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Bose's new QuietComfort II earbuds offer noise cancellation that gives competitors a run for their money

The Quietcomfort IIs are an upgraded version of the original with improved active noise cancellation, a more personalized fit and a sleeker design.
Bose quietcomfort II
The new headphones customize the noise cancellation features and sound specs and optimize them specifically for your ears.Bose

Amid Apple’s Sept. 7 launch event, Bose announced its new QuietComfort II earbuds, an upgraded version of the original QuietComforts with improved active noise cancellation, a more personalized fit and a sleeker design. And today, they are officially available to order on Bose's website.

Bose QuietComfort II Earbuds

During the earbuds launch event last week, the Bose engineers (who are much smarter than I am) said the new headphones use Bose’s CustomTune Sound Calibration Technology to measure how each of your ear canals warp sound, allowing the buds to customize and optimize the noise cancellation features and sound specs specifically for your ears. You will hear a small ding every time you put the earbuds in — that’s the CustomTune working.

Another major Custom Tune upgrade is that QuietComfort II comes with three pairs of eartips and stability bands to help you adjust the earbuds’ fit to your ears. Once you connect the headphones to your phone, the Bose app has an eartip fit test that helps you determine whether the tips and bands you’re using provide enough of a seal for an optimized listening experience.

Courtesy Morgan Greenwald

The QuietComfort II headphones have two active noise cancellation modes: Aware Mode and Noise Cancellation Mode. Bose says that the Aware Mode is designed to let in the noise around you so you’re hearing everything as if you weren’t wearing headphones at all. At the launch event, Bose demonstrated by playing all kinds of loud transportation sounds as a backdrop while I switched between modes. With subway noises playing around me, I really couldn’t tell that I was wearing headphones at all when they were in Aware Mode. And while some earbuds with ANC can make you feel like you have a sinus headache because your own voice ends up almost echoing inside your head, as one Bose engineer aptly put it, this didn’t happen to me with the QuietComfort II.

Bose’s new earbuds also have some of the best ANC I’ve ever experienced: During the demo, I listened to The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” (a banger) with the earbuds in Noise Cancellation Mode, and even with the transportation sounds — now the rush of the wind in a moving car and the loud hum of an airplane — all I could hear was the music in all its clarity. You can even adjust the ANC settings in the app to fit your listening preferences and store your favorite combinations to easily use again later.

Courtesy Morgan Greenwald

Unlike some other headphones on the market, Bose’s ANC technology targets frequencies in the mid and high ranges that are harder to tackle, according to the brand (think crying babies and gabbing coworkers). Part of the demo involved testing the noise cancellation while a Bose employee read a passage from “The Wizard of Oz” — I could not hear a word he was saying.

Now onto the specs: QuietComfort II has six hours of battery life on a single charge and up to 24 hours of battery life with the charging case, according to Bose — the same as the original QuietComfort. They have an IPX4 rating to withstand splashes of water. The headphones themselves are noticeably smaller than the original version — 30% smaller, to be exact — and the charging case is 40% smaller.

The QuietComfort II earbuds, which are available now, cost $299 and come in Triple Black (a Soapstone option is coming soon). Though I only had a limited time to test the earbuds, they had some of the best ANC of anything I’ve tried on the market. All in all, I’m excited to try them out in other scenarios, like while taking phone calls.

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