Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones: Price and release date
When they hit the market, the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones will cost £449.95 in the UK, $429 in the US and AU$649.95 in Australia, which puts them in line with the more premium options among the best headphones.
Due to conversion rates and what is probably down to cheaper import costs, the headphones will cost $125 / £100 / AU$195 cheaper if bought in the States than in the UK. In Australia, it’s only a difference of about $10 / £8 / AU$15.
The Ultra cans will be available to buy in just two pretty boring colorways of black and 'white smoke' from early October, according to Bose. If you’re worried about missing out, you can pre-order them now from the brand’s official website.
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones: Sound quality
While the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones might not have left me awestruck with their design refresh, it's in audio innovation where Bose truly shines.
The introduction of the firm’s Immersive Audio tech is what really sets this product apart. Bringing spatial audio to your ears, this feature creates a more expansive, multi-dimensional soundstage and in doing so offers a more rounded and realistic overall sound – almost like whatever you’re listening to is being played live in the room with you. The other great thing is that this works for any device you’re using, and doesn’t require any additional specific tech or subscriptions.
It works so well that I can imagine this release will redefine the way audio companies make headphones. Mark my words: expect more spatial sound tech baked into other major audio companies’ headphones in the very near future.
What's particularly impressive is the flexibility this immersive sound tech offers, with two modes to cater to different scenarios. Within the app, you can toggle the Immersive Audio from off to 'Still' mode, which keeps the soundstage fixed in front of you even when turning your head, to 'Motion' mode, which dynamically adapts to your movements so the soundstage follows you while on the go.
My overall first impressions of audio quality were that the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones didn't boast the same heavy, booming bass that Bose is renowned for. Instead, the music sounded remarkably clean, nicely balanced, and – thanks to that new audio tech – incredibly immersive.
The headphones’ active noise cancelling (ANC) tech has also been given an upgrade in the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones over-ears and works seamlessly with the Immersive Audio tech to deliver an even richer listening experience with minimal interference. This comes in an all-new noise cancellation mode: Immersion, which Bose says is its most powerful ANC ever.
I was able to test just how good this ANC really is at blocking out external sounds during my hands-on time, where I pitted the headphones against various loud noises. In a demo, Bose blasted out loud recordings of everyday occurrences, such as train noises and the like while I listened to various tracks on an iPhone. The results were impressive: I couldn’t hear any of the external sounds over what I was listening to. Saying that, I would like to try this test again in the real world, outside an environment controlled by Bose, to see how well this new Immersion mode really performs.
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones: Battery life
When it comes to battery life, the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones promise up to 24 hours of power per charge while Bose Immersive Audio is turned off, and up to 18 hours when it’s switched on.
Since I was only able to get a short amount of time with the headphones at the launch event, I obviously wasn’t able to test these claims during my demo, but this will be something I can test thoroughly in a full-length review.
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones: Design
The QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are a completely reimagined version of their predecessor, the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which are ancient as far as gadgets go at over four years old. As you’d expect, the Ultras bring a slew of new design features, including refreshed proprietary signal processing, a new robust chipset, some advanced microphones and a whole new look.
While Bose maintains its trademark build quality, offering sturdy and visually appealing headphones with a sleek, minimalist aesthetic, I do think they’re missing that premium flair you’d expect from a pair of cans in this price range. They also feel a little chunkier compared to their predecessor, foregoing that sleek curved band shape that many loved about the 700s. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still minimal in appearance, they just don’t have that luxe appeal I was hoping for.
Another niggle that I noticed – during my hands-on time – is that the headphones were prone to retaining fingerprints, with every touch leaving unsightly visible smudge marks. Not a great look.
So how do they feel on? The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are certainly comfort by name, comfort by nature. They’re a great fit, sliding over your ears to fully envelop them while leaving enough space to breathe. I can imagine you’ll be able to wear these over-ears for long periods of time without feeling like they’re clinging to your head too hard or causing a case of sweaty lugs like some headphones can.
The Ultras have also been given an improved set of physical controls, with Bose removing most of the capacitive touch controls found on the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. In this model, the right ear cup touts a power/Bluetooth pairing button, a one-off capacitive touch strip for volume control and shortcuts, and a multifunction button for managing listening modes, calls, and playback.
On the opposite side, the left ear cup houses an LED indicator, a 2.5 mm jack, and a USB-C charging port, rounding out the functionality. Everything seemed to work well in my tests, responding to commands rapidly and feeling intuitive to the touch.
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones: Early verdict
It's still early days, and we'll need more in-depth testing to truly gauge how impressive these headphones are, but one thing is sure – Bose has seriously stepped up its audio game with the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones.
Bose was once all about excellent noise cancellation. And it still is. But now, it seems, there’s an additional focus: a level of immersive sound that makes any audio source come alive with more detail and realism.
Bose certainly continues its tradition of innovation with the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, and I can’t wait to hear how my favourite music sounds on them.