I believe that earbuds are essential for productivity-driven Deliberate Diligencists, so it's worth comparing the two current class leaders: Apple's 2nd Generation AirPods Pro and the new Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II.
This is not meant to be a tech gadget blog. Therefore, I will leave it to describe my conclusion briefly and succinctly.
If you look at the current reviews and comparisons of both products, you will find both are great, but in the end, the AirPods Pro win.
I think it's the other way around for Deliberate Diligencists, as we have two particular focus use cases for such ANC earbuds:
- Getting solitude, wherever we are (e.g. ANC performance while walking is essential)
- Having great microphones to maximize productivity while doing work calls during walks.
This means that, for example, the usability of the earbuds is less important than the ANC performance.
I compared the two to decide for myself which pair to keep. This is what I found:
What I think about the Airpods Pro (2nd Generation):
- Better usability (going forward, backward, adjusting sound)
- Better Connectivity if using Mac, iPhone etc.; can connect to multiple devices
- It feels a bit lighter in the ear but at the same time more sturdy since it's a more simple design. What I mean by that is that I would probably go running with the AirPods pro rather than the Bose. (Correction: I tested it while running and weightlifting, and the Bose earbuds are more stable in the ear and do not slip out quickly).
- The AirPods have 3D sound options (some few songs sound better in 3D in my case)
- Oddly enough, I felt like the AirPods were more enjoyable for some songs, even though the sound is noticeably "flatter" than the Bose. I think this joy came from the 3D interpretation.
- ANC significantly improved over the last Generation, but not as good as the Bose ones. The ANC filters out more frequencies than before (especially voices). However, an irritating rattling sound remains with some car models on the street that is slightly annoying while walking.
- The ANC has problems with (strong) wind, which can add some noise while walking (where I live, it is unfortunately always winding at the city harbour). The Bose doesn't seem to be affected by this.
What I think about the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
- The Bose sound is noticeably richer and fuller than the AirPods. When I silently compare both earbuds on the same songs, I like the Bose noticeably better 80% of the time. (Without a direct comparison, however, I wouldn't notice).
- The ANC of the Bose is way better than those of the AirPods. You get an almost undisturbed silence, even in noisy environments.
- They are 50€ more expensive than the AirPods in Europe.
- I don't feel the forward and backward skip taps are so good because they create pressure in the ear. The controls feel a bit picky. The Airpods solve this better, as you don't tap but press the stem).
- Better fit while exercising; they don't slip easily out of your ear.
- My girlfriend says the Bose earbuds look much better and less mundane than the AirPods. I tend to agree with her.
Microphone quality for work meetings during walks is mediocre with both
I'm sorry that even the class leaders in wireless ANC earbuds still don't produce as good sound with their microphones as the old wired earbuds. Others found me on both the Bose and AirPods hard to understand in some parts of my standard walk (when other people around are talking, in street noise and wind).
My work colleagues complained regularly, so eventually, I switched to my wired earbuds. The different microphone position seems to make a lot of difference.
Just as cross-reference: I had the same issues with my Jabra Elite 7 and the Sony wf-1000xm4. So it seems to be a general issue with true wireless earbuds.
Conclusion: What do I choose?
I am choosing the Bose for my new everyday earbuds because the superior sound quality and the ANC are most important for my use case (having peace, enjoying music, and creating solitude on demand).
The race was close, however, and the AirPods also brought great joy, as I said. Therefore, I also give these away with some melancholy.
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