Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 vs. Sony WF-1000XM4: Which are the better noise-cancelling earbuds?

Bose recently launched the QuietComfort Earbuds 2, the long-awaited sequel to their defining noise-cancelling QC Earbuds. This version welcomes several upgrades, including Bluetooth 5.3, richer sound, smarter active noise cancellation (ANC), and a sleeker redesign. Performance is what you would expect from a Bose product, specifically on the noise-cancelling front, where these buds crush the competition.

However, it’s facing the current true wireless king: the Sony WF-1000XM4. This is one of the few products that Laptop Magazine has awarded a perfect score (5 stars) and it sits atop our best noise-cancelling earbuds list. Remarkable sound powered by many Sony proprietary technologies (e.g., 360 Reality Audio, DSEE, LDAC), along with stellar ANC and a terrific ergonomic fit, have earned this model universal acclaim.

You’re looking at two tiny noise-cancellers that deliver a fantastic listening experience – with or without worldly distractions. Which is the better overall investment? Our analysis of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 and Sony WF-1000XM4 will determine that answer. 

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 vs. Sony WF-1000XM4: Price

Bose chose to increase the price of their flagship buds, listing the QuietComfort Earbuds 2 at $299, which is $20 more than the original. The Sony WF-1000XM4 launched for slightly less at $279, and it’s frequently on sale (we’ve seen it go for as low as $228).

Sony wins this round based on having the more relatively affordable option.

Bookmark our best headphones deals pages to stay notified of the latest wireless earbuds sales.

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM4

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 vs. Sony WF-1000XM4: Specs compared

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2Sony WF-1000XM4Price$299.99$279.99Wireless chargingNoYesBattery life6 hours; 24 hours (charging case)8 hours (ANC on); 12 hours (ANC off); 24 hours (with charging case); 36 hours (with charging case and ANC off)ProcessorNot statedSony V1ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3Bluetooth 5.2IPX ratingIPX4IPX4Size and weight (buds)1.2 x 0.68 x 0.88 inches (per bud); 0.21 ounces (per bud)1 x 0.8 x 0.8 inches; 0.2 ouncesSize and weight (charging case)2.61 x 2.34 x 1.05 inches (charging case); 2.1 ounces (charging case)2.4 x 1.5 x 1.1 inches; 2.0 ouncesSpecial featuresAdaptive active noise cancellation, ambient listening mode, ActiveSense, customizable EQ, CustomTune technology, digital assistant support, Eartip Fit Test, quick charging, Self VoiceActive noise cancellation, transparency mode, Speak-to-Chat, Quick Attention, customizable EQ, 360 Reality Audio, DSEE Extreme upscaling, Google Fast Pair, LDAC, digital assistant support, Optimal Earbuds Tips, quick charging

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 vs. Sony WF-1000XM4: Design

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Both pairs of buds are equally durable and feature both hard plastic and IPX4 sweat/water resistance. Nevertheless, the WF-1000XM4 is more attractive and fits better. Sony’s oval design, along with striking details like the protruding touch panel and gold ANC mic housings, gives these buds a sophisticated presence. The charging case is lighter and smaller compared to the previous version. We also enjoy wearing the buds for reasonably long stretches (3 hours straight) before fatigue sets in. Memory foam tips mold to your ears and create a tight seal for proper on-ear stability. Sony’s Optimal Earbud Tips test can provide positive feedback for optimal fit. 

The QuietComfort Earbuds 2 has been given a significant facelift. It’s 30 percent smaller than the original, more practical for wear, and very stylish. The combo shiny and matte finish is a nice touch. Materials are solid to ensure the exterior doesn’t crack when dropped on hard surfaces. These buds won’t occupy all your ear real estate either, like the last-gen QC Earbuds. Notice the charging case is also slimmer, smaller, and more pocket friendly this time around. Bose’s new ear tip kit and EarTip Fit Test help achieve a reliable fit. Unfortunately, comfort remains a weakness for the series and the QuietComfort Earbuds 2 progressively applies pressure to the concha.

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM4

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 vs. Sony WF-1000XM4: Controls

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

These are two high-functioning models that come programmed with numerous media controls. However, Sony equipped the WF-1000XM4 with more intelligible features that simplify operation. Speak-to-Chat uses mics and advanced signal processing to recognize your voice and automatically pause music. Quick Attention will lower volume to 10% when you speak, so you can engage in clear-sounding conversations. Google Assistant and Alexa integration let you fire up either AI bot by speaking their respective wake-word phrase (“Alexa,” “Hey Google”). Siri and Google Assistant are also compatible and work well, though they must be activated manually. Wear detection is spot-on to auto-pause content when removing the buds. Let’s not forget the responsive touch controls that accept single and multi-tap gestures.

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The QuietComfort Earbuds 2 demonstrates superb speech recognition when using the digital assistant (e.g., Google Assistant, Siri). Unfortunately, Bose chose not to add Alexa/Google Assistant voice activation. Wear detection has some latency, enabling auto-pause/play after a 2-second delay. In addition, tap response is slightly off, with the sensors often struggling to register single and multi-tap gestures. At least the slide gestures work flawlessly to raise/lower volume.   

Keep in mind the WF-1000XM4 lets you customize its entire control scheme, whereas the QuietComfort Earbuds 2 only allows for one control to be swapped out: the Shortcut function (long press).

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM4

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 vs. Sony WF-1000XM4: Active noise cancellation

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The WF-1000XM4 transforms commuting disruptions like passing trains, loud conversations, and construction work into mere whispers, and that’s without even playing music. Pressing play on your favorite jams will completely block those noises out. Wind resistance is increased when toggling the Wind Reduction feature in the app. Also, the 20-level ambient sound mode is amazing for keeping tabs on your surroundings, picking up the slightest noises when set to max level. As great as Sony’s noise cancellation performs, Bose’s technology is more powerful.

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

The QuietComfort Earbuds 2 does nearly everything its rival does and offers a more personalized ANC experience. Bose’s 4-mic array blocks out blaring noises across the frequency spectrum, as well as wind. Quiet Mode (acoustic noise cancellation) performs up to brand standards, while also maintaining clarity when listening to music. Bose lets you set ANC (up to 10 levels) to your preference by customizing any of the 10 available user modes; this is the more effective noise-neutralizing solution. Aware Mode is just as impressive, balancing sound so you can hear incidental noises distinctively without compromising audio quality. Turning on the ActiveSense feature automatically adjusts transparency to hear music and ambient noise equally well.

Winner: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 vs. Sony WF-1000XM4: Audio Quality

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Only a handful of wireless earbuds come close to the WF-1000XM4’s sonic prowess. The QuietComfort Earbuds 2 isn’t one of them, but it is a well-engineered product that calibrates the sound frequency profile to the unique properties of your ear via CustomTune technology. A manual three-band EQ and four bass/treble presets are accessible in the app. Bose’s soundstage balances frequencies extremely well, giving you a nice blend of lows, mids, and highs with emphasized bass. Sadly, these buds lack 3D sound (spatial audio), as well as fidelity-boosting features to stream music wirelessly at the highest level.

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

As for the WF-1000XM4, you get vibrant, robust sound that complements all music genres, along with 360 Reality Audio support for convincing 3D effects on supported tracks. Sony’s soundstage presents exceptional stereo imaging to hear instruments accurately and it pumps out strong bass that’s a little tamer than what you’ve heard on the previous version, but still impactful. DSEE boosts fidelity on lo-fi recordings. Lastly, LDAC codec support grants lossless streaming on compatible music services (e.g., Tidal, Deezer).

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM4

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 vs. Sony WF-1000XM4: App and special features

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Sony equipped the WF-1000XM4 with a plethora of special features, many of which we’ve already discussed. These include 360 Reality Audio, ANC/Ambient Sound, DSEE, Equalizer, LDAC, Optimal Earbuds Tips, Quick Attention, and Speak-to-Chat. Everything is accessible in the Sony Headphones Connect app, which has other cool features worth checking out (we recommend Bluetooth Connection Quality to prioritize sound quality or connectivity). Bluetooth 5.2 maintains stable connections with recognized devices. One-tap Google Fast Pair allows for seamless pairing with Android smartphones.

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Bose reserved most of the QuietComfort Earbuds 2’s extended functionality for noise cancellation. Again, being able to adjust and save different ANC profiles and have adaptive ambient listening are awesome. Other notables include Eartip Fit Test, EQ, and Self Voice (more on this later). Unfortunately, that’s where the list of big software features ends. This is one of the newer models operating on Bluetooth 5.3, and it delivers solid wireless performance. If only this performance carried over to the Bose Music app, which is buggy and suffers from wonky connectivity. 

Neither set of buds come with Bluetooth multipoint (to pair to two devices simultaneously).

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM4

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 vs. Sony WF-1000XM45: Battery life

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Longer playtimes and better charging features go to the WF-1000XM4. Sony rates battery life at 8 to 12 hours, depending how you use the buds. The charging case holds between 24 to 36 hours, provides powerful quick charging (5 minutes = 1 hour of listening time), and supports wireless charging.

It frustrates us greatly that Bose didn’t increase the playtimes on their buds. Only 6 hours on a full charge, without the option of disabling ANC, is not cool. The charging case offers the industry standard: 24 hours. Quick charging is some of the weakest in the category (20 minutes = 2 hours) and wireless charging is unavailable.

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM4

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 vs. Sony WF-1000XM4: Call quality

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The QC Earbuds were considered the best wireless earbuds for voice and video calls, and its successor follows suit. Bose’s mic array captures voices loud and clear, while also making speech prominent over background interference. Strong noise cancellation keeps incidental noises to a minimum. Self Voice comes in handy for hearing yourself louder during conversations when stuck in rowdy settings.

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

While improvements were made to Sony’s call quality, the WF-1000XM4 still doesn’t live up to its potential. Muffle and poor wind resistance continue to hinder performance.

Winner: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM4

It’s always fun comparing new wireless earbuds to our favorite releases, especially when they bear Bose branding. However, we still rank the WF-1000XM4 as the market’s best offering, based on its expansive feature set, gorgeous craftsmanship, superior sound, and terrific ANC. The overall value you’re getting justifies the high MSRP.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2Sony WF-1000XM4Value (5)34Design (15)1213Controls (10)810Active noise cancellation (20)2019Audio quality (15)1315App and special features (15)1113Battery Life (10)79Call quality (10)105Total Score (100)8488

Bose continues to improve on perfection, at least in terms of noise cancellation. The QuietComfort Earbuds 2 gives you unbeatable ANC and some great customization tools to personalize the buds to your liking. Revamping the design was a smart move. We’re fond of the newly tweaked soundstage as well, since it gives music a livelier presence. Where the QuietComfort Earbuds 2 loses this is battle is in battery life, controls, and features – three areas the WF-1000XM4 has locked down.



Source

About the Author:

You might like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.