Completely wireless true wireless in-ear headphones with active noise cancellation are a dime a dozen. With the premium in-ears Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, the manufacturer wants to prove that earphones can also achieve excellent noise reduction and high-quality sound. Our test clarifies whether this endeavor actually succeeds.
|Maximum operating range||10m (without obstacle)|
|Battery life||Up to 6 hrs; 24 hrs total with charging case; (varies depending on volume level and audio content)|
|charging time||2 hrs for the Earbuds; 3 hrs for the charging lei (via USB-C or Qi certified wireless charging station)|
|Size Earbuds (H x W x D)||3.9 cm x 2.6 cm x 2.7 cm|
|Size Charging Case (H x W x D)||3.17 cm x 8.9 cm x 5.08 cm|
|Weight||76 g (charging case & earbuds); 8.5 g per earbud|
|Price||€ 116.99 *|
Scope of delivery
Bose aims to wow in the premium in-ear headphone segment with the QuietComfort Earbuds. The earbuds come in a classy-looking, matte-black cardboard box, which already stands out positively from the significantly cheaper competition when opened.
The lushly proportioned charging case, which houses the two Earbuds, floats directly on the plastic packaging. The rest of the package, which is extraordinarily large in comparison, is located underneath.
Bose includes two additional pairs of the patented StayHear ear inserts with wings. Size M is already pre-installed, S and L are also packed in a small plastic bag in the box, while a 30.5 cm long USB Type-A to USB Type-C charging cable rounds off the scope of delivery.
Design and workmanship
If you’re looking for in-ears that are as compact as possible, you’d better give the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds a wide berth. With their size of 3.9 cm x 2.6 cm x 2.7 cm, the earbuds are downright huge, and their design is more reminiscent of Bluetooth headsets than classic in-ears. However, the wearing comfort of the Earbuds, which weigh 8.5 grams each, is beyond any doubt – but more about that later.
Bose offers the Earbuds in two color variants. In addition to a matte black model, there is also a light gray version called “Soapstone”. The charging case and the StayHear earbuds are also available in the corresponding color, which makes for a classy and discreet look.
In terms of build quality, the QuietComfort Earbuds provide no reason for criticism and more than live up to the high price tag. The charging case and earbuds feel equally stable and high-quality, and you won’t find any gaps – nothing creaks or cracks here.
The build quality, like the size, is on par with the competitor Sony WF-1000XM4. In addition, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds offer IPX4 certification, which protects them against moisture and dirt.
However, the charging case, which weighs around 76 grams, is hardly more suitable for the pocket with its size, but it feels very high-quality. However, the handling is a bit critical, because Bose does not use a magnetic closing mechanism for the case, but a spring-loaded hinge. This ensures a secure closure, but also that the charging case can hardly be opened with just one hand. The force required to open the hinge is significantly higher than in other in-ear headphones, which should have been solved better.
Despite large dimensions and comparatively high weight, the wearing comfort of the True Wireless Earbuds is almost completely convincing. Bose achieves this primarily through the comfortable earpieces, which find a place in the ear cup. These can be exchanged in just a few steps and individually adjusted for both sides. For example, it is possible to use the M attachment on the left ear and the smaller version in size S on the right. Conveniently, the Bose companion app for iOS and Android provides a comprehensive guide to additionally improve the wearing comfort.
Compared to most manufacturers, the ear tips are a bit shorter and are not completely inserted into the ear canal, but only rest on it. Nevertheless, the Earbuds achieve a very good hold. Even during intensive movements or sports, the in-ear headphones do not slip out of the ears and are superior to Sony’s WF-1000XM4 in this area – however, they are not quite as comfortable as Apple’s AirPods Pro, for example.
Nevertheless, Bose achieves an excellent tightness with the Earbuds, which additionally supports the effective external noise cancellation (ANC). This is also achieved by the oval design of the earbuds, which additionally ensure a tighter fit without pressing.
In fact, the wearing comfort of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds is completely convincing in the test and – despite the sheer size of the in-ears – does not have to hide behind the AirPods Pro or the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. In a direct comparison with the high-end counterparts from Sony, Bose clearly has the edge here in our eyes.
Features and battery life
But not only the high wearing comfort provides joy in continuous operation, the battery life is also more than respectable. The lithium-ion batteries of the Earbuds last up to six hours. The charging case allows for two additional, full charges – which equals 18 hours. Overall, we thus arrive at a good 24 hours of runtime in combined use. A good, but not outstanding value that does not quite reach Sony’s current premium model.
The in-ears are fully recharged in about 2 hours in the charging case, while the case itself needs about 3 hours from 0 to 100 percent. However, the quick-charge function is especially practical and provides the Earbuds with juice for 2 hours of music enjoyment in only 15 minutes. By the way, charging can be done with or without a cable including the Qi standard.
When you take the QuietComfort Earbuds out of the charging case, the in-ears are directly in pairing mode. Thanks to Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity, connecting to smartphones and other devices is quick and easy. You can also move around 10 meters away from the source without breaking the connection, and the Earbuds also automatically connect to the last device used when reactivated.
The button on the charging case can also be used to connect additional sources, which can also be added to a device list in the Bose Music app. The connection with multiple devices at the same time (multipoint), however, is unfortunately not possible.
In terms of operation, Bose relies on touch fields on the sides of both earphones, like most True Wireless models. This reveals another advantage of the QuietComfort Earbuds, as the operating concept is sometimes clearly superior to that of the competition without being unnecessarily confusing.
Playback can be started and paused with a double touch on the right earbud, and incoming calls can also be accepted in this way. The same gesture on the left side changes the ANC level, which has factory-set options for 100%, 50%, and 0%. However, these options can be freely adjusted and saved via the app. The corresponding voice assistant is activated via tap and hold on the right, while an individually configurable shortcut can be set on the left with the same gesture.
There is also a special feature after the firmware update: Thanks to these swipe gestures, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are one of the few true-wireless models that allow you to adjust the volume directly on the earbuds – namely by swiping up or down on the right earpiece.
Audio Quality & ANC
While the QC Earbuds could already positively set themselves apart from other manufacturers in some areas in the test up to this point, the in-ears play out their full potential in terms of audio quality and active noise cancellation (ANC).
In fact, the Bose outperforms all other earbuds in terms of active noise cancelling and almost reaches the level of premium over-ear models. Especially everyday noises like street noise, lawn mowers or a roaring washing machine in spin mode are almost completely blocked out with 100% ANC. This even works so well and reliably that the AirPods Pro and even the Sony models look as if they do not have any noise suppression in a direct comparison.
However, the Bose QC unfortunately does not have a dedicated transparency mode, which allows announcements at the train station or traffic noise to pass through better. At least the noise suppression is completely turned down when you take out an earphone.
However, an ANC value of 0% is very close to the AirPods Pro’s transparency or ambient mode. Annoyingly, a background noise also becomes clearly perceptible, but it is no longer audible from 25 percent noise suppression.
However, we were particularly blown away by the neutral and voluminous sound of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds in the test, which is at the top of the in-ear headphone range. The acoustics impress with a rich body that reproduces trebles and mids excellently. Even in complex pieces of music, instrumentation and vocals are clearly defined and reproduced very broadly.
This results (even at maximum volume) in a comparatively warm and clear sound from the QuietComfort that actually lives up to the premium price. As a fan of a more neutral sound, I also find it extremely commendable that Bose doesn’t set up its Earbuds to be quite as bass-heavy as is the case with the Sony WF-1000XM4.
Equalizer settings, on the other hand, are looked for in vain at Bose. But that is not a tragedy, because the Earbuds rely on the patented Active EQ technology, which permanently intervenes in the acoustics. Thereby, bass and treble are automatically raised or lowered depending on the volume – the result is convincing all along the line: even at low volume, the dynamics are convincing, while the treble does not sound shrill at any time.
The Bose QC Earbuds are also outstanding in terms of the microphones installed on the right side (4 in number) and leave the collected competition in the field of true wireless headphones behind. The user’s own voice is reproduced crystal clear, while ambient noise and wind are effectively filtered out.
While the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds already show a lot of variation out of the box, the free Bose Music app takes the in-ears’ features to a whole new level. At least after you have registered with Bose – otherwise, the app is unfortunately useless.
After that, however, extensive functions are available. This starts with an extensive wear recognition for the Earbuds and culminates in an adjustment of the noise suppression in 10 levels, three of which can be saved as favorites directly on the in-ears.
The app is very clearly structured and also offers extensive explanations of the individual functions, so that even newcomers are not overwhelmed by the abundance of options. We also found the option to adjust the intensity of the voice playback during calls in four stages to be practical. This ensures that you do not yell at the other person unnecessarily even in loud environments.
If you spend over 200 euros on in-ear headphones, you expect a corresponding quality. Fortunately, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds fully live up to this claim. While the now legendary over-ears Bose QuietComfort 35 (our review) could not quite compete in the top league, the True-Wireless Earbuds compete head-to-head with the Sony WF-1000XM4 for the top spot.
The ANC function is simply the best I have ever heard in the in-ear sector. But the sound quality is also completely convincing and scores with a crystal-clear and quite neutral sound. Despite the enormous size, the wearing comfort is also good. Even after a few hours, the earbuds fit comfortably in the ear and do not pinch at any time. At the same time, they fit much more securely than Apple’s AirPods Pro or Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 2, for example.
There are two main reasons why it is not quite enough for our Platinum Award: On the one hand, the charging case is much too big and therefore hardly suitable for pockets. The Bose also has to contend with the sluggish closing mechanism. On the other hand, I miss a dedicated transparency mode, because Bose’s solution does not work ideally – especially since a quite loud background noise is noticeable without ANC.
However, those who primarily value the best possible sound and excellent active noise cancellation will be excellently served by the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. First-class headphones that absolutely live up to the premium approach in terms of workmanship, appearance, sound and features.