The Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II are decent sounding wireless headphones. They're lightweight and incredibly comfortable. Unfortunately, their build quality is mediocre, and they don't block ambient noise well enough for loud environments, like being on a train or plane.
- Above-average audio reproduction.
- Lightweight and comfortable design.
- Stable and wireless design.
- Poor noise isolation.
- Plasticky build quality.
- High leakage.
The SoundLink Around-Ear II are stylish looking headphones that deliver an incredibly comfortable listening experience. Like the QuietComfort 35, they have a sleek, wireless design and a good but slightly cramped control scheme. They're not the best headphones to use at the gym but are stable enough for casual listening sessions. Sadly, their build quality is mostly plastic and not as durable as some other over-ear headphones.
The Bose Soundlink Around-Ear II look very similar to the SoundTrue Over-ear and the QuietComfort 25 with a few differences. They have the same sleek and simple design that looks great and is available in different color schemes. They're well-crafted, and the suede-like padding on the headband contributes to giving these headphones a premium appeal that's eye catching.
The Bose Soundlink AE II are incredibly comfortable headphones. They don't apply too much pressure to your head, and the padding used for the ear cups is very soft. That combined with their lightweight design makes you almost forget you have headphones on. The headband could you use a little more padding and the ear cups might be a little smaller than some other over-ear headphones, but you won't be disappointed with the comfortable level these headphones provide.
The SoundLink AE II are above-average stable headphones. They will easily maintain their position during casual listening sessions. They have a wireless design that prevents the headphones from being yanked off your head due to the audio cable getting hooked on something. Unfortunately, they are not sports headphones and are not tight enough on your head, to stop the ear cups from swaying and slipping off your ears, when used while running.
These headphones are moderately portable. They do not fold into a more compact format like the Bose QuietComfort 25, but the earcups lay flat to take up less space. They are medium sized over-ear headphones that are not too heavy or cumbersome but they won't fit in your pocket or purse and may need to be carried in a bag.
The SoundLink AE come with a sturdy, soft case that is only slightly bigger than the headphones. The case looks great and prevents the headphones from getting scratched or damaged. However, it doesn't offer as much protection as a hard case would.
The Bose Soundlink AE have decent build quality. They feel sturdy enough to handle a couple of drops without any damage. The ear cups are relatively dense and won't break or crack easily. However, they are mostly made of plastic and don't feel as durable as some better-built over-ear headphones. The metal frame that reinforces the headband is thin and the swivel joints seem susceptible to breaking under moderate physical stress.
The SoundLink Around-Ear II have an above-average sound quality and low harmonic distortion. Their bass range has the low-end rumbles that fans of bass will enjoy. Instruments and vocals are balanced throughout most tracks they reproduce. However, they can feel slightly overshadowed by the bass at times, giving a slight boominess to your audio. The closed back design also limits the spaciousness of the soundstage they're able to produce.
Very good Bass Range performance. Low-bass is extended down to 10Hz which is excellent. However, low-bass, bass and even parts of high-bass are overemphasized by about 3dB, which makes these headphones slightly bass-heavy.
Very good Mid Range performance. The response is flat for the most part, except for the 5dB dip between 800Hz and 2KHz, which slightly pushes the vocals/lead instruments to the back of the mix.
Average Treble Range performance. The overall response is rather inconsistent. The dip 5dB dip around 5KHz, negatively affects the presence and detail of vocals/leads. The 10dB notch around 10KHz negatively affects the sibilant frequencies and airiness of the sound.
Poor soundstage. Although these headphones don't have active noise-cancelling, but they are close. So they don't sound nearly as open as open-back headphones. Also, although the drivers of these headphones seem to be angled, they don't activate the resonances of the outer ear the way speakers do. Therefore, the soundstage may be perceived to be unnatural, or located inside the head, as opposed to in front.
Subpar imaging. The phase response and phase matching of these headphones aren't as good as the QuietComfort 25, which could possibly be due to their wireless design. However, the overall the Left/Right balance of our test unit was excellent.
Good overall distortion results. However, there are peaks in the harmonic distortion above 500Hz, that exceed 1% of the input level. These certain frequencies could sound harsher than their surrounding frequenices.
These headphones only isolate passively. The ear cups provide a decent enough seal to prevent some high-frequency noise from entering your audio. Sadly, it's not sufficient for loud environments like on a train or plane. The heavy ambient noise of a busy commute could potentially ruin your listening experience. They also leak quite a bit of sound, which may be distracting to the people around you at moderate volumes.
Poor isolation. These headphones don't have active noise cancelling and there's virtually no isolation provided in the Bass Range. However, these closed-back headphones are able to achieve a total of 13dB and 32dB of reduction in the Mid and Treble Ranges respectively. Both values being decent.
These headphones perform slightly worse than the QuietComfort 25 in the leakage test, and they leak a good amount. The majority of the leakage is between 300Hz and 3KHz, which is relatively a broad spectrum. The overall level of the leakage is high too.
The Soundlink AE II have an above-average wireless range that extends a bit further than the Soundlink On-Ear. They have a stable connection up to and slightly above 40ft when the Bluetooth source is in another room. They perform about average in direct line of sight and aren't too difficult to pair. The power switch easily puts the headphones into pairing mode compared to the hold-to-pair procedures of some other headphones. Unfortunately, they don't offer NFC for the devices that support it, which could have made pairing even simpler.
The Soundlink AE have a decent battery life of about 20 hours. This means you won't have to charge them as often throughout the day which makes them suitable headphones to take on long flights or road trips. They also have an adjustable timer that helps prolong the battery life. Unfortunately, like the SoundLink OE, you can't use them while they're charging and they also take a quite bit of time to charge. So if you're out of battery, you won't be able to use the headphones for about 2.6 hours.
The Bose Connect app looks fancy but has a disappointing list of features. It only allows you to connect, rename, and update your headphones but doesn't provide you with an equalizer or any other sound enhancing features. On the upside, you get the battery level status, an auto-off timer you can set at different intervals and an in-app player that gives you some playback control but that's pretty much it.
In the box
- Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Headphones
- Audio cable
- USB cable
- Carrying case
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