Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones review

Bose's flagship noise-canceling headphones are best yet

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones hero image
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are the brand's most premium cans yet, packing improved audio and best-ever noise canceling performance.


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    Modernized design

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    Effective Immersive Audio experience

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    Intuitive controls

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    Best-ever ANC


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    High cost compared to most rivals

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    Middling battery life for a flagship design

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Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones: Specifications

Price: $429 / £449 / AU$649
Colors: Black, white smoke
Battery life: 24 hours (18 hours w/ Immersive Audio)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3 with SBC, AAC, and aptX Adaptive support
Size: 7.7 x 2.0 x 5.5 inches
Weight: 8.96 ounces

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones represent a big step forward for the king of noise-canceling headphones, offering a stronger listening experience and improved battery life. The all-new design also introduces Immersive Audio tech, which aims to deliver a similar listening experience to Apple Spatial Audio.    

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra replace the Bose 700 as the company's flagship noise-canceling headphones. The price has increased to $429, but there are plenty of extras thrown in including Bluetooth 5.3 with multipoint connectivity, aptX Adaptive support, and touch volume control. This all comes in a modern, lightweight design that's comfortable enough to be worn for hours. A neat carry case is also provided.

Keep reading to discover how the new flagships perform and what the additional features bring to the listening experience — and don't forget to check out our Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones vs. Bose QuietComfort Headphones face-off to see how Bose's two new models compare to each other.

Do the new flagships reign supreme as the best noise-canceling headphones money can buy? Or have they been beaten by rival ANC designs that cost a bit less?

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones review: Price and availability

Bose QC Ultra Headphones with packaging and carry case

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are available to buy now for $429 at as well as online retailers including Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart.

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones replace the Bose 700 headphones that came in black and a luxe silver option. The new Ultra model are available in black and white smoke color options. 

It's worth pointing out that the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 cost $399 when they debuted in May 2019, so there is a $30 price increase for the new QuietComfort Ultra Headphones flagship. To find out the differences check out our Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700 face-off

To see how they compare directly with their main price rivals check out our Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones vs. Sony WH-1000XM5 and AirPods Max vs. Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones review: Design

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

(Image credit: Future)

The QC Ultra appear to blend the 700’s sharp-looking aesthetics with the QC45's pleasant wearable design. Sturdy aluminum makes up most of the headphones’ composition and premium leather wraps around the headband and earcups for optimal comfort. There's a nicely padded headband too. 

Details like the accented yokes, matte finish, and multiple microphone holes look nice. Even the bundled carrying case has gotten a facelift, featuring cutouts to collapse and store the cans properly when on the move. 

It's a more approachable and friendly design than say the AirPods Max, but the color options are less zestful.

Bose QC Ultra headphones with carry case

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

There’s a 2.5mm headphone jack and USB-C input for charging on the left cup, and a connection button and control button on the right cup. 

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones fold in and fit into a rigid oval zipper pouch. Not only does this promote compact storage, but it makes it seem like the case would offer the pricey headphones the necessary protection, too. 

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones review: Features and controls

Bose QC Ultra control buttons

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On the right earcup, a short press of the control button is a pause/play toggle, while a long press activates a carousel of settings you can configure with the Bose app. 

Also on the right earcup is a capacitive volume rail, which you can feel as a raised strip. The volume control felt intuitive to use and I found it performed responsively.
Wear detection is available. 

The advanced mic array gave excellent speech recognition and vocal capture when using the digital assistant. Firing up Alexa or Google Assistant with their wake-word phrase was instantaneous, and voice commands were addressed as quickly as they were received.

Universal spatialized audio in the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones is made possible by proprietary digital signal processing software, so whatever music source or streaming platform you use, you'll benefit from immersive listening.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones review: Sound quality

Bose QC Ultra Headphones worn by reviewer Alex Bracetti

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Immersive Audio gave a phenomenal first impression. With the "Still" setting, I felt like I was listening to live music. Sounds appeared to have more space around them and felt like they wrapped around my head. I wouldn't say that it always felt entirely natural, and some elements of music that I know well were less prominent with Immersive Audio enabled. But it gave an impressive sense of spaciousness that stays anchored to a fixed point no matter where I moved my head. The "Motion" setting delivers the same dynamic listening experience while on the go but keeps the immersive sound experience equally balanced to the same level in each earcup. 

These sonic presentations are livelier than what you’ll hear from Apple or Sony’s spatial audio. Not to mention the QC Ultra’s headtracking is spectacularly accurate with zero latency.

The QC Ultra have CustomTune technology to fine-tune audio based on the unique properties of your ear. On top of that, they support aptX Adaptive for Bluetooth playback that’s dynamically scaled to increase the data rate from 279kpbs to 420kbps.

Bose's signature sound balance has a richness and warmth to it that's very pleasant, but I found I needed to adjust the EQ for a better balance on the QC Ultra.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones review: Active noise cancelling

There's no doubt about it, these have the most impressive noise-canceling performance I've encountered. Set to Max, I could barely hear anything of what was going on around me and I'd say that nearly 95% percent of unwanted sounds were silenced during my testing. Any blaring noises that caught my attention sounded like background effects on songs. 

Bose’s Aware listening was just as gratifying for situational awareness. Ambient sounds and conversations sounded real, not simply recreated via the headphone microphones. 

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones review: Call quality

Bose QC Ultra Headphones testing call quality

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sadly, the QC Ultra Headphones didn't outperform the Bose 700 in terms of voice calling quality. That may sound shocking given the QC Ultra’s flagship status and price, but that doesn’t make them an inferior calling headset. They performed well with wireless video and voice calls, eliminating background noise, but some high-frequency sounds and wind did enter conversations.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones review: Battery life

Bose QuietComfort Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

Bose says the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones should get 24 hours of continuous listening on a full charge. That said, enabling immersive audio modes brings that estimate down to 18 hours. In this respect, Bose's headphones aren't likely to be the best headphones for battery life, with near rivals like the  Sony WH-1000XM5 lasting 30 hours with ANC turned on or the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, which gives up to 60 hours of ANC playback.

Quick charging on the QC Ultra nets 3 hours on a 15-minute charge.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones review: Verdict

I'm seriously impressed by the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones. While $429 certainly isn't cheap, the Immersive Audio performance is impressive and many will love the wraparound feeling the spatial audio tech brings to their favorite music. 

With better styling, features, and functionality than their predecessor, the QC Ultra Headphones rank higher. While the bigger and smarter mic array with customizable settings pushes the Ultra's ANC performance to the max. Even the small changes made to the controls and design make usability more practical and seamless, making the QC Ultra as close to perfect as you’re going to get in the noise-canceling headphones category.

Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

After 2.5 years as Tom's Guide's audio editor, Lee has joined the passionate audio experts at where he writes about luxury audio and Hi-Fi. As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.

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