Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2023 Review: Analyzing the Ultra Upgrade

In a surprising move, Bose introduced the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, a successor to last year’s QCE II. Given that earbuds aren’t refreshed as often as smartphones, what does this new release offer?

Design Insights

The design between the Ultra Earbuds and the QCE II remains strikingly similar. While they aren’t as sleek as Apple’s AirPods Pro, they exude elegance, especially with their new metallic touch control surface. A minor yet noteworthy change is in the stability bands. Bose introduced a tab-and-notch system to ensure a snug fit. Even though the charging case design remains largely unchanged, the Bose logo stands out more prominently.

Comfort and Control

For extended listening sessions, the QC Ultra Earbuds feel comfortable, thanks to their ergonomic design. Unlike the AirPods Pro, which sometimes loosen over time, the QC Ultras stay put. Touch controls on the QC Ultra are responsive and intuitive. While the primary gestures are fixed, Bose allows customization for long-press functions.

Audio Experience

Bose’s sound signature remains energetic and lively. Both the QCE II and QC Ultra utilize Bose’s CustomTune technology for an adaptive listening experience. The significant upgrade in the QC Ultra is the support for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound platform and Bose’s new immersive audio technology. This tech provides an enriching spatial audio experience, comparable to the spatial audio modes found in other top-tier earbuds.

For audiophiles, the Snapdragon Sound aptX codecs are a game-changer. This means the QC Ultra can deliver a richer audio experience, especially when paired with devices that support aptX Adaptive. In a comparative listen, the QC Ultra reveals more precision, depth, and detail than its predecessor.

Bose’s take on spatial audio offers a unique virtual soundstage. Instead of just simulating surround sound, Bose’s version anchors the sound relative to your head position. This immersive experience, combined with head tracking, adds a layer of realism that sets it apart.

Noise Cancellation & Transparency

In the realm of active noise cancellation (ANC), the QC Ultra stands toe-to-toe with competitors like Apple’s AirPods Pro and Sony’s WF-1000XM5. The differences in ANC performance between these brands are minuscule. However, when it comes to transparency mode, the AirPods Pro still have a slight edge with their near-seamless transition.

Call Quality

Bose claims to have refined call quality, especially for windy conditions. While the QC Ultra performs decently during calls, it might still struggle in exceptionally noisy environments.

Battery Life

Battery life remains consistent with the QCE II, offering around six hours of playtime at 50% volume. However, with the immersive audio turned on, this reduces to four hours. The case provides additional charges, totaling around 24 hours.

Final Verdict

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Ultra bring incremental changes to the table. While they might not compel every QCE II user to upgrade, those seeking the Snapdragon Sound platform and immersive spatial audio might find them irresistible. If you’re new to the Bose ecosystem, the QC Ultra Earbuds offer a premium listening experience worth considering.

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