Bose QC Ultra Earbuds – Review

As I was quite disappointed with the Sony WF-1000XM5 noise canceling earbuds, I decided that it made little sense to stick with them and instead went ahead and gave a competitor product a try, the Bose QC Ultra earbuds. So let’s see how that went.

As described in more details in the previous post on this topic, I went through the whole exercise because my previous Bose earbuds started to get age problems. I would have gone for another set of Bose earbuds in the first place, but I wasn’t quite sure that their main feature of not having to be pressed into the ears still applied to their latest product incarnation. But after giving the Sonys a try, I noticed what to actually look for:

– Is the ear piece that insulates the outside noise a cylinder? If so, the earbuds press against the inside of the ear canal. I don’t find this very comfortable and practical at all, especially when walking. This is how Sony and many others do it.

– Is the ear piece conic? In this case, it presses against the entry of the ear canal and there is no pressure applied inside. The earbuds are then fixed to the ear by another rubber layer to the outer ear. This is how Bose did it with their first generation noise canceling earbuds.

Fortunately on closer inspection of review images, and once I knew what to look for, the QC Ultra earbuds also seem to be of the later type. However, they have a somewhat different mechanism to attach themselves to the outer ear, so I was a bit skeptical of how well they would fit and keep themselves attached to my ears. In other words, I was not really convinced by the images in the reviews, but I didn’t want to stay with the Sonys so, I went ahead and ordered a pair.

After unpacking the Bose’s, it only took a few seconds to notice and feel, that the experience would be entirely different. No pressure in the ear canal, no ‘thump – thump – thump’ noise when walking every time a foot hits the ground, the outer rubber band fixes the headset to my ears perfectly, and its noise cancellation abilities are excellent as well. Joy!

So let’s come to another sticking point: In the reviews I read, it was pointed out that the Bose earbuds can only connect to one device simultaneously. This was the reason why I didn’t go for them the first place, combined with not being sure if they would apply pressure to my inner ear canals or not like many others. But it turned out that there is a major difference to my first generation Bose earbuds, which could also only connect to one device at a time: If connected to a device, let’s say the computer, I can connect from the smartphone and the earbuds will accept the incoming connection request instead of ignoring it like their first generation. This makes a real difference, as this allows changing the connection quickly. Just what I wanted!

But as with everything, where there is light, there is also shadow: My first generation Bose earbuds had three noise cancellation settings: Full, medium and transparent. Full and transparent are obvious settings, but I also used the medium setting quite often to be aware what is going on around me with a reduced overall sound level. For me, this setting was especially useful outdoors in very loud and noise city environments. The QC Ultras also have several settings, but the default middle setting was quite far from where I wanted it to be. To change it, an app needs to be installed and an account has to be created. I really do like such anti-patterns at all, but there’s little that can be done about it if I wanted to change the setting. I struggled with the app for some time until I finally managed to get a ‘medium’ noise cancellation setting configured. It should have been easier. But be that as it may, I have three good noise cancellation settings now, so I could delete the app again, and should I ever get marketing emails from Bose, the email blacklist will help to keep them at bay. But still, it leaves a bit of a taste…

One other thing I’ve noticed is that incoming calls on my Pixel 6 with LineageOS do stop music that is played, but sometimes I have no voice path after accepting the call. It happened several times over a number of days, so something is wrong. I’m not sure what causes this, so I won’t put the blame on Bose for this one. Not nice, but I don’t receive many incoming calls while listening to music, so I can live with this.


Overall, The Bose QC Ultra earbuds are not perfect, but my main requirements are all fulfilled: Excellent noise cancellation, no pressure to the inner ear, and no ‘thump – thump – thump’ noise while walking or running with the headset. Bought!