The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds are the best noise-canceling earbuds I've ever tested, with unmatched abilities to block ambient sound.
After some days of testing the latest models on the market, the Ultra stands out for its remarkable noise reduction and clear call quality. As an avid traveler and daily commuter, I rely on earbuds to keep outside noise at bay. Most claim “industry-leading” ANC, but few deliver.
The constant engine rumbles and chatter around me usually still creep in. But the Ultra lives up to its name and provides a quiet, distraction-free listening experience.
Beyond the phenomenal noise canceling, they offer premium comfort and customizable sound. If you’re looking for earbuds to mute the world around you truly, the Ultra should be at the top of your list.
I’ll cover exactly why I rank their noise canceling and call quality highly, along with more on features and audio performance. Read on to see why these quickly became my daily earbud pick over all others.
The main highlight of the new Bose QuietComfort Ultra is the active noise cancellation (ANC) performance. With bold claims of “ultra quiet” abilities, I tested the ANC in various scenarios. The results across the board are extremely impressive.
1. Jet Engine Noise Blocking
I use a recording of jet engine noise to measure the overall ANC strengths. The volume steadily increases until the earbuds can no longer block the sound. The higher the decibel level they can handle, the better their noise-canceling capabilities.
In this benchmark test, the QuietComfort Ultra blocked an incredible 65.2 decibels of jet engine noise. This is the highest level I’ve ever measured in true wireless earbuds. It demonstrates remarkable ANC prowess from Bose.
In real-world use, this level of noise blocking was immediately noticeable. Wearing the Ultra buds on planes blocked out virtually all of the loud engine rumble and cabin noise around me. The difference in ambient volume before and after turning on the ANC was dramatic.
2. Wind Noise Reduction
An issue with many ANC earbuds is amplification of wind gusts when outdoors. As the mics pick up and feed in the wind noise, it can overpower the anti-noise canceling effect.
However, the Ultra buds handled windy conditions and any I tested. On breezy days with sustained winds upwards of 20 mph, there was minimal amplification of wind noise. This held up for both music listening and phone calls.
The three-microphone array seems adept at isolating and dampening wind noise before reaching your ears. Bose’s noise reduction algorithms are working overtime to counteract wind.
3. Crowd Noise and Babble
Of course, real-world noise comes in many frequencies – not just low rumbles. So, I tested the Ultra buds against crowd chatter recordings containing a wide sound spectrum.
At maximum volume, the QuietComfort Ultra blocked 59 decibels of crowd noise. For babble noise, containing voices overlapping each other, they reached 58 dB of cancellation.
These results exceed most other earbuds I’ve tried. Even complex midrange frequencies get largely muted by the ANC. Voices and crowds turn into indistinct background hums.
4. High-Frequency Noise
Lastly, I checked their performance against high-frequency tones. These are challenging for noise-cancelling systems to block.
The Ultra buds managed to cancel out 43 decibels of high-pitched noise. This is decent, if not class-leading. Sudden high tones do occasionally slip through, but not loudly.
Across all my tests, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra proves they are among the very best for active noise canceling. Their stellar reduction of low rumbles-like engines makes them ideal for travel and commuting. The ANC strengths across the frequency spectrum also make them great for office use and busy environments. If you’re looking for the most “ultra quiet” earbud experience possible right now, the QuietComfort Ultra delivers.
With a name like “QuietComfort,” these new earbuds from Bose better live up to their promises of all-day wearing comfort. Here’s a detailed breakdown of how the QuietComfort Ultra buds fare:
1. Eartips and Stability Bands
Achieving a secure and comfortable fit depends on finding the right ear tip size for your unique ear shape. To provide options for all users, Bose includes:
- 3 sizes of ear tips (small, medium, large)
- 3 sizes of stability bands (wings/fins)
This creates 9 different size configurations you can try to get the best fit.
The default medium ear tips and wings were inserted easily into my ears, and I felt pretty comfortable even during multi-hour testing sessions. The fins keep the buds anchored in place without irritation.
Of course, ear anatomy varies widely. But with 9 options to choose from, the vast majority of users should find a combination that fits their ears well.
2. Lightweight and Compact
Despite packing in a large 9.3mm dynamic driver, the QuietComfort Ultra maintains a lightweight and compact shape. They don’t protrude from the ears excessively but stick out more than some competing buds.
I never felt any fatigue or aching, even after wearing the Ultra buds for 3-4 hours straight. The sleek, angular design prevents hotspots or sharp corners from pressing into your ears.
The Ultra earbuds are some of the most comfortable earbuds I’ve tested for all-day wear during travel or work. Their high comfort ranks right up there with the best.
Bose nailed it in designing earbuds that can be worn for hours without irritation, ear fatigue, or bud movement. Between the ergonomic shape, range of tip sizes, and lightweight build, the QuietComfort Ultra delivers on the “Comfort” promise in its name. They are easily among the most comfortable earbuds available for travel, work, exercise, or daily use.
With excellent noise cancellation and comfort in place, sound quality becomes the final piece of the puzzle. Here’s an in-depth breakdown of how the new Bose QuietComfort Ultra buds perform for audio:
1. Codec Support
After disappointing codec support in the previous generation, the new Ultra finally added Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive codec. This allows hi-res wireless streaming up to 24-bit/48kHz for enhanced clarity and resolution.
You will need a phone or source device supporting aptX Adaptive to take advantage of it. The audio got an excellent quality jump when enabled on my test phone.
2. Drivers and Hardware
Each QuietComfort Ultra earbud contains a large 9.3mm dynamic, the biggest Bose has put in true wireless form yet. Combined with a tuned port, these components enable powerful bass and excellent dynamic range.
The hardware improvements are immediately noticeable. Music has excellent punch on bass-heavy tracks without distorting or losing composure. Even at high volumes, the drivers handle heavy playback gracefully.
3. Sound Signature
The overall sound leans slightly warm, with emphasized lows and smooth highs. Mids are complete, and the vocals shine. There’s excellent clarity across instrumentation without harshness.
It’s a pleasing tuning that works for most genres, whether hip-hop, rock, jazz, or orchestral. The customizable EQ lets you tweak it to taste. But out of the box, the sound is vibrant and energetic.
4. Customizable with EQ
I did find the bass a bit boomy at times. Luckily, there’s a handy 3-band EQ in the Bose app. Cutting the low end a couple of notches alleviated the boominess when I wanted more balanced audio.
The EQ gives you the flexibility to tweak the sound to your liking. Audiophiles may want more precise controls, but the 3 bands should suffice for most users.
5. Immersive Audio
New here is an immersive audio mode, which uses filters and head-tracking to create a surround-like bubble of sound. It works decently well, making music emanate from all directions rather than just left/right.
This feature is more novelty than must-have, in my opinion. But it showcases Bose’s efforts to innovate and push wireless audio forward. The technology shows promise as it matures.
With an excellent bass punch, great clarity across frequencies, and lively dynamics, the QuietComfort Ultra are among the best sounding earbuds I’ve used in this price range. Audio quality matches their premium build and ANC abilities. For both detail and enjoyment, the Ultra buds deliver fantastic sound.
Battery life is a crucial specification for true wireless earbuds. Here is an in-depth look at how the new Bose QuietComfort Ultra buds perform:
1. Playtime with ANC On
The published battery life for the Ultra Buds is up to 6 hours per charge with active noise cancellation turned on.
In my real-world testing, playback at moderate volumes hit close to the 6-hour mark before I got the low battery warnings. This is excellent for ANC earbuds at any price point.
Most competing models in this premium category struggle to reach even 5 hours per charge with ANC on. The Ultra buds surpass those averages handily.
2. Total Including Case
The accompanying charging case provides additional charges to reach a total battery life of 24 hours.
I could charge the buds from empty to full 3 times from the case before it also needed recharging. This aligns with Bose’s specs. You can use them for 2 hours with 15 minutes of charging.
The Ultra buds deliver all-day battery life between the tremendous per-charge time and case capacity. These will quickly get you through multi-hour flights, long workdays, or daily commutes without issue.
3. Immersive Audio Mode
There is a caveat with battery life, and that is when Immersive Audio mode is enabled. This appears to be more taxing and reduces playback time to 4 hours per charge in this mode.
Still, the battery life remains very competitive even at 24 hours total, including the case with immersive mode on. This mode is meant for occasional music listening rather than all-day use anyway.
With excellent bud battery life and case recharges, the QuietComfort Ultra ticks all the boxes for battery expectations at this price point. Music lovers can enjoy many hours of wireless playback between top-ups. Battery life will not be a concern with these premium earbuds from Bose.
Earbuds’ microphone and call quality become vital for work calls or chatting with friends. Here’s an in-depth examination of how the Bose QuietComfort Ultra buds perform for calls:
1. Microphone System
The Ultra buds contain a 3-microphone array per bud for 6 mics combined. This allows for advanced noise reduction and voice isolation, even in challenging conditions.
In my tests, the microphone system picked up my voice clearly while minimizing background noise around me. Callers reported minimal distortion and superb clarity on my end.
2. Indoor Call Performance
In quiet indoor settings like an office or room at home, callers reported my voice sounded clear and natural, as if speaking directly into the phone.
Even subtle tonalities and nuances in my voice came through accurately, thanks to the sensitive mics.
3. Outdoor Call Performance
The Ultra mics also excelled in noisier outdoor environments. Even with sustained wind and traffic sounds around me, callers said my voice remained crisp and intelligible without getting muffled or drowned out.
The noise reduction technology filtered out ambient noise, so my voice remained pristine.
With their excellent microphone system and noise-blocking abilities, the call quality on the Bose QuietComfort Ultra earbuds is superb. Voices transmit clearly while ambient noise gets suppressed effectively. For taking calls or video chats, the Ultra are top-notch performers.
The QuietComfort Ultra maintains a similar styling and shape as previous Bose earbuds models. They have a smooth, rounded profile that protrudes slightly more than some competing buds.
This shape may not be ideal for all ears, as those wanting a super flush fit may find the Ultra buds stick out a bit. But the ergonomic shape was very comfortable for my ears over extended listening.
- Materials and Finish: Bose uses high-quality plastic polymers for the housing but coats them in a classy metallic finish rather than glossy plastic. This gives the Ultra buds an understated, premium look. The matte metallic finish also seems durable, resisting small scratches in my testing. It should maintain its refined appearance even with daily use.
- Color Options: The Ultra has two color choices: Soapstone, an off-white, and classic Black. Both have the same metallic treatment. It’s great to have options to match your style. The lighter Soapstone looks particularly modern and sleek. But you can’t go wrong with either.
- Charging Case: Like past generations, the case has a short, stout shape that’s easy to pocket. The lid flips open to reveal magnets that align and hold the earbuds securely. Details like the metal charging contacts and engraved logos add premium touches. The case can be charged via USB-C or wirelessly on any Qi pad.
With refined metallic finishes, sleek lines, and quality materials, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra has a design worthy of its flagship status. The earbuds and case simply ooze modern elegance. Those wanting earbuds as stylish as they sound will be very pleased.
After extensive testing and analysis, I’m ready to share some final conclusions on the new Bose QuietComfort Ultra:
- Best-in-Class Noise Cancellation: The crowning achievement of the Ultra is its industry-leading active noise cancellation. The ANC performance here beats out any earbuds I’ve tested before. These should be on your list if your top priority is blocking out ambient noise. The noise reduction powers of the Ultra Buds are just superb.
- Supreme Comfort: Living up to its name, the Ultra delivers excellent long-term comfort. The ergonomic shape, customizable fit, and lightweight build can be worn for hours without ear pain or fatigue.
- Great Sound, Customizable: With excellent clarity, vibrant dynamics, and rich bass, the audio quality here competes with the top brands. The addition of EQ allows you to tune the sound to your preference. Audiophiles may desire more advanced features like aptX HD or LDAC support. But for most, the Ultra buds will sound fantastic out of the box.
- Competitive Battery Life: Despite heavy-duty ANC, the QuietComfort Ultra achieves 6+ hours of playback time per charge. Including the charging case, you get 24 hours total – perfect for travel or all-day use.
- Call Quality Excels: Bose’s microphone expertise makes call quality clear even in noisy surroundings. For voice and video calls, the Ultra is top-tier.
- Premium, Understated Aesthetic: While not the most compact, the Ultra has an elegant metallic styling, befitting a luxury flagship earbud. Bose knocks the design out of the park.
If you seek best-in-class noise cancellation, comfort, and sound – and don’t mind the $299 price tag – the new Bose QuietComfort Ultra comes highly recommended. These are among the finest true wireless earbuds available today.
James Dimento is a Chief-in-Editor of SoundUnify. He is a headphone enthusiast and creative writer passionate about audio technology. He has three years of experience writing about headphones and sound quality and is responsible for creating reviews and taking care of all administration.