound waves at a speed of 1/1000th of a second to cancel out the noise.

Noise cancellation can be adjusted in 11 levels, ranging from a mode that captures ambient sound to a mode that completely muffles the noise, using the dedicated Bose Music app for Android and iOS. Slide the bar labeled noise cancellation below the volume control bar to the left to gradually take in ambient sound, and slide it to the right to gradually cut out the noise.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
To use the Bose Music app, you need to log in with your account.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Use the Bose Music app to adjust volume, noise cancellation level, and more.

When I actually used it in a train station or a noisy café, I found it to be an honestly satisfying noise-canceling feature. Not only did it cut out the sound of people talking while playing music, but it also cut out a lot of the sounds of trains running and coffee makers running.

What was even more satisfying was that my ears didn't get tired easily. That's because my Apple AirPods Pro are ear-sealing, which means they get tired when worn for long periods of time with noise cancellation turned on.

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, on the other hand, have crescent-shaped StayHear Max ear tips that don't completely seal the ears. I wore them for about five hours with the noise cancellation on, and I personally found them to be less tiring than the AirPods Pro.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Apple AirPods Pro (left) and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (right)

Putting on the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds is quite easy, you just turn the earbuds back and fit them into your ears. But the fact that they don't seal your ears means there may be a lot of sound leakage. But you just have to pay attention to the playback volume.

As for the controls, you can play and pause music, answer and end calls, and access the voice assistant by touching the housing rather than the physical buttons.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
AirPods Pro (left) and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (right) in the left ear

Surprisingly thumping bass and clear vocals

When it comes to sound quality, I personally found them to sound better than the AirPods Pro.

Playing a variety of pop and rock music as well as jazz and classical, I compared the AirPods Pro with the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, and found the AirPods Pro to be less muffled and more balanced, while the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds do a great job of reproducing deep bass distortion. That said, I didn't get the impression that they were over-tuned like some of their competitors' products that raise the bass frequencies.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

And despite the fact that they don't seal the ears, I was able to hear clear vocals and orchestras, as well as songs with lots of reverb and echo, without losing any of their individuality. The powerful bass range, while maintaining resolution, will contribute to watching videos such as Netflix and YouTube.

I didn't experience any difficulty in using them during music or video playback due to sound jumps, sound interruptions, or delays. According to Bose, they have minimized the skipping sound by employing an ingenious antenna arrangement and a new data transmission system. The driver caliber is undisclosed. Also, Bluetooth is supported up to version 5.1.

Dissatisfied with the size

The only thing I found to be disappointing was the size of the earbuds themselves - the AirPods Pro and Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Buds are smaller than the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, which I personally find fit more securely and easily in the back of the ear.

Certainly, earbuds that require good sound and battery life will have larger drivers, which naturally affects the size of the unit. To get really good sound and noise cancellation, you'll have to make a few unavoidable compromises.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

The same can be said for the charging case as well as the size of the main body of the earbuds. As you can see from the comparison, the AirPods Pro and Galaxy Buds come out ahead of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds in terms of portability.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (top) and AirPods Pro (bottom)

  • Bose QuietComfort Earbuds charging case: W 8.9 x H 3.2 x W 5.1 cm

  • AirPods Pro Charging Case: W 6.06 x H 4.52 x W 2.17 cm

However, this charging case is smaller than the case of the Powerbeats Pro, so it's not huge. The case can be charged using either a Qi-compliant wireless charger or a USB Type-C cable, and the case and earbuds can be used together to provide a total of 18 hours of battery life.

  • Fully charge the unit: 2 hours for up to 6 hours of continuous playback 

  • Charging case fully charged: Charges two earphones in 3 hours (up to 12 hours)

  • Quick Charge: Approx. 2 hours of use after 15 minutes of charging

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
The case of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds can be charged using a Qi-compliant wireless charger or a USB Type-C cable

summary

Here's what's good about the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

  • Noise-canceling that's as good as the AirPods Pro

  • The good sound that can be heard in a structure that doesn't seal the ears

  • The app's UI is simple and beginner-friendly.

  • Supports wireless charging and charging via Type-C cable

  • Drip- and sweat-proofing equivalent to IPX4 (OK for water splashes and sweat)

What I would like to see improved are the following

  • The earbuds and charging case are large and thick

  • Somewhat expensive

As you can see, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are a good fit for what consumers want in a noise-canceling, fully wireless earbud, but they're expensive and unaffordable. However, they're easy to put on and use, and if the price comes down somehow, they'll likely be the "AirPods Pro killer" rather than the recommended beginner product.

Source: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds


This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.

   

 

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