Bose QuietComfort Ultra Review

by Emma Baker, Senior Editor | Published February 15th, 2024 | Reviewed by Ted Wilson, Systems Engineer

The QuietComfort Ultra headphones really excel in several areas. The combination of immersive audio, comfortable design, and robust build quality makes them a standout choice if you are looking for a new pair of headphones.

In this review, I’ll outline the features of the QuietComfort Ultras, from its sound quality to its innovative design elements, providing a comprehensive understanding of what sets these headphones apart.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra View Above

Ultra Comfortable Headphones

The QuietComfort Ultra headphones have a sleek look and a lightweight build. Their ergonomic design, with faux leather on the headband and ear cups, is able to provide long-term comfort without causing ear discomfort, which I have noticed is a common issue with other Bose models.

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones tip the scales at just 254 grams. As a frequent traveler, portability is a top feature I look for from my headphones, and the Ultras deliver. The portability on these headphones is not something new (these are just as foldable and bendy as other QuietComfort models), but it is a great perk to have for any over-ear headphones.

The construction has combined metallic arms and robust aluminum hinges with faux leather on the headband and ear cups. The headphones are definitely comfortable, though I think they are less plushy than the QuietComfort 45s. There is less padding underneath the leather, and I feel sore from wearing these sooner than I would when wearing the 45s.

The ear cups, designed with depth and an oval shape, provide ample room for the largest of ears. The clamping force is just right – snug, but not too tight, which is important for a glasses wearer like myself. Also, the design effectively gets rid of heat buildup, a benefit I have (not) noticed during my use. 

Overall, the Ultras avoid the common pitfalls of feeling heavy or causing ear discomfort, but are not the most elite headphones I have worn. 

Ted with Bose QuietComfort Ultras

Decent Sound Quality for the Ultras

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are suitable for any music genre of your choice, and deliver an audio experience that is engaging and accurate.

However, they do share some hardware with older models like the Bose 700. I personally never would have noticed this, but the knowledge dampened the luxurious feel for me.

Below are brief descriptions on the bass, layering, and spatial audio.

Bass and Treble Balance

The bass in these headphones really stands out, giving a powerful thump and depth to the music. 

However, the treble is a bit softer, making vocals and instruments sound slightly subdued, and tones like cymbal crashes less sharp.

Layering and Detail

What impressed me most was how the headphones handle high and low frequencies. Even at lower volumes, the layering of vocals and instrumentals is distinct and clear.

Spatial Audio and Immersive Experience

Bose’s Immersive Audio makes the music feel like it’s all around you, giving a spacious, multi-layered experience that’s more than what regular headphones offer.

This cool feature has two modes: ‘Still’ and ‘Motion’, which adjust to whether you’re sitting still or moving around.

But keep in mind, while some songs sound amazing with it, others don’t get the same boost. However, I have not noticed any pattern for why some songs shine and some become duller.

ANC

The noise-canceling capability of the QC Ultra is one of the best that I have experienced. Drawing from technology used in aviation headphones, it provides an unparalleled level of noise isolation.

The Aware Mode, or transparency mode, is equally impressive, allowing for clear awareness of your surroundings when needed. The wind noise reduction feature also stands out – during calls, I was able to still hold a conversation during a windy day (though I did have to speak louder than normal).

Bose QuietComfort Ultras vs. Sony WH-1000XM5

Feature Bose QuietComfort Ultras Sony WH-1000XM5
Battery Life 24 hours (18 hours with Immersive Audio on) 30 hours
Sound Performance Immersive Audio, rich and full-bodied sound, punchy delivery Transparent sound, precise bass, punchy delivery, greater clarity
Active Noise Cancelling Capabilities Excellent noise cancelling, CustomTune calibration, Aware Mode with ActiveSense Effective noise cancelling, Integrated Processor V1, optimizes ANC in different environments
Comfort Comfortable, ergonomic design, available in multiple colors Comfortable, memory foam in headband and earpads, available in two colors
Responsive Controls Capacitive touch strip, customizable button functions Quick Attention, Speak-to-Chat, Wearing Detection, multipoint Bluetooth

Features and App Integration

The Bose Music app is central to the QuietComfort Ultra experience. It’s fairly user-friendly, but isn’t the most comprehensive companion app ever.

The app displays important information like battery life and volume control. It also provides quick access to various audio modes, Bluetooth connections, EQ settings, and more.

The app allows you to select from three default audio modes: Quiet, Aware, and Immersion.

Each mode serves a specific purpose, from active noise cancellation to full transparency. The Immersion mode combines maximum ANC with Immersive Audio for an enveloping experience.

I appreciated the ability to create and customize my own modes, tailoring the noise cancellation and Immersive Audio settings to my preference.

Battery Life

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Vents

Bose rates the battery life of the QuietComfort Ultra at up to 24 hours of continuous listening. However, this figure drops to around 18 hours when using the Immersive Audio feature regularly.

In my unofficial testing, these figures held up quite accurately. It’s worth noting that while these numbers are impressive, they do fall short of the Sony XM5’s 30 hours and are significantly less than the Sennheiser Momentum 4’s impressive 60-hour runtime. However, for most practical purposes, like enduring an extended flight or a long day at work, the Ultra’s battery life is more than sufficient.

The charge time is relatively quick at 2.3 hours. They come equipped with an auto-off timer and standby mode, which are handy power-saving features.

However, it’s important to note that these headphones do not support audio playback while charging, and they lack passive playback capability. This means you can’t use them as wired headphones with the power off, a feature that some other models like the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless do offer.

Pricing

At a price of $429, the QuietComfort Ultra headphones might seem steep for some (including me). However, it’s essential to consider what you’re getting for this price. Bose has effectively merged the best elements of its premium Bose 700 headphones with the iconic QuietComfort line. The result is a product that excels in style and  noise cancellation.

While there’s no significant improvement in battery life compared to the QuietComfort 45, the QC Ultra headphones shine in other areas.

The question of whether any noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones are worth $429 is subjective, but if any brand could justify this price, it’s Bose. The QuietComfort Ultra stands out as one of the most comfortable, high-quality sounding headphones with class-leading noise cancellation I’ve tested.

FAQs

What are the key features of the Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones?

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones boast features like advanced noise cancellation, Immersive Audio technology, long battery life, comfortable over-ear design, Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity, and a lightweight build. They also offer a bass-heavy sound profile, customizable audio settings through the Bose Music app, and are designed for both comfort and durability.

How do Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones compare to Sony WH-1000XM5 in terms of noise cancellation and sound quality?

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones excel in noise cancellation, often considered on par with or slightly better than the Sony WH-1000XM5.

In terms of sound quality, the Bose headphones offer a bass-heavy profile and immersive audio experience, while the Sony WH-1000XM5 is known for its balanced sound and slightly better clarity in mid and high frequencies.

Both are top contenders in the premium headphone market, with the choice often coming down to personal preference for sound signature and brand loyalty.

What stores near me have Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones available for in-store testing?

To find stores near you with Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones available for in-store testing, you can visit the official Bose website and use their store locator feature. Additionally, major electronics retailers like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart often have these headphones in stock.