3 things I love about the new Bose QC Ultra Earbuds — and one I don't

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds on a keyboard
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Who foresaw Bose releasing new wireless earbuds in 2023? Any reports surrounding the king of active noise cancellation focused mainly on the heavily leaked QuietComfort Ultra Headphones. Not a word was muttered about the recently unveiled QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds.

I'm surprised to see Bose replace the QuietComfort Earbuds 2 after only one year on the market. We ranked them top in our best noise-cancelling earbuds buying guide, and would typically expect any Bose flagships to stay for 2 to 3 years before the next generation arrived. Bose has clearly been busy and did an excellent job with keeping the leaks at bay. 

Similar naming conventions, specs, and price points make it difficult to differentiate between the two models though. In fact, as my Bose QC Ultra Earbuds vs. QC Earbuds 2 face-off shows, few details separate the new QC Ultra Earbuds from the 2022's QC Earbuds 2. While these upgrades are small in quantity, they’re huge in terms of the value they bring. Spending $20 extra for the upscale features on the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds is well worth the investment.   

Keep scrolling to find out the things I love about the Bose QC Ultra Earbuds, and the one I don't.

3 things I love about the Bose QC Ultra Earbuds

1. Bose QC Ultra Earbuds add Immersive Audio

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The QC Ultra Earbuds’ killer feature is Immersive Audio, and it’s exclusive to the new model. The new 3D sound experience works with all stereo content. During my listening tests I found it was a similar experience to the Yamaha YH-L700A wireless headphones with 3D Sound Field technology. 

As with the Yamaha, Bose's new tech processes and tweaks audio on the fly to produce an immersive listening experience. There are two modes. Still mode employs headtracking to accurately place instruments, special effects, and vocals where your head moves, whereas Motion mode keeps sound positioned in front of you, no matter your movement. The feature works surprisingly well and feels like a worthy rival to Apple’s Spatial Audio and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio formats. Music, movies, games, and podcasts sound convincingly immersive and natural.

2. Bose QC Ultra Earbuds support aptX Adaptive

Bose QuietComfort Ultra earbuds illustrating audio latency with movies

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A partnership between Bose and Qualcomm was confirmed earlier this year, and Bose announced that the QC Earbuds 2 would receive aptX Adaptive and aptX Lossless audio support in early 2023 via free over-the-air update. We’re still waiting. In the meantime, the QC Ultra Earbuds have launched with aptX Adaptive. 

This advanced audio codec delivers higher-quality audio transfers when streaming content from compatible playback devices including many of the best Android smartphones. I’ve tested the feature on multiple smartphones and enjoyed every second of playback. Clarity was given a noticeable lift, more details are unraveled thanks to the greater amount of audio data being transferred via the sophisticated codec. There was zero audio latency too while connected to the Bose QC Ultra Earbuds when playing movies from streaming platforms on my smartphone. 

3. Google Fast Pair integration

Bose QuiteComfort Ultra Earbuds showing Google Fast Pair

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

You mean to tell me these are the first-ever Bose wireless earbuds to support Google Fast Pair? Yessir. Opening the charging case will pull up the connection notification card on your Android device screen. All it takes is one tap and you're automatically connected.

The one thing I don't...

Bose QC Earbuds 2 have better call quality

Bose QC Ultra Earbuds testing call quality

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The latest Bose buds come with dynamic microphone mixing, along with adaptive filters and enhanced voice pickup. What does that all mean? Basically, these technologies work together to figure out which bud is experiencing the least amount of wind interference and select a noise filter that boosts vocal presence during calls. It all sounds amazing on paper. However, the results were different in my real time experience. Read my Bose QC Ultra Earbuds vs. QC Earbuds 2 comparison to find out how the new Ultra model performs on calls.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds design: Spot the difference

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds showing design

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Lastly, I'm surprised by how similar the new version looks to its predecessor. Place the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds next to the QuietComfort Earbuds 2 and I guarantee you that 90% of consumers won’t be able to tell them apart. The QC Ultra Earbuds have touch panels that don a metallic sheen, which gives the buds a more luxe appearance, while the Earbuds 2 have a complete matte finish.

Look closer and you’ll also see that Bose has incorporated new grooves on the Ultra Earbuds for easier installation of the silicone stabilizer wings. This is said to improve fit, though I need to spend more testing time with them to determine the design’s effectiveness.

More from Tom's Guide

Alex Bracetti

A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.

With contributions from