I tested Bose's QuietComfort Ultra Headphones and these are the best features

The new spatial audio tech Bose has added to the QC Ultra Headphones is amazing, as are these other features

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones
(Image credit: Future)

Bose has finally replaced its four-year-old flagship over-ears, the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, unveiling the all-new QuietComfort Ultra Headphones - a set of cans that promise to offer an entirely new type of sound thanks to an injection of spatial audio tech.

But priced at a whopping $429/£449 (yes, our American friends get them about £100 cheaper than the UK thanks to conversion rates), so the Ultra Headphones don’t come cheap. What’s more, their predecessor can be picked up for significantly less, as detailed in our Ultra versus 700 Headphones comparison

So, are the updates in the Ultra Headphones really worth it as best headphones contenders? I took a closer look at Bose’s fresh cans at the firm’s launch event in New York to find out. Here are three features I love and one feature that doesn't quite hit the mark which you'll definitely want to know about…

1. Bose Immersion Audio is super

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

(Image credit: Future)

In what’s certainly a cunning move for Bose, the QC Ultra Headphones usher in a fresh sound technology known as Immersive Audio.

At its core, Bose Immersive Audio delivers spatial sound to your ears via a multi-dimensional soundstage. This innovative feature has been designed to take your auditory experience to new heights and does this by enveloping you in the content you’re listening to - almost as though it's happening live around you. It works incredibly well and really does make you feel more immersed in the music you’re listening to.

It also offers two modes to cater to different scenarios. 'Still' mode provides a fixed sound profile, where the soundstage remains stationary as you listen. This is ideal for moments of stillness. On the other hand, the 'Motion' mode dynamically adjusts with your movements, keeping the sound right in front of you as you turn your head from left to right. This is great for when you’re on the move.

Bose’s Immersive Audio is a breath of fresh air for anyone wanting something new from their next pair of headphones and could prove to be a game-changer in the world of headphones moving forward.

2. Noise cancellation is as good as ever

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

(Image credit: Future)

While there are lots to be excited about in the QC Ultra Headphones - such as the new Immersive Audio tech - it’s good to know that Bose hasn’t forgotten its roots as the master of active noise cancellation (ANC), and has ensured the sound-blocking tech in the Ultra Headphones is top notch.

During my hands-on time, I tested just how good the ANC is able to block out external sounds by listening to various musical tracks on the headphones while in their all-new noise cancellation mode: 'Immersion', which Bose said is the most powerful of its kind. The company pumped out loud recordings of public transport and the like and I couldn’t hear a thing of it. 

Still, I’d like to try in an environment not controlled by Bose to test just how well this new Immersion mode really works. We'll be sure to do that in a full T3 review, so stay tuned for that!

3. Physical controls are easier to use

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

(Image credit: Future)

The QC Ultra Headphones feature a host of new onboard controls, which I found to make the headphones simpler to use than their predecessor, which has mostly capacitive touch controls.

There is some capacitive touch on the Ultra Headphones, though, it's in the form of a strip for volume control on the right earcup. Here you’ll also find a power/Bluetooth pairing button and a multifunction button for toggling between listening modes, answering or ending calls and controlling content playback. The left earcup is less busy, boasting an LED indicator, a 2.5mm jack and a USB-C charging port. 

I found everything super easy to use and navigate around while trying out the headphones during my demo.

4. Design wow or woe?

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

(Image credit: Future)

While the Ultra cans’ build quality is as good as ever, feeling sturdy and well made with a minimal aesthetic, they are missing that high-end finish that I was expecting - especially in a pair of headphones that cost just short of £500.

They’re also a little chunkier in design than their predecessor, surprisingly. It might have been to appear more minimal, but the Ultra Headphones are lacking that sleek curved band shape of the 700s, which I think is a shame.

Why did Bose not follow the same theme its new QC Ultra Earbuds have, which have been given a makeover in the form of a metallic finish to elevate their design and make them feel more luxe? It feels like an odd choice to go for the plain old matte effect if you ask me. Still, the Ultra Headphones are by no means ugly. Perhaps I was expecting more of a “wow” factor is all. But the ANC and new Immersion Audio mode is where these cans provide their wow moments.

Lee Bell

Lee Bell is a freelance journalist & copywriter specialising in technology, health, grooming and how the latest innovations are shaking up the lifestyle space. From national newspapers to specialist-interest magazines and digital titles, Lee has written for some of the world’s most respected publications during his 11 years as a journalist.