Award-winning Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II will sound even better in 2023

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
(Image credit: Future)

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II didn't need to support a high-quality Bluetooth codec in order to win themselves a What Hi-Fi? Award 2022 as the 'Best wireless earbuds over £200', but it was a disappointing omission for such a premium-priced and good-sounding pair of earbuds. Why? Because they could have sounded better!

Well, it's good news for QC Earbuds II owners who own an aptX HD or aptX Adaptive phone (or an extra incentive to choose them for those phone owners in the market for a new pair of wireless earbuds): the wireless earbuds are getting aptX Adaptive support.

At the Qualcomm Snapdragon Summit, Bose (who partnered with Qualcomm earlier this year) announced that it will offer a firmware update next spring to bring the codec onboard the buds, alongside low latency.

It could have been better news, had the new codec support been aptX Lossless – Qualcomm's latest and greatest Bluetooth codec which uniquely supports truly lossless transmission. But the buds would have needed an updated chip for that. Still, considering Bose's new partnership with Qualcomm and commitment to use its S5 Audio SoC chip (of which aptX Lossless Bluetooth support is a part), it is very likely we'll see support for it in Bose's 2023-released audio hardware.

As for aptX Adaptive, that will allow owners of compatible Android phones and the QC Earbuds II to send music between the two in higher quality than they are currently able to over SBC. As aptX Adaptive is backwards-compatible with aptX and aptX HD, owners of a wide variety of Android phones should be able to benefit from a boost in audio quality.


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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.

  • mcnaugha
    I’m hoping there’s some mistakes in your article.

    The Bose QC II’s feature the QCC5171 SoC. The S5 Platform is a marketing umbrella term which covers a selection of SoC’s. It’s not the name of an independent SoC.

    aptX Lossless is an extension, or mode, of aptX Adaptive. The two are inseparable. it’s a 3rd revision of aptX Adaptive that includes the aptX Lossless mode.

    The QCC5171 comes with support for the 3rd revision for aptX Adaptive and thus aptX Lossless. It’s the same SoC used in the NuraTrue Pro earbuds, which of course already deliver aptX Lossless.

    Here’s the man himself, Nick Smith, and you can see him say that lossless is coming:


    The next bit of bad news about your article is that you have the “polarity” of the aptX HD compatibility wrong.

    aptX HD-only receivers are compatible with an aptX Adaptive-only transmitter but an aptX HD-only transmitter is not compatible with aptX Adaptive-only receivers. So, mobile phones with aptX HD will not be able to transmit this to the Bose QC Earbud II’s.

    The irony is that the original QC Earbuds were based on an SoC (QCC5125) that meant they had aptX HD reception onboard. Bose did not enable this in its firmware. Would be nice if they opened this up for customers of that generation as aptX HD can be found on more source devices because it’s available as a software-only codec.