Bose says its new earbuds cancel out the noise of the outside world better than any other consumer headphone, including over-the-ear models.
The earphones, called the QuietComfort Earbuds II, are a third smaller than their predecessor, each one weighing in at just a third of an ounce.
The Earbuds II come with three sizes of silicone ear tips, to better fit all ear sizes. They also include three sizes of “stabilizer band,” a ring of soft silicon around the middle of the earbud that molds to the shape of your outer ear, holding the earbud firmly in place, Bose says.
The company says the new QuietComforts feature a technology called “CustomTune” sound calibration technology, which is meant to tune both the noise cancellation and the audio playback to the unique shape of the user’s ear.
Bose engineer John Rule says the earphones emit a “light chime” sound into the user’s ear canal, then measure how the sound waves move inside that confined space. The audio processing technology in the earphones uses that data to customize the EQ of the music to the specific shape of the user’s ear. It also uses the data to customize the way the phones cancel out ambient noise.
Since I was not provided with a review unit, I can’t say how well this actually works. I can, however, say that the noise cancellation in the sister unit, the QuietComfort over-the-ear headphones, is impressively useful in noisy shared work environments and on plane flights.
Bose was the first to bring noise cancellation to consumer headphones two decades ago. Bose CEO Lila Snyder says the company is challenging itself to help people manage the sounds they hear, even as media quality and listening environments continue to change.
“We feel like great sound has never been more at risk than it is today,” she says. “Not only is content being made at different quality levels—sometimes it’s studio-quality and amazing, sometimes it’s somebody on their iPhone recording a video that we’re watching—but our [consumers’] expectation is that all of that content is going to sound great. And we’re consuming it in more and more harsh environments: on the go, in our car. So we think there are so many exciting problems to be solved within that realm.”
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II will sell for $299 starting September 15, and will be available in tri-tone black only, though Bose says it will soon add a soapstone color.