Bose presents not one, not two, but three new products today. It’s an ambitious move from a company that has traditionally been very calculated, and it points to a more nimble future for Bose that could see new devices brought to market at a faster pace. Today’s announcements include the $429 QuietComfort Ultra headphones I showed you last month along with the $299 QuietComfort Ultra headphones and the $349 QuietComfort headphones.
Each of them replaces a model in Bose’s current hardware portfolio. This is surprising in the case of headphones; its expensive predecessors are only a year old. But speaking to the media in Brooklyn today, CEO Lila Snyder and chief product officer Raza Haider said Bose had significant enhancements ready to go and didn’t feel like waiting.
As the name makes clear, Bose is fully embracing the brand that consumers are so familiar with and ditching other product names that didn’t resonate as well. (Goodbye, 700 noise canceling headphones.) It’s also dabbling in spatial audio, though Bose calls its version “Immersive Audio.”
For starters, Bose’s approach has nothing to do with Dolby Atmos; the company is using its own proprietary audio processing to spatialize the stereo tracks, and yes, there is optional head tracking. Both QuietComfort Ultra headphones and earphones contain an inertial measurement unit sensor that detects your head movements, so when you engage “fixed” mode for immersive audio, you can turn from side to side and the sweet spot of the music will remain in the center. A “motion” mode keeps music anchored in front of you as you travel. (Basic QuietComfort headphones do not offer this feature.)
Let’s dive into each of the new products, which are available for pre-order today and will begin shipping in the coming weeks.
QuietComfort Ultra Headphones
$429, available early October
Replacement: Noise Canceling Headphones 700
As a new flagship offering from Bose, the QuietComfort Ultra headphones improve on the NCH700 with a design that combines aspects of those headphones with the exclusive QuietComfort line: they fold for easy storage but still offer a premium feel with minimal seams and a sleek overall design. And in the short time I tried them, I found the QC Ultras very, very comfortable. Here’s Bose’s marketing spiel about them:
A completely redesigned system that includes proprietary signal processing, a robust chipset and advanced microphones. All of this innovation not only enables improved noise cancellation and CustomTune technology, but also supports Bose Aware Mode with ActiveSense and remarkable voice pickup. Using a beamform array to differentiate your 360-degree voice from unwanted nearby sound, the QC Ultra earbuds deliver crystal-clear calls to friends and family, clients and co-workers, and amazing accuracy from VPAs (personal assistants). virtual) for perfect convenience when calling up playlists. , textox or addresses.
They offer up to 24 hours of continuous battery life on a charge, although this drops to 18 hours if you use Immersive Audio all the time. Physical controls have also been improved; Bose added a volume slider in addition to the usual multifunction and power/Bluetooth buttons. There’s no wired USB-C audio support yet, but the QuietComfort Ultra headphones retain the company’s standard 2.5mm jack if you want to plug them in.
QuietComfort Ultra Headphones
$299, available early October
Replacement: QuietComfort II Headphones
This is the one that feels a little… soon, but hey, why not. The QC Earbuds II were released last fall, and Bose isn’t making any claims about more powerful ANC or better sound quality with these. The noise cancellation was already best in class, so leaving it as is here is not what he would consider a disappointment.
But does I believe the QuietComfort Ultra headsets will offer improved voice call quality, especially for whoever is on the other end talking to you, and make them more intelligible in less than ideal conditions.
Sound fidelity is also getting an upgrade with Bose’s support for Snapdragon Sound, meaning Android listeners can stream music with the AptX adaptive Bluetooth codec at a higher bitrate (if your connection is strong) than other AAC or SBC codecs. Snapdragon Sound is included in both “Ultra” models.
The silicone stability bands that come with the earbuds are now easier to attach to the earbuds with less room for user error. The QC Ultra Earbuds come in slightly different black or white finishes, and Bose plans to sell an optional $49 wireless charging case that will be backward compatible with the QC Earbuds II. Speaking of battery, you get six hours with Immersive Audio off or just four with it on, so Bose’s signal processing definitely has an effect on endurance.
$349, available September 21
Replacement: QuietComfort 45 headphones
Rounding out the new line are standard QuietComfort headphones, which retain the design of the QC45 while adding new software features. Bose says you can now adjust noise-canceling levels (instead of just turning them on or off) and set custom modes. And the QuietComfort headphones will be available in green finish in addition to black and white when they go on sale on September 21; They will be the first of this trio to start shipping. They still support multipoint pairing and offer up to 24 hours of battery life.
Stay tuned for more information on Bose’s trio of new devices in the coming weeks.