Reviewed on Jun 06, 2018 , Marc Henney, Jean-Christophe Lamontagne

Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
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Test Benches: test

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
7.2
Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
7.8
Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
7.1
Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
7.0
Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
7.4
Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
6.1
Home Theater
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Score components:
5.8
Gaming
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Score components:
Test Results
Design 7.3
Sound 7.9
Isolation 6.4
Microphone 6.4
Active Features 7.7
Connectivity 5.6
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Bose SoundLink Around-Ear 2 are above-average mixed usage headphones with a good and well-balanced sound. They're lightweight, incredibly comfortable and easy to use with straightforward controls and an ergonomic design. Unfortunately, their build quality is a bit plasticky for their price range, and they don't block ambient noise well enough for loud environments, like being on a train or plane.

Pros
  • Above-average audio reproduction.
  • Lightweight and comfortable design.
  • Stable and wireless design.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Plasticky build quality.
  • High leakage.
Update 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
Update 9/28/2017: The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here
Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

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7.3

Design

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Score components:
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Design Picture

The Bose SoundLink Around-Ear 2 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 that we've tested within their price range.

Style
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Design Picture 2

The Bose SoundLink 2 look very similar to the SoundTrue Around-Ear II 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.

8.5 Comfort
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What it is: Adjustability and degrees of freedom, pressure, stiffness and weight.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used for long durations.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Comfort Picture
Weight : 0.44 lbs
Clamping Force
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What it is: The force that the headphones exert on your head, once you have them on. This is purely a measurement of the force applied, which does not take into account the earpad's surface area and the resulting pressure you will feel, on or around your ears.
When it matters: The tighter the headphones, the more force they put on your head. This can get uncomfortable or cause pain and soreness during long listening sessions.
:
0.68 lbs

The Bose SoundLink Around-Ear 2 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.

7.2 Controls
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What it is: The control scheme of the headphones, the number of functions provided, button layout and ergonomics as well as the quality of tactile feedback.
When it matters: If you want to control volume, pause your music or make phone calls without directly interacting with your audio device.
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Controls Picture
Ease of use : Great
Feedback : Mediocre
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
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What it is: Being able to mix audio channels directly on the headphones.
When it matters: This is most useful when using a separate chat software so that you can mix in-game audio and chat audio depending on your needs.
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through : N/A
Additional Buttons : N/A

The Bose SoundLink AE 2 Wireless II have an efficient control scheme. They provide call/music, track-skipping, and volume controls. The buttons deliver good tactile feedback and are relatively easy-to-use. However, they feel a little cramped on the ear cup.

6.3 Breathability
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What it is: How hot the headphones get when you wear them for an extended period of time.
When it matters: If you often have long listening sessions or use your headphones while doing physical activities like running or working out.
Score components:
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Breathability After Picture
Avg.Temp.Difference : 6.1 C

The SoundLink AE 2, like most closed-back headphones, do not have the most breathable design. They create a good seal around your ears which prevents a lot of airflow and will make your ears fairly warm during longer listening sessions. They will not be the most suitable option for intense workout routines but should be fine for more casual listening.

6.1 Portability
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What it is: The volume of space occupied by the headphones when folded into their most compact format.
When it matters: If you're often on the move and need to carry your headphones in a bag, purse , or pocket.
Score components:
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Portability Picture
L : 8.07 "
W : 6.30 "
H : 1.77 "
Volume : 90.1 Cu. Inches
Stand required : N/A

These headphones are moderately portable. They do not fold into a more compact format like the Bose QuietComfort 25 and 35, 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 into any pockets and may need to be carried in a bag.

7.0 Case
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What it is: The provided carrying options to protect your headphones when transporting them.
When it matters: To prevent damaging your headphones, if you often carry them in your bag or pocket.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Case Picture
Type : Soft case
L : 8.46 "
W : 6.89 "
H : 2.36 "
Volume : 137.79 Cu. Inches

The Bose SoundLink II come with a decent, 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 from drops and impacts as the Quiet Comfort 35 II's case.

7.0 Build Quality
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What it is: Durability, material quality, cheap/expensive feel.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used by multiple users (classes/studios), by children, in tough conditions, on a daily basis, or for exercise.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Build Quality Picture

The Bose SoundLink 2 have a 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.

7.0 Stability
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What it is: How the headphones are designed to prevent them from slipping off your ears or falling off your head.
When it matters: If you plan on using the headphones while doing sports or other physical activities that requires a lot of movement.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Stability Picture

The Bose 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, like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, 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.

Cable
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Cable Picture
Detachable : Yes
Length : 3.94 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS

The SoundLink AE II come with a 1/16" to 1/8" TRS audio cable and a USB charging cable.

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Headshots 1
Headshots 2
7.9

Sound

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What it is: How accurately the audio is reproduced. The tests are performed with the headphones' most commonly used features enabled (noise-cancelling, wireless, etc.)
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Frequency Response

The Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II is a good sounding pair of closed-back over-ear headphones. These headphones have an excellent, deep, and punchy bass, a clear and nearly flawless mid-range, and a good and well-balanced treble. This makes them suitable for a wide variety of genres, from bass-heavy EDM and Hip-hop, to vocal-centric rock and pop. However, their bass delivery is prone to inconsistencies across multiple users, their distortion levels are a bit elevated, and like most other headphones, they don't have a speaker-like soundstage.

9.4 Bass
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What it is: Frequency Response from 20Hz-250Hz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on bass frequencies, such as those of kick drums and bass guitar.
Score components:
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Bass
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in bass frequency response (20Hz-250Hz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) bass performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.84 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
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What it is: The lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: Shows how extended the bass is.
Good value: <40Hz
Noticeable difference: 5Hz
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 20Hz-60Hz.
When it matters: Kick drums and low frequency effects get their 'thump' from this range. Mostly felt than heard.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.43 dB
Mid-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 60Hz-120Hz.
When it matters: Melodic bass instruments have most of their fundamental frequencies in this range. This is where the 'body' and 'punch' of the bass sits.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-0.04 dB
High-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 120Hz-250Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments get their warmth and full-ness from this range. When over-emphasized, mixes tend to get muddy and boomy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.75 dB

The bass of the SoundLink 2 is excellent. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 10Hz, which is great. Low-bass, which is responsible for thump and rumbling sounds, is within 1.5dB of our target, which is also great. Additionally, mid-bass, responsible for body and punch, and high-bass, responsible for warmth are within 1dB of our neutral target. This indicates a deep, punchy and well-balanced, that doesn't sound boomy and doesn't overpower the vocals or other instruments.

9.0 Mid
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What it is: Frequency Response from 250Hz-2KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on mid-range frequencies. This is the case for the majority of audio content.
Score components:
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Mid
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in mid frequency response (250Hz-2.5KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) mid performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.37 dB
Low-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 250Hz-500Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments have their fundamentals or low harmonics in this range. Over-emphasis in this range sounds muddy and cluttered. Under-emphasis, thins out the vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.56 dB
Mid-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 500Hz-1KHz.
When it matters: This range is occupied mostly by upper harmonics. Over-emphasis sounds forward and boxy. Under-emphasis pushes instruments to the back of the mix.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-0.5 dB
High-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 1KHz-2KHz.
When it matters: Most instruments, especially vocals, get their intensity and clarity from this range. Over-emphasis sounds honky and harsh, under-emphasis sounds weak and distant.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.48 dB

The mid-range performance of the SoundLink II is excellent. The overall response is quite even and flat, and low-mid, mid-mid, and high-mid are all within 0.6dB of our neutral target. This results in a well-balanced mid-range, which produces clear vocals and lead instruments.

7.9 Treble
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What it is: Frequency Response from 2KHz-20KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on high-range frequencies, such as voice, cymbals, and any other material where brightness, brilliance and airiness is desired.
Score components:
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Treble
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in treble frequency response (2.5KHz-20KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) treble performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.58 dB
Low-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 2KHz-5KHz.
When it matters: Almost all instruments rely on this range for their presence, detail, and articulation. Over-emphasis can sound harsh and painful. Under-emphasis hurts the comprehensibility of vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.49 dB
Mid-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under emphasis in frequency response from 5KHz-10KHz.
When it matters: This is the sibilance range. Cymbals, vocals, and lead instruments rely on this range for brightness and presence. Over-emphasis sounds piercing and painful, under-emphasis sounds dull and lispy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-3.54 dB
High-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 10KHz-20KHz.
When it matters: This range gives brilliance and airiness to the sound. Over-emphasis sounds hissy, under-emphasis sounds closed-up and lifeless.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-2.03 dB

The Bose SoundLink Around-Ear 2 have a good treble. The overall response is rather uneven, but well-balanced. Low-treble is overemphasized by 1.5dB, which could add a bit of excess intensity and projection to vocals and leads. The narrow but +5dB dips in mid-treble have a small but negative effect on the balance of sibilances (S and T sounds) which will be mostly noticeable on vocals and cymbals.

Raw Frequency Response
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What it is: The average uncompensated frequency response of the headphone. For in-ears and earbuds, this corresponds to the average of 5 measurements/re-seats on the dummy head (HMS). For over/on-ear headphones, this corresponds to the average of 5 measurements/re-seats on the HMS (Head Measurement System) for the mid and treble ranges, and 5 measurements/re-seats on 5 human subjects for the bass range.
When it matters: This is for those who want to see the raw and uncompensated frequency response of the headphone. Some of the more advanced users, are able to read and evaluate headphone frequency response in its raw form and without compensation. This will be especially useful to them if they have their own headphone compensation/target curve, which may differ from the compensation curve/target response used by RTINGS.com.
Score components:
6.6 Frequency Response Consistency
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What it is: The amount of deviation of each frequency response pass, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Score components:
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Consistency L Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Consistency R
Avg. Std. Deviation
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What it is: The average amount of deviation in frequency response of 5 re-seats, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.73 dB

The frequency response consistency is about average. As opposed to the QuietComfort 35 II that uses its noise cancelling system to calibrate the bass reponse, the SoundLink 2 doesn't have an ANC system, and therefore showed some inconsistencies in bass delivery across our human subjects. The maximum amount of deviation in the bass range is about 4dB at 40Hz, which is noticeable but not too bad. In the treble range, they show less consistency and seem to be sensitive to positioning and placement.

7.7 Imaging
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What it is: Imaging qualities are inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'reproduce' them rather than 'create' them. They determine how accurately the objects are positioned in the stereo image, and how transparent the imaging is.
When it matters: When accurate positioning of the objects in the stereo image, and clear and transparent imaging is desired.
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Group Delay Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Phase Response
Weighted Group Delay
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What it is: The average amount of group delay calculated based on a perceptual weighting filter. Group delay indicates how long it takes for each frequency to reach their maximum amplitude. This is a monaural quality and can be perceived even with one ear.
When it matters: Headphones with lower group delay have more transparent imaging and a tighter bass. Headphones with higher group delay in the bass range tend to have a wimpy and loose bass, and headphones with higher group delay in the treble range tend to have a less transparent imaging.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.19
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
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What it is: The Left/Right balance of our test unit, that is, the amount of amplitude difference between the left and right drivers. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When a properly balanced stereo image and low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates a noticeable difference in level between the left and right drivers.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
1.58
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
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What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the frequency response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance, is desired. A poor score indicates there may be 'holes' in the stereo image at certain frequencies.
Good value: <2
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
2.45
Weighted Phase Mismatch
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What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the phase response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates there may be inaccuracies in the stereo image reproduction at certain frequencies.
Good value: <16
Noticeable difference: 3
:
9.44

The imaging is good. Weighted group delay is at 0.19, which is very good. The GD graph also shows that the entire group delay response is below the audibility threshold. This indicates a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. In terms of driver matching, the L/R drivers of our test unit were well-matched in frequency response, but showed a little bit of mismatch in frequency and phase response. This could skew the stereo image slightly by making one side a bit heavier than the other.

It should be noted that this mismatch could be unique to our test unit and the one you buy may or may not have this issue.

5.8 Soundstage
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What it is: Soundstage qualities are not inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'create' them rather than 'reproduce' them. They determine whether the sound is perceived to be coming from inside or in front of the head, how open and spacious the soundstage is, how much the headphones acoustically interact with the environment, and how strong the phantom center is.
When it matters: When an accurately produced, large and spacious soundstage, similar to that of a stereo loudspeaker setup is desired.
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II PRTF
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
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What it is: The standard deviation of the PRTF (Pinna-related transfer function) of the headphones compared to a reference loudspeaker's PRTF at 30°. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: An accurate pinna activation is mainly responsible for how natural and speaker-like the soundstage is perceived to be. The less error in the shape of the PRTF, the more natrual and speaker-like the perception of the soundstage will be. High amounts of error may indicate a soundstage that is unnatural or odd.
Good value: <2.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
4.17 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
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What it is: The average amplitude of the PRTF (Pinna-related transfer function) of the headphones compared to that of a reference loudspeaker's PRTF at 30°. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: This value is responsible for the perceived size of the soundstage. The higher the value, the larger the perceived size of the soundstage. However, values above the reference (5.0dB) could result in a soundstage that is perceived as unnatural or odd.
Good value: >3.7
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
4.6 dB
PRTF Distance
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What it is: The depth of the "10KHz notch" of the headphone's PRTF, which is caused by phase cancellations at the concha. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: This value is mainly responsible for the perceived distance and elevation of the soundstage. A small distance value may result in a soundstage that is perceived to be located inside the head. Larger values may help pull the soundstage out from inside of the head and bring it to the front.
Good value: >13
Noticeable difference: 1
:
10.9 dB
Openness
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What it is: How open the headphones are, and how open and spacious they sound. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test differentiates between acoustically and electronically produced crosstalk and only takes the acoustically generated crosstalk into account. This value is the inverse of the Noise Isolation test score, and could be indirectly related the acoustic impedance of the headphones.
When it matters: When a headphone with a sense of an open, and spacious soundstage is desired. A value of 10 indicates a fully open headphone, and a value of 0 indicates a fully closed headphone.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
3.8
Acoustic Space Excitation
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What it is: How loud the headphones are, and how much they excite their environment acoustically. If the headphones are loud and open enough, the sound leaking from the headphones will be affected by the environment (reflections/reverb) before reflecting back into the open headphones and to the listener's ears. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This value is the inverse of the Leakage test score.
When it matters: Headphones with higher excitation values, similar to openness, tend to have soundstages that are perceived as more open and spacious.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
3.5
Correlated Crosstalk
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What it is: How strong and solid the phantom center is. This is mostly a stereo quality and its effects on mono content are minimal. This test is sensitive to the phase of the crosstalk and whether it is produced acoustically or electronically.
When it matters: When a true reproduction of the stereo image is desired. A value of 0 indicates no crosstalk, or that the existing crosstalk is not correlated enough to affect the phantom center. A negative score means the crosstalk is out of phase with the original signal, resulting in a slightly wider stereo image at the expense of creating a 'hole' at the center of the stereo field. A positive score means the crosstalk is in phase and positively affecting the phantom center.
Good value: >1dB
Noticeable difference: 0.3dB
:
0.03 dB

The Bose SoundLink 2 have a sub-par soundstage. The PRTF graphs show a decent amount of pinna interaction, but with low accuracy. There's not a notch around 10KHz present either. This and the closed-back design of these headphones results in a soundstage that is perceived to be located inside the listener's head, as opposed to in-front.

7.1 Total Harmonic Distortion
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What it is: The subtle, unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Score components:
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
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What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 90dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at moderate listening levels.
Good value: <0.100
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
1.595
Weighted THD @ 100
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What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 100dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at loud listening levels.
Good value: <0.300
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
9.768

The harmonic distortion performance of the SoundLink Around-Ear II is decent. The overall amount of harmonic distortion is low, but there is a rise in THD in high-bass at higher volumes. Also, the sharp peaks in THD in high-mid and low-treble could make the sound of those frequencies a bit harsh and brittle.

6.4

Isolation

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Score components:

The Bose SoundLink Around-Ear 2 headphones only isolate passively. The ear cups provide a decent enough seal to prevent some high-frequency noise from entering your audio. Unfortunately, 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.

6.1 Noise Isolation
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What it is: How much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on.
When it matters: If the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
Score components:
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Noise Isolation
Overall Attenuation
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What it is: The overall amount of environmental noise reduction in dB.
When it matters: In loud envinronments like planes, trains, offices, etc.
Good value: <-20dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-14.13 dB
Bass
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the bass range (20Hz-250Hz).
When it matters: When the outside noise is bass-heavy, like in airplanes.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
0.29 dB
Mid
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the mid-range (250Hz-2.5KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is mid-heavy, like in an office.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-13.66 dB
Treble
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the treble range (2.5KHz-20KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is treble-heavy. Although uncommon, areas with sharp sounds fall under this category.
Good value: <-30dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-32.15 dB
Self-Noise
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What it is: The amount of noise created by the active electronics of the headphones (if applicable), measured from 300Hz-20KHz. Applies mostly to wireless and noise-cancelling headphones.
When it matters: If too loud, it could become distracting when listening to quiet material like podcasts and audiobooks.
Good value: <16dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
15.1 dB

The isolation performance of the SoundLink 2 is mediocre. In the bass range, where the rumble of airplane and bus engines sits, they don't provide any isolation. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they achieve 14dB of isolation which is above-average. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts, they reduce outside noise by more than 32dB , which is good.

7.0 Leakage
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What it is: The amount of sound bleeding out of the headphones.
When it matters: When the listener doesn't want people around them (in office, recording studio, etc.) to hear what is being listened to.
Score components:
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Leakage
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
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What it is: The amount of sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal.
When it matters: When you don't want people hear what you are listening to.
Good value: <35dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
39.73 dB

The leakage performance of the SoundLink II is decent. The significant portion of their leakage is between 400Hz and 2KHz, which is a relatively broad range. The overall level of the leakage is not very loud though. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 40dB SPL and peaks at about 55dB SPL, which is just above the noise floor of most offices.

6.4

Microphone

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What it is: The microphone section shows the quality of speech capture and transmission by the mic, as well as how well the microphone under test handles noisy environments.
When it matters: For your speech to be transmitted to and understood properly by the listener, the microphone needs to have a good recording quality. If the environment the microphone is being used in is noisy, a microphone with a good noise handling performance would be needed as well.
Score components:
Integrated
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What it is: The microphone integrated in the ear cup or ear bud of a wireless headphone.
When it matters: For calls, gaming and voice over IP software or for any other use of the microphone.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
In-line
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What it is: The microphone inside the in-line remote of audio cables for wired and wireless headsets.
When it matters: In-line microphone are usually better than integrated mics. If you need better recording quality and noise handling for calls, gaming and voice over IP software then use the audio cable of your wired or wireless headphone if it has an inline microphone.
Good value: Yes
:
No
Boom
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What it is: A typically better microphone, that's also adjustable and extends so that the mic is closer to your mouth.
When it matters: Much better recording quality and noise handling than in-line or integrated mics. Primarily used for gaming and voice over IP software.
Good value: Yes
:
No
Detachable Boom
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What it is: A boom mic that is detachable from the headset.
When it matters: If you want to use your headphone outdoors without the bulk and hassle of the Boom mic.
:
N/A

The Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II have a mediocre microphone. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this integrated mic sounds relatively thin and muffled and lacking in detail. In noisy situations, it struggles to fully separate speech from background noise, even in moderately loud environments, like a busy street.

6.5 Recording Quality
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What it is: Microphone recording quality shows how natural, neutral, extended and intelligible speech would be with the device under test, in a quiet environment.
When it matters: A microphone with a good recording quality ensures that the person listening to you would hear a full, clear, and easily understandable speech. Therefore, it is important whenever a good quality of speech transmission and intelligibility is needed.
Score components:
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Microphone Frequency Response
Recorded Speech
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What it is: Actual audio recording of the headphone's microphone, recorded while placed on the dummy head, with speech being played back through the dummy head's mouth simulator.
When it matters: When a clean, full, and intelligible speech transmission is required.
:
LFE
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What it is: Low-frequency extension shows how deep the bass response of the microphone is, and therefore, how deep and full your voice would sound to the listener. It is the lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: LFE is not a big factor in speech intelligibility and even speech recorded with a mic that has an LFE of 500Hz could still be easily understood. Therefore, it is mostly important if you are concerned with how deep and full your voice would be heard.
Good value: <150Hz
Noticeable difference: 30Hz
:
306.43 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
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What it is: Frequency Response Standard Deviation shows how accurately and balanced sound is captured by the microphone at each frequency. FR Std. Dev. is calculated between LFE and HFE, and the rest of the spectrum is ignored.
When it matters: A good frequency response is desired when a natural and neutral speech quality is desired. As opposed to HFE which is more a metric for speech intelligibility, frequency response could be considered as a metric for a natural and neutral sound.
Good value: >3.5dB
Noticeable difference: 0.5dB
:
2.64 dB
HFE
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What it is: High-frequency extension is the highest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response. It shows how extended the treble response of the microphone is.
When it matters: HFE is one the most important factors in speech intelligibility. The higher the HFE, the brighter, more open, and more extended the speech quality will be which makes it a lot easier to understand by the listener.
Good value: >8KHz
Noticeable difference: 1KHz
:
3466.89 Hz
Weighted THD
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What it is: The unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies, which cause deformation of an output signal compared to its input.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 1.0
:
2.873
Gain
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What it is: Shows how much louder the microphone can go above our reference loudness level. The gain value is reported relative to our reference level, which is 94dB at a distance of 5cm from the mouth.
When it matters: A microphone with a high gain is important when the input signal (speech) is very quiet. For example when whispering, or talking on the phone in a library.
Good value: >18dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
34 dB

The SoundLink 2's microphone has an average recording quality. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 306Hz indicates a recorded/transmitted speech that's relatively thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) 3.5KHz results in a speech that lacks detail and is noticeably muffled. However, it'll still be decently comprehensible since speech intelligibility is mostly dependent on the 500Hz-4KHz range.

6.2 Noise Handling
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What it is: How well the microphone is able to separate speech from background noise, so that the transmission would include more voice and less noise.
When it matters: When a clean and intelligible speech transmission is desired in a noisy situation like talking on the phone on a busy street or on the bus.
Score components:
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II SpNR
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
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What it is: Speech to Noise Ratio is the difference in level between speech and background noise as heard by the listener
When it matters: If the microphone is going to be used in a noisy environment, it is important for it to be able to separate the speech from background noise, so the voice would be easily audible and understandable.
Good value: >24dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
15.05 dB

The integrated microphone of the SoundLink II is mediocre at noise handling. In our SpNR test, this mic achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 15dB, meaning they are best suited for quiet environments and may struggle to fully separate speech from ambient noise in moderate and loud places.

7.7

Active Features

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What it is: Headphones with active components that require a battery. This includes noise cancelling and wireless headphones that actively reduce noise or transmit audio via a wireless connection.
When it matters: How suitable the power and wireless specifications of an active headphone will be, depending on your listening habits. The range and/or discharge time of the active headphone you select will be important if you're often on the move or have long uninterrupted listening sessions.
Score components:

The Bose Soundlink AE 2 have a good 20hr battery life but a mediocre app.  They should easily last you a whole day's worth of continuous listening even if you're a heavy user, but unfortunately, they take a bit longer to charge than some of the newer models from Bose. On the upside, they have an auto-off timer that will shut down the headphones when inactive to conserve power, which makes them last considerably longer than some of the other similarly designed wireless headsets.  Unfortunately, their app is bland and lackluster. It looks good but does not provide as many features as the Sennheiser Captune app or the Sony| Headphones Connect app.

7.9 Battery
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What it is: The power source of your headphones. All headphones with active features have a battery that will deplete over time.
When it matters: To continue using the active features of your headphones. Some models lose features or switch off completely when the battery is drained, which limits what you can do with them until the next charge.
Battery Type
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What it is: The type of battery that the headphones use. Usually AAA or embedded, Li-ion rechargeable batteries.
When it matters: When your headphones run out of power. Rechargeable batteries usually charge via the headphones Micro-USB port whereas AAA batteries have to be replaced or charged with an external device.
:
Rechargable
Battery Life
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What it is: The amount of time it takes for a headphones' battery to be completely drained. Battery life will vary depending on the active features used and volume level.
When it matters: For active headphones that connect wirelessly, have noise cancellation or other audio-enhancing features, that cease to work once the battery is dead.
Good value: >10hrs
Noticeable difference: 0.5hrs
:
20.3 hrs
Charge Time
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What it is: The amount of time your active headphones have to be connected to a power source to charge from 0 to a 100%. However, charging time will vary depending on your power source.
When it matters: To be able to use the active features of your headphones. Especially, wireless ones that completely switch off and need to be recharged when the battery is dead.
Good value: 2h or less
Noticeable difference: 0.25h
:
2.6 hrs
Power Saving Feature
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What it is: A feature that turns off the headphones, after a set time, when they're not in use.
When it matters: To prolong battery life when the headphones are not being used, or if you forget to manually turn off your headphones.
:
Yes
Audio while charging
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What it is: Some active headphones remain usable while charging. They continue to stream audio and do not disable other active features.
When it matters: This makes sure that your headphones's battery are not being drained when your relatively close to a power source. However, this means wireless headphones will need a wired connection to the power source during the charging process.
:
No
Passive Playback
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What it is: Active headphones that still work when all their active features are turned off or out of power.
When it matters: If you run out of power and do not have spare AA/AAA batteries or access to a power source to recharge your headphones.
:
Yes

The Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II 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 On-Ear, 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.

6.5 App Support
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What it is: The additional app provided to enhance your listening experience. They typically deliver a set of practical features that give you more control over the sound, noise cancelling and effects that the headphones produce.
When it matters: An app with a lot of features allows you to customize your listening experience to suit your taste and preferences. For example, additions like an equalizer can give you more bass or treble and room effects can simulate a bigger Soundstage in closed back headphones.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II App Picture
App Name : Bose Connect
iOS : Yes
Android : Yes
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
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What it is: Parametric, graphic or preset sound profiles that slightly alter the frequency response.
When it matters: If you want to tailor, your listening experience. Depending on what you're listening to you may want more or less bass for some tracks or more mid-range for vocals-heavy audio.
:
No
ANC control
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What it is: Control over the Active noise canceling technology. This could be either a simple on/off button, and adjustable slider or even adaptive self-regulating noise cancellation.
When it matters: If you're in an environment where you need to monitor your surroundings or completely isolate yourself from ambient noise.
:
No
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
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What it is: Room effects that enhance the audio quality to make it more immersive.
When it matters: If you want to further tweak your listening experience. Adding room effects, can simulate a more spacious Soundstage or deliver a surround sound-like feel.
:
No
Playback control
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What it is: An in-app player that gives you access to play/stop, track skipping or volume controls directly with the app.
When it matters: It's a shortcut that allows you to control your audio without leaving the application.
:
Yes
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

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.

Bose Connect Auto Off Timer

5.6

Connectivity

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What it is: The inputs and outputs of wired and wireless headphones, as well as their latency performance and range.
When it matters: To know how compatible your Bluetooth device, console or PC will be with your wired or wireless headset.
Score components:
  • 10% Bluetooth
  • 32% Wired
  • 10% Base/Dock
  • 22% Wireless Range
  • 25% Latency

The Bose SoundLink 2 are Bluetooth headphones that can pair simultaneously with multiple devices and supports NFC pairing. They also come simple audio cable with no in-line remote or microphone so you can use them with your console controllers but they will not have chat support. They have a good wireless range even when obstructed although they are not quite as far reaching as some of the other Bluetooth headphones we've tested in direct line of sight. Unfortunately, they have a quite a bit of latency which means they will not be the best option for watching movies and gaming unless you use them wired.

8.8 Bluetooth
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What it is: Bluetooth support for wireless headphones.
When it matters: To connect wirelessly to Bluetooth sources like your phone, tablet, console, PC and TV.
Score components:
  • 79% Multi-Device Pairing
  • 20% NFC
  • 0% PS4 Compatible
  • 0% Xbox One Compatible
Bluetooth Version : 4.0
Multi-Device Pairing
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What it is: A Bluetooth profile that's allows some headphones to be simultaneously connected to multiple Bluetooth sources.
When it matters: To quickly switch between your Bluetooth sources. For example switching from your phone to your home or work PC.
Good value: 2 devices.
:
2 Devices
NFC
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What it is: Near Field Communication technology that allows you to quickly, pair your headphones with your Bluetooth and NFC-enabled device.
When it matters: This makes pairing with an NFC-enabled device a lot easier than the typical and often tedious hold-to-pair procedure that most wireless headphones have.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
PS4 Compatible
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What it is: Bluetooth compatibility with the PlayStation 4.
When it matters: To connect your headphones wirelessly with your PS4.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
No
Xbox One Compatible
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What it is: Bluetooth compatibility with the Xbox One.
When it matters: To connect your headphones wirelessly with your Xbox one.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
No

The Bose Soundlink 2 headphones can pair simultaneously with 2 devices and support NFC. Like the other wireless Bose models, they have an easy-to-pair power switch that can be quickly toggled to put the headphones in pairing mode. They also keep the last sync devices in memory for automatic pairing when you turn the headphones on.

7.2 Wired
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What it is: The type and compatibility of audio cables for wired and wireless headphones.
When it matters: For all devices with a regular audio jack (line-out) and also compatibility of the in-line remote/boom microphone with consoles and Personal computers.
Score components:
  • 13% Analog
  • 9% USB
  • 26% PS4 Compatible
  • 26% Xbox One Compatible
  • 26% PC Compatible
Cable Tested : iOS
Analog
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What it is: A regular 1/8" TRS audio jack or a 1/4 or 1/16 TRS with a 1/8 TRS adapter.
When it matters: For all devices with a line out.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
USB
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What it is: A USB or USB adapter to connect to your devices for audio and microphone.
When it matters: A digital USB adapter usually offers a slight advantages over a regular audio jack, like a DAC, and amplifier module or software support and compatibility with PCs. However it may not be as compatible with consoles.
Good value: Yes
:
No
PS4 Compatible
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What it is: PS4 compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PS4
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatible
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What it is: Xbox One compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your Xbox One
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
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What it is: PC compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PC.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio Only

The Bose SoundLink 2 come with a simple audio cable with no in-line remote or USB adapter. This means they do not have a mic that is compatible with consoles.

0 Base/Dock
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What it is: The base station, dock or dongle transmitter of wireless headphones that receive data/audio via a proprietary frequency range.
When it matters: Knowing the inputs and outputs of the base/dock/dongle as well as its compatibility with consoles and Personal Computers. Also whether the base supports dock charging to easily recharge the headphones without any cables.
Score components:
  • 4% Optical Input
  • 22% Line In
  • 4% Line Out
  • 22% USB Input
  • 4% RCA Input
  • 9% PS4 Compatible
  • 9% Xbox One Compatible
  • 9% PC Compatible
  • 2% Power Supply
  • 13% Dock Charging
Wireless Type
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What it is: The type of wireless connection used by the base station/dock to communicate with the headphones.
When it matters: For latency and range. For example Radio frequency has low latency but mediocre range when obstructed and proprietary docks have their own 2.x GHz or 5 GHz frequency which varies in performance.
:
N/A
Optical Input
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What it is: Optical input for audio.
When it matters: Optical can carry a bit more data at faster speeds than typical wired connection which allows for more high quality, lossless audio.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
Line In
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What it is: The regular wired input via a 1/8" TRS audio jack.
When it matters: For any device that has a line out for audio transmission.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
Line Out
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What it is: A regular 1/8TRS audio jack output.
When it matters: If you need to share the audio source with other devices. A line out lets you connect other headphones or speakers to the dock/base station.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
USB Input
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What it is: A digital USB input instead of a typical 1/8 TRS line-in.
When it matters: A USB connection can provide both an audio input and power to the Dock or Base station.
:
N/A
RCA Input
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What it is: Audio input using via an RCA connectors.
When it matters: Provides better stereo audio to the dock/base that's then transmitted to the headphones.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
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What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with the PlayStation 4.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
Show Help
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with the Xbox One.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
:
N/A
PC Compatible
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What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with your Personal Computer.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Power Supply
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What it is: The connector type of the power source.
When it matters: The accessibility of the power source. For example a power supply with USB/USB-C connects to multiple devices, PC , PS4, Xbox One or even with your regular phone charger whereas a A/C adapter is less common.
Good value: USB/USB-C
:
N/A
Dock Charging
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What it is: Charging the headphones via the dock/base station instead of a charging cable.
When it matters: It makes charging your headphones easier and gives you a sport to store your headphones when they are not in use.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A

These headphones do not have a base/dock. If you want an equally great sounding headphone with a dock/base for watching movies and gaming, check out the Steel Series Arctis 7

8.2 Wireless Range
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What it is: Headphones that offer a cable-free listening experience over a wireless network, typically via Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: If you don't want to be limited by the length of an audio cable. This means having the freedom to move around in your home or office with a much greater range than an audio cable could provide, especially, if the Bluetooth source is heavy or difficult to carry.
Score components:
Obstructed Range
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What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when the Bluetooth source was placed in another room.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in an indoor environment. Although, the obstructed wireless range will slightly depend on your home or office layout.
Good value: >35ft
Noticeable difference: 5ft
:
43 ft
Line of Sight Range
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What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when in direct line of sight of the Bluetooth device.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in a large and open environment.
Good value: 170ft or more
Noticeable difference: 10ft
:
96 ft

The Bose SoundLink 2 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 which is not as good as the QuietComfort 35 or Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2.

2.3 Latency
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What it is: How long it takes for audio to play through your headphones once the audio signal has been sent from a source.
When it matters: When gaming or watching movies. High latency means you will hear the audio much later than the images you see on screen.
Score components:
Default Latency
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What it is: The Base RF latency or the default sub-band coding (SBC) of most Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: When watching videos a high latency can cause sync issues between the images you see and the audio you hear.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15ms
:
195 ms
aptX Latency
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What it is: An audio coding algorithm (Codec) that improves bit rate efficiency. It reduces latency and improves sound quality over Bluetooth.
When it matters: For better sound quality if your often streaming music over Bluetooth. Also it slightly improves latency when watching videos with wireless headphones.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15ms
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
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What it is: Low latency variation of aptX that significantly reduces sync issues between video and sound when using Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: When watching videos or gaming latency is a lot more noticeable than just listening to music.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 5ms
:
N/A

The Bose Soundlink AE 2 have a bit too much latency for watching movies and gaming. They are about average for most Bluetooth headsets, but at 195 ms with no low latency codecs, they will not be the best option for watching a lot of video content unless you use them wired.

In the box

Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II In the box Picture

  • Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Headphones
  • Audio cable
  • USB cable
  • Manual
  • Carrying case

Compared to other Headphones

Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Compare Picture

The Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II are above-average wireless headphones with a decent audio reproduction. They are incredibly comfortable and deliver an ergonomic design that's decently stable but won't be ideal for sports. Unfortunately, they're a little plasticky for their price range and won't be your go-to headphones for commuting since they do not block that much noise. On the upside,  they have a long battery life,  a good wireless range and come with a standard audio cable to use with your phone or console controllers. This makes them decent for most use cases although they do feel a little pricey for what they have to offer when compared to some of the wireless options below.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is a better commuting and mixed usage headset than the Soundlink Around Ear II thanks to their great noise cancellation. They have the same comfortable Bose design and ergonomic controls. They also have a long battery life, a good wireless range and multipoint and NFC pairing. However, the QuietComfort 35 II have one of the best noise cancelling performance that we've measured, which makes them a great option for commute and travel although they do leak a bit more than the SoundLink AE 2. If you do not need a lot of noise isolation when commuting, then the SoundLink could be a cheaper alternative to the QuietComfort 35 II but overall, the QC35 are the better built and more versatile headset.

Sennheiser HD 4.50

The Sennheiser HD 4.50 are a more versatile but worse sounding alternative to the SoundLink Around-Ear II. On the upside, they have a customizable app that gives them access to a great EQ and a lot of customizable features. They have a good wireless range a decent build quality and a more stable fit for physical activities. They're also noise-canceling headphones with a decent isolation performance which makes them a better option for commuting. Unfortunately, they are not as comfortable or as easy-to-use as the Bose Soundlink Around-Ear 2. If you prefer have customization options for your headphones and also need a headset that's better suited for commuting, then get the HD 4.50.

JBL E55BT

The JBL E55BT are a slightly worse sounding wireless over-ear than the Bose SoundLink Around-Ear 2. They have about the same build quality although the Bose feel a bit more premium. On the upside, they are a more stable option for the gym since they have a slightly tighter fit and they're considerably cheaper than the Bose despite having a somewhat close performance and a mediocre set of features. If you're on a tight budget, then the JBL are a good and affordable alternative to the Soundlink. However, if you want the more comfortable and better-sounding headset, get the Bose SoundLink. Unfortunately, they may not be the best option for their price point when compared to the JBL.

Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 are a more versatile wireless headset than the SoundLink AE 2. They're comfortable, well-built headphones with an excellent wireless range and battery life. They have an exciting sound that packs a lot of bass without drowning instruments and vocals but doesn't sound as balanced as the Bose. On the upside, they are noise canceling even though they do not isolate as well as some of the more recent noise-canceling headphones. They have a simple and efficient control scheme and multiple codecs options that they support that makes them suitable for watching movies and gaming. They're easily one of the most versatile over-ear headsets we've tested and they're cheaper than the Bose but not as comfortable.

Conclusion
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7.2Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
Above-average for mixed usage. The Bose Soundlink AE 2 are comfortable and good-sounding headphones, with an efficient control scheme, and a lightweight design. They're not as well-built as some of the other models within their price range but thanks to their decent overall performance, they're a good option for most use cases. Unfortunately, they have a bit too much latency for watching movies and gaming, but on the upside, they come with a regular cable that will reduce some latency but does not have chat support for consoles.
7.8Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
Decent for critical listening. They're comfortable for long listening sessions and have a well-balanced sound that delivers a good amount of bass that isn't overpowering. They have an even and neutral sounding mid-range and good treble that caters well to all music genres. Unfortunately, they do not have the most spacious stage since they have a closed back design bit they should sound good enough for most and even more critical listeners.
7.1Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
Decent for commuting. The Bose SoundLink II don't isolate enough for loud environments and may struggle to block the noise of a train or bus. On the upside, they are comfortable, easy to use with a simple and straightforward control scheme. They're also fairly lightweight and come with a decent case to carry them in while traveling, although they won't be the easiest headphones to carry around on your person without a bag.
7.0Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
Decent for sports use. They have a comfortable and lightweight wireless design. They're also fairly easy to use with an efficient control scheme. Unfortunately, they are slightly too unstable for intense exercises.
7.4Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
Above-average for office use. They are comfortable headphones you can wear for long periods of time. They also have a well-balanced sound and a great battery life. Unfortunately, they do not block as much noise which means you may be able to hear the ambient noise in a noisy office environment and they leak a bit at high volumes so they may be slightly distracting to those around you.
6.1Home Theater
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Score components:
Mediocre for home theater use. The Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II are super comfortable and pleasant to wear for long viewing sessions. However, they have high latency which won't be ideal for watching movies. You can use their audio cable but it might be a bit too short for most home theater setups.
5.8Gaming
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Score components:
Subpar for gaming. The Bose SoundLink 2 have too much latency, they're not compatible with consoles via Bluetooth and cannot be customized to the extent of other gaming headphones. They also have a mediocre integrated microphone and do not have chat support when connected to your console controllers via their audio cable.
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Questions & Answers

7 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
4
How does this headphone compare to the Bose QC 35 (i.e., does anything noticeable stick out)? Which headphone produces the better overall sound? Thanks!
They are quite similar, and nothing necessarily sticks out. The QC35 obviously has the Active Noise-Cancelling (ANC) which in principle could negatively affect the sound quality. However, in most cases the difference won't be easily noticeable. The biggest difference would probably be the slightly more open soundstage of the Soundlink due to the lack of ANC.
4
I have these headphones, I corrected a little bit the frequency response but i have a question about these, are they good listening with high resolution files (FLAC, WAV in 24bits for example)?
Yes, but it only makes sense to use them in wired mode that way. If you use them wirelessly, the BT compression will take away the subtle advantages that high-res audio has over mp3.
2
My Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II are paired with my Bluetooth ready TV. The volume suddenly gets louder at times. Don't hear a pop, but it's not a gradual increase, more like something just started working. I can't pinpoint any particular type of program and it doesn't back & forth. I just want to be sure it's not the headphones themselves, hoping it's a distance or something else problem a 76-year-old lady can't figure out. Thanks,
To confirm whether your headphones or the TV caused the sudden volume increase; We suggest connecting your headphones to another Bluetooth source, if possible, and checking if the issue persists on other devices. Also, if you have the brand and model number of your TV, we will try to reproduce the problem with our SoundLink Around-Ear II. We will update you on the results and possible fixes for the issue, once we receive a bit more data.
2
The Leakage score is 7.0 and the graph seems to match that, but the Leakage comments say the leakage is worse than the QuietComfort 25 which scores a 5.9. Which part is correct?
Thanks pointing out the error. The text is the incorrect one which we will fix.
2
Does the sound quality change at all when using the physical 3.5mm cable for listening instead of Bluetooth?
No, in terms of frequency response it remains pretty much the same.
1
Hi guys, just bought these headphones. Great review! I've noticed the treble is all over the place sometimes, could you recommend some EQ settings to correct this issue? I used viper for Android
Not really, since that highly depends on the sound profile of the content you are listening to, and the interaction of the headphones with your ears. You don't really need to EQ these headphones, but if you find the treble too sharp or honky, do a bit of a cut somewhere between 1.5KHz and 4KHz until you get the sound that you like.
0
Having trouble when using with my smart TV, sound and video not in sync. Followed the advice from the Bose website, downloaded the latest system update, no luck.
The Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II have quite a bit of latency, even with the latest firmware update. Unfortunately, they have no low latency codecs ( aptX-Low Latency) like the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2, so they're not the best choice for watching TV wirelessly.
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