Bose wireless headphones are considered among the best personal listening devices on the market, but that’s nothing new. Decades of research and experience bringing to life innovative designs have earned the brand its lofty spot as a top dog in the audio world.
With their latest lineup of headphones, Bose has made choosing the right model a difficult proposition. With top models spanning in-ear, over-ear and open designs, and each model bringing something unique to the table, we could all use a little help figuring out which is the best one for our needs. We’ve taken a deep dive behind the specs to bring you the five best Bose headphones available today.
— Best Overall: Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700
— Best Over-Ear: Bose QuietComfort 45
— Best for Working Out: Bose Sports Open Earbuds
— Best for Travel: Bose Frames Tempo
— Best Wireless: Bose Sleepbuds II
How We Picked The Best Bose Headphones
Bose has established itself as an industry leader with innovative designs like the Bose Wave Music System. We scrutinized the current lineup of more than a dozen Bose headphone models and chose to focus on three overall areas: How unique the products are in their category and among their brand siblings, their popularity among consumers, and which models represent the best representations of their type (e.g., earbuds vs. over-ear cans). From there, we were especially interested in these features and specs:
Wired or Wireless Capabilities: Some of the headphones in this article have more than one connectivity option, while others use similar connections to the technology used in Bluetooth.
Active Noise Cancellation: Bose offers multiple versions of its active noise-cancellation technologies. You’ll find descriptions of how they differ from one another in this article.
Unique Specialties: We noted when these models bring a specialty to the table, such as water resistance. We also highlighted it when these specialties present limitations on how consumers can use the products.
Battery Life: We gave the typical usage time on a single charge particular scrutiny — no one wants to be surprised their headphones need recharging in the middle of a trail run or an important phone call.
Best Bose Headphones: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700
Why They Made The Cut: A superb expression of Bose’s signature noise-canceling, plus voice quality.
— Weight: 0.56 pounds
— Battery Life: Up to 20 hours
— Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 or audio cable
— Three levels of active noise cancelling
— Capacitive touch controls
— Exceptional voice quality
— Low-profile touch control can be a little too discreet
— Bose Music app can be glitchy
If you’re looking for the full package of features in your headphones, look no further — the Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700 model has the best of everything the engineers at Bose have developed to date, in one cozy set.
As its full name suggests, Bose’s active noise-cancelling algorithm is central to the attractiveness of the 700 model. With three setting options, you can tailor the level of ambient noise you’re willing to put up with, whether you’re blocking out loud neighbors or diving into a college study session. The 700 is also more than adequate for making and taking phone calls. In addition to the six microphones that measure and dampen ambient noise, this model employs another four mics so that the person on the other end of the conversation hears you loud and clear.
With the 700 you can connect to two devices within the usual 30-foot Bluetooth range. Like the comparable Bose QuietComfort 45, you can bank on getting about two hours of listening time from a 15-minute quick charge (the full charge yields 20 hours). Through the Bose Music app, you can access additional sound-sculpting via a three-band EQ adjustment, and other features.
The biggest hassle you’re likely to encounter here is the price tag and the low-profile buttons can be too discreet for users who like a tactile approach for easy function changes. And while the Bose Music app has some interesting features, it has well-documented glitch issues. Overall though, these issues are easy to forget when the positives are top notch.
Best Over-Ear: Bose QuietComfort 45
Why They Made The Cut: Although the 700 narrowly edged it out for Best Overall honors, the QuietComfort 45 deserves a nod for its solid form and function.
— Weight: 0.53 pounds
— Battery Life: 24 hours
— Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1 or audio cable
— Active noise cancellation with Quiet and Aware modes
— Microphone with noise-rejecting algorithm
— Can pair with two Bluetooth devices and switch seamlessly
— Frequency response boosts highs more than previous models
— Two noise-cancelling modes instead of the 700 model’s three
It's hard to imagine a pair of headphones that beat the Bose QuietComfort 45 on sheer features alone. Bose's Acoustic Noise Cancellation technology will come to feel essential.. With an active noise-cancelling algorithm, you can use Quiet mode to fully immerse in your favorite music, podcasts or shows without interruption from calls, travel or the daily sounds that grab our attention.
The ability to pair the QuietComfort 45 to multiple Bluetooth devices is handy, especially if one of them is the Bose soundbar on your TV. If you’re trying to enjoy your shows and movies in peace, pair these 45s to the Bose system connected to your TV and binge away, quietly.
The QuietComfort 45 also provides some solid improvements over its predecessor, the QuietComfort 35. The addition of Aware mode — the flipside to Quiet mode — lets in just enough ambient sound to keep you aware of the world carrying on around you. Other differences include an energy-saving upgrade from Bluetooth 4.2 to 5.1.
Best for Working Out: Bose Sport Open Earbuds
Why They Made The Cut: Get your cardio done while listening to music or a podcast — without losing touch with the world around you.
— Weight: 0.03 pounds
— Battery Life: Up to 8 hours
— Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1
— Easy to stay aware of your surroundings while exercising
— Better sound quality than bone-conduction designs
— Design reduces risk of hearing damage
— Less bass response than in-earbuds
— Unconventional design takes getting used to
— Case doesn’t charge earbuds
Open earbuds aren’t exactly a novel concept these days, but Bose has its own twist on the idea of finding new ways to deliver sound. Instead of using bone-conduction technology — which transmits sound by sending vibrations to your inner ear — Bose Sport Open Earbuds generate sound waves and use directional ports to get them to your eardrum. The result is a dynamic listening experience that doesn’t involve pumping sound directly into your eardrum like conventional in-ear buds do, and also makes a run at fixing some of the audio-quality compromises you get with typical bone conduction.
So how do they fit? Open earbuds, of course, do not sit inside the ear canal. The Bose Sport Open Earbuds rest at the top curvature of the earlobe, which it uses to hold the earbud in place, and directs sound at the ear canal (and away from bystanders). By not resting in the ear canal, these headphones empower runners, bikers and walkers to stay aware of their surroundings while clocking miles around town, and listen to music or a podcast all the while. The compact casing is another plus for the fitness-minded: embedded sensors respond to taps and swipes to change functions, and will take direct commands through Siri and Google Assistant.
These Bose do require some compromises, though: you’ll lose some bass response from not having the earbud’s speaker in your ear, and getting used to having them perched on top of your earlobe may take an adjustment period.
Best for Travel: Bose Frames Tempo
Why They Made The Cut: Big Bose-sized sound fit into sunglasses — so you can travel and explore lighter.
— Weight: 0.11 pounds
— Battery Life: Up to 5.5 hours
— Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1
— Killer sound and shades to match
— Swappable polarized lenses
— Water- and sweat-resistant
— Temples (arms) are chunkier than typical sunglasses
— Less bass response than in-ears
— Frame and lens style isn’t for everyone
Trail running and riding can get bumpy — that’s kinda the point, really. How long do you think it’ll take before your in-ear or over-ear buds take flight on that type of terrain? Good luck finding them when they do sail away. Bose Frames Tempo sunglasses anticipate just such a trail tragedy, with snug-fitting frames that won’t slip off like earbuds, and carry an IPX4 water-resistance rating that protects against sweat and water splashes.
Typically, a company that specializes in one area but makes an attempt to venture outside its comfort zone will skimp on the “other.” That is not the case here. Bose paid close attention to comfort and durability with the Tempo design, placing its open-air sound wiring inside a sturdy nylon frame with silicone nose pads for cushioning (they ship with three silicone options). The polarized lenses are made from shatter and scratch-resistant plastic, and you can swap lenses on the fly throughout your hike to match the time of day. Bose offers lenses in Trail Blue, which is ideal for shaded trails; Road Orange, which reduces brightness and glare; and Twilight Yellow, which increases visibility in low-light situations. You can also order the Tempo with prescription lenses.
But how do they sound? Pretty damn good. Like the Bose Sport Open Earbuds, the Tempo uses an open-air design to send sound from speakers embedded in both of the sunglass’ arms to your ears. While it’s a plus to have added awareness of your surroundings on the trail or on the street, some low frequencies get lost in the compromise.
Best Wireless: Bose Sleepbuds II
Why They Made The Cut: A dedicated set of earbuds designed to help you sleep is a game changer for insomniacs.
— Weight: 0.08 ounces
— Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
— Connectivity: 5.0
— Low-profile, comfortable design
— Variety of sounds available through app
— Sounds are downloaded, not streamed
— Price is high
— Limited use
— Noise cancelling is passive, not active
Every model we’ve covered here so far is designed to aid people on the go. The inspiration behind the Bose Sleepbuds II however, couldn’t be more opposite. When the commutes are done, the miles hiked, and the cardio workout in the books, it’s time for the reward: a good night’s sleep. Only it doesn’t work that way for everyone — those who rely on sound machines or apps to get their rest will find something to love about these low-profile earbuds.
Whatever keeps you up at night, the Bose Sleepbuds II are designed to help, providing up to 10 hours of sound on a single charge — plenty of time for a restful slumber — plus three additional charges from the case itself. Pair your Sleepbuds with the Bose Sleep app to access more than 50 soothing soundscapes organized into three categories: Noise Masking sounds specialize in covering up snoring, conversations, and street noise; while Tranquilities is a section devoted to serene, relaxing sounds; Naturescapes on the other hand, use real nature sounds to whisk you away to sleep.
With a price tag that will set you back a couple of bills, Sleepbuds might be a hard sell, and the fact that you can’t use Sleepbuds to listen to music or a podcast doesn’t help, but when you’ve been unable to get proper rest for some time, it’s tough to put a price on sleep.
Things to Consider Before Buying Bose Wireless Headphones
Simply providing audio reproduction is no longer the sole job of headphones. On top of making your favorite artists sound like they’re performing a private concert just for you, headphones now actively work to eliminate interference from the outside world through noise-cancellation technologies. Bose is both a pioneer and an expert in this field. In this product guide, you’ll find a few different flavors of noise cancellation, with each designed to tackle the issue in different ways. One thing is true about all of them however: you’ll be glad you have the ability to block noise when you need it.
With so many flavors of headphones — in-ear, over-ear and more — fit and form are far from afterthoughts in design. Since you’ll be wearing these for a while, comfort should be a major consideration for anyone shopping around. This is an area you’ll want to investigate on your own, as everyone’s ear shapes are somewhat unique. Finding the type and model that will fit you like Cinderella’s glass slipper can take some trial and error, but the results will be well worth the journey.
How you plan to use your headphones will make all the difference when choosing the best ‘phones for you. Throughout this guide, we have addressed the most likely use scenarios for each model to help you find a perfect match. Multi-device pairing, for example, is one of the latest and most useful features for people who use a smartphone and a laptop simultaneously but don’t want the hassle of switching headphones when they go from one to the other. It’s important to think about what you need before you buy.
Q: Is JBL better than Bose headphones?
While both brands are well known and have positive reputations among audio consumers, good/better/best valuations between brands are best left to individual users.
Q: Are Bose headphones worth buying?
Absolutely. The amount of research and development that goes into developing Bose products, including proprietary designs, shows a commitment to serving consumers with quality audio products.
Q: Is Bose or Beats better?
Both Bose and Beats are well known for making great audio gear, in the end, good/better/best valuations between brands are best left to individual users.
Q: Where are Bose headphones made?
Bose products are manufactured in China, the United States of America, Malaysia and Mexico.
Q: Is Bose owned by Apple?
No. An April Fools Day joke containing the false information that Apple was buying Bose circulated on the Internet in 2018. But Bose remains a privately owned corporation.
Q: Are Bose 700 wired?
Bose 700 headphones can be connected to an audio source by a 2.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable, or used wirelessly via Bluetooth.
Q: How long do Bose headphones last?
Most Bose products come with a one-year limited warranty, while some of their passive, non-powered products are covered for five years. While that doesn’t tell us how long Bose products will last (presumably, items that are properly cared for and stored could last many years) it does tell us how long Bose is willing to back them.
Q: How many devices can Bose 700 connect to?
Bose 700 headphones can connect to two Bluetooth sources at one time.
Q: Are Bose headphones considered high end?
Yes. Bose headphones are considered a high-end, premium audio product.
The Best Bose Headphones deliver high-quality sound paired with details like comfort and a smooth user experience. The Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700 excel on both fronts, but you can’t go wrong with any of the five models we looked at here. The Bose Sleepbuds II are a great option for insomniacs, while the Bose Sport Open Earbuds are excellent fitness earbuds.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.