I always have Bose to thank (or blame) for my addiction to headphones, whether they are Bluetooth or wired. In 2009, I bought the Quiet Comfort 15 noise-cancelling headphones and was blown away how good they sounded compared to Apple’s regular headphones.
Bose put out the very first decent Bluetooth speaker in 2011, and the SoundLink, now in its 3rd generation, has greatly improved. In 2014, Bose finally put out a decent pair of wireless headphones (after a failed first attempt), the Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth headphones. Now, they have just released the SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II. For some reason, I’m not as excited as I usually am about Bose headphones.
The new Around-Ear Wireless are said to be just like the successful On-Ear headphones Bose released one year ago, except they have a lighter fit and completely cover your ears. There is no active noise cancellation. However, they are said to offer exceptional HD phone call quality while blocking out wind and other noise. Bose is one of the few headphone makers that realizes people want to make high quality calls with their Bluetooth headphones.
The problem that Bose is facing is that better headphone makers have come along. Bowers & Wilkins, for example, has created the best-sounding Wireless headphones with the P5 Wireless. They are the very first Bluetooth headphones I have tested that sound as good as many wired headphones. The connection will randomly stop, but it’s not a huge disability to the overall excellence of the device.
Sennheiser, a German company, has already risen in the headphone games over the past couple of years. As stated in a previous review, The Senneheiser M2 Over-the-Ear headphones are the best wired headphones I have tested in years. They don’t have active noise cancellation like Bose’s QuietComfort 25 headphones. However, the passive noise isolation is more than enough. Besides, do you really want to cancel out all noise when you are walking down the street? I learned the hard way by almost getting hit by a car while wearing my QuietComfort 25s, which I still like — I wear them at night when sleeping since I am such a light sleeper.
Bowers & Wilkins, as well as Sennheiser, easily produce better headphones than Beats by Dr. Dre. But Apple (who purchased Beats) has nothing to worry about — no matter how low-quality some Beats headphones are, the marketing is magnificent. Bose is having marketing problems, which is why they have changed the design of their headphones over the past two years to make them more colorful. Bose will always be one of the first names you think of when someone mentions the word “audio,” but they will never be the best.