All about that bass
Bose's latest noise-blocking headphones are more comfortable than their predecessors and have a more balanced sound
Bose has been making noise-cancelling headphones for consumers since 2006, and their SoundLink around-ear wireless headphones II are logical successors to the QuietComfort series.
There are subtle improvements that you feel only when you have used them for some time. The SoundLink II headphones weigh 149g, which is 26.5g less than their predecessor. While the design remains largely the same, these headphones have better padding around the ears, and the premium material used for the earcups makes them comfortable to wear. The “L" and “R" labelling for the ears is sown on the inside of the earcups in large font, making it easier to read than the tiny labelling you usually find on the outside of the earcups.
This is a wireless headphone, but Bose also provides a standard 3.5mm headphone cable that will come in handy if the battery runs out and you don’t have the time to charge it. At this point, the SoundLink II will continue to work as a standard headphone, without the noise-cancellation feature.
The rechargeable lithium-ion battery lasts 14-15 hours on a single charge, which is excellent by headphone standards. The battery charges quickly—15 minutes of charge gives around 2 hours of use.
Bluetooth pairing with Android as well as iOS devices is a breeze, and you can switch quickly between two source devices. If you are watching a video on your iPhone and you get a phone call, the video pauses during the call and resumes once you end the call.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you are using these headphones with the cable and not the battery, the sound-processing feature known as Digital Signal Processing will not be available. Some users may actually prefer that because what you hear is the actual quality of the recording. However, remember that this works best with high-resolution audio files (such as FLAC formats), but since most of us use the variable bit rate MP3 files, they do require some sort of processing to sound good on such powerful headphones.
Compared to its predecessors, the bass reproduction is not only a tad more powerful, but also doesn’t sound sculpted—Bose had dabbled with the idea of tweaking the sound signature on some headphones and earphones recently, but we are happy that the idea has been shelved for the time being.
The SoundLink II wireless headphones return to the neutral sound, which is powerful, rich, and delivers a much more balanced listening experience. Mötley Crüe’s Home Sweet Home, Blue’s This Temptation and Morgan Page’s Light Years (featuring Richard Walters) were all handled with consummate ease, without any bias towards a particular genre of music. The clarity of the vocals and the soft sound signature are the highlights. The noise-cancellation is excellent too.
The Bose SoundLink II headphones are both comfortable and effective, but they are expensive. If you have the budget, though, they are definitely worth considering.