The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds impressed us with excellent noise cancellation, very good sound and great call quality when telephoning.
- Effective noise cancelling
- Wearing comfort
- Quality during phone calls
- Lack of multipoint
- No wireless charging
- Noise floor possibly too high in some situations
If you know Bose, then you know that the manufacturer believes in long product life cycles. So the announcement that the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, which are only a year old, are to be replaced by the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds – the American company’s new flagship True Wireless in-ears – comes as something of a surprise.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are among the best True Wireless in-ear when it comes to noise cancelling (ANC). In September 2022, headphonecheck.com rightly awarded this model a test rating of “very good” and the prize “Best Headphones – Noise Cancelling”. Nevertheless, at the time, we had a few points of criticism in our test, and so we are certainly interested in whether Bose has done everything right with their new QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds. We can say in advance that this is partially true. But let’s take it one step at a time.
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds Vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: A few differences from their predecessor
The new Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds are almost identical to the QuietComfort Earbuds II. The design is exactly the same, but there are a few slight changes with the new ones: The matte touch surfaces of the stems have been replaced by a shinier metallic look. Functionally, however, nothing has changed, so we will refer you to our previous test of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II for more detailed information.
The stabilising ear bands (fins) now have a small lug, which fits neatly into a recess in the in-ears. This makes it even easier to fit and align them. We didn’t have any problems here with the previous model, and with both models, the silicone fins always slipped down a little when they were removed from the ear. Nevertheless, we can confirm there was still a very secure hold in the ears with this new model.
The rest was the same: The construction gave an impression of solidity and high quality, and it is still the case that the charging case does not support wireless charging via Qi.
The price has gone up
While Bose set an RRP of 299.95 euros for the market launch of the QuietComfort Earbuds II, the new Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds cost considerably more at just under 350 euros. So it can’t just be the design, let’s take a look inside.
New Bluetooth technology
Bose has finally expanded the built-in Bluetooth technology and now provides the Ultra Earbuds Qualcomm Snapdragon sound technology so that they can be used with compatible smartphones that support the aptX Adaptive codec (see our guide).
Google Fast Pair is now also on board so that pairing with Android devices can be done conveniently via the setup pop-up. However, the Ultra Earbuds still do not support multipoint, i.e. simultaneous connection with several devices.
One thing that does not seem to be fully developed in conjunction with the Bose Music App is the fact that the app sometimes cannot find the headphones. This is despite an active connection and media playback. The instructions do not help here either; in our test, only a restart of the Android smartphone, including a complete reset, solved the communication problem.
Immersive Audio is also new
The most striking new feature is probably the support for 3D audio. Bose calls this in-house development “immersive audio” and in principle, it works in the same way as we recognise it from the Apple AirPods Pro 2 – including head tracking. You can switch between “Off”, “Still” and “Motion” via the app or a shortcut. While the signal source always comes from the front in “Still” mode, no matter how we turned our heads, it followed the head with a delay of a few milliseconds in “motion” mode.
We particularly enjoyed Bose’s immersive audio with podcasts and especially with audio dramas. The enhanced spatiality actually pushed media content a bit “out of your head” and gave you the feeling that you were listening with speakers.
However, when listening to music alone, the results were mixed. Slight phase shifts, especially with bass drums, were a bit tiring for listening for longer periods. Nevertheless, we noticed details when listening to some pieces of music in the upper mids and lower trebles that were simply lost in pure stereo mode.
Taking calls with the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds
In contrast to their predecessors, the Ultra Earbuds are supposed to improve call quality during phone calls. Our tests agreed with this because the built-in microphones can be prioritised internally – depending on which side had less background noise. In addition, the circuit filtered out background noise more effectively, which benefited speech clarity.
How long do the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds last?
Nothing has changed in terms of total runtime: These in-ears run for around six hours with ANC, and when Immersive Audio is permanently activated, you only get four hours before they need to be recharged. So, for longer trips, make sure you have either a power bank or a power outlet within reach.
How well does the noise cancelling work?
The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds’ noise cancellation is among the best on the market. As with their predecessors, this means that traffic noise was reduced to an inaudible level, voices were largely eliminated, and even loud, booming music from the kitchen became a quiet background noise. The ANC worked so effectively that we were able to ignore the office telephone ringing, and the clattering of the keyboard disappeared completely when we played soft background music.
What was true for the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II is also true here: The inherent noise of these Bose in-ears is higher than that of the Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation. Although this is within limits, if you want to isolate yourself from the rest of the family without music in the home office, you might find the noise too loud. For fans of classical music, this may be a knock-out criterion, because the background noise remains distinctly audible even during quiet or silent passages.
The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds sounded very good: Slightly punchier than their predecessors, they reproduced music in an agile, rich and dynamic fashion. This might be too much for some pieces of music with present sub-basses – but the equaliser included in Bose’s app helped. The mids were reproduced clearly and distinctly, and the highs came through without annoying harshness, sibilance or exaggerated sharpness.
Bose also has the sound tuning under control with this model: regardless of whether ANC or ambient mode was activated, the sound image of the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds did not change.
Are they worth buying?
If you already own the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II and are happy with them, there is no need to upgrade. The only thing that you might be missing is the lack of immersive audio. But the previous model is now available at considerable discounts; Bose is currently offering the QuietComfort Earbuds II at around a hundred euros less than this new model.
If you are planning a new purchase and if you own a smartphone that is Snapdragon sound-certified, this new model might be worth investigating.
The new Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds excelled with excellent noise cancellation, great sound and very good phone call quality. If you want more than just stereo sound, Immersive Audio gives you the chance to dance through life in three dimensions. Admittedly, this function did not always seem appropriate, it depends on the media content, but this is also the case with headphones from Bose’s competitors.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Weight without cable6,24 g each, case 59,8 g
- Cable length30 cm
What's in the box
- 3 pairs of ear tips (S, M, L)
- Stabilizing bands (3 sizes)
- USB-C charging cable
- Charging case
- Available in black and white
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive
- BT version: 5.3