Bose is synonymous with great headphones and great noise-cancelling. The US audio firm was the first to offer its customers the silent treatment and is still very much at the top of the game, which can make choosing between the best Bose headphones a tricky prospect.
That's where we come in. Our experts have done the hard work for you, testing and reviewing all the best Bose headphones on the market today, so you can be sure that whatever you buy has the What Hi-Fi? seal of approval.
We've used our expertise and dedicated testing facilities to run these models through the full testing gamut, probing and testing everything from sound quality and to usability to comfort, design and build. There are lots to choose from, including in-ears and over-ears, so we're sure you'll find something that suits your particular preference.
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Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.
The good news is that Bose has won a string of awards for its noise-cancelling headphones. The company is known for its tech, which blocks out ambient noise – aeroplane engines, the rumble of a train, office chatter – and offers a neat solution to your personal audio problems.
Bose has also diversified into other types of headphones, including sporty true wireless earbuds and premium wireless headphones. So, whether you’re looking to shut out the world, bring your favourite songs to life or smash your fitness goals, Bose has a pair of headphones to suit your needs.
Since most of the best Bose headphones are wireless, you'll want to pay close attention to battery life. After all, what's the point of going wire-free if you have to stay close to a power point?
Ok, now for the fun bit. Browse the list below for our pick of the best Bose headphones on the market...
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Bose's latest buds – named 'Best wireless earbuds over £200' at the What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 – are wonderfully refined and set a new benchmark for noise-cancelling wireless earbuds.
Smaller and lighter than the original QC Earbuds (further down this list), the Earbuds II provide a comfortable fit and lots of features. Bluetooth 5.3 is a big bonus, and the Bose app is excellent.
Noise-cancelling is very good and capable of automatically adjusting the amount of ANC so your music isn’t drowned out by particularly loud noises. As for sound, it's balanced and neutral to the point that you feel you can almost touch the instruments.
Downsides? It's a shame there's no support for high-quality wireless audio codecs such as LDAC or aptX HD, but that's small beer when you consider that these classy buds ooze sophistication and deliver everything you’d expect from a high-end Bose product.
Read the full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II review
Bose's first-generation noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds continue to prove hugely popular. They're relatively lightweight, sweat and weather-resistant, and are generally easy to live with.
Battery life is a claimed six hours from a single charge, with the charging case supplying an extra two charges, making 18 hours in total – a decent reserve, but by no means class-leading. You can customise some features and controls, and adjust the excellent noise-cancellation, in Bose's handy companion app.
The sense of enthusiasm and excitement conveyed by the Bose buds is highly infectious. Sound is shot through with power, poise and dynamism. Bass notes sound full-bodied; go deep and the QuietComfort Earbuds squeeze out lots of detail.
They might have been superseded by the Award-winning QC Earbuds II, but the originals remain great all-rounders. They're now discounted, so you can pick up these musical buds at a nice price.
Read the full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review
These rugged, sporty and water-resistant earbuds are a little on the chunky side – but Bose hasn’t compromised on performance. Expect rich, expansive bass and sparkling vocals.
Battery life is a respectable five hours but slot the buds into the carry case/charger, and you can inject them with an extra 10 hours of power, which should be long enough for even the most long-lasting of gym bunnies.
They're packed with useful features, too. Like the five LEDs on the outside of the case that indicate how much charge is left. And forgetful types will appreciate the ‘Find My Buds’ feature, too, which shows their location on your phone. Handy.
These 2017-launched five-star beauties are getting a little long in the tooth, but can still find stock online. They're laden with features and sound quality remains impressive, meaning you won't be left with an outdated pair of buds.
Read the full Bose SoundSport Free review
A breakaway from the QuietComfort range, the 700 are the beginning of a more premium series of Bose noise-cancellers. Both the acoustics and digital signal processing have been redesigned. There is an eight-microphone system (six to cancel noise, two for voice pick-up) and you can adjust the level of noise-cancelling control by increments from 0-10. That's a serious level of control that most rivals can't match.
Both the silencing effect and the call quality is impressive and definitely an improvement on the QuietComfort range. Voices are more intelligible when phoning and high levels of noise cancelling seem more subtle and less like listening in a vacuum. Even if you're not playing music, just activate the noise-cancelling to block out unwanted noise.
Comfort and aesthetics are spot-on too and, sonically, the neutral-to-lean character makes for uncomplicated listening. Some may prefer the musical richness and the class-leading Sony WH-1000XM4 (or XM5), but these are still a great option.
Read the full Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review
If you want a set of robust, travel-friendly wireless over-ear headphones you can put on and largely extinguish the outside world for up to 24 hours, the Bose QC 45 has the edge over most of the competition at the price.
Thanks to Bluetooth 5.1, the Bose QuietComfort 45 now offer true multi-point pairing. These headphones also have better microphones than their predecessor, the QC35 II (below), so you can expect better voice pickup when taking phone calls.
Sound is delivered with excitement and zeal across the frequencies. Mids are pleasingly three-dimensional and bass is weighty, but timing isn't as cohesive as we'd like. Sonically, the class-leading Sony WH-1000XM4 just a have more to offer.
Settings are basic, and if you want 11 levels of noise-cancellation, you'll need to opt for the company's flagship Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (above). Still, there's plenty to like about the Bose QC45; they're based on a tried and tested product that will likely stand the test of time.
Read the full Bose QuietComfort 45 review
It's hard to believe it but these headphones made their debut in 2017, quickly proving that choosing noise-cancelling headphones didn't mean compromising on sound quality.
They might have been trumped by the 2021 QuietComfort 45 but they remain a decent buy, especially if you can get them at a tidy discount. They offer powerful, controlled bass, three noise cancellation settings (‘low’, ‘high’ and ‘off’) and plenty of bells and whistles.
Built-in Google Assistant reads out text messages and online notifications while you’re on the move, and you can even dictate a reply or rifle through your music library using voice commands. Battery life is 20 hours (the newer QC 45 up that to 24 hours).
If you’re looking for ultra-comfortable, cutting-edge noise-cancelling, these will tick all your boxes.
Read the full Bose QuietComfort 35 II review
The Bose Sports Earbuds are a sort of mash-up between the QuietComfort Earbuds and the Bose SoundSport Free.
The housings are smaller and a little rounder than the ones you get with the QuietComforts but, understandably given the relative prices, they do feel a little cheaper. All the same, Bose's umbrella-shaped silicone pads and soft wing tips make them comfortable over long listening periods.
The Sport Earbuds are sweat and weather-resistant, battery life is average but should be enough in combination with the case. There's also voice assistant support and both good noise isolation and noise cancelling too.
Sonically, these are some expertly balanced buds for tone. Every track we play through them is handled fairly and squarely. High frequencies never annoy or grate and low frequencies aren’t overcooked as is often the case with lower-end wireless earbuds. There’s a richness and fullness to bass notes, but they never sound fat and slovenly.
On an initial listen they really draw you in, but better buds offer more expression, clarity and a touch more detail. The Sport Earbuds are still very listenable, they just don’t make music sound quite as special as the very best at this level.
Read the full Bose Sport Earbuds review
How we test headphones
We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath, where our team of experienced, in-house reviewers test the majority of hi-fi and AV kit that passes through our door.
Of course, testing headphones don't often require such facilities (though we do often try audiophile headphones in our reference hi-fi system). What is important in our headphones reviewing process is that each pair is compared to the best in its price and style class – whether that's one standout pair or a few we favour the highest among the 100+ pairs we listen to each year for reviews and What Hi-Fi? Awards judging. What Hi-Fi? is all about comparative testing, and we keep class-leading products in our stockrooms so we can always compare new products to ones we know and love.
We are always impartial and do our best to make sure we're hearing every product at their very best, so we'll try plenty of different types of music and give them plenty of listening time (and time to run in), while the wired headphones that might warrant being used with a DAC are tested with a suitable one. It's not just about sound quality, of course. If a pair has active noise cancellation – increasingly the case these days – we'll ensure part of our testing involves using them in different environments.
All review verdicts are agreed upon by the team rather than an individual reviewer to eliminate any personal preference and to make sure we're being as thorough as possible, too. There's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to the verdict, with What Hi-Fi? proud of having delivered honest, unbiased reviews for decades.
Our pick of the best headphones for all budgets
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Check out our Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II review
Planning on getting some sporty buds? Check out our best songs for running