Whether you’re in search of wireless earbuds or over-ear headphones, Bose has incredible options across a range of price points
There are a number of reasons why the best Bose headphones are considered by many as the pinnacle of mainstream consumer audio, chief among which are their sonic and noise-cancelling capabilities.
The American brand has an illustrious history dating back to 1964 but is probably best known for its pioneering work in the field of active noise cancellation (ANC) technology. Bose founder Dr Amar Bose created a noise-cancelling headset for the aviation industry in 1989, and just over a decade later, the company brought the feature to the commercial market with the original Bose Quiet Comfort.
It remains at the forefront of noise-cancelling technology today, with the various iterations of the QuietComfort line among the best headphones in their respective categories. The company’s ability to create near silence through its noise cancellation may be the envy of many manufacturers, but Bose is certainly no one-trick pony.
Bose headphones typically sound and look great, too, with some of its most popular options playing the role of fashion accessory as well as music player. Stunning aesthetics don’t come at the epense of comfort, however – you can wear a pair of the best Bose headphones for hours and almost forget they’re on your head or in your ears.
With various options catering for different use cases and style preferences, choosing the best Bose headphones for your needs isn’t always straightforward. That’s where we come in. We’ve tested a wide range of Bose headphones and below you’ll find short reviews detailing the pros and cons of the best of them to help you pick the right pair.
How we test Bose headphones
We submit all Bose headphones to our rigorous testing process. This initially involves evaluating how they fit and feel once in, on or over our ears, alongside an assessment of their build quality.
From there, we’ll discern how easy it is to connect the headphones to an audio source, be that wired or wireless, and test out basic functions such as using the headphones’ physical and/or touch controls.
We then evaluate the sound quality of Bose headphones across all of their connectivity options, using a range of musical genres and audio sources, including Tidal, Spotify and Apple Music.
While putting the headphones through their sonic paces, we’ll dive into the Bose Music app and engage options such as EQ presets to judge their impact on the sound, and also play around with other features such as active noise cancellation or transparency modes. These modes are tested extensively in a variety of different environments with changing levels of external noise to judge their effectiveness.
And while all of this is going on, we’ll be keeping an eye on how many hours of playtime we get from the headphones to see how well they stack up to Bose’s battery life claims.
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The best Bose headphones you can buy in 2023
1. Bose NC700: The most stylish Bose headphones
Price: From £220 | Buy now from Amazon
The Bose Noise Cancelling 700 are some of the most stylish over-ear headphones available. A streamlined, stainless steel headband arcs gracefully between their earcups, which are lined with protein-leather covered memory foam cushions that match the soft silicone beneath the headband. Touch controls help create a futuristic yet minimalist aesthetic, but the NC700 are not short on features.
Both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are built-in, with the latter available by simply uttering the wake words into the NC700’s microphones. Those microphones pick up your voice exceptionally well while on calls, enhancing voice clarity and doing a good job of reducing external noise. But it’s active noise cancellation that’s the NC700’s big draw, with 11 levels of control making them Bose’s most customisable over-ear noise cancellers to date. Audio quality is excellent too, with the NC700 delivering vibrant, engaging sound that cleverly balances bass and treble frequencies.
Read our full Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review for more details
Key specs – Headphone type: Over-ear, wireless; Connectivity: Bluetooth, 3.5mm jack plug (optional); Weight: 250g; Cable length: 1.2m; Battery life: 20 hours
2. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: The best Bose true wireless earbuds
Price: £259 | Buy now from Amazon
Want class-leading active noise cancellation irrespective of the manufacturer? The Bose QuietComfort II Earbuds are the best buy for ANC in the true wireless earbuds market, attenuating external sound better than any in-ear headphones we’ve tested.
It’s not just about their ANC capabilities though, since the second-generation QuietComfort earbuds are also simple to control while being extremely cosy in-ear. Crucially, they have excellent sound quality: a little bassier than their predecessor but still smartly balanced with precise detail across the sonic spectrum.
The only downsides are the lack of Bluetooth multipoint, spatial audio and wireless charging found on some other flagship buds. Still, what the latest QuietComfort earbuds offer is of the highest quality and you certainly won’t be disappointed with your purchase.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II review for more details
Key specs – Headphone type: True wireless earbuds; Connectivity: Bluetooth; Weight: 6.24g per earbuds, 59.8g charging case; Cable length: N/a; Battery life: 6 hours (24 total with case)
3. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: Still excellent true wireless earbuds
Price: £169 | Buy now from Amazon
They may have been usurped by the second iteration QuietComfort true wireless earbuds but the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, still provide excellent noise cancellation in a comfortable package. That package may be larger than some rivals, but it’s one that remains totally stable in your ears no matter what you’re up to thanks to the use of silicone wingtips.
There are 11 levels of attenuation, ranging from near silence to full transparency, along with the ability to switch freely between three presets using the buds touch controls. Those controls can also be used to adjust volume if you toggle on the feature in the Bose Music app, where you can also choose to turn wear detection on or off and select how much of your own voice you hear when on calls.
That would all be for nothing if the audio wasn’t up to scratch, so thankfully the QC Earbuds offer incredibly well-balanced sound. Their soundstage is expansive for a pair of in-ear headphones, and the result is an immersive, highly enjoyable listening experience.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review for more details
Key specs – Headphone type: True wireless earbuds; Connectivity: Bluetooth; Weight: 8.5g per earbuds, 76g charging case; Cable length: N/a; Battery life: 6 hours (18 total with case)
4. Bose SleepBuds II: The best Bose headphones for sleeping
Price: £190 | Buy now from Bose
If you struggle to nod off or find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, these Bose earphones may be the answer to your snoozing woes.
The SleepBuds II can’t stream audio from Bluetooth sources like regular true wireless earbuds but instead store soothing sound files designed with sleep in mind on the buds. You download sounds via the Bose Sleep App, with options for “Noise-Masking” (blocking out annoying rackets like snoring), “Tranquillity” (relaxing tones) or “Naturescapes” (noises from the natural world).
The inability to stream audio over Bluetooth limits their appeal somewhat – late-night podcast fans should try other wireless earbuds on this list – but we still found them to have a meaningful impact on both getting to sleep and the quality of it. Especially since the Sleepbuds II are so comfortable that it’s easy to forget you are wearing them at all.
Read out full Bose SleepBuds II review for more details
Key specs – Headphone type: True wireless earbuds; Connectivity: Bluetooth; Weight: 1.35g per earbud (including eartip); Cable length: N/a; Battery life: 10 hours
5. Bose QuietComfort 45: The best over-ear headphones for comfort
Price: £260 | Buy now from Amazon
For over-ear headphones lovers, the battle of Bose is fought between the sleek NC700 and the more traditional looking QuietComfort 45. The latter specialise in unbeatable comfort, with cushioned earcups creating a perfect seal around your ears while avoiding any unnecessary clamping force on your head.
As we’ve come to expect from Bose, the QC45’s noise cancellation is superb. Unlike the NC700 and QC Earbuds, they don’t offer different levels of noise cancellation for different situations, which is a shame, but the attenuation when the Quiet (full noise cancelling) mode is engaged is second to none. The Aware (transparency) mode is great for situations where you need to be able to hear what’s going on around you and battery life is actually slightly better on the QC45 than the NC700 (24hrs in comparison to 20hrs).
The QC45’s sonic profile is characterised by impressive instrument separation, clean articulation of mid-range and treble and plenty of detail. Some may find them a bit light on bass, but EQ options within the Bose Music app allow for audio tinkering if necessary.
Read our Bose QuietComfort 45 review for more details
Key specs – Headphone type: Over-ear, wireless; Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1, 3.5mm jack plug (optional); Weight: 240g; Cable length: 1.5m (2.5mm to 3.5mm); Battery life: 24 hours