- Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 stand out as our top choice for formidable active noise cancellation (ANC) capabilities, building upon the excellence of the original Bose QuietComfort buds.
A significant enhancement comes in the form of CustomTune audio, where Bose ingeniously tailors both the audio response and noise cancellation to the unique contours of the user’s ear canal. This results in an outstanding ANC performance, surpassing even the highly regarded originals, which held the top spot for an extended period.
Notably, the advancements in ANC do not come at the expense of sound quality. In our evaluation, we emphasized the well-balanced sound profile, rich in details and textures. Moreover, users have the flexibility to fine-tune their audio experience through the EQ settings in the accompanying app.
Bose has also refined the design of the QuietComfort Earbuds in this iteration. With each bud weighing only 6.2g, a 30% reduction from the originals, they offer a notably more comfortable wearing experience for extended periods. The inclusion of various ear tips and stability bands ensures a customized and secure fit, a feature that took some time to discover during testing but proved worthwhile.
While these premium earbuds may not be the most budget-friendly option in this guide, it’s important to note that the battery life falls somewhat short, offering 6 hours from the buds and an additional 3 hours from the charging case. Despite this, if you are willing to invest, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 unquestionably stand as the paramount choice for true wireless earbuds with unparalleled noise-canceling capabilities.
- Sony WF-C700N
The Sony WF-C700N emerges as our prime recommendation in the mid-range segment, hovering around the $100/£100 price point. Boasting multi-point connectivity and adaptive sound control, users can choose from settings like ‘Walking,’ ‘Waiting,’ ‘Travelling,’ or ‘Registered places’ through the app—a remarkable feature for earbuds in this price range.
Beyond its Adaptive ANC capabilities, the Sony WF-C700N excels in delivering Sony’s 360 Reality Audio, expertly guided by the intuitive Sony Headphones Connect app. Additionally, users benefit from Sony’s standard DSEE audio ‘upscaling’ engine, providing an exceptional listening experience, whether enjoying the high-fidelity offerings of a Tidal account or streaming from platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. The earbuds exhibit a dynamically agile, robust, and enthusiastic performance.
Impressively, the build quality is commendable, with a design that is 37% lighter and 38% smaller than its higher-end counterpart, the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds. This reduction in size and weight contributes to an unparalleled level of comfort, making them some of the most user-friendly earbuds we’ve encountered. Despite being slightly fuller in body, they fit effortlessly without the need for intricate adjustments. Thanks to the innovative material, described by Sony as “holding on to the inner cup of your ear,” these earbuds stay securely in place for extended periods.
While it’s true that competitors may surpass the Sony WF-C700N in certain aspects, especially at higher price points, within this budget range, these earbuds stand unrivaled. To find a comparable combination of features and sound quality, one would have to set their sights considerably higher in the audio device hierarchy.
- Apple AirPods Pro 2
While the AirPods Pro 2 may not quite match the ANC prowess of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, they come remarkably close, delivering a noise-canceling experience that borders on the uncanny. Transparency mode, a staple in ANC buds, has been enhanced to adapt to conversations, lending them a more natural sound. Notably, the Pro 2’s features shine brightest when paired with an iPhone, unlocking functionalities like ‘Find My.’
In our extensive testing, the audio performance of the AirPods Pro 2 proved to be nothing short of stunning, delivering a rich sound across genres and a broad, expansive soundstage, courtesy of the new drivers and amplifiers. A standout feature is the option to set up Personalized Spatial Audio, where a scan of your face and ears recalibrates the earbuds’ sound performance.
Design-wise, the Pro 2 maintains the sleek aesthetic of its predecessor, featuring clean lines and solid build quality synonymous with Apple products. The slightly smaller stems offer a subtle profile when worn, contributing to a comfortable and enjoyable experience. The addition of volume control in the stems is a welcomed enhancement.
As expected from Apple, the AirPods Pro 2 caters primarily to iPhone users with a more generous budget. If you fall into this category, these earbuds rank among the most impressive in the noise-canceling category, justifying their above-average price tag with a combination of cutting-edge features and exceptional performance.