Bose QuietComfort Headphones vs. QuietComfort Ultra: Should you wait for the premium pair?

Bose QuietComfort Headphones vs. QuietComfort Ultra: Should you wait for the premium pair?
  • Bose QuietComfort Headphones

    Anything but mid

    Bose’s new “mid-tier” ANC headphones are bound to be popular

    The new Bose QuietComfort Headphones are replacing the Bose QuietComfort 45 as the company’s sub-premium ANC headphones. They still feature Bose’s trademark ANC quality, but they don’t come with the Immersive Audio feature the company is talking up in its Ultra Headphones and Earbuds. 

    Pros

    • Bose’s quality ANC
    • 24-hours battery life with ANC
    • Slighter lighter

    Cons

    • No Immersive Audio
    • Less sleek design

  • bose-quietcomfort-ultra-headphones-black-square-1

    Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

    Top-tier ANC

    Ultra ANC is what you should expect

    The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are the company’s latest flagship over-ears, replacing the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. They sport a familiar folding design and feature Bose’s new Immersive Audio tech that enables spatial stereo audio on any device. The QuietComfort Ultra Headphones also support Fast Pair for easy pairing on Android.

    Pros

    • Better ANC performance
    • Immersive Audio
    • Updated and sleeker design

    Cons

    • More expensive
    • A little heavier

Bose has been making great-quality headphones for years now, and sets of their cans have been topping our best wireless headphones list for what seems like forever. So, when the company announced they were revamping their entire wireless headphones (and earbuds) lineup, naturally, the audio world’s collective ears perked to hear what they had to say.

The Bose QuietComfort Headphones are the new over-the-ear cans replacing the ever-popular QC45s, whereas the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are coming in to replace the top-end premium Bose Noise-Cancelling 700. Both these over-the-ear wireless headphones are bound to be popular items/gifts going into the holiday season, but with similar names, forms, and functions, we’re here to break down all the crucial differences so you can determine which model you want to grab for your audio listening needs.

Price, specs & availability:

Both the Bose QuietComfort and QuietComfort Ultra are wireless over-the-ear headphones that deliver active noise-cancelling (ANC) and can be bought at popular retailers like Amazon and Best Buy or directly from Bose itself.

The Bose QuietComfort Headphones launch September 21 and are available in three colorways — Black, White Smoke, and Cypress Green — for $349. That is a $20 price increase from the base price of the QC45s (the model they are replacing).

If you want the premium top-end Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, you’ll unfortunately have to wait a little while longer as they don’t launch until “early October,” according to the company. We will note that the Amazon listing for the QuietComfort Ultra says they will be released on October 3, 2023. In any case, you can preorder the new set of cans from Amazon and Best Buy or directly from Bose, and they will run you $429.

  • Bose QuietComfort Headphones

    Battery Life
    Up to 24 hours with ANC

    Material
    Metal, Plastic, Leather (Protein)

    Bluetooth
    Bluetooth 5.1

    Microphones
    Built-in microphone

    Weight
    240 grams

    Colors
    Black, White Smoke, Cypress Green

    Folding/Storage
    Yes

    Charging
    USB-C

    Multipoint
    Yes

    Battery charge time
    2.5 hours

    Retail price
    $349

  • Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

    Battery Life
    Up to 24 hours with ANC

    Material
    Plastic, Aluminum, Leather (Protein)

    Bluetooth
    Bluetooth 5.3

    Microphones
    Built-in microphone

    Weight
    250 grams

    Colors
    Black, White Smoke

    Folding/Storage
    Yes

    Charging
    USB-C

    Multipoint
    Yes

    Battery charge time
    3 hours

    Retail price
    $429

Designbose-quietcomfort-headphones-green-lifestyle

The new Bose QuietComfort Headphones (pictured above) look pretty much identical to the QC45s they are replacing, so you can expect the same plastic forward design we’ve seen before. The materials used are a combination of plastic, metal, and protein leather, and the entire device weighs about 240 grams. They do fold up to make them a little easier to travel with and come with a carrying case in the box. Plus, the ear cushions are replaceable.

The QuietComfort Ultra Headphones have a new design that meshes the design of the QC45s with the sleekness of the Bose Noise-Cancelling 700. The design features a combination of aluminum, plastic, and protein leather, and unlike the old model it’s replacing, these can fold up to a smaller form factor — a great upgrade for frequent fliers.

The onboard control between the two devices also varies, as the QuietComfort Headphones have familiar physical buttons for volume and playback control, whereas the QC Ultra has opted for a capacitive strip on the edge of the ear cup to control volume, meaning there are no physical volume buttons. Swiping back and forth will be how you change volume while pressing and holding the strip, which can activate a user-customizable shortcut. The Ultra does feature a physical multi-function button for controlling playback, switching listening modes, and answering incoming calls.

ANC performance and sound quality

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When it comes to sound quality, Bose headphones have always been a fan favorite — they sound great. Plus, the company is known for making ANC performance on wireless headphones work phenomenally well. So, when you’re talking about the minute differences that make up the ANC performance on a base level between the QuietComfort Headphones and the QuietComfort Ultra, it will likely be pretty hard to compare until we’ve got our ears in both pairs. However, there are some differences on the ANC performance that’s worth mentioning when you’re considering which pair of cans to buy.

Both pairs of headphones have multiple ANC modes. Quiet Mode is when you want to shut the world out completely. Aware Mode is when you want to hear the outside world and your music, and the ability to blend the two with a Custom Mode you can create in the Bose Music App. However, only the QuietComfort Ultra are listed as having Echo Reduction and Adjustable Noise Cancelling on Bose’s spec sheet. Exactly what that means, remains to be seen, but much like the Bose 700 that came before it, you can likely expect a little more granular control over the strength of the ANC on the Ultra.

Of course, the biggest announcement was that only the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones would have the new Immersive Audio feature.

Immersive Audio: Bose’s exciting take on spatial audiobose-quietcomfort-ultra-headphones-lifestyle-dark

The QuietComfort Ultra Headphones have introduced Bose’s new Immersive Audio feature, which creates the illusion that your media is playing in front of you. This unique feature utilizes on-device processing and can be used with any Bluetooth audio source, even those that do not support spatial audio natively, which is pretty wild.

Immersive Audio has two modes: Still and Motion. With the Still setting, your audio source seems to be fixed in one place, resembling stereo speakers on a desk facing you. If you turn your head, the sound changes just as it would in the real world, with audio becoming louder and softer in one ear. On the other hand, switching to the Motion setting maintains the sound’s origin in front of you, but it doesn’t shift as you move around; instead, it seems to follow you.

Our own Taylor Kerns got to try out Immersive Audio at a demo and said the feature “seemed impressive” in his short time trying it out. However, remember that it was during a tiny prerecorded demo that Bose set up. Taylor’s full review of the Bose QuietComfort Ultra will be more illuminating on the subject.

Battery life and charging

Interestingly enough, there isn’t much of a difference in battery performance between the two models, with both the QC and the QC Ultra reportedly getting up to 24 hours of listening time with ANC enabled. The company hasn’t explicitly called out how much listening time will be without ANC active; testing will have to be done once we have our hands on the device to get a better measure. Still, if it’s anything like the Bose QC45s we’ve tested, the company’s estimate of day-long battery life will likely ring pretty accurate for the average user.

Should you wait for the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones?

If you’re looking for your next set of over-the-ear wireless ANC headphones, there’s no way you can’t choose either option from Bose. The Bose brand name carries a lot of weight after years of successfully providing an amazing listening experience. For that reason, I think most people will be pleasantly surprised sticking with the new Bose QuietComfort Headphones rather than waiting for the Ultra model. Even though they are technically the “mid-tier” option in Bose’s lineup, the ANC performance and sound profile will be anything but middling.

Bose QuietComfort Headphones

The new classic

Don’t wait — get a great pair of ANC headphones now

The new Bose QuietComfort Headphones are replacing the Bose QuietComfort 45 as the company’s sub-premium ANC headphones, but you wouldn’t know that listening to them. They still feature Bose’s trademark ANC quality, but they don’t have that cool, new Immersive Audio feature the Ultra model comes with.

If you really want Bose’s spatial audio technology — we don’t blame you, it seems awesome — you’ll have to wait for the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones to release in October. Of course, if you do, you’re guaranteed to have that same stellar sound quality you know and love from Bose, with a great new design that is sleeker and more stylish than the standard model. Plus, some cool new upgrades like the touch controls for volume control also help usher this new model to new heights.

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Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

Top-tier ANC

If you think Immersive Audio is worth the wait

The latest flagship headphones from Bose are the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, which replace the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. These over-ear headphones have a folding design that is familiar, and they come with Bose’s new Immersive Audio technology that allows for spatial stereo audio on any device. Additionally, the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones support Fast Pair, making it easy to pair them with an Android device.

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