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    Bose QuietComfort Ultra vs Sony WH-1000XM5: Which over-ears should you buy?

    Byharjotsinghjaspal

    Jan 10, 2024
    Bose QuietComfort Ultra vs Sony WH-1000XM5: Which over-ears should you buy?
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    • Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

      Best for travel

      The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are some of the latest and greatest headphones around. The stunning new design is one of the biggest draws, and you’re guaranteed to be blown away by their acoustic performance too.

      Pros

      • Immersion Mode and ANC
      • 24-hour battery life
      • AptX codec support

    • Sony WH-1000XM5

      Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Headphones

      Best overall

      There’s no denying that the Sony WH-1000XM5 are some of the best headphones you can buy right now, and they’re quite well-priced considering how much you get. Expect fantastic sound, a comfy design, spatial audio and stellar battery life.

      Pros

      • 30-hour+ battery life
      • Excellent sound quality and ANC
      • Loaded with features
      Cons

      • No aptX support
      • They don’t fold up completely

    Key Takeaways

    • Both the Bose QuietComfort Ultra and the Sony WH-1000XM5 offer best-in-class sound, advanced noise-cancelling, and handy features.
    • The Bose QuietComfort Ultra is priced at $430, while the Sony WH-1000XM5 is slightly cheaper at $399. Both are globally available and have seen discounts.
    • The Sony WH-1000XM5 has longer battery life, LDAC support, and additional features like Quick Attention and Speak to Chat. Bose offers sleek design and foldability for travel.


    Both Bose and Sony have a lot to boast about when it comes to their top-tier flagship headphones. The Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones are polished and super-premium, while the Sony WH-1000XM5 are a sturdy crowd-pleaser.

    Related

    Open-back vs closed-back headphones: What’s the difference, and which should you buy?

    While both over-ear cans, open and closed back headphones have different form factors and functions. We break down the key differences.

    Two audio giants, two pairs of the best headphones in the world, but which of the two over-ear cans is better? Truth be told, from our testing, both offer best-in-class sound, advanced noise-cancelling, and tonnes of handy functions and features. However, the headsets do have their differences, and so it could be that one is better suited to you than the other.


    Price, availability, specs

    One thing setting these two pairs of headphones apart is the price tag – the Bose QuietComfort Ultra will cost you $430, whereas the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones cost slightly less at $399. Both options are available globally now, and both have already seen some big discounts.

    Take a look at the table below to see a quick comparison of their specs side by side, and keep reading to find out what that means for your day-to-day experience and listening activity with each one.

    • Bose QuietComfort Ultra HeadphonesSony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Headphones
      Battery Life24 hours30 hours (NC on) / 40 hours (NC off)
      Bluetooth5.35.2
      Noise CancellationActive Noise Cancelling, Echo Reduction, Adjustable Noise CancellingAuto NC optimiser, Atmospheric pressure optimising, Ambient mode
      MicrophonesBuilt-in Microphone4x beam forming
      Weight0.56 lbs250g
      ColorsBlack / White Smoke / SandstoneBlack / Midnight Blue / Platinum Silver
      Battery charge time3 hours3.5 hours
      Dimensions7.7×5.5×2 inches‎27.62 x 21.67 x 7.59cm, 250g
      Carrying caseIncludedIncluded
      MaterialPlastic, Aluminum, Leather (Protein)Synthetic leather / Plastic / Metal

    Design

    These two pairs of headphones have their own take on the over-ear design featuring subtle differences, but both offer a comfortable yet snug over-ear fit. Let’s dive into the wear details.

    Bose QuietComfort Ultra

    Pocket-lint

    Bose’s QuietComfort Ultra headphones use a combination of vegan leather, plastic, and aluminum. They come in three colors: Black, White, Smoke, or Sandstone. The headband attaches to the ear cups using a slim bar, they have soft curves, and there’s a padded headband for comfort. They weigh about 250g, which is pretty good going, they’re foldable for easier transportation, and they come with a case to keep them safe.

    An IPX4 rating means that these headphones are protected from water splashes, but they aren’t fully waterproof.

    Sony’s headphones also use a combination of synthetic leather, plastic, and metal. You can buy them in Platinum Silver, Midnight Blue, and Black. They aren’t as softly curved as the Bose headphones, but like the QC Ultras, the headband attaches to the ear cups using a metal bar, and they have a well-padded memory foam headband for comfort.

    Read our review

    Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones review: Moving in silence

    The QuietComfort Ultra are Bose’s new flagship headphones – and fill those shoes with confidence.

    The Sony WH-1000XM5 weigh 250g as well. For travel, they can fold flat but not smaller than that, which is a shame, although they do come with a case to transport them. These headphones have no IP rating, meaning they can’t claim to be waterproof or even water-resistant.

    Read our review

    Sony WH-1000XM5 review: Still an ANC masterclass

    Sony updated its flagship WH-1000X headphones in 2022, now in its fifth iteration. This time there’s a change in design, on top of other improvements.

    The Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones use a combination of swipe or tap touch controls and a multi-function button. The Sony WH-1000XM5, on the other hand, use some more varied gestures, including a full hand over the earcup (to turn on the ambient sound mode) as well as two buttons on the left: one is the power button, which also lets you check the battery percentage and one switches between ANC modes. Both options give you lots of control, allowing you to pause or play the music, adjust the volume, and skip through tracks without picking up your phone.

    Battery and features

    Bose and Sony’s devices are packed to the brim with cool features. Firstly, when it comes to the listening experience, both offer spatial audio – Bose’s new Immersion Mode places the sound in front of you, even when you’re on the go, thanks to the Still and Motion settings. On the flip side, Sony’s 360 Reality Audio gives you surround sound as if the music is coming from all around you. Both Bose and Sony have adjoining smartphone apps, which will allow you to adjust the sound according to your tastes and content type.

    While both pairs of headphones come with AAC and SBC codec support, the lack of aptX or aptX HD on the Sony WH-1000XM5 could be a dealbreaker. The Bose QuietComfort Ultra, on the other hand, feature Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive to improve low-latency performance as well as deliver high-quality audio.

    Sony WH-1000XM5 photo 2

    Pocket-lint

    Having said that, the Sony WH-1000XM5 have their own LDAC support for high-resolution music (if your device or streaming service allows for it as not all do), which you won’t get with the Bose QuietComfort Ultra. You can even configure the LDAC codec to optimize for audio quality or stability.

    Bose claims the QuietComfort Ultra battery will last 24 hours of listening without the Immersion Mode and 18 hours with it switched on. If you get caught short, 15 minutes plugged into power will give you about 2.5 hours of playback.

    To save battery, the Bose headphones auto power off after 24 hours by default, although you can make this less time in the app. Sony goes even further than this with 30 hours of battery life with ANC turned on, 40 with it off, and a whopping 3 hours of music from only 3 minutes on charge.

    Bose QuietComfort Ultra

    Pocket-lint

    For times when you need to switch between listening to the headphones and listening to the outside world, the XM5 have you covered. For example, Quick Attention drops the volume right down when you place your hand over the right ear cup, while Speak to Chat activates the ambient sound mode and pauses the music as soon as you start talking. Also, very useful is the fact that if you take them off, the music will stop altogether, which is nice if you won’t miss a beat of Reneé Rapp’s latest single or your favorite podcast. All of these extras will be super handy if you tend to use your headphones around other people, like at the office or working from home with distracting background noise.

    Related

    Best noise cancelling headphones and earbuds: Audiophile tested and reviewed

    According to our in and on-ears listening, these models from Apple, Bose, Sony, and more top the market in quality, quiet, and comfort.

    Naturally, both sets of headphones will allow you to make calls and frankly, they both do a great job of it. Bose’s cans come with five microphones built-in that work well to isolate your voice from distracting noises around you. Trumping that, Sony’s headphones have four microphones on each cup, so your voice comes across particularly clearly while cutting out the sound of your environment.

    Sound quality and ANC

    Straight off the bat, it’s worth saying that both the Bose QuietComfort Ultra and the Sony WH-1000XM5 will provide incredible sound quality and super-effective noise-cancelling to block out distracting sounds. You’ll find adjustable ANC across both pairs and an Aware/ Ambient mode that balances your environment with your music, so you can listen to what’s happening around you without pressing pause.

    Bose QuietComfort Ultra

    In the Bose QuietComfort Ultra review, we described the audio as having plenty of clarity and a refined sound with a rumbling bass and bucket loads of energy, later describing the ANC as ‘predictably superb, cutting out next-to-all all background noise with precision, but also, without the weird vacuum sensation that can sometimes occur in lesser cans.’ The CustomTune calibration and Aware Mode with ActivSense will automatically adjust the sound depending on your surroundings and the types of noises happening around you, giving you a consistent audio experience no matter where you are.

    Sony WH-1000XM5 photo 11
    Pocket-lint

    When it came to the Sony WH-1000XM5 review, we were equally impressed with the audio quality, saying that they ‘offer excellent audio performance, with expertise in delivering bass and subtlety when handling more detailed highs.’

    As for the ANC, using these headphones to their full potential meant blocking the world out almost entirely because these are able to cut out everything from low rumbles to high-pitched screeches, and they’re able to adjust the ANC according to your surroundings too.

    Verdict

    Deciding between the Bose QuietComfort Ultra and the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones is not easy. Both are impressive, with first-class audio quality, stellar designs, powerful ANC, decent battery life, and comfortable vegan leather padding.

    If it’s value for money you’re looking for, then you will be better off buying the Sony WH-1000XM5 because they are just a little bit cheaper than the Bose but offer a lot of comparable features and significantly longer battery life.

    best wireless headphones photo 23

    Sony WH-1000XM5

    Best value

    $350 $400 Save $50

    The Sony WH-1000XM5 are some of the best headphones in the whole world – the sound will get you grooving, the ANC will keep you focused, and the array of features means you can tailor them to your tastes too.

    The Bose QuietComfort Ultra will be better suited to those who aren’t worried about the price tag and who want something that looks super sleek and that can be folded away when you travel. It’s hard not to love these headphones.

    Bose 2

    Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

    Best for travel

    Bose’s latest headphones don’t come cheap, but if you’re willing to spend the cash, then you won’t find much better than this. Bose has paired crowd-pleasing sound and effective ANC with a super sleek design here.


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