Bose Might Be Right About the QuietComfort Earbuds II Having the World’s Best ANC

Bose Might Be Right About the QuietComfort Earbuds II Having the World’s Best ANC

Massachusetts-based audio giant, Bose, recently released the successor to its first gen QuietComfort Earbuds, which came out two years ago. The newly released buds, named the QuietComfort Earbuds II (QC Earbuds II), brought with them a plethora of upgrades. Enhanced Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), a trimmed down size, and improved audio, just to name a few. Priced at $AU429.95, Bose’s latest release is definitely not what many would call cheap. But for the most part, it’s worth the price.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

What is it?

The second iteration of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, featuring enhanced aesthetics and world-class active noise-cancellation.




A snug fit, decent battery life, ridiculously impressive ANC, well-designed companion app, intuitive controls that are easy to learn, and the kind of bass that you feel in your chest.


Pretty underwhelming accessories especially considering the price, a mic that doesn’t reduce background noise very well, and the absence of multipoint connectivity and wireless charging.

Unexciting accessory loadout

The QC Earbuds II come neatly packaged in a sturdy cardboard box with a couple of important accessories. In the package, the company only includes what’s necessary. Hence, you don’t get the bells and whistles that often accompany other earbuds, including but not limited to a padded carrying case, stickers, or a flight adaptor. For such premium pricing, the packaging is quite bland. I would’ve preferred the kind of effort Master & Dynamic puts into its accessories. Since, in terms of price, that company’s earbuds lie in the same tier as the QC Earbuds II, I believe it is fair of me to expect the same attention to detail from Bose.

Photo: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo
Photo: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo

Apart from the charging case that houses the buds, the package includes a Type-C to Type-A charging cable, three pairs of eartips and stability bands, and some necessary paperwork. The 12-inch cable is coated with a thin layer of rubber and is painfully simple-looking. Don’t expect the woven nylon charging cables that often accompany expensive products. All in all, especially considering the hefty price tag, the QC Earbuds II’s pack-ins lack the sophistication and class that a premium product should exude.

Slightly improved aesthetics

The buds come housed in a matte plastic charging case with rounded edges and a slightly elongated bottom. I was expecting (and hoping for) a smudge-proof metal case that would gleam right at me as I unboxed the package. Unfortunately, the charging case is neither metal nor smudge-proof. My fingers adorned it with multiple marks within just a few seconds of using it. Having said that, I’m glad Bose made some significant changes to the case’s design. Unlike on the first gen, the QC Earbuds II’s case is vertical, with a lid at the top that opens firmly and closes with a satisfying click. The redesigned charging case makes it considerably easier to pluck the buds out of their station and dock them back in, which is not what my experience with the 2020 model looked like.

The case’s body is nothing extravagant. It hosts two tiny status-revealing LEDs, one for pairing and the other for battery. The front of the case has the company’s name emblazoned on it, and there is a Type-C charging port on its bottom. On the back of the case, there’s a reset/pairing button that already felt like it had been pressed way too many times when I first pressed it. I’m not sure if it was just my review unit that was faulty, but the button was a little too pressed in, with an alarmingly shallow click.

Photo: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo
Photo: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo

Snug fit

With regard to ergonomics, Bose made some pretty impressive changes in the QC Earbuds II as compared to their predecessor. The buds now feature a two-piece fit consisting of an eartip and a stability band. As mentioned previously, there are spare pairs of varying sizes for both the tips and the bands that come as part of the package, and you can also order XL or XS eartips from Bose technical support if none of the included options work for you.

A feature that particularly stood out to me was the Eartip Fit Test offered in the Bose Music app. By running a simple position check that takes around five seconds to complete, the app lets you know whether or not your seal is ideal. You can experiment with various tip and band sizes until the app approves of your seal. This feature benefits you not only fit-wise but audio-wise, as well. The ideal seal allows you to get the least interference possible.

In terms of comfort, these buds are as comfortable as they can get. Very few in-ear earbuds manage to stick in my extra small ears; most of them keep popping out. The QC Earbuds II sport a fairly large bulge right next to the eartip that tightly hugged my ear’s concha at all times. The stability band secured the fit, locking the bud in place.

Rich lows and spacious highs

Bose’s CustomTune technology plays the biggest role in making the QC Earbuds II sound brilliant. When you plug the buds in, they take less than a second to learn the shape of your ear canal, which they do by delivering and listening to the echo from a quick orchestral tone. By calibrating each bud according to your ears, the buds will come up with a custom sound profile that supposedly tunes the noise cancellation and audio properties to fit your ears best, rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all solution like prior Bose products. The sound profiles are optimised each time the buds are worn, even if they’re going inside the same ear canal, to account for changes. Bose also told us that the collected data is processed on and never leaves the buds.

The QC Earbuds II took just a few seconds to connect to my iPhone and maintained a stable connection throughout my testing, without any stutter or lag. There is, however, a bone I have to pick with the buds’ connectivity. It’s quite surprising, especially considering their price, that they don’t offer multipoint connectivity, which means they are incapable of being connected to two separate devices at the same time.

Photo: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo
Photo: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo

If you’re looking for an upgrade in terms of bass, the QC Earbuds II are unquestionably the solution. The buds deliver immensely rich bass – the kind that you feel in your chest and throat. This bass has oomph to it. It stands out from the rest of the mix, demanding attention. Some companies overdo bass, which some appreciate due to the physical sensation they get from it, but I think it sounds off. Such bass is stripped of its detail and ends up sounding overly and unnecessarily thick. Bose has done a fantastic job at steering clear of that grave mistake. The bass has just the right amount of low-end thump but has plenty of clarity and detail as well. I listened to The Best Part by gardenstate to test the low-frequency of these buds, and I quickly realised that the song has never sounded better to me.

I wouldn’t exactly call the QC Earbuds II treble-forward, but I also wouldn’t say they’re lacking treble. I think the highs are bright and spacious. They’re pretty decent and will definitely make you move a little, but they won’t make you jump out of your seat. They’re also not as easily discernible in the mix as the lows are. I went back to my Nostalgia playlist to listen to the classic, It Ain’t Me by Selena Gomez, and concluded that I have heard better treble.

Overall, the buds deliver a warm sound profile without tinniness. The sound stage is impressively wide, with a lot of room for all the vocals and instruments in it. The elements do not sound clustered together and all have sufficient room to shine.

Intuitive controls

The controls on these buds are pretty simple, but I came across a couple of missteps while navigating them. A single tap on either of the buds will play or pause audio. Pulling one of the buds out of your ear will also perform the same function for you. In order to skip to the next track, double-tap an earbud, and triple-tap it to rewind. Sliding up or down on an earbud either raises or lowers the volume of your audio. I found the touch panel to be generally responsive and, all thanks to the long, protruding stick, my fingers had enough space to freely navigate it.

The volume control was a little glitchy, though. I found a slight delay in the volume slider responding to my touch. Also, the earbud misunderstood my very obvious sliding motion for a tap way too many times for me to be patient about it. You’d get impatient too if your song kept pausing whenever you attempted to tweak its volume.

The Bose Music app allows you to customise what long-tapping an earbud does. However, there’s only two options–cycling between modes or accessing voice control. The customisation feature isn’t as helpful as I would’ve liked it to be. In fact, it seems a little forced. Given that there are two buds and two features, the company could have just assigned one feature to each bud.

World-class ANC

The ANC (active noise cancelling) on the QC Earbuds II is out of this world. And the reason I can confidently attest to this is that I live right next to a playground that is always populated with dozens of kids, all under the age of 10. The kind of noise isolation that these buds provide is usually only expected from over-the-ear headphones with memory foam earcups. The fact that little silicone tips could manage to do the same is absolutely commendable.

There are two default ANC modes to choose from: Quiet and Aware. The former made me feel like I was in a separate world of my own. It blocked out pretty much all the noise coming from the playground and toned down the hum of my washing machine by a great degree. Earbuds often feature an exaggerated and a rather fake hiss when their ANC is turned on. Thankfully, the QC Earbuds II didn’t make that mistake.

Screenshot: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo
Screenshot: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo

I did notice that the ANC on these buds is better at blocking out high-frequency sounds than low-frequency ones. This was not our experience with the Apple AirPods Pro 2, which did an excellent job at blocking out deep rumble sounds such as vehicles and buses. I’d say the QC Earbuds II fell just a little short here. Compared to the Pixel Buds Pro, though, the QC Buds II performed fairly well. Google’s buds feature sufficiently good ANC and mute most low-frequency rumble, but they let a lot of high-frequency sounds slip.

The Aware mode is equally great and allows you to enjoy your music while staying in touch with the rest of the world. It makes use of the ActiveSense technology to bring a little bit of ANC into it. When you turn ActiveSense on, Bose tweaks the noise cancellation of the Aware Mode to facilitate a peaceful music experience for you while making sure it doesn’t completely shut out environmental sounds.

Not the most Impressive mic I’ve come across

I called my boyfriend while testing the QC Earbuds II to test their mic out. While he could hear me ok, he pointed out several times that he could hear the kids in the background a little too well. Reducing background noise is not something the mic on these buds is focused on. He also remarked that it sounded as if my voice were distant. Regarding the texture of the voice, he commented on the slight echo and reverb it was producing.

Bose music app

The companion apps for audio peripherals are often overwhelming, with way too much going on for the average person to easily navigate them. The Bose Music app is the cleanest and smoothest companion app I have come across. It is neatly designed and sports an interface that is not only incredibly easy to navigate but looks aesthetically pleasing, too.

Screenshot: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo
Screenshot: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo

The app offers users the ability to create two ANC modes in addition to the two (Quiet and Aware) already offered. They can do this by clicking on ‘Create Mode’ and then picking the desired level of noise cancellation for that mode. They can also pick a name for their created modes from the list provided: Commute, Home, Walk, to name a few.

Bose’s Music app also features EQ settings, though they’re rather simple. You can manually increase and decrease the bass, mids, and treble. Or you can make use of the Bass Boost, Bass Reducer, Treble Boost, and Treble Reducer buttons to have the app do it for you.

Battery and water resistance

On paper, the QC Earbuds II are supposed to have a battery life of six hours, with the charging case providing an additional 18 hours. The results of my testing were almost aligned with the company’s claims, with the buds lasting just a little less than six hours. It’s quite surprising, and a bit unfair given the price, that the buds do not feature wireless charging. As a result, you’ll have to be tethered to a socket while the buds are getting replenished with juice. However, Bose promises two hours of listening time with just 20 minutes of charging, so the absence of wireless charging isn’t a huge dealbreaker.

The QC Earbuds II are rated IPX4, which means they can endure sweat and light splashes of water. This makes them suitable for intense workout sessions.

Should I buy the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II?

The QC Earbuds II are overall pretty impressive, but they come with their fair share of flaws. Considering their price, they should have definitely featured multipoint connectivity and the ability to be charged wirelessly. The mic could have been crisper and better at reducing unwanted background noise. Also, there could have been more thought put into the packaging and accessories to match the price tag. Having said that, Bose has come a long way since the first version of these buds. The body of both the earbuds and the charging case has received a massive overhaul, the fit is immensely comfortable, and the battery life is pretty good. The ANC is absolutely brilliant and the bass makes you feel like you have massive over-the-ear headphones on. If you’re looking for a device that completely shuts out unwanted environmental noise, these are the buds to go for. If you’re on a budget and don’t care much about ANC or bass, the two best features of the QC Earbuds II, then you can feel free to pass on these.

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