According to Bose’s lead engineer for these earbuds, I was able to speak at the press event and even try the earbuds. Where possible, create profiles that can provide roughly equivalent service to each of them. But everyone’s ear shape is different. This means that if you try to use the same profile on people with very different ear canals, you’ll lose quality. What QuietComfort II does instead is probe the earbuds by playing a special tone on first insertion, listening for echoes and adjusting the Active Noise Canceling (ANC) profile accordingly.
Bose jumped into the custom active noise-cancelling game today, defying Apple’s AirPods Pro 2nd generation announcement with the QuietComfort Earbuds II. These $300 earbuds ditch features unrelated to audio quality, such as spatial audio and wireless charging, and focus solely on custom active noise cancellation, which they claim creates a profile that specifically fits the shape of your ear.
Testing just how good these nebula and mirror-like tech is is always difficult, especially since we weren’t able to A/B test them at a public event in New York. The ANC was one of the best I’ve heard, even compared to Sony headsets and my own AirPods Pro. Apple’s claim that the AirPod Pro 2nd gen has double the ANC of the 1st gen means the company has to hold onto water in order to compete.
Anyway, any help when actually using buds would be great. But you don’t need an app to get custom ANC. Each earbud has an onboard chip (as yet unidentified) that automatically adjusts the custom ANC every time you take it out of the case and put it in your ear. For privacy reasons, this information never leaves the earbuds.
What I had to take in addition was that I could barely hear the ANC of the earphones in simulated train, suburban, or airplane environments. A touch was enough. Even if Apple’s claims are working as promised, the QuietComfort Earbuds II also come with an app to ensure a proper physical seal before you start listening. The ear tips come with 3 types of ear tips and 3 types of support wings to help you find your fit. I couldn’t wear them for long, but the Pixel Buds Pro-esque design felt more comfortable in my ears than the AirPods’ bean-shaped design.