Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds: A Questionable Upgrade for Spatial Audio Lovers

Bose has recently launched its new QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, a successor to the QuietComfort Earbuds II that were released only a year ago. The new earbuds promise to deliver a better sound quality with spatial audio technology, as well as improved phone call performance and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound certification. However, some customers are not happy with the quick update cycle and the lack of significant changes in design, battery life and noise cancellation.

What’s New in the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds?

The main selling point of the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds is the Immersive Audio feature, which Bose claims to create a realistic and spacious soundstage for any content. Unlike other spatial audio solutions that require special formats or apps, Bose’s Immersive Audio works with any source of stereo sound, whether it’s music, podcasts, movies or games. The earbuds also have a Motion mode that keeps the sound in front of you when you move your head or body, so you don’t lose the sense of direction.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds: A Questionable Upgrade for Spatial Audio Lovers
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds: A Questionable Upgrade for Spatial Audio Lovers

Another new feature is the Snapdragon Sound certification, which means the earbuds support Qualcomm’s AptX Adaptive codec for high-quality wireless audio on compatible Android devices. This codec can adjust the bitrate and latency according to the network conditions and the type of content, ensuring a smooth and seamless listening experience. Bose also says it has improved the microphone system on the earbuds to reduce wind noise and enhance voice clarity during phone calls.

What’s Not So New in the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds?

Despite the new features, the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds are largely identical to their predecessors in many aspects. They have the same design, size and weight, which means they are still quite bulky and protruding compared to some of their competitors. They also have the same battery life of six hours per charge, which is decent but not impressive for a premium product. The wireless charging case is still sold separately for an extra $50, which adds to the cost and inconvenience.

The most disappointing aspect for some customers is that the noise cancellation performance has not changed at all. The QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds still offer excellent active noise cancellation (ANC) that can block out most of the ambient sounds, but they do not have any new modes or features to customize or enhance it. Bose had promised to bring AptX Bluetooth audio to the previous model via a firmware update, but that never happened. Now, owners of the QuietComfort Earbuds II feel left out and betrayed by Bose’s decision to release a new model instead.

Are the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds Worth It?

The QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds are priced at $299, which is the same as the previous model. For that amount of money, you get a pair of earbuds that offer superb noise cancellation, spatial audio and phone call quality, as well as support for Snapdragon Sound on Android devices. However, you also have to deal with a bulky design, mediocre battery life and a wireless charging case that costs extra.

If you already own the QuietComfort Earbuds II, there is not much reason to upgrade to the Ultra version unless you really care about spatial audio or Snapdragon Sound. If you are looking for a new pair of earbuds with these features, you might want to consider other options such as Sony’s WF-1000XM4 or Apple’s AirPods Pro, which offer similar or better performance in a more compact and elegant package.

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