Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones review: Music to our ears

Bose has excelled itself with headphones that sound incredible, block out the world around you, and are comfortable enough to wear for hours

Buy the superb rated Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones for the best price from these UK retailers

What we love

  • Industry-best noise cancellation
  • Top quality sound
  • New immersive audio mode
  • Extremely premium and comfortable
  • 24 hour battery life

What we don’t

  • Really expensive
  • Immersive audio not always great
  • Connectivity and app issues

Bose has produced one of the best pairs of over-ear headphones ever made with the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones thanks to excellent audio quality, the best noise cancellation on the market, and a very comfortable fit that can be worn for hours.

Though very expensive, the Ultras pack in extremely good sound reproduction that covers all genres nicely, with granular EQ settings available in the Bose Music app so you can tweak to your liking. There’s also multipoint tech so you can be connected to two audio sources at once.

The new Immersive Audio mode turns all audio into spatial audio, with impressive but sometimes mixed results, but it makes these more versatile for this sort of playback than Apple and its AirPods Max, which require specific spatial audio produced tracks.

Topping it all off is the crazy-good noise cancellation which will ensure these headphones will block out anything from traffic to noisy neighbours to the roar of a Boeing’s engine. Battery could be a little better for those long haul flights at only six hours, mind. But overall, these are among the best headphones on the market.


  • Design and fit
  • Sound quality and noise cancellation
  • Smart features
  • Battery life and charging
  • Price
  • Verdict
  • Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones review

    The audio brand that helped to popularise noise cancelling headphones is back with the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones. We’ll just say this right up front – these headphones have the very best noise cancellation of any product on the market, beating Sony, Apple, and other Bose products to that title. If you want headphones that block out the world, look no further. The Ultras seem to replace the old Bose 700 ‘phones and will now compliment a new, cheaper QuietComfort Headphones model.

    Thankfully, the Ultras also excel in the other two important headphone categories of sound quality and comfort. We’ve had a pair of them slapped to our skulls for a couple of weeks to find out just how good they are, and have been suitably impressed enough to be tempted away from the strong competition of Sony and Apple.

    The Bose are expensive at £449.95, but they are worth the spend if you can afford it.

    Design and fit

    • Premium materials
    • Very comfortable
    • Folding design for storage

    We found the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones extremely comfortable to wear for hours on end. Unlike the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds and other in-ear buds that can hurt after a while, the over-ear design here is very comfortable thanks to padded headband and ear cups. The cups also envelope your ears entirely so there’s no pressure exerted on them. You could wear these for an entire long haul flight and be fine – there was one day where we wore them for a whole eight hour workday and sometimes forgot they were on as they’re so lightweight, especially compared to the metal Apple AirPods Max.

    Unlike the Sony WH-1000XM5, the Ultras fold in on themselves for easier storage in a bag or their included carry case. The ear cups are plastic but the headband is metal, which looks great in the white smoke colourway we tested, though they’re also sold in black or a limited edition sandstone.

    We found the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones extremely comfortable to wear for hours on end

    All the controls are on the right cup, with a button to deal with play, pause, skip track, and changing the audio mode, and another to turn on, off, or put into pairing mode. For the first time on Bose over-ears there’s also a touch sensitive strip that you swipe on to control volume and can also be set to perform a function when touched and held like summoning your phone’s voice assistant.

    They’re also just a lovely looking thing. We got several compliments when wearing them, which doesn’t always happen for what are large, relatively cumbersome headphones. You also get a USB-C port for charging (USB-C to -A cable included) and a 3.5mm headphone jack for connecting directly to headphone jacks (cable also included) – great to see.

    Sound quality and noise cancellation

    • Clear and balanced sound
    • Immersive Audio option
    • Best in class noise cancellation

    Importantly, the Ultras sound excellent no matter the audio source, with a clean and responsive sound that well-replicates all genres of music. They’re not quite bass-heavy by default, but have EQ controls in the Bose Music app for you to adjust the bass, middle, or treble to your liking.

    Bass guitars rumble, strings glide, kick drums pop, and everything just sounds better. The QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are a joy to listen to music with.

    These are also the first Bose over-ear headphones compatible with the AptX Adaptive codec for listening to Hi-Res audio – this doesn’t work with iPhones and is only built into some Android handsets, so if that’s something you’re after it’s best to check before you buy if your phone is going to play nice. Remember the audio also needs to be lossless quality through apps such as Tidal or Qobuz.

    One thing that works with any phone or audio source when using the Ultras is Bose’s new Immersive Audio mode. It turns whatever you’re listening to into a spatial audio track, where it creates the feeling of a live recording, moving elements of the sound around your head or in front of it rather than the in-your-ears sound of regular stereo audio.

    Bass guitars rumble, strings glide, kick drums pop, and everything just sounds better. The QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are a joy to listen to music with

    It can work amazingly, especially with rock music, to which it gives a punchy dynamic sound. But just as we found with the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds that have the same feature, it can sometimes spoil the mix or production of a track where vocals can be buried too low in the mix and other details are lost. For the most part we liked it, but it feels like an experimental feature at the moment. Two modes within Immersive Audio let you have the music seem as though it’s originating from the device – best for watching movies on a tablet – or all around you, which is best most of the time.

    The Immersive Audio mode kicks in the noise cancellation of the headphones, which is the best version of the technology on any headphones we’ve ever tested. It’s as close to silence as we’ve experienced, and it does well to quash all major sounds letting you tune into what you’re listening to. The cancellation also happens in Quiet mode, which we ended up using the most.

    The third mode called Aware is a transparency setting that lets all outside sound in so you can talk to people or hear the world around you. It works well thanks to mics on the headphones picking up outside sound and funnelling it into your lug holes. Optionally you can turn on ActiveSense, Bose’s clever noise reduction feature – if a siren wails past you it cleverly turns down that noise only but lets other frequencies in still. It’s an excellent feature that belies the premium price tag here.

    Smart features

    • Bose Music app a little buggy
    • Multipoint connections
    • Call quality is OK

    If you want to change the audio source or tweak the EQ on the Ultras you need to use the Bose Music app, which, when it works, is excellent. But it can be a little janky, not always realising your device is connected.

    The Ultras also absolutely hate being connected to several devices despite having multipoint connectivity where they should happily connect to two. I set up connections for an iPhone, Mac, and Google Pixel phone to test the multipoint connectivity and entered into a Bluetooth twilight zone where the Bose Music app got very confused and refused to let me toggle between connections. On the Pixel, I was connected to the phone but the app wouldn’t recognise this, despite me being signed into the app using my registered account.

    Call quality is decent and the mics do well to capture voices, but is no substitute for actually holding your phone to your ear.

    … they might just be our favourite headphones ever

    When I connected to the Pixel using the phone’s Bluetooth menu, audio played fine but the app wouldn’t recognise the Ultras were connected, so I couldn’t access things like the EQ settings. Sometimes reloading the app worked, but not always.

    When you are connected to, say, a phone and laptop and the connections are steady, you can pause on one device and play on another and it works well. But we only found this consistent about half the time.

    I also found that occasionally the audio would continuously pause and play when connected to the iPhone, so I had to turn the Ultras on and off to fix it. These issues are incredibly annoying when you’re meant to be able to connect two devices simultaneously – the headphones behave best when connected to just one device, but this defeats the purpose of multipoint in the first place.

    Battery life and charging

    • 24 hour battery life
    • 18 hours in Immersive Audio mode
    • USB-C charging

    Battery life is stated at 24 hours, which we found to hold up, but that drops to 18 hours when using Immersive Audio. Either way, you’ll be fine for all but the longest long haul journeys without needing to charge. The Sony WH-1000XM5 have 30-hour battery though, and cost less.

    You charge via the included USB-C to -A cable plugged into a not-included brick, or via any USB-C charger you may already have. The headphones take three hours to charge from dead, but Bose says you’ll get two hours of playback from a 15 minute charge.


    The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones cost £449.95 – no doubt a very expensive product. You can buy them from Bose, Argos, Selfridges, and John Lewis.

    The premium price accounts for the great sound quality and top-tier noise cancellation, as well as the updated design and Immersive Audio functionality. Bose sells cheaper over-ears if your budget can’t stretch to this.

    Bose’s main rivals in this area are Sony and Apple. The Sony WH-1000XM5 are very good and cost £380 at full price, though Bose managed to undercut Apple’s AirPods Max which cost a whopping £499 and are by now three years old.


    The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are among the best consumer over-ear wireless headphones you can buy. Bose has improved its noise cancellation and sound quality here to noticeable degrees that just about manage to justify the high price. They are also extremely comfortable to wear all day, which isn’t a given for large headphones.

    The new Immersive Audio feature is a crowd pleaser but does feel a little gimmicky – we didn’t use it as much as we thought after first listen, and can make music less impactful when the intention is the opposite. But we like the ambition from Bose, and the fact it works with any audio, not just tracks produced with spatial audio in mind. It’s also a shame the app connections can be buggy.

    Despite this, the Ultras are still show-stoppingly good at the essential sound and noise cancellation functions, so much so that we can forgive the few downsides. With 24 hour battery life and great looks, we would love to keep these cans attached to our head for the foreseeable future – they might just be our favourite headphones ever.

    Buy the superb rated Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones for the best price from these UK retailers


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