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Best Bose headphones 2021: noise-cancelling and wireless

Best Bose headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best Bose headphones you can buy in 2021.

Bose is synonymous with great headphones and with noise-cancelling too. 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 the best Bose headphones tricky.

The good news is that Bose has won a string of awards for its most recent noise-cancellers. The ground-breaking wizardry blocks out ambient noise - aeroplane engines, the rumble of a train, office chatter - and, if you think that they offer a solution to you personal audio problems, then you might well be right.

Bose offers a range of noise-cancelling headphones to suit every budget, and diversified into other types of cans – including sporty true wireless earbuds and premium wireless over-ears. 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.

One thing to keep in mind before you reach for your wallet: Bose has announced the QuietComfort 45, with improved battery life and performance. They're on sale late September and we'll be reviewing them very soon.

Now, check your budget and requirements and browse the list below for the very best Bose headphones.  

Best Bose headphones 2021: noise-cancelling and wireless

(Image credit: Bose)

1. Bose SoundSport Wireless

The sporty, lightweight and sweat-resistant ones.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 6hr | Charging: USB | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Comfortable
Fun sound
Strong wireless performance

Reasons to Avoid

Less-than-stellar battery life

Want to get active and cut the cord at the same time? There’s a lot to love about these sporty, lightweight wireless earbuds. They offer surprisingly rich sound and punchy bass that'll get your toes tapping (or feet pounding the treadmill, maybe).

Aimed at gym-goers, they're IPX4 sweat- and splash-resistant, too, so won't baulk at a sweaty workout out in the rain. Slip them on and you’ll find that the comfy silicone ear hooks hold them in place while jogging or busting out a HIIT workout. You shouldn’t experience too many drop-outs, either, thanks to Bose's reliable Bluetooth chipset. They’re not truly ‘wireless’, though, as they have a neckband cable featuring a lightweight remote. 

Battery life is average but six hours playback is plenty for a commute or a workout. If you’re seeking some accomplished wireless buds to accompany you on a sporty adventure, you'll be hard pressed to find a better option for less money. 

Read the full review: Bose SoundSport Wireless

Best Bose headphones 2021: noise-cancelling and wireless

(Image credit: Bose)

2. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Fantastic wireless earbuds with some brilliant built-in tech.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 6hrs (18hrs with charging case) | Charging: USB-C | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Exciting, entertaining sound
Superb balance
Impressive noise-cancelling

Reasons to Avoid

Average battery life

Bose's first-ever pair of noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds have proven hugely popular. They feel lightweight enough for the average commute or exercise session (the QuietComfort Earbuds are both sweat and weather-resistant) and are great 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.

All in all, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are sensational all-rounders, capable of impressive musicality and topped off with excellent noise cancelling. These wireless earbuds are more than a match for any rival.

Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Best Bose headphones 2021

(Image credit: Bose)

3. Bose SoundSport Free

True wireless buds for those who like to feel the burn.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 5hr | Charging: USB/Case | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Weighty, full-bodied sound
Deep, powerful bass
Even tonal balance

Reasons to Avoid

Thanks to an update, not a lot

True wireless earbuds are a modern miracle. Somehow, Bose has crammed a battery, amplifier and Bluetooth chip into these tiny ear buds. What's more, they're rugged, sporty and water-resistant. How do they do it?

Sure, they’re 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 ten 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 five-star beauties are laden with features but it's the impressive sound quality that makes them a cut above the rest. 

Read the full review: Bose SoundSport Free

Best Bose headphones 2021

(Image credit: Bose)

4. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Cutting-edge, premium noise-cancelling with Google Assistant.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 20hr | Charging: USB | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Sophisticated noise-cancellation
Crystal-clear voice calls
Stylish design

Reasons to Avoid

Rivals feel more premium

Five years ago, choosing noise-cancelling headphones meant compromising on sound quality. But as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II over-ear headphones have proven, that’s no longer the case. 

These offer powerful, controlled bass, three noise cancellation settings (‘low’, ‘high’ and ‘off’) and plenty of bells and whistles. 

The headline news is that they come with in-built Google Assistant, which reads out text messages and online notifications while you’re on the move. You can even dictate a reply or rifle through your music library using voice commands, so they're usable even if your hands are full.

Dead battery? Charge them up for 15 minutes and they’re good for another 2.5 hours of playback. Very useful if you're about to head out the door. And as the name suggests, they're some of the most comfortable headphones around, ideal for settling in for a long flight. 

If you’re looking for ultra-comfortable, cutting-edge noise-cancelling, these will tick all your boxes. And with the QuietComfort 45 rumoured to be launching soon, you could bag the QC 35 II at a bargain price. 

Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Best Bose headphones 2021

(Image credit: Bose)

5. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Better wireless fidelity, better noise cancelling, same great sound.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 20hr | Charging: USB | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Next-gen noise-cancellation
Comfortable and stylish
Crystal-clear, upfront sound
Intuitive touch controls

Reasons to Avoid

Lack class-leading insight
Rivals have better battery life
Expensive

A breakaway from the QuietComfort range, the 700s 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, although some may prefer the richness and depth of other headphones. Still, these are a great option.

Read the full review: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Bose Sport Earbuds review

(Image credit: Bose)

6. Bose Sport Earbuds

These Bose wireless earbuds are a solid option for sporty types.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 5hr (15hr with case) | Charging: USB/Case | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Enthusiastic delivery
Balanced presentation
Weighty, agile bass

Reasons to Avoid

Slight connection issues
Music lacks subtlety and refinement
Midrange could be more expressive

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 makes 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 can uncover 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

Best Bose headphones 2021

(Image credit: Bose)

7. Bose QuietComfort 35

Slick, sophisticated noise-cancelling.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 20hr | Charging: USB | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Generous battery life
Super comfortable
Rhythmic and insightful sound

Reasons to Avoid

Bluetooth isn't aptX
Not the most forgiving balance

These Series I of the Bose QuietComfort headphones might have been superseded by the Series II model, which are in turn due to be superseded by the QuietComfort 45, but they're still a solid choice for those who want to put the world on pause. 

You'll benefit from the most effective noise-cancelling technology around and enjoy crisp, bright vocals to boot. And because they're a little long in the tooth now, you might just find them going for a bargain price, although you may have to a good dig around the web to find a pair.

Unlike earlier Bose noise-cancelling cans, which ate AAA batteries like a child scoffing Smarties, these are rechargeable. Which should save you a fortune. The built-in lithium-ion battery is good for 20 hours of use too, which is a decent amount of time by any measure. They also feature Bluetooth for wireless playback and NFC for one-touch pairing. 

Would they win a beauty contest? Probably not. But the plush ear cups will cocoon your cochleas in comfort. And when you factor in the cheaper price, they're a no-brainer.

Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort 35

What Hi-Fi?

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