Some of the best-quality sound and noise-cancelling you’ll ever get without over-ears. If you’re really looking for vigorous workout companions, you might be better off elsewhere. But for everyday music, mindfulness and light workouts, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are exceptional quality.
Some of the best active noise cancellation we've tried
Secure enough to gym and run in comfort
Big and bulky
Not designed for frantic workouts
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Welcome to Fit&Well’s Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review. Bose Sport earbuds, the successor to the Soundsport Free, are already some of our best-rated sports earbuds, but the Bose QuietComfort takes that quality and improves them even further with all the company’s long history of audio expertise.
We’ll be diving into the price, features, design, comfort, sound and performance to rate the Bose QuietComfort earbuds amongst its contemporaries. We’ll save you some time with a quick verdict: the Bose QuietComfort earbuds are some of the best workout earbuds. The audio quality is second to none, with active noise cancellation and a wonderfully simple setup. I couldn’t believe my ears.
They’re not as light and sleek as the Bose Sport earbuds, so their added bulk means you didn’t feel as brave throwing your head or weight around during vigorous exercise like boxing or circuits. But with the right size silicone buds, they’re more than suitable for a run or moderate-intensity weights sessions, while providing amazing audio quality.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review: Price and Features
Bose QuietComfort earbuds cost $279 in the US (opens in new tab), and £249 in the UK (opens in new tab) from the Bose store. That’s a hefty price tag, but you can often find them cheaper at other outlets (in the UK, they’re currently on sale for £199.99 on Amazon (opens in new tab)), especially around popular deals times like the holidays.
The most important QuietComfort feature is in the name: Quiet. The earbuds feature active noise-canceling to rival Apple’s Airpods, which can be turned on and off with a tap of the left earbud. The right earbud features touch-sensitive volume controls instead.
They come in four colorways: triple black, stone blue, soapstone, and sandstone. The case features wireless charging, a factor lots of otherwise premium earbuds seem to lack, and the buds provide a total of around six hours of battery life.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review: Design and Comfort
At first glance, the QuietComfort Earbuds looked big. Way too big. The QuietComfort Earbuds aren’t specifically designed with workouts in mind, but they are designed for everyday life, including (as mentioned on the official Bose site) roller-skating and other active movement pursuit – “everything that makes you, you”. For me, that’s workouts, and I was worried these earbuds would go flying out of my ears every time I took too vigorous a step.
Fortunately, that’s not the case. I’ve been on runs for over an hour and the earbuds have remained snug in my ears due to the StayHear Max design. It’s extremely comfortable, with every surface that touches your ears being made of soft silicone. You get three different bud sizes to get a good “seal” around your ears, and the added in-ear hook helps keep the bulbous unit surprisingly snug.
Initially, on my first run I felt the buds pendulously wobbling in my ears, and I thought my hopes of using them outside the house were dashed. However, on changing the silicone sizes from two to three, I had a nice snug fit, improving the sound quality and noise cancelling, and the larger hook secured them comfortably. The only time I felt one drop is when I was doing a particularly vigorous punchbag workout, which is phenomenal for earbuds which don’t even fall into the Sport category.
The sizeable units, although they stick out of the ears, are attractive, simple pebbles (hence the colorway names) and the touch controls are pleasing to use when adjusting volumes, flicking from “aware” to “quiet” modes, and answering calls. It’s simple, ergonomic and pleasing.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review: Sound and Performance
I live on a busy west London street. The first moment I tapped the left bud twice, heard the Bose AI say “Quiet” and the world drop away, I was in awe. It’s not completely soundproof, but by filtering sound through the earbud’s microphone and choosing what to block and what to pipe into my ears, almost all ambient sound is shut out. It’s wonderful for reading in coffee shops, which turns the outside world from a roar to a dim background hum, or guided meditations. But it’s also perfect for busy gyms.
It does depend on finding the right fit for your ears out of the three silicone buds provided. Once you’ve got your fit, the seal really does limit the amount of unwanted ambiance coming in, allowing the microphone to do the work. For incorporating mindfulness into everyday life from Headspace or Calm (my personal choice) this is a godsend.
It also allows you to focus on Bose’s signature high-quality sound. Bose is obviously no slouch in this department, and the sound engineering delivers. Songs are suitably bassy, and the buds can deliver ear-blasting volume (if you want) with no hint of tin. I’m a big audiobook and podcast listener, and voices were also crystal-clear.
On that subject, taking calls becomes a real pleasure to do with a touch on the right ear. Chatting is easy, and I was understood (and could understand) people perfectly even on a breezy winter’s night. The battery life lives up to its six-hour time as promised, and it charges quickly after clipping into the magnetic case. The five battery lights on the front of the case indicates when the case is out of charge.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review: Verdict
These buds are fantastic. They’re at the upper echelon of the price point for wireless earbuds, but they’re some of the best-quality sound you’ll ever get without over-ears (which, coincidentally, is where the QuietComfort range began).
If you’re really looking for buds to see you through truly vigorous workouts, you might be better off with the smaller Bose Sport, as the size of the buds can be a bit off-putting for those seeking dedicated workout earbuds.
However, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are the highest quality all-rounders we've ever tried, capable of handling moderate-intensity workouts with ease and providing a true blessing in the ability to generate amazing noise canceling at the drop of a hat. Want to do a mindfulness exercise on the bus? Block the world out with a tap.
Also consider: Jaybird Vista 2
Jaybird’s latest release is the Vista 2, the successor to the original Vista, which we have long said are some of the best workout earbuds money can buy. An ideal rugged pair of earphones that won’t only stand the test of time, but keep the music pumping, and smaller than the QuietComfort.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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