Bose is no stranger to true wireless earbuds. The company’s first model debuted in 2017 and it has refined its take on the product segment multiple times in the years since. Bose made a big leap in 2020 with , bringing its active noise cancellation (ANC) expertise to an updated true wireless design. Now the company has made with a new look and a host of upgrades thanks in part to its CustomTune technology,
With the (QCE II), Bose has massively improved its already great noise canceling abilities, blocking more than ever before. The company’s tech also calibrates its new buds to your ears while improving ambient sound in addition to overall audio performance. A smaller size leads to a more comfy and less awkward looking fit as Bose offers a more complete package to compete with the likes of Sony and Sennheiser.
- Best ANC performance
- Good sound quality
- Smaller size offers a more comfy fit
- Improved ambient sound
- Still slightly bulky
- No multipoint connectivity
- No wireless charging
- Call quality
Even Bose will tell you the first QuietComfort Earbuds were too big. They looked more like a pair of Bluetooth headsets than modern true wireless devices. The company says the QCE II are a third smaller than the previous generation. They still have a bit of that headset look with a stem that points toward your jaw, somewhat like AirPods. Bose also ditched the larger fit wing for a “stability band” to help hold the earbuds in place. That and the ear tips are now separate, so you can mix and match sizes as needed.
Beyond the smaller size, the QuietComfort Earbuds II just look more refined than the first model. The 2020 version had a very plain design: a flat oval that extended from your ears in a rather unflattering manner. This new model doesn’t protrude as much and its detailed curves not only look better, but offer a more comfortable fit too. Bose retooled the charging case as well, opting for a vertical box that flips open at the top. The earbuds rest vertically inside, rather than laying flat like the original QCE.
On that slimmer outside panel, the QuietComfort Earbuds II accept a range of touch controls for music and calls. All of the basics are covered here and there’s a customizable long press action that can be configured to switch between sound modes or to summon a voice assistant. The panel will also allow you to swipe up or down for volume control, all of which work reliably. The only issue I noticed was a slight delay on the volume slider. I would regularly swipe too far in my impatience for the earbuds to accept my request, going too quiet or too loud and mumbling in frustration all the while.
Software and features
Access to all the available settings on the QuietComfort Earbuds II can be found inside the Bose Music app. Once paired, it will display battery levels for each bud above a volume slider and shortcuts to sound modes, Bluetooth connections, EQ customization, reconfiguring the long press function and product tips. The Bluetooth item is simply a list of up to seven devices as the QCE II doesn’t offer multipoint connectivity. You can dive further into the proper settings menu for things like in-ear detection and Self Voice, or how much of yourself you want to hear during calls. The app also has an ear tip fit test to check for a proper seal for noise canceling purposes.
For the sound modes, Quiet (active noise cancellation) and Aware (transparency mode) are the defaults. You can also create your own somewhere in between full ANC and full ambient sound. What’s more, you can save those as presets, with pre-selected labels like Commute, Focus, Workout and more. And thanks to CustomTune sound calibration, the QuietComfort Earbuds II are capable of blocking harsh environmental noise – even in Aware mode.
CustomTune measures the acoustics of your ears every time you insert the QuietComfort Earbuds II. The process takes less than half a second according to Bose, using an audible tone to make the calculations. Bose says CustomTune fully optimizes the sound frequency profile to the unique properties of every ear, so the sound “reaches the eardrum just as the artist intended."