Bose has officially unveiled the QuietComfort Earbuds II, successors to the five-star QuietComfort Earbuds. Smaller, lighter and smarter, the new buds promise custom noise-cancelling that can be tuned to suit the shape of your ears.
It all sounds very positive, but with so much competition in the true wireless earbuds market, it'll be interesting to see how Bose's latest compare to the likes of the Apple AirPods Pro (2022), Samsung Buds 2 Pro and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3.
Without further ado, here's a detailed first look at the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, including price, features, design, battery life and release date.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II release date
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II were announced on 7th September 2022, just hours after Apple announced it's latest AirPods Pro buds.
Pre-orders are open now; sales start from 15th September (USA) and 29th September (UK).
Prior to the official announcement, German tech site WinFuture (opens in new tab) accurately predicted that Bose's next noise-cancelling buds would launch "in the next few weeks".
It's no surprise that Apple and Bose waited until the tail-end of the year to announce their latest headphones – both firms will be hoping to hit that all-important Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping market.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II price
Now the bad news. The QuietComfort Earbuds II are more expensive than their predecessors, the – you guessed it – QuietComfort Earbuds.
They carry a price tag of £280 / $299 / AU$429,, whereas the originals launched at £249 / $280 / AU$399.
With inflation soaring and much of the western world in a cost-of-living crisis, maybe a higher price was inevitable. But that does make them more expensive than many of the best wireless earbuds, including the Apple AirPods Pro (2022) and the class-leading Sony WF-1000XM4.
Bose might well have a job to convince punters they are worth the extra. But there is a silver lining here – the originals, which we applauded for their "energetic, balanced sound", could drop in price (see today's lowest prices below).
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II design
The QuietComfort Earbuds II have a new look. While similar in style to the originals, they are around two-thirds the size of the OG QuietComfort Earbuds – and weight is similarly reduced to around 6g per earbud.
Better yet, they appear to protrude less from the wearer's ear. That's a very good thing – especially for people with shallower ears. In our review, we noted that the originals are "pretty stocky in appearance", especially compared to sleeker pairs from the likes of Sony and Sennheiser.
The news buds also come with Bose's ‘FitKit’ - which means three sizes of eartips and three sizes of stability bands for each earbud. That gives a total of nine options per earbud to achieve the perfect fit, which really should be plenty.
The charging case has also had an overhaul. The original's was wide and shallow, but the QC Earbuds II appear to come with a narrower, deeper case. The four LED lights on the front to indicate battery status also look to have been given the chop.
Water-resistance is IPX4 and finishes are pretty sober. The initial 'triple black' variant will be followed by 'soapstone' later in the year.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II features
The original Earbuds' noise-cancelling is best-in-class, offering 11 levels of noise-cancelation as well as Aware Mode, which acts as a transparency mode.
The EarBuds II improve on that haul with new 'CustomTune’ tech, which is intended to calibrate both the audio performance and the noise-cancellation to the unique shape of each and every individual ear.
Sound calibration is activated every time the earbuds are removed from their charging case and placed in the user’s ear. In the space of less than half a second, the earbuds play a proprietary tone and an internal microphone measures the ear canal’s acoustic response. The result is said to be a "bespoke" sonic performance.
The same ‘CustomTune’ tech now extends to the transparency mode. Now dubbed ‘Aware Mode with ActiveSense’, it responds instantaneously to loud and/or sudden external sounds by switching on noise-cancellation for as long as it might be required. Apple's AirPods Pro 2 offer a similar "Adaptive" transparency mode.
The QuietComfort Earbuds II join the smattering of new earbuds (Samsung Buds 2 Pro, JBL Tour PRO 2) that use Bluetooth 5.3 for improved wireless connectivity. There's support for AAC and SBC codec compatibility but no sign of higher-res codecs (not that it ever stopped Bose from getting five-star in the past).
Disappointingly, the QuietComfort Earbuds II will offer the same six hours of battery life from the buds as the previous model. That said, you now get a further three full charges in the case – adding up to 24 hours in total (the OG buds topped out at 18 hours). The 2021 Sony WF-1000XM4 last eight hours on a single charge. Another two full charges from the case adds up to a Bose-equally total of 24 hours.
Last but not least, there's compatibility with the source player’s native voice assistant and the Bose Music control app, which features EQ adjustment and specific noise-cancellation modes along with other customisation options.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II sound quality
We've yet to review the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II but the specs bode well. Despite their small size, there's still room for a 9.3mm full-range dynamic driver in each bud.
Will new kids on the block match the power, poise and dynamism of the original QC Earbuds? Will they be versatile enough to convey the more subtle elements of a track, as the Sony WF-1000XM4 do?
We'll be posting a full and frank review of the Earbuds II in good time.
Can Bose reclaim its "best ANC earbuds" mantle? The addition of new technology such as 'CustomTune' sounds promising, but it's not all all about performance. With the QuietComfort Earbuds II set to launch at a higher price than our current favourite buds, the Sony XM4, it'll be interesting to see if the extra outlay is worth it.
Impressive specs are one thing; real-world performance is another. We're looking forward to putting Bose's latest and greatest noise-cancelling buds through their paces. With any luck, they'll top their five-star predecessors...
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