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Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II review: Still an excellent choice

Bose SoundLink Around Ears Headphones II
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £240
incl VAT

The SoundLink Around Ear Headphones II are expensive but they're comfortable and sound great


  • Comfortable
  • Controlled throughout the frequency range
  • Good battery life


  • Expensive
  • Don't feature ANC

Bose is probably better known for its active noise-cancelling QuietComfort headphone range. Any regular commuter will likely encounter a pair or two in the course of the day. While the SoundLink Around Ear Wireless Headphones II don’t have any active noise-cancelling, they still do a surprisingly good job of sealing out ambient sound through their ‘circumaural’ earcups. It meant I found them still usable in all but the loudest of environments and very commuter-friendly.

Unlike the QuietComfort range, the SoundLink IIs are also completely wireless and connect to your audio device over Bluetooth meaning you’re less likely to get your headphones snagged on your fellow commuters while sandwiched into a busy train.

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Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II review: Build quality and features

The SoundLink IIs only weigh around 195g, meaning they don’t sit too heavily on your head. The underside of the contoured headband is also generously padded and the ear cushions are equally soft. The earcups completely surround your ears and the headband doesn’t exert too much tension and is height adjustable on rails, meaning the SoundLink IIs are very comfortable to wear.

Bose SoundLink Around Ears Headphones II earpads

In terms of design, they’re far from a statement pair of fashion headphones but they’re consistent with Bose’s designs. You have a choice of either black or white finishes. The black model has flashes of contrasting blue, whereas the white model uses beige for the earcups and look very similar to Samsung’s Level Over headphones.

Both colour options look classy and are far more understated compared to a pair of Beats By Dre. Whether that’s what you’re looking for will be up to personal preference but the SoundLink II certainly feel well constructed and should survive a few bangs and knocks thanks to impact-resistant materials. Corrosion-resistant stainless steel is also used.

Bose SoundLink Around Ears Headphones II controls

Remote control buttons for volume adjustment, controlling your music and answering calls is integrated into the rear side of the right earcup. These are easy to find and each button is distinctly sized and spaced so you can press the right one without any issues. On the outside of the earcup is a switch for turning the speakers on, as well as putting them into pairing mode.

You get nice audio cues in the headphones when you turn them on. This tells you if the headphones are attempting to pair with a device and which one they successfully connect to. You’re able to connect to two Bluetooth sources simultaneously and the headphones will intelligently swap between the two. You also get a battery read-out when you first turn them on.

Bose SoundLink Around Ears Headphones II power switch

If you connect the headphones to a tablet and a smartphone at the same time, you can watch a video on the tablet and the headphones will swap over to the phone if a call comes in, then return to the tablet once you hang up. It’s a clever feature.

Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II review: Battery life

The battery is supposed to be good for 15 hours of playback and this seemed pretty accurate. Certainly I only found myself needing to recharge them once a fortnight or so. Charging is handled over a Micro USB cable, which is included. Keep in mind it’s a cable alone; you’ll need to use your own USB socket adaptor or charge from a computer’s USB port.

It should take about three hours for a full charge but 15 minutes of charge time should get you around two hours of playback, which is great if you forget to fully charge them before heading out. If the battery does run out, or you want to use the headphones with a non-Bluetooth device, you can use an included 3.5mm headphone cable. A convenient travel case for stowing the headphones and cables away is also included.

Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II case

Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II review: Performance

In terms of sound quality, the SoundLink II aren’t the most bass-heavy headphones if that’s what you’re looking for, but what bass it does have is well controlled and delivered. You’re certainly not left wanting for audial excitement listening to most music genres. There’s enough delicate crispness to the mids and trebles for acoustic music, too. Overall the sound signature skews slightly towards the higher end, but they never became bright or harsh to my ears.

As there’s a microphone, the SoundLink II can also be used for hands-free calling and did particularly well with calls. There’s adaptive audio adjustment that takes into consideration ambient sound, so if you’re in a windy environment your voice is still picked up clearly.

Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II review: Verdict

At around £240, the Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II are reasonably expensive. They are very well constructed and wonderfully comfortable, however, and, provided you like Bose’s approach to sound EQ, they sound good, too. If you’re looking for something slightly cheaper, the Philips Fidelio M2BT is also a fantastic choice or have a look at our list of best headphones.

Headphones subtypeOver-ear wireless
Headphones driverClosed
Active noise-cancellingNo
Power sourceLi-ion battery
Headphones sensitivityNot disclosed
Frequency responseNot disclosed
Headphones impedenceNot disclosed
Plug type3.5mm jack plug
Inline volumeYes
Cable length1.2m
AccessoriesTravel case

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