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Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds vs. QuietComfort Earbuds II

  • Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds

    Best Bose earbuds

    Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds offer breakthrough spatialized audio for immersive listening that makes music feel more real than ever before. The enhanced microphone will satisfy users who found the quality lacking in the QuietComfort Earbuds II. Those who value top-tier streaming quality will appreciate the ability to play high-res and lossless audio.


    • Immersive audio introduced over its predecessor
    • Up to 9 different ear tip and wing tip configurations
    • Now capable of high-res, lossless audio
    • Hi-Fi streaming

    • Still no Bluetooth multipoint
    • Wireless charging would have been nice

  • Bose-QuietComfort-Earbuds-II

    Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

    A more budget option

    The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II still holds its own after its successor was released in late 2023. If you’re not too concerned about streaming high-res music or utilizing immersive audio, you should do your bank balance a favor and go with the older generation. With brilliant ANC and refined audio, there’s still plenty to love about the QuietComfort Earbuds II. 


    • Four different ANC modes
    • Versatile across different genres thanks to tuned drivers
    • They offer a snug, comfortable fit
    • Still an ANC champion

    • Microphone quality is pretty bad
    • A bit older

When Bose revamped its popular ANC range in late 2023, it took many by surprise. After all, the widely acclaimed QuietComfort Earbuds II only hit the shelves just over a year prior to this overhaul of its flagship product lineup. Whilst its release partner, the QuietComfort Ultra over-ears has hit all the right notes, how do the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds compare to its popular predecessor?

It’s no secret that we thought highly of the QuietComfort Earbuds II, with fantastic ANC and Bose’s signature exciting yet refined audio. Is the $100 difference worth it for the new QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds? Well, today, we’re putting the two head to head.


What is ANC? How the hotly contested headphone tech works

Most modern in-ear or over-ear headphones feature ANC. Here’s what that spec really means, how it works, and why it’s worth the higher price tag.

It’s a tougher decision than you may think. Perhaps because of the short space of time the two earbuds models were released, there are quite a few similarities. For example, the battery life, design, motion controls and ANC are all very similar. On the other hand, the Ultras have some serious improvements in streaming capabilities and have joined the spatial audio revolution by introducing ‘Immersive Audio.’ So there are a bunch of things to think about when you’re picking out your next pair of Bose earbuds.

Head-to-head specifications and price

  • Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
    Noise Cancellation Yes Yes
    Microphones Four in each bud Four in each bud
    IP rating IPX4 IPX4
    Supported codecs aptX Adaptive, SBC, AAC SBC and AAC
    Dimensions (earbuds) 1.72 x 3.05 x 2.24cm 1.72 x 3.05 x 2.24cm
    Charging USB-C USB-C
    Driver size 9.2mm 9.3mm
    Weight 6g (buds), 60g (case) 6g (buds) 60g (case)
    Color Black, White Smoke Triple Black, Soapstone, Eclipse Gray, Midnight Blue
    Spatial Audio Yes No
    Earbuds battery life Up to six hours (ANC on) Up to six hours (ANC on)
    Charging case battery life Up to 24 hours (ANC on) 24 hours
    Dimensions (charging case) 5.94 x 6.63 x 2.67cm 5.94 x 6.63 x 2.67cm

Since the QuietComfort Ultra buds are the newest addition to the lineup, it’s expected that they come with a slightly higher price tag and typically retail for $300.

On the other hand, the QuietComfort Earbuds II offer a more budget-friendly option. Usually priced around $279, being the previous generation means they often go on sale. The QCIIs include everything the Ultras do: earbuds, charging case, USB-C cable, and Bose Fit Kit.

Design — is smaller better?

When Bose released the QuietComfort Earbuds II, they proudly boasted that its design was 30% smaller than its predecessor, the first-gen QuietComfort buds. The second generation’s design change was a considerable improvement and the buds were made much more sleek. The design change between the QuietComfort Ultra and QCII buds is less drastic; in fact, they are almost identical.

While the first generation of the QuietComfort buds were quite bulky, Bose seems pleased with this smaller, sleeker design that debuted with the QCIIs and stuck to its guns with the Ultras.

 Bose QC Ultra Earbud in hand

Comfort is the name of the game and both the Ultras and the QCIIs fit in the ear very well. Bose includes its Fit Kit with both earbuds, and you’ll get three different sizes of eartips and stability bands, so you can find the most comfortable fit for you. Further similarities include the buds’ stem as this is where the on-board touch controls are housed.

Tapping will pause/play music and offer basic call controls, whilst swiping will control the volume. Additionally, both models allow you to personalize the touch controls using Bose’s app, allowing you to assign different ANC modes to the touch controls based on your preferences.



Although the two are fairly neck and neck in design, at the moment, Bose gives you a bit more variety in colors with the QCIIs than with the Ultras. Colors like Eclipse Gray and Midnight Blue, which aren’t available for the Ultras, add some extra style points to the QCIIs.

It’s worth mentioning that the charging cases are identical in size. While they may seem a tad bulkier compared to cases like Apple’s AirPods, their ergonomic design fits comfortably in your pocket without feeling cumbersome.

Connectivity, battery life and call quality

Both the Bose QuietComfort Ultras and the QuietComfort II earbuds utilize Bluetooth 5.3 and boast a range of 30 feet, so there’s not much difference here.


Bose’s QuietComfort Ultra earbuds are an ANC triumph, but there’s a catch

With incredible ANC, spatial audio smarts, and a comfortable fit, these buds almost deserve the $299 price tag, but miss on some key features.

In terms of calling, there remain four microphones in each bud. Bose has claimed a significant upgrade in the call quality capabilities of the Ultras, primarily by focusing on identifying the microphone with the lowest performance and minimizing noise interference during calls.

However, from our tests, the call quality is a little inconsistent. Although you’ll hear the recipient loud and clear, your own voice may dip in and out depending on the severity of the background noise.

The QCIIs also boast four microphones purportedly designed to minimize external noise, and unsurprisingly, with such similar hardware, call quality results are largely the same.

Bose QC Ultra buds on window

The battery life also remains unchanged between the two with a playback of six hours from a full charge.

However, the Ultra’s Immersive Audio mode drains the battery faster, reducing playback time to around four hours when activated. Both the QCIIs and Ultras charging are capable of three full charges totaling to the listening playback for 24 hours when everything is fully charged. Also, both buds feature convenient fast-charging capabilities, providing two hours of playback from just a quick 20-minute charge.

The QuietComfort Earbuds II weren’t equipped with Bluetooth multipoint or wireless charging, so it was pretty disappointing that Bose didn’t introduce these features on the Ultras.

Considering the Ultras retail for $300, many feel aggrieved that the Ultras don’t come with multipoint or wireless charging either, especially considering there are some buds on the market that retail for half their price with these features. There is still the choice to opt for an additional wireless charging case cover, but this retails for around $50, an added extra many won’t be happy with paying.

Noise-cancelling at the highest level

When it comes to ANC, this is an area where Bose continues to excel. In fact, the brand labeled the ANC on the QCIIs as ‘world-class.’ With four distinct noise-canceling modes, the QCIIs excel at blocking out external noises, proving Bose’s claim to be spot on.



The Ultras have been engineered and based on the QCIIs, so they also continue Bose’s fantastic legacy of best-in-class ANC. On both models you can cycle through the different ANC modes on the buds’ touch control stem, and you can add your own ANC modes through the app, tweaking the level of noise-cancellation as you so desire.

Black and silver Bose QC Ultra Earbuds in ear

Both the Ultras and QCII buds feature Aware mode, Bose’s transparency mode that allows external noise in when the microphone detects noise directed at you, such as someone trying to converse with you, and Quiet mode, which provides maximum noise cancelation. There is a feature on both buds called ActiveSense when in Aware mode, which can be toggled through the Bose app. This technology works by blocking out sudden loud noises, like passing construction or when an ambulance zooms by during your commute to work.

Audio features and a stand-out streaming winner

Hardware-wise, there has been no change between the Ultras and the QCIIs. They both feature a 9.3mm driver in each bud, which is a generous size considering the overall construction size. Between the two, Bose’s signature sound is on full display, with a solid bass response, and a bold, full-bodied performance. These earbuds are far from neutral, but that’s not what Bose is going for. Instead, expect exciting, tastefully colored audio that has plenty of punch.

Front of Bose QC Ultra Earbuds

However, it’s in the audio realm that the Ultras emerge as the front-runner, particularly if you enjoy the best streaming quality possible.

This is because Bose has rolled out Snapdragon’s Sound Technology Suite, which supports Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive lossless streaming, which really amps up the audio quality. If you’ve got an Android device or another music player that can handle lossless streaming, you’ll definitely notice some significant audio upgrades. Every nuance is heightened and the tracks’ intended dynamics and musicality are felt much more powerfully.

Immersive audio enters the spatial realm

If you want to get on board the spatial audio revolution, the Ultras easily take top spot. Although Bose has named it ‘immersive audio’, it’s trying to achieve the same effects as spatial audio with an encompassing all-round sound which feels like the audio is coming from every direction. We’re delighted to report that it excels in this aspect, potentially even surpassing the performance of Sony and Apple’s offerings. The expansive soundstage it provides for tracks is truly addictive.

Bose QC Ultra out of case

The Immersive Audio works with both stereo tracks and spatial audio mixes and can be used in either Still or Motion mode, where the music will follow wherever your head moves. When we tested the Ultras out, we were very impressed with the results. As soon as you turn Immersive mode on, the audio takes on a totally three-dimensional character and moves upwards, almost like it is floating above your head. Most of the time, the processing is spot on, and the Ultras do very well at accurately tracking your head movements. However, this technology is relatively new, and there are some tracks that don’t quite perform well in Motion mode.

Verdict: Which Bose buds bode best for you?

After thoroughly evaluating the design, features, battery life, noise-cancelling, and audio quality, it’s evident that both the QCIIs and the Ultra Earbuds are evenly matched. However, the Ultras gain a slight advantage with their capability to utilize Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive lossless streaming and the incorporation of Immersive Audio.

The support for high-resolution audio is immediately impressive, and Bose may have crafted the finest three-dimensional audio playback available today. Additionally, the ANC performance remains exceptional, making them unmatched in their ability to block out external noise among current options on the market. However, Bose missed the chance to incorporate Bluetooth multipoint or wireless charging into the Ultras, which could be a letdown for some people.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds

Editor’s Choice

$249 $299 Save $50

If lossless streaming isn’t at the top of your list, or if you don’t have a device that supports it, you might find the QuietComfort Earbuds II to be an excellent alternative. While they may lack Immersive Audio, which is considered cutting-edge technology, if that feature isn’t a must-have for you, you can enjoy some savings.

Moreover, the QCIIs offer the same impressive battery life, sleek design, advanced noise-canceling technology, hardware, and convenient onboard touch controls as the Ultras, making them a worthy option despite being from the previous generation. Lastly, the QuietComfort Earbuds IIs are offered in a few more color options than the Ultras, so if you appreciate having a few more aesthetic choices, this is likely to make you smile.


Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

A great alternative

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