รีวิว Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: เสียงคุณภาพสูงมีราคาสูง

We’re all dealing with too much work-from-home noise right now: Wailing cats, blaring car alarms, and screaming children can be huge distractions as we all just try to make it to the end of each day with our sanity intact. If you’re looking for a solution, Bose’s newest earbuds might help — even if your bank account might look more lean for a while.

Bose added to its QuietComfort line of headphones this fall with the QC Earbuds. If you’re not familiar with QuietComfort, the name kinda says it all: These buds are meant to kill noise around you while pumping in high-quality audio you might expect from a brand like Bose. The difference this time around is that they fit in your ears instead of sitting over them as bulky headphones.

Bose is one of the most well-known names when it comes to both excellent audio and noise cancellation, but does that cachet add up to US$280 of value in a highly competitive earbuds market?

The Good: Beautiful audio meets powerful ANC and in-ear comfort

Make no mistake: Whether Bose wants to directly compete with Apple’s US$250 AirPods Pro or not, its QC Earbuds are playing on the same field and you should adjust your expectations accordingly. Although I didn’t have a pair of AirPods Pro on hand for direct comparisons, it’s hard to imagine anything outshining the slightly-more-expensive Bose QC Earbuds when it comes to raw audio quality and noise cancellation.

The audio output here is so top notch that, frankly, it reminds me more of high-end headphones like the Bose NC700s or the Microsoft Surface Headphones than any pair of earbuds. Songs are presented the way they’re meant to be heard, with vocal and instrumental elements at the front of the mix never drowning out the more subtle parts that might be flattened by cheaper hardware. Everything is remarkably clear even at lower volume levels, too.

That said, go ahead and crank these up for a good time. Bad earbuds can make big songs sound small, but that’s never the case here. Booming, high-energy tracks with lots going on come through beautifully thanks to deep sound and thumping bass. Throw on Outkast’s Stankonia with these earbuds and thank me later. Of course, the crystal clarity of the QC Earbuds’ audio output is greatly assisted by nearly perfect active noise cancellation.

Bose’s QC Earbuds include a similar ANC system to the one you’ll find in the company’s NC700s. To use it, just go into the Bose mobile app for iOS or Android and adjust a slider between 0 and 10, with the bottom of the scale letting in as much outside noise as possible and the top of it doing the opposite. Alternatively, you can double-tap the left earbud to toggle between three preset “Favorite” settings for ANC. These default at 0, 5, and 10, but can be changed in the app. Double-tapping the right earbud will pause and play tracks, by the way.

Cycling between the default presets alone is enough to demonstrate how well ANC works. Case in point: In my quiet bedroom with ANC turned up all the way, I couldn’t hear my own finger snapping less than a foot away from my head while I listened to music. This is helped by a silicone seal on the ear tip that blocks out as much noise as you can reasonably expect from a pair of earbuds.

The QC Earbuds compare remarkably well to the NC700 headphones in terms of both audio quality and ANC, but obviously earbuds and over-ear headphones aren’t the same thing. I wouldn’t call the QC Earbuds especially attractive, as they look like a black or white oval hanging out of your ears. Aside from the silicone ear tip (which you can easily switch between three packed-in sizes if you desire), there’s a rubber wingtip you’re supposed to tuck underneath the ridge of your ears for stability.

In other words, you’ll need to spend a second or two physically calibrating the QC Earbuds every time you put them on. It’s pretty simple and self-explanatory so I don’t mean that as a criticism. They’re comfortable enough that you won’t really notice them during long sessions, despite their somewhat odd appearance. Just don’t expect to quickly put them in and take them out like you do with AirPods.

The Bad: Bulky charging case lacks juice

“Technically superior but physically inefficient” is the easiest way to describe the QC Earbuds. Yes, they sound terrific and have possibly the best noise cancellation on the earbuds market. They’re also a little ugly and take a bit longer to comfortably insert into the ear. But in terms of design and function, the wireless charging case is probably the most disappointing aspect of the QC Earbuds.

At 3.5 inches long by 2 inches wide, it’s a bulky little fella that is probably better fit for a coat pocket or small bag than a pants pocket. The case is about twice as big as a regular AirPods case and actually supplies less battery power.

Let’s compare the battery specs to those of the slightly cheaper AirPods Pro. Bose wins out on listening time, with the QC Earbuds rated for 6 hours on a single charge compared to 4.5 for the AirPods Pro. I didn’t encounter any reason to not believe that in my testing. However, the case only provides an extra 12 hours of juice for a total of 18 listening hours compared to 24 for the AirPods Pro.

Put simply, the case is bigger, uglier, and a little less useful than Apple’s marginally more affordable alternative. It charges quickly via USB-C, so this isn’t going to ruin your life, but it’s worth noting.

The Verdict

AirPods are always going to be among the most fashionable wireless earbuds around, but if you care more about sound than looks, the Bose QC Earbuds are mostly great. These are comfortable earbuds with gorgeous audio quality and active noise cancellation that rivals bigger over-ear headphones in their effectiveness.

It’s a bummer then that the charging case is as large and bereft of elite battery life as it is. Make no mistake, US$280 for wireless earbuds is a big ask for most people, especially with a somewhat mediocre battery. I’d argue it’s a fair price given the excellent sound and ANC integration, but for plenty of folks, something like the US$50 OnePlus Buds Z will make more sense.

Still, if you can swing it, the Bose QC Earbuds won’t disappoint.

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