Those who follow Bose won’t be surprised to learn that the company has finally unveiled its new premium QuietComfort Ultra Headphones ($499.95) ahead of the holiday season. Indeed, alleged images of the new headset leaked online several months ago. But what’s a bit surprising is that Bose, usually slow to introduce new products, also released a new pair of high-end headphones – the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds (€349.95) – just a year later having launched the QuietComfort Earbuds 2. Furthermore, the new QuietComfort Headphones (€399.95) simply replaces the QuietComfort 45 headphones.
As for release dates, the QuietComfort Headphones are expected to be available on September 21 in black, smoke white, and cypress green, while the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones and QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds are expected to release in early October in black and white. smoke. All new QuietComfort or QC (as they are often called) models are available for pre-order now.
Of the three models, only the QC Ultra Headphones feature a new “more premium” design, like a sort of cross between the Noise Canceling Headphones 700 and the QuietComfort 45. The Headphones 700 featured some metal parts, but the QC Ultra Headphones incorporates a Aluminum bracket and arms that slide into the headband. The headset feels durable and weighs about the same as the Headphones 700 (252 grams). According to Bose reps, it’s designed to fit more head types. It felt very comfortable in the short time we spent using it.
The QC Ultra headphones offer some small design improvements, including a new “metallic treatment”. However, they look the same as the QC Earbuds 2, while featuring an “enhanced interlocking fit” with slightly improved stability bands (there’s a notch in these bands that prevents them from moving). The QC Headphones have the same design as the QC 45 and don’t seem to be a significant improvement, even though they cost 50 euros more.
The QC Ultra Headphones feature a combination of physical control buttons and touch controls for volume. It’s also worth noting that it uses the same speaker as the Headphones 700, but the ear cushions are different.
Bose adds its own style of spatial audio
Although Bose says all new QCs have “world-class noise cancellation,” the real feature it’s highlighting this time around is what it calls “Immersive Audio,” its custom version spatial audio. Bose claims that this technology “goes beyond special effects and creates a wider, more spacious soundstage, so your content becomes multi-dimensional and layered, regardless of audio platform or device”.
Like other headphones with spatial audio – Apple’s latest AirPods, for example – the QC Ultra Headphones and QC Ultra Earbuds feature two spatial audio modes: a “still” mode without head tracking and a “motion” mode that uses head tracking and allows audio to “move with you, so that it is always in front of you”.
We were treated to a demonstration of the QC Ultra Headphones using the Immersive Audio feature, which effectively widens the soundstage. However, it’s hard to say whether it’s better than Apple’s or Dolby’s spatial audio.
We also listened to a set of demo songs that Bose had put together on Apple Music. We already liked the sound of the Headphones 700, and the sound of the QC Ultra Headphones struck us as clean and well-balanced, with good detail and deep but well-defined bass. Since the QC Ultra Headphones have the same speakers as the Headphones 700, the improvements in audio quality mostly come from a more powerful chipset offering better digital processing capability. Bose also offers a feature that optimizes sound for your ears.
Qualcomm chips for Ultras
Bose uses Qualcomm chips in its recent headphones. It says both models feature Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound Technology suite (QCC5181 chip) and support the aptX Adaptive audio codec, including lossless and low-latency capabilities for Android and other aptX-enabled devices. There’s also Swift Pair for Android, while Apple users benefit from the AAC audio codec, which is also compatible with Android devices.
The QC Ultra Headphones and QC Ultra Earbuds come with Bluetooth 5.3, while the new QC Headphones use Bluetooth 5.1 and lack Bose’s Immersive Audio feature. The over-ear models support multi-point Bluetooth pairing, but the QC Ultra Earbuds still lack this. Bose is still working on adding this feature to the headphones, its representatives said.
Both Ultra models are LE Audio ready, meaning they can be upgraded via a software update to include LE Audio features such as Auracast, which would allow you to listen to audio broadcasts via Bluetooth, from a TV in your gym, for example. The LE Audio standard also includes support for the LC3 audio codec.
Improved voice calls for QC Ultra Earbuds
Voice call quality was improved with the QC Earbuds 2, but it still had gaps and couldn’t compete with that of Apple’s AirPods Pro 2, which performed better in noisy environments. Today, Bose promises that noise reduction and voice pickup are really good with the QC Ultra headphones. “Thanks to the support of dynamic microphone mixing and adaptive filters, voice pickup is more intelligible in noisy environments”explains Bose.
Bose had done a good job with the voice call performance of the Headphones 700 and the QuietComfort 45. According to Bose representatives, the QC Ultra Headphones offer similar performance to the Headphones 700. We were told that there is five microphones in each earbud (four external and one internal), which helps with both noise reduction and voice call performance.
We can’t wait to have some calls with both Ultra models to see if they live up to Bose’s claims.
Optional wireless charging accessory
Oddly, Bose didn’t include wireless charging in last year’s QC Earbuds 2 (most $300 true-wireless earbuds feature wireless charging). And this time again, the company has not included wireless charging with the new QC Ultra Earbuds, which apparently have the same charging case as the QC Earbuds 2. However, it now offers a silicone accessory (to be purchased separately ) which slides onto either case and allows wireless charging.
The QC Ultra Headphones offer 24 hours of battery life with Immersive Audio disabled and 18 hours with it enabled (the new QC Headphones also offer 24 hours of battery life, but do not have Immersive Audio). As for the QC Ultra, they have a battery life of six hours with the Immersive Audio function deactivated and four hours when it is activated. Compared to other headsets and earphones on the market, these numbers aren’t much, and it seems like the Immersive Audio uses quite a bit of processing power.
First impressions of the new Bose headphones
While in some ways the two new QC Ultras aren’t major improvements over their predecessors, they are welcome ones and appear to offer improvements in sound quality and slight improvements in noise reduction performance. In the case of the QC Ultra Earbuds, we also see legitimate performance improvements for voice calls.
The QuietComfort Headphones don’t appear to be a significant upgrade over the QuietComfort 45 (which costs €349). So we expect it to see attractive discounts in the future. Certainly, it is cheaper than the QC Ultra Headphones, but it still costs €399.95. And most people investing in this price range should consider upgrading to the $499.95 QC Ultra Headphones.