- Bose is rumored to be releasing the QuietComfort Ultra headphones in September with a higher price tag, offering a more premium design compared to previous models.
- The QuietComfort Ultra headphones feature a capacitive touch volume control and USB-C charging, as well as a 2.5mm to 3.5mm wired listening option.
- The Ultra headphones may support spatial audio with adaptive tuning called "Immersive Mode" and offer support for Snapdragon Sound for better quality Bluetooth playback.
Bose has long been the go-to brand for some of the best noise-cancelling headphones - and for good reason. It was the first brand to bring out a pair of active noise-cancelling headphones for a consumer audience, so it's had time to really hone its performance to be one of the best.
So much so that for many years, no brand could come close to them - the QuietComfort line in particular being a favourite for regular travellers thanks to their talents at blocking out the outside world on the go. But there has been significant movement in this market more recently, with brands like Sony, Apple, Bowers & Wilkins and Beats inching closer to Bose in the noise cancellation department - while also perhaps giving a bit more in the design and features department too.
That's why I've been excited to hear the rumours for the QuietComfort Ultra - a pair of noise-cancelling headphones that look to bring all of Bose's ANC prowess with a more luxe design and feature set. Here's what we know so far.
Bose QuietComfort Ultra price and availability
- September release date?
- Rumoured to be priced around $550
- Bose Ultra in-ears and regular QuietComfort headphones also expected to launch
Looking back to recent years, the Bose QuietComfort 45 were released on 23 September in 2021, while the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II were released on 15 September 2022. That means Bose is likely gearing up for a launch at around the same time this year - sometime towards the middle to end of September, however this is yet to be confirmed.
You can expect a higher price tag to get with the apparently more premium design. Leaked French pricing from Dealabs suggests the new Ultra over-ears will cost €499.95 (about $550), and they also list a price for a new pair of Ultra earbuds, at €349.95 (about $380). This leak also suggests there will be a standard pair of QuietComfort cans revealed for €399.95 (about $435).
This a significant uplift on the current QuietComfort range, which is priced at $329 for the QuietComfort 45 and $299 for the Earbuds II. The more premium Bose 700 cost $379 at launch, though that was over four years ago now. It puts the over-ear Ultra on par with the Apple AirPods Max - a very pricey pair of headphones indeed.
Bose QuietComfort Ultra design
- More premium finish
- Capacitive volume controls
- USB-C charging
- 2.5mm to 3.5mm wired listening available
We've had quite an eyeful of the Bose QuietComfort Ultra design so far, with a mixture of renders from MySmartPrice, and then leaked pictures published by The Verge. The latter show the collapsible design that the QuietComfort range has always offered, alongside a slightly flashier addition, in the form of capacitive touch volume controls on the earcup.
There still looks to be physical controls around the earcups too too, though the on-earcup ANC switch familiar to the QuietComfort range looks to be gone, if the leaked images are to be believed.
The headband and earcups look a little more padded compared to previous QuietComfort ranges too, and look like they could be made from leather or a good-quality vegan alternative. There also appears to be a metal frame for the headband, in place of plastic in the current QC45.
Photos show a USB-C port for charging, but whether that can be used for high-res wired playback is still TBC. They should come with a 2.5mm to 3.5mm cable for more traditional wired listening, at least, as well as a carry case.
The Ultra range will apparently be available in a choice of black or white only. That's largely been the case with QuietComfort headphones at launch - though the standard QuietComfort headphones thought to be launching alongside the Ultra are thought to also be getting a Cypress Green variant too.
As for the QuietComfort Ultra buds, well, they look pretty identical to the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II from the renders leaked, so any improvements must be either very subtle, or on the inside instead.
Bose QuietComfort Ultra features
- Spacial audio mode with adaptive tuning, called "Immersive Mode"
- Support for Snapdragon Sound
The leaks have been relatively quiet when it comes to specific features so far, but The Verge did state in its leak that it believed the QuietComfort Ultra over-ears would support spatial audio as a separate profile called Immersive Mode, alongside the standard noise cancellation and transparency modes.
It also said this mode would come with different tuning depending on whether you were sat still or moving, which may be a similar functionality to the dynamic head tracking offered by Apple and some other brands in their headphones. Remember, spatial audio can be supported by any headphones - there's no special hardware required - so I am assuming there will be something extra for it to warrant a whole separate mode.
CustomTune, which launched in the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, is likely to make its way to the Ultra over-ears, as well as the rumoured Ultra in-ears - a feature that automatically adjusts the sound and noise cancellation to the fit and the ear of the listener on every listen, based on the result of a test tone played at every wear.
Other specs include support for Snapdragon Sound, which should offer better quality Bluetooth playback and lower latency with compatible devices.
Bose QuietComfort Ultra - five things I'd like to see
While we wait for official details on the Bose QuietComfort Ultra, or indeed, further leaks and rumours, here are a few of the things I'd like to see in the Ultra, including areas of improvements Bose may focus on in order to really fulfil that "Ultra" name.
1. Better battery life
The Bose QuietComfort 45 offered a full 24-hour battery life, which is fine, but the Sennheiser Momentum 4 wowed us with a whopping 60 hours of battery life, with ANC enabled. It would be great to see Bose take this on and whack a few extra hours onto that battery life - as well as a good fast charge. The QuietComfort 45 offered three hours of battery from 15 minutes on charge, so it seems reasonable to expect this or better in the Ultra.
2. Wear sensors
It's become quite common to see premium over-ears with wear detection, meaning they pause automatically when you remove an earcup, and start again when you put them back on. It's a feature I find helpful, and notice it when it's not there. The QuietComfort 45 didn't have this, but the Earbuds II did, so it feels like a likely and welcome addition.
I'd also like to see an auto power off when idle for some time - something the Bose QC45 did not have, meaning you could often drain the battery without realising.
Bose has been somewhat behind the competition when it comes to waterproofing, and the Bose QuietComfort 45 have no IP rating whatsoever - in fact none of its over-ears do. For the Bose Ultra to fulfil their name, it would feel right for them to be protected against the elements - or at least a sweaty gym workout. The Earbuds II are IPX4 rated, so here's hoping the over-ears follow suit.
4. The ability to turn ANC off entirely
With both the Bose QuietComfort 45 and the Earbuds II, ANC couldn't be turned off entirely - instead turning noise cancelling off simply turned on the Aware, Bose's transparency mode. Turning off all noise processing can be handy if you're caught short on battery life and want to eke out a bit more time - not to mention if you're in a quieter location and just want to hear a purer sound. The option to turn of ANC entirely would offer this, and certainly please the audiophile section of the market, who may be more likely to consider headphones at this (rumoured) price.
5. Improved sound
While Bose's noise cancellation is pretty much second to none, competitors have been coming close when it comes to the very best in sound quality - and the Ultra will need to take a big step up considering their price. Offering Snapdragon Sound is a great step forward, but it would be great to see further support for aptX or higher-bitrate Bluetooth codecs - and this does look promising.
Thanks to a partnership with Qualcomm, Bose delivered aptX Adaptive support via a firmware update to the Earbuds II update earlier this year - and we may yet see aptX Lossless in the Ultra. Talking at the Qualcomm Snapdragon Summit, Bose confirmed it would be using the company's S5 Audio SoC chip in its future hardware - of which aptX Lossless support is included. USB-C audio, as is possible in the new Beats Studio Pro, would also be a nice addition for high-resolution playback.