Review: Bose QualityComfort Ultra Noise Canceling Wireless Headphones

Elegance and Comfort Infused with Immersive Sound Quality!

We live in a noisy world. Chaos, distraction, disharmony… it’s all around us. It engulfs us. We are immersed in it. It interferes with our mood, our thinking, and even our health. What if all of that noise could just disappear? Could you think more clearly? Focus better? Relax just a little more? Could it change your life? Bose is determined to give us the power to find out.

The question is: Does the new Bose QuietComfort Ultra Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones come through? Read on as we take a close look at this potentially nerve-saving, calm-inducing product.

My First Experience With Bose

I remember the first time I used Bose noise-canceling earphones. Back in the day, I thought I was big stuff with my portable DVD player. I was waiting for the airplane to level out, just itching to use it.

A plane is much louder than you might remember. Most people get used to the low drones and high whines that go on in a cramped fuselage cruising at 30,000 feet. It’s like the parent who doesn’t hear their kids crying and screaming in a public restaurant because they are used to it… even if no one else is. And in this case, on this particular flight, that was exactly the case.

So, amidst the whines and drones and bratty kids and popping ears and loud-talking passengers behind me discussing politics, I thought it the perfect time to break out my earphones for the first time and watch a movie on my very cool high-tech personal DVD player.

Let me tell you. When I put them on…

MAGIC.

Instantly, I was transported to a quiet, peaceful cloud. In my isolation, the noise that smothered me was now barely perceptible at all. Instead, all I could hear was the roar of the MGM lion as the movie began to play. At this moment, all the things I had heard about Bose and how they were the best at took on a whole new and profound meaning. The plane was gone. The kids were gone. It was just me on this fluffy cloud in front of a giant (ok well, maybe 9 1/2 inches is more accurate) screen. Pure magic. I was hooked.

Introducing the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones

Now that you know a little about my first contact with Bose, I believe you can appreciate my anticipation in trying on their latest product, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra noise-canceling wireless headphones (that’s long… let’s just call these “headphones” for now on, ok?).

To be clear, these are not to be confused with the QuietComfort headphones. The clue is the word “Ultra”. It’s a step above. We’ll get more into this in a bit.

The First Impression

These headphones carry an elegant and luxurious air about them. They are fitted with an around-ear circumaural design and are adjustable. The ear pads are leather while the rest consists of plastic, aluminum, and leather as well. They come in black, white smoke, and sandstone; all three colors having a non-ostentatious matte finish. I say “non-ostentatious” because Bose’s design for these makes the statement “We don’t need to brag, but yeah, we’re good”. They are beautifully understated, mysterious, and humble. While they look very nice, Bose’s priority is on performance not aesthetics, as it should be. If you need to have fancy color-changing LEDs all over the place or other silly bells and whistles, it’s a sure sign that you’re compensating for something. That’s not the case here. These headphones should be praised by audiophiles for their simplicity, focusing on delivering high-quality sound without unnecessary gimmickry,

Along with the headphones, Bose includes a similarly non-ostentatious zippered protective carry case, a 3.5 mm to 2.5 mm audio auxiliary cable, a 20” USB-C (A to C) charging cable, and a safety sheet.

This is a good first impression.

The Ergonomics

I touched on the aesthetics some already. These are rather elegant, in my opinion. Folding compact and flat, they fit nicely into the semi-hard carrying case that it comes with. The unimposing weight makes wearing them all day a breeze. They are also comfortable to wear due to the flexibility of the arms. It doesn’t squeeze your head like a vice. Of course, the downside to this is that, if you like to work out, they could slide off during certain exercises where you are in a prone position (such as pushups). Other than that, the ergonomics are great. They also don’t your ears all hot and nasty, so that’s a bonus. I could wear these all day.

The Features

Consistent with the overall design, there’s no huge cluster of buttons. A raised slide strip on the right ear takes on the heavy lifting, allowing you to control the volume as well as assign gestures to it via the associated app. Also, the main button on the right ear allows you to perform normal functions such as pause, play, and traverse to the next and previous songs.

There are three listening modes available: Quiet, Aware, and Immersion. Quiet is your full noise-canceling mode. Aware allows you to hear important sounds going on in your environment (such as “Look out!”). Immersion is the spatial audio feature that includes optional head tracking. This is a wild feature – finally, the music doesn’t have to sound like they are coming from the same area as the pesky voices in your head. Rather, the music can sound like it’s coming from in front of you. If you turn your head, the headphones will adjust with the head tracking to keep the sound emanating from the same virtual spot. Cool.

Battery life is decent. They play up to 24 hours in Quiet or Aware mode. In Immersion mode, that number drops down significantly to 18 hours. That’s understandable though. There’s some intense processing going on to carry out that mode.

The Performance

So, the question of the day: How does it sound?

As I’ve come to expect from Bose all these years, the sound was great. I’m not a hardcore audiophile. Still, I do enjoy my music to be clear and crisp. Bose did not disappoint. The bass, midrange, and high range were all balanced. Nothing muffled. Nothing tinny. The noise-canceling aspect – well, what’s there to say? Bose is a leader in this department for a reason as well. In all three modes, the noise canceling aspect worked perfectly. All that silence was music to my ears and the music itself, for once and finally, did not have to compete for my attention.

I do have to get extra, extra props for the Immersive mode. Wow! Whatever you play in this mode just seems to have so much more depth. Listen to a recording of your favorite band’s live concert, and you’ll get it. The music just sounds so much… bigger.

Regarding the microphone performance, while making phone calls, the noise-canceling aspect impressed me as well. All of the distracting and obnoxious street noise practically disappears while you converse with your buddy on the other end. There is only one negative for me (and this is just my opinion). The voice is somewhat off. While not a big deal, it sounds “processed”; a little tinny; isolated. With all the ambient noise stripped, it sounds a little unnatural. Hence, “processed”. I am being picky though. Most people probably wouldn’t even notice this.

The Summary

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra is refined. It is a product carefully crafted on a foundation of many years of providing customers with the perfect combination of noise canceling and an exceptional auditory experience. With these, you are accompanied by your favorite music in music hall quality, no matter where you are or how chaotic and noisy your environment around you is.

The retail price for the Bose QuietComfort Ultra is US$429 but is currently for sale on the Bose website for US$379. You can also buy them from the Bose storefront on Amazon for the same price. And, yes, it’s worth every penny.

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