Best Bose headphones 2022 – top wireless earbuds and over-ears, ranked

Bose wireless earbuds and over-ear headphones are among the best Bose headphones for balancing audio quality, features, and price.

Best Bose headphones 2022 – top wireless earbuds and over-ears, ranked
Best Bose headphones 2022

Because the company leads the way in balancing excellent active noise cancellation and sound quality, the best Bose headphones have always been extremely popular. And its designs are usually spot-on in terms of comfort and style.

The best Bose headphones are known for their excellent active noise cancellation, which is a feature that is becoming increasingly popular. However, just because active noise-cancellation is becoming more common does not mean it is always effective. Bose, on the other hand, consistently ranks among the best noise-cancelling headphones and earbuds. After all, it did invent the technology.

Battery life is also a factor to consider, especially if you travel and/or commute frequently. What if you wanted to tweak the EQ settings, change the amount of external sound your headphones let in, or rearrange the way the touch controls work? There's probably an app for that, but how good is it?

Of course, in an ideal world, your headphones will do everything you need them to do while also sounding great. And, to top it off, they'll be emblazoned with a prestigious and well-known brand name. This brings us, not surprisingly, to the best half-dozen pairs of Bose headphones currently available. And you can bet they'll be among the best headphones you can buy if they're Bose's best efforts. Period.

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BEST BOSE HEADPHONES 2022: THE LIST

1. BOSE QUIETCOMFORT EARBUDS

The best Bose wireless earbuds, with fantastic noice cancelling

SPECIFICATIONS
Type: True wireless in-ear
Driver unit: 7.2mm
Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1
Codec support: SBC, AAC
Control app: Yes
Active noise-cancellation: Yes
REASONS TO BUY
+
Outstanding noise cancellation
+
Much more comfortable than they look
+
Muscular, insightful sound
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                          -
Battery life is nothing special
                                                                         -
Hefty earbuds
                                                                         -
Heftier charging case

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are unrivalled when it comes to noise-cancelling earbuds. Use the excellent control app to turn ANC all the way up to '10,' and the Bose won't let any outside noise in. There aren't any. And they can do it without causing ear-pressure or the sensation of sound being obstructed, as many less accomplished designs do.

Anyhow, they sound incredible: they have the body and low-end presence that Bose is known for, but they're also deft and articulate. They can accurately express rhythms, extract a lot of detail from a recording, and convincingly organise a soundstage.

Of course, there are caveats - aren't there always? - However, when compared to the benefits of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, these drawbacks are minor. These are large, borderline ostentatious earbuds (39x26x27mm), and no one will be able to tell if you're wearing them or not. They're a little heavier than most nominal competitors at 8.5g each. Despite the fact that their size necessitates a large charging case (89x51x32mm), their battery life is a solid 18 hours (six from the buds with a couple of full charges stored in the case).

Despite their bulk, the QuietComfort earbuds are extremely comfortable to wear. The silicone 'nozzle and wing' arrangement keep them safe and comfortable for hours-long enough to drain the battery.

As a whole, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are one of the most complete and capable designs available, as detailed in our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review. Here are our handy Bose QuietComfort Earbuds vs Bose Sport Earbuds comparison chart if you want to learn more about the differences between them and the Bose Sport Earbuds (below).

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2. BOSE NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES 700

The best Bose headphones balancing price and quality

SPECIFICATIONS
Type: Wireless over-ear
Driver unit: 40mm
Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Codec support: SBC, AAC
Control app: Yes
Active noise-cancellation: Yes
REASONS TO BUY
+
Balanced, expansive and entertaining sound
+
Impressive noise-cancellation
+
Good looks and great ergonomics
REASONS TO AVOID
-
Humdrum battery life
-
Greater EQ adjustments would be nice

The 'Bose' brand is associated with a number of stereotypes, not all of which are flattering. When the word 'Bose' is mentioned, however, the word stylish is almost never mentioned (unless it's very close to the words 'not at all...'). Bose, on the other hand, took a significant step out of its comfort zone with the obnoxiously named Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, and the results are almost entirely positive.

First and foremost, take a look at the design. Elegant, understated, and sophisticated... and about as un-Bose-like as it gets. Yes, the finish is easily scratched, and no, they aren't the most luxuriously padded designs available. They are, however, comfortable over the long haul, lightweight, easy to operate thanks to a well-implemented combination of physical and touch controls, and can be used with a cable if the (very average) 20-hour battery life proves insufficient at any point.

The sonic signature is on the 'lively and energetic' side, as is typical of Bose headphones. Of course, that's preferable to 'dull and boring,' but anyone looking for a more neutral balance might find the 700 a little too relentless. The rest of us, on the other hand, who think "up and at 'em" is a good thing, will enjoy the Bose's well-controlled attack, relentless momentum, and impressively high detail retrieval.

When you add in the 700's highly effective active noise-cancellation, which can be adjusted in 11 steps, the 700 makes a compelling case for itself. It's not easy to compete in a market where everyone from Bowers & Wilkins and Sennheiser to Sony and Beats has a dog in the fight – but these Bose are now available for much less than their original price, and the balance of comfort, strong noise cancellation, and sound quality is excellent for the reduced price you can now find them for on a regular basis. Here's everything you need to know about the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

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3. BOSE QUIETCOMFORT 45

The best Bose headphones for total comfort in a classic design

SPECIFICATIONS
Type: Wireless over-ear
Driver unit: 40mm
Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1
Codec support: SBC, AAC
Control app: Yes
Active noise-cancellation: Yes
REASONS TO BUY
+
Great noise cancellation
+
Light and comfortable
+
Full-fat sound
REASONS TO AVOID
-
Always-on ANC
-
Control app isn’t all that much use
-
Can sound slightly blunt

We're getting 'evolution' rather than revolution here. After all, Bose's QuietComfort 35 (versions one and two) had a lot of success, so there didn't seem to be any reason to scrap the plans and start from scratch. So, let's meet the QuietComfort 45 and play a game of Spot The Difference to see how it compares to the previous version.

Now that USB-C is available for charging, they're up to date. Those pleated earpads have been replaced with smooth ones. And, unless you dismantle them, that's about it in terms of significant differences. As a result, the QC45 is a manageably light 240g, folds flat and small, uses physical control buttons (rather than a touch surface), and lasts for about 25 hours between charges.

The noise-cancelling here works in either the 'on' or 'off' position (or just the 'on' position if you're listening wirelessly), which pales in comparison to Bose's Noise Cancelling Headphones 700's 11-step adjustment. But, since we're talking about Bose, the noise-cancelling here is exceptional: the QC45 simply eliminate external sound almost completely, and they do so without sacrificing tonal balance or adding any additional elements to the sound you hear.

The sound is also a development of that of the QuietComfort 35 II. That means a lot of brawn, a lot of insight, and a lot of fun with rhythms and tempos. You're probably sacrificing some fine detail in favour of other, more capable designs, but you're not skimping on power or dynamism. As our full Bose QuietComfort 45 review explains, there's a lot to like here.

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4. BOSE SPORT EARBUDS

The best Bose headphones for running and exercise

SPECIFICATIONS
Type: True wireless earbuds
Driver unit: Not listed
Frequency response: Not listed
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1
Codec support: SBC, AAC
Control app: Yes
Active noise-cancellation: No
REASONS TO BUY
+
Very comfortable and well-made
+
Great sound
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                          -
A little bulky
                                                                         -
No ANC

Bose's most recent fitness earbuds are essentially a refinement of the Bose SoundSport Free (further down this list), with current-gen connectivity and, most importantly, a smaller size. They're still quite large in comparison to some of the best true wireless earbuds, but the difference is still significant.

They're sweat-resistant to IPX4, and they're extremely comfortable and lightweight to wear for longer periods of time. The sound is also excellent, with Bose's Active EQ technology rebalancing the sound depending on the volume you have it set to, ensuring that you get the right mix of bass, mids, and treble whether you need to crank it up when walking near roads or keep it low in the office. The solid fit of the in-ear tips aids impactful bass; what keeps them stable and comfortable also ensures a seal that keeps the music full and rich.

We don't hold it against them because they don't have active noise cancellation, which is a shame because gyms and running along streets can be quite noisy. The 10 hours of battery life in the buds alone (plus more from the case) is fantastic, and it means you can use them for any type of exercise or even a full day at the office without having to charge them. Here's our full Bose Sport Earbuds review, in which we put them to the test for both exercise and music.

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5. BOSE SOUNDSPORT WIRELESS

The best Bose sports headphones, if you can live with a wire

SPECIFICATIONS
Type: Wireless in-ear
Driver unit: Not listed
Frequency response: 24Hz - 20kHz
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0
Codec support: SBC, AAC
Control app: No
Active noise-cancellation: No
REASONS TO BUY
+
Comfortable over the long haul
+
IPX4 rated
+
Enjoyable, perky sound
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                         -
Not true wireless
                                                                         -
Bog-standard battery life
                                                                         -
Remote control is hit-and-miss

The SoundSport Wireless, like all Bose in-ear headphones, are bulky but undeniably comfortable. They're IPX4 rated for moisture resistance, just like any other worthwhile sports-oriented earbud. Unlike many other Bose models, the SoundSport Wireless are very reasonably priced. These Bose earbuds have a wire, unlike the vast majority of wireless earbuds. It's only a cable connecting the left and right earbuds, but it's useful for positioning a small few-function remote control... However, it is unlikely to be the completely wireless design that people are looking for these days.

That's all there is to complain about because once you get past the wire/wireless issue, the Bose offers more than enough to make them a strong contender. First and foremost, it sounds fantastic in the classic Bose way: punchy and full-bodied, with plenty of low-end momentum and presence. They're not without nuance, though, and the finer details of your favourite music can add a lot to your workout. While six hours of battery life may seem insufficient on paper, it's more than enough to get you through even the most strenuous workout.

The rubberized remote control can be difficult to use, especially if your fingers have become a little sweaty during your workout... Take another look at the asking price, though. Even if the SoundSport Wireless weren't designed as activity-oriented earbuds, the sound quality alone would make them worthwhile.

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6. BOSE SOUNDSPORT FREE

The best Bose true wireless earbuds for exercise

SPECIFICATIONS
Type: True wireless in-ear
Driver unit: Not listed
Frequency response: 24Hz - 20kHz
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1
Codec support: SBC, AAC
Control app: Yes
Active noise-cancellation: No
REASONS TO BUY
+
Chunkily convincing sound
+
Comfortable, secure fit
+
Useful control app
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                          -
Big buds means big charging case
                                                                          -
Battery life is far from special
                                                                          -
Micro-USB charging

A pair of Bose true wireless in-ear headphones will be among the bulkiest designs around as sure as night follows day. Here are the company's SoundSport Free, as if by magic. The best running headphones are bigger and beefier than average, but with the kind of ergonomic excellence that ensures they'll stay secure and comfortable for hours on end. IPX4 rated for those of us who sweat a lot during our workouts, and all in a charging case that's a little chunkier than the norm.

The battery life isn't particularly long - five hours from the earbuds plus a couple of charges from the case isn't bad, but it's also not particularly impressive. While we're moaning, this kind of cash will get you active noise-cancellation from a number of competitors – but not Bose.

The SoundSport Free, on the other hand, are perfectly adequate for their intended use. They sound big-boned and deliver the lowest frequencies with plenty of weight, as you'd expect from Bose. There's an 'up-front' tone here, a sense of fun and energy that doesn't always correspond to 'absolutely fidelity,' but almost always comes across as 'entertaining.' In terms of dynamism, the Bose could be instructive.

When it comes to true wireless in-ears for runners at this price point, you have plenty of options (do check out our Beats Fit Pro review for a strong rival). However, if you truly want them to withstand the rigours of even a light workout, your options narrow even further – and they narrow even further if you want hefty, enjoyable sound at the same time. That's why we're such big fans of Bose. It's worth noting that, as of early 2022, Bose appears to have discontinued the Bose SoundSport free, but it's still available for purchase in a variety of stores.

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7. BOSE QUIETCOMFORT 35 II

Older Bose noise-cancelling headphones, but still much-loved

SPECIFICATIONS
Type: Wireless over-ear
Driver unit: Not listed
Frequency response: Not listed
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1
Codec support: SBC, AAC
Control app: Yes
Active noise-cancellation: Yes
REASONS TO BUY
+
Engaging and enjoyable sonic character
+
Solid noise-cancelling
+
Look better value by the day
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                         -
Not exactly at the cutting edge of technology these days
                                                                         -
Unremarkable battery life

Bose isn't a fool, which is why the QuietComfort 35 II headphones are still available five years later, long after the QuietComfort 45 was released. After all, a great pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones don't go out of style just because they're a little worn out.

We'll admit that micro-USB charging isn't exactly the pinnacle of modernity. We'll also admit that three-stage active noise cancellation ('low, high, or off) is a bit of help. The QuietComfort 35 II, on the other hand, remain relevant and likeable in almost every other way – and given that they're now available at their lowest-ever price, they're looking like a bit of a bargain.

Of course, they're properly constructed from high-quality materials and are designed to last a long time. They're relatively light, fold flat, and are thus easily transportable. And they have the same sound as all the best Bose headphones: a sound with unwavering weight and presence, as well as plenty of low-end body and warmth.

The midrange has a lot of detail, the top end has a lot of drive and attack, and the tempos and rhythms are very naturalistic. They can put some distance between 'quiet' and 'loud,' and the active noise-cancelling (binary as it is) is quite effective.

So, if you don't care about having the most up-to-date model, look for a good deal on a pair of QuietComfort 35 II headphones and pat yourself on the back for making a wise purchase. If you want a more in-depth comparison of the two models, check out our full Bose QC45 vs Bose QC35 II comparison.

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HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST BOSE HEADPHONES FOR YOU

It should be noted that this is not rocket science. If you've decided that Bose is the brand for you, congratulations; you've made a good decision, and you don't have any more questions to answer.

To begin, do you prefer in-ear headphones or headphones that rest on or over your ear? Of course, there's a comfort issue here, but there's also a self-consciousness issue to consider. The question is less about how you want to look and more about how you want your music to sound because all Bose designs sound great. Do you want to make a statement when you're on the bus, train, or plane? Or are you looking for something more subtle?

Then think about the finer points. Is active noise cancellation something you're looking for? Is it possible to have a command app? Touch-controls? Are you a frequent (or long-haul) traveller to the point where battery life is an issue? Your ideal Bose headphones will reveal themselves once you have the answers to these questions.

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