Bose QuietComfort Earbuds vs Bose Sport Earbuds: the differences explained

To ANC or not to ANC? That is the (silent) question for these Bose earbuds

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Vs Bose Sports Earbuds
(Image credit: Future)

The Bose QuietComfort name is now synonymous with cosy over ear headphones now famous for their ability to solidly press mute on the universe. But the good news is that the best Bose headphones now also include true wireless offerings that concentrate Bose’s magnificent audio quality into something a little less ‘business person on a flight.’ 

Apple’s AirPods have revolutionised the earbud market over the past few years, pushing the biggest names in audio to get innovative with their in-ears. The best true wireless earbuds available in 2022 now offer exceptional sound and both Bose in-ear offerings are of superior quality.   

The T3 Platinum Award winning Bose QuietComfort Earbuds – and one of our best noise-cancelling earbuds – were released in 2020 to great acclaim thanks to best in class active noise-cancelling, and Bose’s exquisite audio chops shrunk into a smaller form factor. Meanwhile, the Bose Sport Earbuds were also released in 2020 but with no ANC for a more active, gym-hungry audience. 

But which one is right for you? Let’s look at the similarities and break down some of the key differences between the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds and the Bose Sport Earbuds.  

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds worn by woman in the street

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds can block out traffic sound excellently.

(Image credit: Bose)

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds vs Bose Sport Earbuds: Price

If you’re solely deciding between the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds and Bose Sport Earbuds based on price alone, there’s one clear winner. The Bose Sport Earbuds' official price sits at £180 in the UK, $160 in the USA, and $249.95 in Australia, while the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds will set you back £249 in the UK, $279 in the US, and a cool $399 in Australia. 

And you've got a choice of colours for each. The Bose Sport Earbuds come in regular Triple Black, Glacier White, and a pleasing Baltic Blue, while the QuietComfort Earbuds come in Triple Black, Soapstone white, Stone Blue, and Sandstone grey.. Check out the widgets below for the best current prices and don’t miss our Bose discount codes to make sure you’re always getting the best deal. 

Compared to the rest of the market, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are pretty much on par with the also T3 Platinum award-winning Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds but there are now discounts available that take these under the £200 mark if you know where to look. 

The Bose Sport Earbuds are sitting at a slightly lower price point than their biggest gym-going competition, the impressive Beats Powerbeats Pro. If you’re looking for the best running headphones, those are still our absolute hands down – well, feets down – favourites.  

Bose Sport Earbuds worn by woman in sports wear

The Bose Sport Earbuds are made to be light and comfortable.

(Image credit: Bose)

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds vs Bose Sport Earbuds: Design and battery life 

If you’re looking for a set of subtle true wireless buds, neither the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds or Bose Sport Earbuds are the ones you’re looking for. Both sets could officially be considered bulky in comparison to something like the Apple AirPods Pro. But this little excess chonk in the design department actually ensures that both sets of buds have excellent fit so you’re not going to casually lose one on the bus or train as one tumbles out of an ear.

As we said in our Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review, the fit means that even before the ANC kicks in there’s great passive noise cancelling. “That relatively big, lozenge-shaped housing is fitted with an elaborate silicone eartip that incorporates a ‘nozzle’ to direct sound into the ear and a ‘wing’ to position the earbud securely. The result is a remarkably secure fit that’s not unlike some of the more successful ‘sports buds’ designs on the market.” 

And speaking of sports buds, the Bose Sport Earbuds have an equally satisfying fit. Both these and the QuietComforts have Boses’s StayHear Max Tips which come in three different sizes to make sure you get just the right seal. This seal is even more important for the Sport Earbuds as, unlike the QuietComforts, they don’t have ANC. And they’re not going anywhere during your gym session either. As we said in our Bose Sport Earbuds review; “they stay wedged firmly in place no matter how much you shake your head. It’s this clever design that makes these buds feel extremely comfortable and lightweight during use, and thus ideal for sports and fitness, even running.” 

When it comes to controls, both buds use intuitive touch controls which is ideal for speedy gym track changes on the Sport Earbuds. The Quiet Comforts also have a swift switch between full ANC and what Bose calls Aware Mode. With a double tap of the left bud, you can quickly hear the world again for coffee orders or safety without having to disturb that seal.  

Battery wise, the QuietComfort and Sport Earbuds aren’t nearly as competitive as they could be. While the QC has six hours in the earbuds themselves, there are only two charges in the case so you’ve got an overall charge of 18 hours. The Sports Earbuds have five hours in the buds themselves and again, have another two charges in the case so you’ve got around 15 hours in total. Given that you won’t be working out for longer than 5 hours, this is fine day to day, but with the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds managing 24 hours between USB-C charges, it’s disappointing.  

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds in case

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds have a case as chunky as the buds.

(Image credit: Bose)

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds vs Bose Sport Earbuds: Features and sound quality 

It’s time to talk about the very quiet elephant in the room. The biggest difference between these two sets of true wireless buds is the active noise-cancelling. Before we get onto the excellent audio quality, the QuietComfort Earbuds come with truly exceptional ANC. As we said in our QuietComfort Earbuds review; “It’s deeply impressive – use the app to ramp it all the way up to ‘10’ and very, very little external noise is allowed in. And the Bose manage to negate the outside world without in any way introducing that vague ‘cabin pressure’ sensation in the wearer’s inner ear like some less accomplished designs do.” 

This is a perfect combination with the brilliant audio quality on offer too. The bass is thrilling without being overwhelming; “singers sound natural, immediate and characterful, and instruments in this part of the frequency range are packed with detail of texture and timbre too.”

But no ANC doesn’t mean that the waterproof IPX4 Sport Earbuds are an aural slouch. They come with 5.1 Bluetooth just like the QuietComforts so you can make the most of high quality lossless audio and there’s a balanced soundscape here. Bose’s proprietary Acoustic Port Design means that the Sport Earbuds pack a great audio punch too. As we said in our review “they are able to deliver an impressively big sound despite their small-ish size. In addition, there’s an innovation called volume-optimised Active EQ, which effectively works to boost the lows and highs of the audio automatically so it stays nice and balanced while you’re listening to it, even at high volumes.” 

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds components on display

There's a lot of tech squeezed into the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds.

(Image credit: Bose)

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds vs Bose Sport Earbuds: Verdict

Even if you aren’t a gym bunny, there’s plenty to like about the Bose Sport Earbuds with their great fit and impressive audio chops. That IPX4 rating means you won’t mind wearing them out in the rain either. But if you’re looking for the full package with ANC to shut out the world, there’s no doubt that you should invest in the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. Even a shorter battery life in the case can’t distract from this luxurious sound noise cancelling and brilliant comfortable fit. 

Louise Blain

Louise Blain is a journalist and broadcaster specialising in technology, gaming, and entertainment.  She has a weekly consumer tech slot on BBC Radio Scotland and is the presenter of BBC Radio 3's monthly Sound of Gaming show. She can also regularly be found on BBC Radio 4, BBC Five Live, and The Evolution of Horror podcast as well as writing for GamesRadar and NME. Louise loves finding ways that tech can make our lives better every day and no, she doesn't have enough smart lighting yet.