Apple AirPods Pro 2 and Bose QuietComfort Headphones II

When it comes to noise canceling headphones, Apple and Bose make some of the best products on the market. Comfortable, durable and with premium sound quality and customizable controls, the performance you’ll get from these two respected brands is second to none. But when it comes to Bose versus Apple, which in-ear titan comes out on top?

To open the answer to this question, AirPods Professional 2 with Bose QuietComfort Headphones IIIt evaluates key criteria such as sound quality, battery life and controls to help you decide which noise canceling headset is best for you.

Want to see how Apple and Bose stack up against other competitors? Check out our side-by-side comparisons between Apple AirPods Pro 2 with Sony WF-1000XM4 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds with Jabra Elite 7 Pro.

Design and comfort

Apple AirPods Pro 2 (left) and Apple AirPods 3. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Apple’s second-generation AirPods Pro (hereinafter referred to as AirPods Pro 2) has a glossy white finish for both the buds and the charging case. Considering how often people choose AirPods these days, the earphones themselves look lightweight, sleek and pretty iconic. And unlike other AirPods models, AirPods Pro 2 now comes with four sets of easily replaceable silicone ear tips (extra small, small, medium and large sizes). The overall fit of the earphones is tight and comfortable, and Apple’s Ear Tip Fit Test makes sure you’re using the correct tip size for your ear canals.

While we wouldn’t recommend the AirPods Pro 2 as a dedicated gym headset (they can feel a little loose when working out), they’re perfect for everyday use.

Apple’s H2 chip is the driving force behind AirPods Pro 2, offering stronger noise cancellation and richer overall sound quality than the previous generation. We also love that the charging case uses the U1 chip, which allows it to be added to Apple’s Find My network (and includes a speaker to make a ringtone). There’s even a lanyard loop this time around, though Apple doesn’t provide an actual lanyard in the box.

Both the AirPods themselves and the case are IPX4 rated and the case is MagSafe compatible. iOS fans will also love the ability to seamlessly switch between connected source devices using the same Apple ID by opening the AirPods case next to the device you want to connect to.

Triple Black Bose QuietComfort Headphones II.
Bose

The Bose QuietComfort Headphones II (hereinafter QCE II) are available in black and soapstone (off-white) and are smaller and lighter than the previous generation, replacing the large clamshell case of the original set with a flip-top. charge status. Right out of the box, you’ll receive two additional eartip sizes and silicone balance bands that can be easily swapped out to suit your listening needs. Like the AirPods Pro 2s, these are IPX4 rated.

The fit is tight and comfortable, and these stability straps provide a little extra security. QCE II A better choice to go for a jog or die-hard. One thing missing from the Bose equation is wireless charging.

To that end, we’ll give the AirPods Pro 2 a rating.

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

Controls

AirPods Pro 2 and QCE II use an array of haptic and voice assistant-based controls to create a seamless listening experience that prioritizes simplicity and customization.

With AirPods Professional 2, the headphone controls are mapped to the body of each bud. Just hold and squeeze to get an audible click confirming your command has passed. One click will play and pause your media and answer/end calls, double click will skip forward one bit and triple click will go back one bit.

There’s also a press-and-hold command for both the left and right buds that will summon Siri or enable noise canceling (you can customize each bud’s long-press command in the iOS Settings app). There’s also an up and down swipe gesture to adjust the volume. If you want to dig deeper, we have a post on AirPods Pro 2 tips and tricks.

For QCE IIThe controls are mapped to the back of each bud with the same one-touch commands as the AirPods Pro 2. Using the Bose Music app (for iOS and Android devices), you can create a shortcut for the long press command. Both left and right buds with options like turning noise canceling on/off and calling your device’s voice assistant.

Winner: Tie

Connection

AirPods Pro 2 and QCE II use Bluetooth 5.3 to connect to mobile devices and other hardware.

For the AirPods Pro 2, we were able to maintain a connection with our main device up to 25 feet away indoors and 35 to 40 feet outside. With the Bose QCE II, we were able to achieve around 20 feet of continuous listening indoors and close to 30 feet of great outdoor listening.

While we’re going to give the AirPods Pro 2 a point here, we’d be neglecting it if we didn’t mention that both Apple and Bose missed out on some great Bluetooth 5.3 features, including Bluetooth multipoint and LC3 codec support. Maybe we’ll get these features with a firmware update.

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

sound quality

Apple AirPods Pro 2 inside the charging case.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

As for noise canceling earphones, both the AirPods Pro 2 and QCE II offer some pretty exceptional sound, thanks in part to both brands’ dedication to customized listening.

On the Apple side of the playground, customized listening is a small feature called Adaptive EQ, and for Bose it’s called CustomTune.

Basically, both sets of buds automatically optimize performance based on how they fit in your ears. But beyond calibration, the base sound of both headphones is powerful and well-balanced.

Rocking Apple’s H2 chip, AirPods Pro 2 delivers powerful bass, excellent high-frequency articulation and a comprehensive soundstage. And while there’s no LDAC or aptX compatibility to speak of – neither does the QCE II – we were amazed at the kind of immersion AirPods Pro 2 offers. This is a force made even better by Apple’s Personalized Spatial Sound feature.

Bose is also very sweet to listen to and includes a bit of extra noise in the overall mix. Whatever music you choose to listen to, the QCE II really digs into the details. Listeners can also adjust the EQ in four unique presets using the Bose Music app.

While full EQ settings are missing on the AirPods Pro 2, the default mix is ​​slightly more powerful out of the box (compared to the QCE II) and both Apple and Bose are on the top shelf when it comes to audio. quality, we’ll give the AirPods Pro 2 a rating for sound alone a little overall better than the QCE II.

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

Active noise canceling

The calling card for both AirPods Pro 2 and QCE II are the active noise canceling (ANC) capabilities of these wireless buds. Far from your traditional ANC in-ear set, Apple and Bose’s headphones use cutting-edge microphones and algorithmic compression to detect and cancel out unwanted sounds in your listening environment.

Again, thanks to Apple’s H2 chip, AirPods Pro offer a beautiful hiss-free ANC experience where almost all low-frequency distractions are eliminated, giving you not only crisp and clear music or podcasts, but the ability to hear what the person is saying. He says he’s sitting next to her.

The Bose QCE II also offers some pretty outstanding ANC, and using the Bose Music app you can customize how weak or strong the earbuds are when it comes to reducing unwanted noise. But Bose’s computational approach leaves some natural hiss in the mix, and while it’s barely noticeable when listening to music, it’s still there. Thus, we will give AirPods Pro one more point.

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

transparency mode

If you want to let in environmental sounds while using your wireless buds, but without overdoing the noise, you’ll want to turn on Transparency mode. Transparency turns your headphones into amplifiers that help detect what your friend is saying or the sirens of approaching emergency vehicles.

AirPods Pro 2s has an amazing Transparency mode that captures the sounds you want. request hearing in the outside world while rejecting anything harsh and distracting. Apple’s H2 chip also allows for an extra special version of this feature called Adaptive Transparency, which allows AirPods Pro 2 to analyze, amplify and reduce better than ever before.

Bose’s QCE II also has a great Transparency setting. For Awareness mode, the QCE II uses technology similar to Apple’s Adaptive Transparency – Bose calls it ActiveSense – that picks up harsh sounds and softens them.

Winner: Tie

Call quality

Apple AirPods Pro 2 and Bose QuietComfort Headphones II
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Apart from normal media listening, the other key feature for any wireless headset is the ability to answer and make phone calls. Both the AirPods Pro 2 and the Bose QCE II are great options when it comes to chatting with someone remotely, but as we tested each product we quickly found the clear winner in this category.

Apple’s call quality is definitely the best of the two. While compression is of course up to par when it comes to Bluetooth-enabled phone calls, the AirPods Pro 2 only provided a small amount of damping, and the other caller’s voice sounded crystal clear. With Adaptive Transparency enabled, it was also easy to hear our own voice, even in the midst of terrible outdoor noise.

The QCE II did a good job handling phone calls, but when it came time to chat with someone outside, the earphones couldn’t keep up. The QCE IIs filtered out less noise than the AirPods Pro 2; this is a pretty limiting factor when commuting or getting in and out of a building on a busy street.

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

battery life

Wireless earbuds lack the battery capacity of traditional earbuds, but the AirPods Pro 2 and QCE II are pretty top-notch when it comes to earphone and charging case life.

In our tests AirPods Professional 2, we were able to get about five hours of ANC-powered listening before the headphones gave us a low battery warning. But with the charging case’s extra 30 hours of power and Apple’s five minutes of charging (for an extra hour of listening), we were soon ready to go again.

The QCE II lasts for about six hours with ANC enabled, and while the charging case provides up to 24 hours of additional listening, that can’t exceed the AirPods’ full day plus six hours.

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

Price

AirPods Pro 2 can be found in stores and online for $250. QCE IIs it currently retails for the same price as the usual $300.

While these are both companies’ latest wireless earbuds, we’ll likely still see discounts on the AirPods Pro 2 and QCE II, so keep your eyes peeled for sales.

Winner: Tie

Decision

Apple AirPods Pro 2 next to the first generation AirPods Pro.
First-generation Apple AirPods Pro (left) and second-generation AirPods Pro. Can you tell the difference? Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

When it comes to all the key benchmarks we analyzed for this comparison, the Apple AirPods Pro 2 outperformed the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II in almost every category. Keep in mind though that there aren’t huge gaps in quality or performance.

Both the AirPods Pro and QCE II are some of the best headphones you can buy, and if you’ve been a dedicated Bose listener for years, switching to a new brand may not be the easiest change. Also, we have to give it to Bose as it lets you customize many aspects of your listening experience through the Bose Music app.

But at the end of the day, we need to declare a winner. Without further ado, we give our biggest award to AirPods Pro 2.

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

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