From QuietComfort to SoundSport

The Complete Guide to Bose Headphones: Which Are Right for You?


July 22, 2019 Tech By

Bose is one of the most popular audio companies in the world; it makes a little bit of everything, from portable speakers to sleep and hearing aids, home theaters systems to professional installations like for concert venues. And then, of course, there are its headphones.

The company is well known for bringing noise-canceling headphones to the general public — the QuietComfort Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones were released in 2000 — and since then, it’s only continued to churn out industry-leading noise-canceling headphones. Its most recent iteration, the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, might just be the best noise-canceling headphones, ever.

While noise-canceling headphones are what it’s best known for, Bose makes plenty of other high-quality headphones and earbuds for people who don’t want or need noise cancellation, which degrades audio quality and costs a premium. From true wireless AirPod competitors to old-school wired earbuds, to just cheaper wireless over-ear cans, Bose makes a headphone for every style and, more importantly, for every budget.

Below, you’ll find a list of every consumer-facing headphone that Bose currently makes (we skipped out on the aviation headphones because, well, we’re not pilots). Each headphone has a brief description, where you can find out how old it is and what it’s good for, as well as a short suggestion as to who should buy it.

The Headphones (Over-Ear)

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Recently released this summer, the Headphones 700 are the best wireless over-ear headphones that Bose has to over. The combine the best-in-class noise-cancellation with great audio quality. Other than the design overhaul, the biggest difference from the QuietComfort 35 II is that the Headphones 700 have a significantly upgraded microphone array. This allows the headphones to have a wonderful tranparancy mode (or ambient listening mode), and makes maybe the best headphones you can buy for call quality.

Wireless? Yes
Noise-Canceling? Yes

Who Should Buy? Anybody that wants the best noise-canceling headphones. Also if they talk on the phone while wearing headphones.

Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Battery: Up to 20 hours
Charging port: USB Type-C

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Bose QuietComfort 35 II

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is arguably still the most comfortable pair of noise-canceling headphones you can buy. Released in the summer of 2018, you can think of the QuietComfort 35 II as simplified, less sophisticated and more affordable version of the new Headphones 700. The lack the transparency mode, superior call quality, USB-C charging port and on-ear gesture controls, but they still boast really impressive noise-canceling skills. The also have the tradional foldable design — it folds more compactly — that many travelers really like.

Wireless? Yes
Noise-Canceling? Yes

Who Should Buy? If you don’t want to spend $400 on the Bose’s more premium Headphones 700.

Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1
Battery: Up to 20 hours
Charging port: micro-USB

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Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series I)

Released in 2017, the Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series I) are essentially the exact same headphones as the Series II. They have the same design, feel, sound quality and noise-canceling skills. The difference is that the Series I don’t have Google Assistant built-in and a dedicated button on the left ear cup to activate it. If you don’t care about talking to a virtual assistant while wearing your headphones, which allows you to play/pause music or skip tracks via a verbal command, then Series I or Series II shouldn’t matter to you. The catch is that the Series I is more difficult to find online and they aren’t usually that much cheaper than the Series II.

Wireless? Yes
Noise-Canceling? Yes

Who Should Buy? If you want great-but-older noise-canceling headphones, and you don’t care about having a dedicated button to activate a virtual assistant.

Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1
Battery: Up to 20 hours
Charging port: micro-USB

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Bose QuietComfort 25

The Bose QuietComfort 25 were released in 2015 and you can still buy them today. They are kind of like a wired version of the Bose QuietComfort 35. They have a slightly dated look, and boast almost as good levels of active noise-cancellation and sound quality as Bose’s QuietComfort 35. The important thing to remember is that even though these are wired headphones, they still need to be charged so you can turn on the active noise cancellation. Otherwise, they just work as normal over-ear headphones.

Wireless? No
Noise-Canceling? Yes

Who Should Buy? If you’re fine with buying old noise-canceling headphones and don’t care about them being wireless, the QuietComfort 25 are still

Connectivity: wired
Battery: 35 hours of active noise cancellation.
Charging port: micro-USB

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Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II

Released in 2015, the SoundLink Around-Ear II are Bose’s wireless over-ear headphones that don’t have active noise cancellation. They’re lighter and slightly more travel-friendly than a lot of the company’s other offerings, and they could sound quality at the forefront. At the time, the big selling point for the SoundLink Around-Ear II was their sound quality — Bose claimed that they sounded as good as wired headphones, which admittedly doesn’t hold up in 2019 (streaming and Bluetooth have gotten too good).

Wireless? Yes
Noise-Canceling? No

Who Should Buy? The SoundLink Around-Ear II is admittedly a difficult sell in 2019. You have to want good-sounding wireless headphones without noise-canceling, and still pay over $200 bucks for them.

Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1
Battery: Up to 15 hours
Charging port: micro-USB

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Bose On-Ear Wireless Headphones

As the name gives away, these have an on-ear design instead of the over-ear design of most of Bose’s other offerings. The trade-off is that the On-Ear Wireless Headphones won’t be able to block out ambient noises as well, but some people might find them more comfortable. Plus they’re well cheaper than most other Bose wireless headphones. It should be noted that many reviewers, including Sound Guys, have praised the sound quality of these headphones.

Wireless? Yes
Noise-Canceling? No

Who Should Buy? Anybody who wants wire-less on-ear headphones without any kind of noise-canceling abilities.

Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1
Battery: Up to 15 hours
Charging port: micro-USB

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The Earbuds

Bose QuietComfort 30

The QuietComfort 30s are Bose’s wireless in-ear headphones with active noise cancellation, and they’ve set the bar for the category since they were released in 2016. The QuietComfort 30s utilize the same StayHear+ tips as all Bose’s other in-ear headphones and they use the same app as the company’s other QuietComfort headphones. The one caveat is that the QuietComfort 30s are a neckband-style of wireless headphone, so they’re fairly heavy and probably best served for office settings.

Wireless? Yes
Noise-Canceling? Yes

Who Should Buy? Anybody that wants the wireless noise-canceling headphones, but can’t wear over-ear headphones because it hurts their ears.

Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2
Battery: 10 hours
Charging port: micro-USB

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Bose QuietComfort 20

The QuietComfort 20 headphones have been around for years and years; and they’re essentailly an in-ear alterative to Bose’s QuietComfort 25. They offer the same great active noise-cancellation that the company is known for, just in a traditional wired and in-ear form factor. The QuietComfort 20 can also be switched to an “Aware” (aka ambient) mode, so you can better hear the world around you.

Wireless? No
Noise-Canceling? Yes

Who Should Buy? If you want wired, noise-canceling in-ear headphones, and you’re cool with paying a premium for them. In the age of Bluetooth, $250 wired headphones might be a tough sell, admittedly.

Connectivity: wired
Battery: 16 hours of active noise cancellation
Charging port: micro-USB

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Bose SoundSport Free

The Soundsport Free, released in the fall of 2017, are Bose’s first truly wireless earbuds. They utilize the same StayHear+ Sport tips as the company’s other in-ear headphones, making them naturally more sweat-resistant and more secure than AirPods. They work with the Bose Connect app, which is pretty basic but does have a “Find My Buds” feature that, when enabled, can help you find your earbuds should you misplace them.

Wireless? Yes (true wireless)
Noise-Canceling? No

Who Should Buy? Bose recently announced its next-gen truly wireless earbuds, the Bose Earbuds 500, which will be released later in 2019. This means that unless you get a great deal on SoundSport Free (they are out there) or you just can’t wait for a few months, it’s probably best to pass on the SoundSport Free for right now.

Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2
Battery: up to 10 hours (with charging case)
Charging port: micro-USB

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Bose SoundSport Wireless

The SoundSport Wireless are wireless sport earbuds that are very similar to the SoundSport Free. Instead of being true wireless earbuds, however, the two SoundSport Wireless earbuds are tethered together by cable. Aside from that, the two wireless earbuds have similar audio performance and use the same Bose Connect app. The SoundSport Wireless will last longer on a single charge (as opposed to the SoundSport Free which recharge every time they go back in their case).

Wireless? Yes
Noise-Canceling? No

Who Should Buy? These are good wireless earbuds, but they’re several years old so unless you really don’t want true wireless earbuds, like the SoundSport Free, I’d make sure that the SoundSport Wireless are on sale before buying them.

Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2
Battery: 6 hours per full charge
Charging port: micro-USB

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Bose SoundSport

These are wired, sport-focused wired earbuds and they’ve been around for years. The SoundSport use the StayHear+ Sport tips as the Bose’s other in-ear headphones, the idea being you know how they fit. There’s no noise cancellation or any way (or reason) to charge the SoundSport. They’re barebone wired earbuds.

Wireless? No
Noise-Canceling? No

Who Should Buy? If you want affordable wired earbuds, for general use or to workout with, these are an affordable option for anybody with a smartphone that still has a headphone jack.

Connectivity: wired
Battery: N/A
Charging port: none

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Bose Earbuds 500

The Earbuds 500 won’t be available until early 2020, but they might just be worth waiting for. They look to be the natural successor to the SoundSport Free, the company’s first go at truly wireless earbuds, but probably better in every way. The Earbuds 500 will likely have a longer battery life, a smaller charging case and charge via USB-C. They will be sport-focused, too, and a more affordable option to the company’s other new-age wireless earbuds, the Noise Cancelling Earbuds 700.

Wireless? Yes (true wireless)
Noise-Canceling? No

Who Should Buy? Nobody yet. The Bose Earbuds 500 will be released in 2020.

Bose Noise Cancelling Earbuds 700

At the time of publishing, every little is known about the Noise Cancelling Earbuds 700. Announced alongside the Earbuds 500 and the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the Noise Cancelling Earbuds 700 will be released in 2020 and will be the company’s first truly wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation.

Wireless? Yes (true wireless)
Noise-Canceling? Yes

Who Should Buy? Nobody yet. The Bose Noise Cancelling Earbuds 700 will be released in 2020.

The Other Guys

Bose Frames

The Bose Frames are non-polarized sunglasses with special speakers built into each arm. The idea is that they’re designed to look like regular sunglasses, but also act as Bluetooth headphones. Since there’s no earbud that actually goes into your ears, the speakers have been engineered to shoot audio down into your ears; the neat thing is that the Bose Frames do a very good job at masking your audio so that the people around you can’t really hear what you’re listening to. They are available in two different frame styles, round (Rondo) or square (Aldo).

Wireless? Yes
Noise-Canceling? No

Who Should Buy? Anybody who likes the look and feel of the Bose Frames — they’re sunglasses will worn on your face — and wants to have a truly unique product. There’s nothing else like them on the market.

Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2
Battery: up to 3.5 hours
Charging port: proprietary charger

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Bose SoundWear Companion

Released in 2017, the Bose SoundWear Companion is a different kind of wireless headset. It doesn’t have any earcups or earbuds, but instead it sits around your neck adn has speakers that shoot sound up towards your ear — it’s essentially a portable speaker that sits around your neck. It’s water-resistant, so you can technically work out while wearing it, but it’s really designed for the person who works at home. It’s comfortable enough to wear for lengthy periods of time, but it also has excellent built-in microphones and works great as a speakerphone.

Wireless? Yes
Noise-Canceling? No

Who Should Buy? The Bose SoundWear Companion was previously selling for $300, which seems like a lot considering it should only be worn in specific settings (in a home office); however, Bose dropped the price to $150 making it actually reasonable.

Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2
Battery: up to 12 hours
Charging port: micro-USB

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