Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are new noise-cancelling rivals for Sony and Sennheiser

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
(Image credit: Bose)

Bose, the brand that had the big idea for noise-cancelling headphones in the first place, is determined to advance the technology again with the launch of its new true wireless model: QuietComfort Earbuds II.

The QuietComfort II earbuds are an entirely new design, roughly two-thirds the size of the QuietComfort Earbuds model they replace – and weight is similarly reduced to around 6g per earbud. Bose wants to further promote wearer comfort with its ‘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.

‘CustomTune’ is the biggest news, though – it’s 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 used to deliver a bespoke sonic performance.

For noise-cancellation, ‘CustomTune’ targets those frequencies that have traditionally been most resistant to noise-cancelling technology, and the earbuds constantly analyse the user’s environment, using the three external and one internal microphone array of each earbud, in order to adapt to changes in external conditions. Exterior sounds are met with an equal and opposite signal to cancel them more effectively than ever before – that’s the theory, anyhow.

The intelligent personalisation of ‘CustomTune’ extends as far as the QuietComfort Earbuds II’s transparency mode. It’s now dubbed ‘Aware Mode with ActiveSense’ – in practice, it means a transparency mode that responds instantaneously to loud and/or sudden external sounds by switching on noise-cancellation for as long as it might be required.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

(Image credit: Bose)

The QuietComfort Earbuds II join the smattering of new earbuds (Samsung Buds 2 Pro, JBL Tour PRO 2) that use Bluetooth 5.3 for wireless connectivity, and have AAC and SBC codec compatibility. There's no sign of higher-res codecs yet, but that's never stopped Bose from getting a five-star review before.

Battery life is a claimed six hours in the earbuds themselves (which is unchanged from the previous model), with a further three full charges in the case – adding up to a longer-than-before 24 hours in total. Charging is via USB-C, and a 20-minute blast of mains power will provide a couple of hours of playback.

Each earbud sports a 9.3mm full-range dynamic driver, and has a capacitive touch-surface covering the major controls. There’s compatibility with the source player’s native voice assistant too. On top of this, the QuietComfort Earbuds II are compatible with the Bose Music control app, which features EQ adjustment and specific noise-cancellation modes along with other customisation options.

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are initially available in a ‘triple black’ finish, with a ‘soapstone’ alternative to follow later. They’re on sale from September 29th, and are priced at £280 / $299 / AU$429.

As we expected, there's been an increase in price compared with its previous model, which launched at £249 / $280 / AU$399. It also means the new Bose earbuds are more expensive than many of the best wireless earbuds around right now, including the current Sony WF-1000XM4 and Apple AirPods Pro rivals.

We'll find out soon if they're worth the extra outlay once we get our hands on a review sample. In the meantime, pre-order for the new Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II begins tomorrow (September 8th).


Read our original Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review

Sony WF-1000XM4 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: which are better?

Simon Lucas is a freelance technology journalist and consultant, with particular emphasis on the audio/video aspects of home entertainment. Before embracing the carefree life of the freelancer, he was editor of What Hi-Fi? – since then, he's written for titles such as GQ, Metro, The Guardian and Stuff, among many others.