American audio beast Bose has unveiled its latest noise-cancelling in-ear headphones, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 and, by heck, I think they’re really something.
Revealing the new in-ears at a swanky event in New York – boldly, on Apple Event and iPhone 14 launch day, eek! – Bose showcased a sleek design that’s (thankfully) about one-third smaller than the original, rather bulky-looking QuietComfort Earbuds that were launched back in 2020 (but great-sounding enough to win a T3 Award).
The real winner here, though, is the new noise-cancelling (ANC) tech. How do I know? Well, I gave the fresh earphones a whirl and y'know what? They're probably the best noise-blocking in-ears I’ve ever heard.
As soon as I placed the QuietComfort earbuds 2 in my ears, I knew these ‘phones were more than just a refresh on the older models. I got to test the noise-cancelling in a demo room, where Bose played various sounds at very high volumes, including inside a tube carriage. Testing the earbuds in “quiet mode” against these sounds and I was blown away by their sound-blocking capabilities. Certainly a future contender for the T3's best wireless earbuds.
Apparently, this crazy level of noise-cancellation has been made possible thanks to Bose’s brand new CustomTune tech – a sound calibration innovation that intelligently personalises audio and noise-cancellation performance to the unique shape of your ear.
Bose QC Earbuds II: How does CustomTune work?
This is how CustomTune works: when you place the 'buds in your ear, a microphone inside them measures your ear canal’s acoustic response. That information is then used to tailor both audio and noise cancellation performance specifically for you – all within half a second.
For noise cancellation, CustomTune calibrates the noise reduction signal to your ears and targets frequencies that were previously difficult to reduce, such as voices of annoying people nearby or screaming children on the bus. The tech also continuously adapts to changing noise in the environment you’re in, so that the noise cancellation is always top-notch.
When it comes to playing your favourite tunes, CustomTune optimises the sound frequency profile to the unique properties of the ear, so the sound that reaches the eardrum is “just as the artist intended” as well as being more lifelike and balanced with better clarity and depth. They really do need to be heard to be believed.
I spoke with Bose’s distinguished engineer, Dan Gauger, at the launch event, who confirmed that these earbuds weren’t designed as a mere iteration on the previous model. The brand has been working hard to make sure the second-gen QuietComfort Earbuds are better than any noise-cancelling product it’s released before.
“The QuietComfort Earbuds 2 are not a refinement of existing tech,” Gauger said.
“Every headphone we’ve released since the original Quietcofmort earphones in 2009 have seen subtle differences in the noise-cancelling technology, but these are a whole new generation.”
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: Making a strong case
The earphone’s charging case has also been redesigned, and is now a little closer-looking to what you’d find in Apple's AirPods stable compared to Bose's previous QuietComfort earbuds' case.
As you’d expect, the QuietComfort Earbuds 2 are compatible with both Apple and Android devices, plus there's an IPX4 rating for sweat and water resistance.
When it comes to battery life, Bose claims the earphones will last up to six hours with three additional charges provided by the case. The case can fully charge the 'buds in one hour, while a quick 20-minute charge provides up to two hours of playback. The case itself fully recharges in three hours via USB-C. Although all this is something that'll have to be tested when it comes to T3's full-blown review later down the line.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 will be available for £279.95 in the UK from 29th September, and $299.95 in the US from the earlier date of 15th September, while Australians get it from September 26th for AU$429.95 – but only in the black colour way start with. A 'Soapstone' (off-white, I reckon?) variant will also be available later this year, the company said. Pre-orders will begin on 8th September via the official Bose website. So you can buy a pair to go along with your shiny new iPhone 14 Pro Max...