Apple isn’t the only audio giant promising to deliver the best noise-cancelling earbuds: Just hours after the AirPods Pro 2 launched, Bose unveiled the QuietComfort Earbuds II. This is indeed a big deal, as the previous QuietComforts topped our guide to the best noise-cancelling buttons, raising the bar so high that even Sony’s great WF-1000XM4s couldn’t reach it. So how do the two sets of flagship ANC earbuds compare? Let’s find out.
AirPods Pro 2 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: Price and Release Date
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II will be available September 29, with pre-orders beginning September 8. They will cost $299 / £279 / AU$429. They will initially be available in a ‘triple black’ finish, followed by an alternative ‘soapstone’ color variant.
The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) are available to order now and will be available from September 23. They’re $249 / £249 / AU$399. You can have any color you want as long as it’s white.
AirPods Pro 2 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: Features
The AirPods Pro 2 promise better battery life than before – 6 hours on its own and 30 hours with the charging case, which now works with the Apple Watch charger and has a cord loop to make it less easy to lose. The chip here is the new Apple H2, which Apple claims delivers improved sound quality and improved noise cancellation. The case now has a speakerphone so it’s easier to find and the capacitive touch controls on the earbuds now let you swipe up and down to adjust the volume.
The QuietComfort Earbuds II feature new Bose technology designed to tailor both sound and noise cancellation to the unique shape of each individual ear. This ‘CustomTune’ sound calibration is activated each time the QuietComfort Earbuds II are removed from their charging case and placed in the wearer’s ears. A proprietary tone is heard and a microphone in the earphones assesses the acoustic response of the ear canal. The information is used to adjust both audio and noise cancellation performance in less than half a second. Then the frequency response is adjusted to the terrain of your ears, with one internal and three external microphones listening for external sounds that the ANC can process.
Another new feature is “Aware Mode with ActiveSense”, a smarter transparency mode that instantly responds to sudden sounds to protect your hearing – and the AirPods Pro 2 displays exactly the same, with adaptive transparency that claims to dynamically reduce heavy noise, with measurements taken 48,000 per second.
The QuietComfort Earbuds II and AirPods Pro 2 also both have Bluetooth 5.3 for wireless connectivity, but there’s no aptX or other lossless audio support. The battery life in the Bose QC Earbuds 2 is six hours (again, the same as the new AirPods Pro) plus a further three charges via the USB-C charging case.
AirPods Pro 2 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: Sound
We haven’t had the opportunity to test both earbuds yet, so we can only rely on what the manufacturers claim. Apple promises improved sound quality via the new H2 chip and a new low-distortion driver and amplifier. There’s the same camera-based Spatial Audio setup we’ve already seen in the AirPods Max, and that adaptive transparency mode promises to filter out invasive noises like road exercises while canceling out up to twice as much ambient noise.
The original AirPods fell far behind last year’s QuietComfort earbuds in noise cancellation, but the claim in AirPods Pro 2 is double the noise cancellation of the inaugural AirPods Pro (yes, really), so we’re looking forward to seeing how the two newer models compare.
The lack of aptX adaptive in the Bose earbuds is a surprise (less so in Apple products), but the previous generation are great sounding earbuds, so we’re not too concerned about sound quality. What we’re interested in is the noise cancellation, which has already been leading the way – and if it’s as effective and responsive as Bose claims, these could be the very best ANC earbuds money can buy.
AirPods Pro 2 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: Design and Fit
Bose has downsized the QuietComfort Earbuds II by about a third from the model they replace, and at 6 ounces each, they’re also much lighter. There are three different earbuds and three different stability bands that provide nine different adjustment options for each earbud. There is IPX4 water resistance, so they should be good for fitness and bad weather.
The AirPods Pro 2 are basically identical to their predecessors, except for a new, extra-small silicone tip, which should be more comfortable for those with smaller ears. Despite rumors of design changes, the stems remain, although they now have swipe buttons for volume.
AirPods Pro 2 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: Conclusion
It would be unfair to pass judgment if we haven’t had a chance to thoroughly test these earbuds yet – although we do have a first hands-on review of Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 for your enjoyment.
Based on what we know about the existing models, Bose’s earbuds are likely to sound slightly better and have better noise cancellation than Apple’s earbuds, and we expect this to be the same with the second-generation QuietComforts and AirPods Pro.
The Bose earbuds are slightly more expensive, but Bose doesn’t have the same iron grip on retail as Apple, so it shouldn’t be long before we see some discounts.
Taking all these things into consideration, it looks like the second-generation QuietComfort earbuds will be the best, but of course we won’t know for sure until we’ve had them in our ears for quite some time – and that dual ANC Apple’s claim is interesting to say the least…