How much will you pay extra for silence?

Wireless earbuds are a dime-a-dozen these days, and general standards have improved so much that you can pick up a $30 pair of wireless earbuds and at least get decent sound and a solid connection. If you pay more than $99, you’ll get a decent pair with good sound quality, solid construction, and maybe even Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). So the big question for me when I was asked to review the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 wasn’t whether the earbuds were good — of course they are! — but rather, “Do these things justify the $300 price hike?”.

Spoiler alert: The Bose QuietComfort 2 actually has the best ANC I’ve ever tested, but everything else, from looks/design to sound quality to special features, lags behind Apple’s AirPods Pro 2, which is 17% cheaper at $250.


Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones

Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds 2 offer tremendous active noise cancellation and fit securely and comfortably.

battery life
Six hours on a single charge (the case adds three more charges)




The electronic identification number level

driver size
9.4 mm

wireless charging

Dimensions (earbuds)
1.2 x 0.68 x 0.88 in

Dimensions (case)
2.61 x 2.34 x 1.05 inches

Black and white

Shipping Port

Noise canceling


  • The best active noise canceling of any earbuds
  • Stability rings provide a more secure fit
  • Easy to use touch controls

  • beloved
  • Out-of-the-box audio tuning is sub-par
  • There is no wireless charging

About this review: This review was written a week after we tested the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 purchased by XDA. Bose obviously had no input on this article.

Price and availability

The Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones are now available at most electronics retailers (Amazon, Best Buy, etc.) for $299.

Packaging, hardware and design

  • An additional “Stability Ring” plus silicone tip provides a very secure fit
  • Relatively large case and earphones
  • 9.3mm triggers


The QC Earbuds 2 come in a two-part black box with a white sleeve. Remove the case, peel off the top half, and you receive the earphone case. You will notice that the case is relatively large compared to any other wireless earbuds from phone brands such as Apple or Samsung.

The package includes two instruction manuals—one to get you started quickly, and then a thick one in multiple languages ​​that seems superfluous in 2023. There’s a short USB-A to USB-C charging cable and extra silicone ear tips and “steady rings.”

Bose-Quiet-Comfort-Smart-Repads-2-XDA-Revision 00418

Most people should be familiar with silicone ear tips, which are the parts that go inside the ear canals. However, the stability rings wrap around the core of the earbuds and are meant to sit adequately below the clamshell or our ears to prevent the earbuds from falling out. I appreciate the loops when I’m cycling or doing high-intensity workouts because the earphones feel more secure.

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As mentioned, the case is relatively large, measuring 2.61 x 2.34 x 1.05 inches, but the earphones are also larger than competitors, and at 6.24 grams per bud are also heavier than other earphones from the likes of Apple, Nothing, or Huawei. It’s weird to think that the QC Earbuds 2 are actually 30% larger than the original QC earbuds (which I haven’t seen in person).

This next part is purely my opinion, but whether it’s the shape of the case or the earbuds, I find the Bose design to feel heavy and unstylish compared to other earphones I’ve tested in recent months. The extra bulk of a Bose product doesn’t make for better battery life, as the QC Earbuds 2 can last for six hours on a single charge, with the case adding another 18 hours of charge. Apple AirPods Pro 2, Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2, and Nothing Ear 1 all offer longer battery life.


Each bud houses a 9.3mm driver, with four microphones (two on the outside, two on the inside) and a touch-sensitive pad on each stalk. There is a glossy black or white coating over the plastic body.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II will be available on September 15th
Bose QuietComfort II headphones

Fitness and comfort

I’m someone who doesn’t like the feeling of inner earbuds where the silicone tip goes inside my ear canal – I’d prefer an outer ear design (like a non-Pro AirPods or Nothing Ear Stick if possible), but for the sake of – earbuds, the QC Earbuds 2 are comfortable when I’ve swapped out the medium sized tips default to small. As mentioned earlier, the stability ring screws into my clamshell for extra “grip,” keeping the buds more securely attached. I often ride around town, and the thought of earbuds falling out of my ear mid-ride is a worry, and these earbuds give me more peace of mind than, say, Apple’s AirPods Pro.

Software: Pairing, Application, Controls

  • The companion app allows customization of the touch controls and equalizer among other things
  • Phenomenal active noise cancellation
  • Some of the special features seen on the big name earbuds are missing

The QC Earbuds 2 can instantly connect to any device, but to get the most out of the experience, you’ll need to download the accompanying Bose app. The app provides customization for touch controls and ANC strength, but more importantly, it allows you to tweak the EQ, which I found essential because I thought the out-of-the-box tuning felt flat.

The touchpad works as you’d expect: tap once to start/pause audio, tap twice to skip tracks, and long press to switch between ANC mode or Transparency mode (which Bose calls “Aware” mode). You can change the long-press action to activate Siri or the Google Assistant instead. The app also has an “ear tip seal test” where the earphones will emit a fairly loud ringing and determine if the earphone tips are working properly.

The active noise cancellation is uncannily good, the best I’ve heard anywhere.



As mentioned earlier, I found the out-of-the-box sound tuning to sound a bit flat, but after jumping into the app and making a few adjustments in the EQ, it sounded excellent, with very subtle bass. The QC Earbuds 2 only support the SBC and AAC codecs, which honestly is more than adequate and sounds just as good, but there are those asking for higher bitrate options like AptX might be disappointed.

Let’s get to the main selling point of these earbuds, and something I’ve already teased about a few times in this review: The active noise cancellation (ANC) is uncannily good, and the best I’ve heard anywhere. It’s almost as if Bose is showing them off, too, because unlike other wireless earbuds, which activate noise cancellation in a single step (you can go from hearing full ambient noise to noticeably less in an instant), Bose does it in a two-step delayed process. When you first put the earbuds on, you’ll hear outside noise as normal, then a loud Bose sound starts, followed by a robotic sound that tells you the battery percentage and the paired device, and after that, the noise cancellation kicks in in two parts: first you hear a significant reduction in outside noise, and then, in most cases, Almost complete silence.


I can’t stress this enough — unless you’re in a very noisy environment, the QC Earbuds 2′ ANC can provide almost complete silence when the ANC is fully turned on. Even the AirPods Pro 2, which has excellent ANC, lags behind. As a test, I took all the major wireless earbuds I own outside next to a major road, with a lot of traffic noise, and I can confirm that the ANC of the Bose QC Earbuds 2 easily beats the Huawei FreeBuds 2 Pro, Nothing Ear 1, and my last pair of earphones. The Chinese “Pro” earphones I can’t talk about yet due to ban restrictions. Apple’s AirPods Pro 2 fared better than those other headphones, but lost out to Bose.

I no longer have the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro from Samsung or the Pixel Buds Pro from Google, but I tested them well a few months ago, and I’m sure their ANC can’t match Bose’s either.

Bose’s “Aware” mode works very well. The company advertises this technology as “Active Sense” which, apparently, has the brains of the earbuds constantly analyzing the surrounding sound and then adjusting the volume of the sound passing through it. The idea is that Aware mode will know how to accentuate human voices and important sounds like car whistles, but mute sounds that serve no real practical purpose, like the hum of an air conditioner.

I can’t say I notice the smart audio tuning, but I can say that the Aware mode here sounds very natural, as if I’m not wearing earphones at all, which is exactly what the awesome Transparency mode should do. I previously thought the AirPods Pro 2’s transparency mode was the best in the business, and I think Bose’ could take a very close second, or even 1B, from the Apple 1A.

Regardless, the absolute best feature of Bose earphones is their ANC and Aware mode, and everything else, from the six-hour battery life per charge to the audio performance to the gesture controls, is good but nothing special compared to half a dozen Other premium earbuds.

Special features missing from other brands

The QC Earbuds 2 are not missing some important features found in other earbuds. There’s no wireless charging, for example, so you’ll have to recharge via a USB-C cable. There is no multipoint connection, which means the earphones can only connect to one device at a time. The speakers are also missing smart features like Apple’s Spatial Audio, or the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s ability to act as a wireless microphone.

The Bose QC Earbuds 2 have a clear, big appeal: Want earbuds that let you mostly drown out outside noise and give you some peace and quiet?

Should you buy the Bose QuietComfort 2 earphones?

Bose QuietComfort Headphones 2 - Axda

You should buy Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 if:

  • It is crucial to have the best ANC – let’s say you work in noisy environments a lot
  • Want a more secure fit than other wireless earbuds?
  • You like the Bose brand

You shouldn’t buy Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 if:

  • Saving $50 to $80 is important to you
  • Want a sleeker earphone design or a more compact case?

The Bose QC Earbuds 2 have a clear, big appeal: Want earbuds that let you mostly drown out outside noise and give you some peace and quiet? As someone who constantly works in coffee shops and spends parts of the year in very dense and crowded cities like Tokyo and Hong Kong, I can say yes, I highly appreciate the best-in-class ANC.

But here’s the thing: the AirPods Pro 2’s ANC is pretty good (if I were to give scores, Bose’ ANC is 10/10 and the AirPods Pro 2 would be 8.5/10), then the AirPods Pro 2 wins in every other area, starting with having Superior audio output, a slightly better transparency mode, a sleeker build without sacrificing battery life, and all the extras like wireless charging and compatibility with Apple’s FindMy network. Oh, it’s cheaper too! So, I think if you’re an iPhone user, the AirPods Pro 2 still makes more sense. If you’re an Android user, there’s the excellent Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, which are sleeker, have superior audio output, and are cheaper — though the ANC isn’t as good as Bose’s or Apple’s. I also want to add that the AirPods Pro 2 works fine with Android too if you’re okay with not having spatial audio.

So, the case for Bose earphones is this: Want to shell out another $50 for better ANC? Evaluate your lifestyle, the city you live in, and the decision should be obvious.


Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones

The Bose QuietComfort EarBuds 2 have the best ANC we’ve tested of any earbuds, but the price is higher than other earphones.

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