Apple AirPods Pro 2, Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay Ex and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are among the best noise-canceling (Anc) earphones on the market. And above all, they are brand new and available for a few months, so they should also represent the maximum technological expression of the moment – together with the Sony WF-1000XM4 released last year. The positioning is high-end, because BeoPlay Ex cost 399 euros, while AirPods Pro 2 and QuietComfort Earbuds II cost 299.
The question is whether this expense is worth it. The answer is that it depends on your needs of use, but there is an irrefutable certainty: they have superior performance compared to medium or low-range products. Qualities can be perceived by anyone, there is no need to be an audiophile or a healthy speaker of perfect pitch. The only shared flaw is that it does not support multi-point Bluetooth technology that allows you to pair multiple devices at a time, apart from the continuity function of the AirPods Pro 2 in the ecosystem of Apple products.
Minimal Design And Attention To Detail
The Apple AirPods Pro 2 looks a lot like the previous model and the only detectable design difference is related to the fact that the external grids – for noise and pressure detection – are located differently. From a functional point of view, however, the possibility of managing the volume has been introduced by sliding your finger on the right arm. Holding it between your thumb and forefinger is easy, even during sports. In this sense, resistance to both sweat and water is guaranteed (IPX4). The comfort is very good, as is the stability. Moreover, thanks to the presence of four sizes of silicone rubber pads, even those with a small ear can find the correct positioning. There is also an adherence test between functions.
BeoPlay Ex winks at the world of luxury using aluminum, tempered glass and polymers. The Danish designer Thomas Bentzen who designed them for another collaborates with Muuto, a subsidiary of Herman Miller. Looking at them it is evident that they are characterized by simplicity, rationality and functionality. The two external glass surfaces are adequately sensitive to manage the various touches that enable the different functions. For example, the volume can be raised by keeping the finger on the right and lowering it, however, do the same on the left. The space available is also adequate for those with a little thick fingers.
The dimensions of the case are not exaggerated and you can imagine carrying it all in your pocket. Finally, we must remember the theIP57 dust and water protection certification. Comfort is good and the package offers three sizes of silicone rubber pads and one medium in foam for sports. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II have been the subject of a successful stylistic revolution. There is no comparison with the bulky previous models. Furthermore, it must be admitted that compared to the entire market they are the only ones to show distinctive styles projected for the future.
They manage to be compact, offer a comfortable control surface and above all comfort combined with great stability. Yes, because in addition to providing three sizes of silicone inserts, like the others, they also offer three rubber bands that stabilize the headset in the basin. Without constraints, an excellent positioning is obtained which is ideal for sports. There is also a measurement test on the app. Volume adjustment is done by placing your finger in the area where the logo is present. There is no lack of resistance to both sweat and water (IPX4).
Top Musical Quality
The new AirPods Pro 2 has gained a greater punch in the low frequencies than in the past. It is the first distinguishing feature that emerges. And so with a track like Twenty One Pilots’ Chlorine, you get the feeling that Tyler Joseph’s electric voice filters through Josh Dun’s bass drum, while the low chords of the synthesizer create a sort of bed for the whole sound system. Apple has managed to make these earbuds more enjoyable and warm. Wild Child by The Black Keys, is strictly loud, it’s like a tame Marshall amp to your face. Tamed because in high fidelity slaps would fly, while here everything is enjoyable thanks to the hardware-software combo. Excellence is achieved when Apple Music is used which provides Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos and the high-quality Alan format. They support the Aac standard and rely on Bluetooth 5.3.
B&O BeoPlay Ex is thrilling. Any music track, especially if you go up with the resolution, reveals itself in every nuance and vibration. Even in a dream-pop ballad like Barrie’s Jersey, he is fascinated by how guitars, drums, bass and vocals find a correct place in the soundstage. While in Jacob Rose by Andy Shauf the screeching of the acoustic guitar and bass strings seem like a trampoline for the voice; goosebumps. However, it is with Sultans of Swing (remastered 2022) that B&O reveals themselves completely: they prefer crystalline reproduction to the carnality of rock, to the romantic analogue fog of vinyl. They support Sbc, Aac and aptX and aptX Adaptive standards, and rely on Bluetooth 5.2.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are slightly improved over the already excellent previous model. They undoubtedly represent the highest technological expression in the sector and can be deduced from the first and distracted listening. With a classic ballad like Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud, there is no instrument and detail out of place. Compared to B&O and Apple they push even more on the lower frequencies, losing some balance, which can still be recovered by intervening on the equalizer of the Bose Music app.
It is always warm and enveloping. And by feeding him something as raw as the EMF’s Unbelievable, the task is again clean, but engaging. And in a sentimental mood by Coltrane? An exciting experience but as long as you reduce the low pleasures. Here, the new QuietComfort Earbuds II are always excellent but the standard equalizer adjustment is less balanced than before. They support the Sbc, and Aac standards, theoretically also aptX and aptX Adaptive thanks to the Qualcomm Soc, and rely on Bluetooth 5.3.
Noise Cancellation (Almost) Is Always Excellent
The AirPods Pro 2 have improved and border on excellence in noise cancellation. Depending on the environmental conditions, they can drastically reduce noise: whether it is a trip by plane or train or a walk in a busy center. The spearhead, however, is undoubtedly the transparency mode that does better than any other competing product: music seems to become the soundtrack of our daily life as it would in a film. And a pleasantly weird feeling because the external sounds are muffled and the music creeps in like a texture. The Anc system is undoubtedly the weak point of B&O .
This is not to say that it is poor, but simply that it falls short of its direct competitors. It acceptably reduces noise but without excelling. However, the possibility of activating the adaptive function that regulates the cancellation of the surrounding environment is convenient. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are the best you could want for noise cancellation, at least in the earbud compartment. Just a touch on the left earphone and the world disappears, only the music remains or, if desired, silence. It can also be customized by establishing parameters for each activity: from walking to using public transport. Transparency is good, only a fraction lower than the Apple model.
Autonomy And Additional Functions
Apple AirPods Pro 2 are credited with 6 hours of battery life with ANC active and up to 30 hours using the charging case – with a Lightning port and compatible with wireless charging. It should also be noted that it is possible not only to locate the earphones and case exactly on the iPhone screen with a sort of navigation map but also to make them play remotely. And then we must remember the support for Spatial Audio and its customization. B&O BeoPlay Ex is credited with about 8 hours of battery life without ANC active and up to 21 hours using the charging case – for more with USB-c and compatible with wireless charging.
A distinctive feature of B&O is also to rely on an easy-to-use app, with a customizable equalizer and not too many frills. Finally, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are credited with a maximum of 6 hours of autonomy and up to 24 hours overall thanks to the case (with a USB-c socket but without wireless charging). It should be emphasized that taking advantage of the new Soc Qualcomm S5 also supports aptX Adaptive Audio technology. Again, the Bose app is very simple to use. In telephone calls, the yield of all models is more than acceptable but with iPhone, Apple earphones do better, while with Android the Bose. These also allow the use of a single headset.
The AirPods Pro 2 is born for owners of iPhones or other Apple products. Thanks to the new H2 chip they have improved in every front, especially on the bass boost. The advice is to buy them with your eyes closed if you are subscribed to Apple Music as the lossless and Spatial Audio tracks with Dolby Atmos offer a very immersive experience. B&O BeoPlay Ex is aimed at music lovers who are looking above all for relaxing enjoyment and lots of detail. They want to enjoy any genre, but they don’t like too hard genres with prominent bass and drums. Consumers are also looking for refined designs and quality materials in their devices. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II stand out on every front and probably paired with Android smartphones are unrivaled.