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Bose has released its next generation of headphones and earbuds in its best-selling “QuietComfort” line with the introduction of the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones and QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds. First unveiled at a star-studded event in New York last month, the headphones and earbuds are now available to buy online at Bose.com and on Amazon.
The QuietComfort Headphones feature the same high-end audio that Bose is known for, with one notable upgrade: Bose’s new “Immersive Audio” feature (essentially their version of spatial audio), which creates a wider, fuller soundstage so that music “floats” around you rather than being blasted directly at you.
Choose from two listening options: still or motion. The former is great for listening to music at your desk or on the couch, while the “motion” feature keeps the tunes sounding consistent, no matter which way your head is tilted or moving. We tested both modes at a Bose preview event and found the motion setting kept the music in sync and perfectly centered around us at all times, even as we were looking around the room and simulating a light jog. Bose says that while a traditional soundstage “is collapsed into your head between your ears,” Bose Immersive Audio is “spatializing what you’re hearing by virtually placing it in front of you.”
“With immersive audio in there, our headphones are taking the music outside of your head and putting it on a soundstage in front of you, which makes makes the music wider and more spacious,” explains Bose CMO Jim Mollica. “It ultimately sets the music up as the engineer, producer, and artists would want you to hear it, like you’re sitting in that studio with them.”
Replacing the Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Headphones as the brand’s flagship headphone, the QuietComfort Ultras offer the same noise-cancelling technology in a sleeker, minimalist design. The headphones use Bluetooth 5.3 technology for faster, easier pairing, and battery life is strong at up to 24 hours of playtime on a single charge.
The headphones are great for music and gaming of course, but they’re also great for the office, with improved microphones and voice-pickup. Bose’s “Aware Mode with ActiveSense” works to differentiate your voice from environmental noises, so your calls come through with better clarity and accuracy.
The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, meantime, feature the same Immersive Audio technology, along with noise-cancellation and improved voice pickup. As with the previous QuietComfort II model, the earbuds are incredibly well, comfortable, to wear, with a snug (but not tight) fit that keeps them securely in place. Bose says the buds’ “stability bands” also feature an improved, interlocking fit to help ensure they slide into your ears correctly.
The QC Ultra Earbuds are sweat-proof and have an IPX4 rating for splash-resistance. We’re excited to make these our new go-to buds for workouts and runs, though we don’t recommend taking them in the water as they’re not fully waterproof. Battery life is decent, with up to six hours on a single charge (and up to four hours with Immersive Audio turned on).
Bose CEO Lila Snyder says the new headphones and earbuds showcase the company’s technical prowess, but she also hopes the products — and the Immersive Audio feature — help people connect with their favorite music and artists in a new way. “We are very proud of the technology and the innovation that’s in our products, but we realize that what’s special about them is the emotional connection they make with our customers,” she tells Rolling Stone. “Because music is an emotional force that’s connected to all of our memories, all of the major life events — and so, we’re trying to help customers understand how these products make them feel.”
As Snyder explains, “You’re not buying something that is just a high-tech product — you’re buying something that is important to you and important to something that you really care about in your life, which is music. And if you’re a music lover,” she says, “you should want to be listening to music on the best possible device that you can.”
To celebrate the QuietComfort Ultra launch, Bose hosted an evening of star-studded performances in New York featuring Jamie XX, Ice Spice and PinkPantheress, who had previously partnered with Bose on a campaign highlighting female producers. The singer says she had a very specific way of testing out the new Bose headphones.
“As a producer, for me, it’s all about the bass,” she tells Rolling Stone. “But it’s also about the spectrum of hi-hats and how high you can go on those things and getting that EQ right, and then having something like the bass stand out; both spectrums of the EQ have to sound good,” she explains. “Many headphones have this issue where it succeeds in one end, but fails on the other, but I’ve noticed that Bose products sound good on both ends. And that’s why I still use the headphones to this day.”
As Mollica explains, having someone as “uncompromising” with their audio quality as PinkPantheress is exactly why Bose chose the singer as an ambassador. It’s also what he hopes will attract music lovers to the new QuietComfort Ultra line. “We’re here to celebrate the passionate music fans, not casual music fans,” he says. “Casual music fans may get an inferior product that will be sufficient for their needs. But for us, if you really love music, there’s only one brand for you.”