Review: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds – More than a year after Sony and Apple, Bose is finally integrating active noise reduction on True Wireless headphones. An almost surprising delay for the pioneer of this technology, but which could well augur a totally mastered product; Bose simply took the time it took to achieve perfection. Are the new QC Earbuds (or QuietComfort Earbuds) another success for the American manufacturer?
All they need is compactness
At first glance, the Bose QC Earbuds are closer to the Sony WF-1000Xm3 than Apple’s AirPods Pro . Whether it’s the charging box or the headphones themselves, the set is pretty bulky. With a less futuristic look than the Sony, the Bose have a little more boilerplate. Thus, despite the elongated design of the external part, allowing to accommodate a large tactile zone, the earphones and their mat black coating (external face) are rather discreet in use.
But above all, the manufacturing is quite exemplary. Nothing luxurious, not even “premium”, but a finish close to perfection. No play can be detected in the structure, which is made up of two plastic parts. Same observation regarding the charging box, admittedly a little light, but the hinge of which has no defects.
A real strong point of these headphones, the comfort is simply exemplary, offering a clever mix of fit and ventilation. Rather close to a semi-intra topology, the Bose QC Earbuds and their cone-shaped tips are absolutely not intrusive. The result is not as impressive as with the Apple AirPods Pro which are almost forgotten, the cannulas being quite wide, but the Bose QuietComfort ranks among the very best.
Moreover, by supporting the tips with the famous fins, which are wedged in the folds of the conches, Bose ensures an almost perfect hold, already allowing QC Earbuds to rub for sports use, IPX4 certification (protection against splashing water). water and sweat) in support.
- Type: True Wireless Active Noise Canceling Headphones
- IPX4 certification
- 2 microphones per side
- Semi-intra mouthpiece with fins (2 pairs)
- Bluetooth 5.1
- Supported audio codecs: SBC and AAC
- Autonomy announced: 6 h with ANC
- Full charge time: 2 hrs for headphones, 3 hrs for the case
- Qi charging compatible
- Dimensions (box): 3.17 x 8.9 x 5.08 cm
- Variations: black (tested version) or gray
A touchscreen to improve, an application to clarify
Modernity requires, the Bose QC Earbuds offer fully tactile ergonomics, still a little limited, but which improves with the updates.
It is thus possible to trigger pause / play, call the voice assistant, adjust the strength of the active noise reduction and, since the last update, control the volume by swiping the wide area. earphone touch zone. To go along with this modernity, optical detectors, surprisingly precise, trigger the pause and the playback once the headphones are removed or replaced.
Everything is not perfect, starting with the still incomplete navigation management or the relative imprecision of the touchscreen (better than at Sony), but the whole is still very correct.
The smartphone app dedicated to QuietComfort headphones, Bose Music, visually successful, is not as complete as those of Sony or Jabra, nor even as clear to access certain settings. For example, it is not openly possible to assign a type of control to a type of control, Bose preferring a concept of “shortcuts” to assign, and functions to activate (volume control or not for example). Finally, one point still seems very debatable to us: the obligation to open an account to use the application.
Beautiful voices and beautiful silence
Specialist in active noise reduction, Bose clearly does not miss this point. This active reduction is particularly effective on the low frequency register, while leaving almost no unpleasant sensation in the ear (buzzing of some models). The noise reduction system, superior to that of Sony and very close to that of AirPods Pro (better in passive sound isolation), is an example of balance. The voices could certainly have been filtered a little better, but the QC Earbuds adapt brilliantly to all situations, especially the most difficult.
The finding is also impressive with the sound feedback function. While a little inferior to that of the AirPods Pro in terms of naturalness, it leaves no real feeling of lack, however, recovering the treble particularly well.
Finally, using a hands-free kit to make calls shows that Bose has mastered the subject. Very natural, the voice capture is almost perfect, even in very difficult conditions. A real feat for Bluetooth headphones.
The announced autonomy – 6 hours with ANC (noise canceling system activated) – turns in practice around 5:45, which is average, nothing more. With the charging box, compatible with USB-C and Qi (induction charging), it is possible to benefit from a little more than two additional charges.
Fairly balanced sound, but with familiar highs
With the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 , the American brand perpetuated the rather balanced approach of the QuietComfort 35 , but also resumed its somewhat artificial highs. In true ultraportable version, the Quiet Comfort Earbuds seem armed with the same qualities and the same defects.
Thus, the sound signature, rather balanced if not neutral, combines an excellent quality of low frequencies, very powerful, ample and detailed, slightly put forward but without exaggeration, with fairly regular midrange, clear in all circumstances.
This painting would be idyllic if the treble, already a little oscillating, were not marked by this sensation of excessive brilliance, of artificiality. The headphones sing generously, with good versatility, good energy, and a fairly airy soundstage, but can sound a bit off on high-pitched vocals or on instruments like electric guitar.
Too bad, because this places the Bose QC Earbuds technically below its competitors, in particular the Sony WF-1000Xm3, undoubtedly more incisive but a little better controlled. However, the Bose QuietComfort headphones remain just as musical and playful as those from Sony, with more enveloping bass.
imposing but very well built, comfortable and very insulating, highlighting excellent sound insulation and almost perfect microphone quality, the Bose QC Earbuds are therefore not a revolution in the world of True Wireless headphones, but are a solid alternative to the high-end references Apple AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000Xm3. Like their two competitors, they are quite close to an ideal that remains to be achieved.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds on the test bench
Frequency response (uncompensated) of Bose QC Earbuds. Even compensated, the rather dry peak in the highs shows a character that is sometimes too bright.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds – Conclusion
The Bose QuietComfort Earbudse are very large True Wireless In-Ears in terms of their physical dimensions as well as their sound properties and the really good active noise suppression. Bose doesn’t promise too much, especially with the ANC, and only the big over-ear brothers and sisters actually deliver a similar effective reduction in ambient noise. As for the concept of the consistently effective interplay between ANC and transparency mode, I’m a little dissatisfied with the wind sensitivity and the artificial sound via the microphones. An on / off switch for these functions would quickly help. There is also criticism for the remote control and the app, both of which offer too few options.
Positives of Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
- Active noise cancelling
- IPX4 rating
- Comfortable fit
- Bluetooth 5.1
- Battery life, fast charging
- USB-C and wireless charging
- Sidetone audio during phone calls
- Mono listening (right bud only)
- Auto play/pause
Negatives of Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
- SBC and AAC, no aptX or Bluetooth multipoint
- Bose Music app required to switch between devices
- Lacks in-app EQ