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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II vs Sony WF-1000XM4

Both are around the same price point and have similar features, but which is best?
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Published onAugust 30, 2023

An angled view of a hand as it holds the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II case with the lid flipped up to show the earphones.
Edgar Cervantes / SoundGuys

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II and the Sony WF-1000XM4 are very evenly matched true wireless earbuds. Both retail for roughly the same price, and on paper they have very similar features. But when compared directly, which one comes out on top in terms of design, sound quality, active noise canceling, and battery life?

Editor’s note: this article was updated on August 30, 2023 to address changes in formatting and to include a mention of the new Sony WF-1000XM5.

What’s it like to use the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II compared to the Sony WF-1000XM4?

Both the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are traditional true wireless earbuds with charging cases. Generally the Sony WF-1000XM4 provide a slightly better fit thanks to its smaller size, but the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II benefit from the addition of fins on each earbud that help stabilize the buds inside your ears, much like some workout earbuds on the market.

An angled view of a hand as it holds the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II case with the lid flipped up to show the earphones.
Edgar Cervantes / SoundGuys
The wraparound fins on the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II help keep the buds in place during exercise.

Both of these products come with different-sized tips for adjusting how they fit in your ears. The WF-1000XM4 comes with foam tips, which adjust to the shape of your ear even better than traditional silicone earbud tip designs, and the associated app will even let you know if you should be using different-sized tips. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II also has a notable issue where it occasionally fails to sit snugly in its case, which can cause serious problems with software updates or even just ensuring it’s charged and ready to go when you need them.

How do you control the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II and Sony WF-1000XM4?

A photo showing someone using the touch controls of the Sony WF-1000XM4.
Both sets of earbuds use capacitive touch controls to handle user input, and both work well.

Listener controls are quite similar, using touch surfaces on the back of either product. On both earbuds these allow you to fast forward, rewind, adjust the volume, and pause. On both you can also do a long press to summon your phone’s voice assistant. On the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, the controls are as follows (and can be adjusted in the app as well):

INPUTACTION (music)ACTION (phone)
INPUT
Single tap
ACTION (music)
Play / Pause
ACTION (phone)
Answer call / hold current call and answer new call
INPUT
Double tap
ACTION (music)
Track forward
ACTION (phone)
End call / Decline incoming call
INPUT
Triple tap
ACTION (music)
Track backward
ACTION (phone)
N/A
INPUT
Swipe up/down
ACTION (music)ACTION (phone)
Volume up / down
INPUT
Long press
ACTION (music)ACTION (phone)
Voice assistant

The Sony WF-1000XM4 controls are fairly similar, however, they’re split between left and right earbuds. Additionally, you can take one of the earbuds out to pause the music, as well as activate the voice passthrough feature by holding a finger to the earbuds.

INPUTACTION (left bud)ACTION (right bud)
INPUT
ONE TAP
ACTION (left bud)
Mute/ANC/Ambient sound
ACTION (right bud)
Play/Pause
INPUT
TWO TAPS
ACTION (left bud)
N/A
ACTION (right bud)
Track forward/answer call
INPUT
THREE TAPS
ACTION (left bud)
N/A
ACTION (right bud)
Track backward
INPUT
TAP AND HOLD
ACTION (left bud)
N/A
ACTION (right bud)
Smart assistant

Should you use the apps of either the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II or the Sony WF-1000XM4?

The Bose Music App allows greater control options for the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II.
Edgar Cervantes / SoundGuys
The Bose Music App gives you more options with regard to the control of the earbuds compared to using it without it.

Both the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II have smartphone apps that extend what you can do with the earbuds. Both Sony Headphones Connect and the Bose Music App offer EQ options, the ability to control the active noise canceling settings, and firmware updates for the earbuds. While both sets of earbuds can be used without their respective apps (including with non-Smartphone devices) we recommend at least trying them because of the invaluable features that they provide (but do beware, these apps likely will collect some of your personal data). For example, there’s no easy way to adjust the active noise canceling on the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II without using the app. It’s also notable that the Sony WF-1000XM4 offers additional features, such as 360 Reality Audio when used with certain streaming services.

How do the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II and Sony WF-1000XM4 connect?

Opening the case of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II starts the pairing process.
Edgar Cervantes / SoundGuys
Opening the case of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II starts the pairing process.

Both the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are wireless earbuds that use Bluetooth. The WF-1000XM4 uses Bluetooth 5.2, whereas the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II features support for Bluetooth 5.3. While Bluetooth 5.2 is slightly outdated, both of these headsets have improved battery life and codec support compared to older Bluetooth standards.

It may be a little confusing at first due to the lack of a pairing button, but it’s quite simple:

  1. Remove the buds from the case and put them in your ears.
  2. Hold you fingers to both buds for six seconds to put them in pairing mode.
  3. Select the Sony WF-1000XM4 from the list of available devices on your phone.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 supports SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs, whereas the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II only supports SBC and AAC. Some Bose products have misreported their firmware version after an update, but that can be fixed.

  1. Enable Bluetooth on your source device.
  2. Open the charging case of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II and hold the pairing button.
  3. Find the “Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II” entry in the list, and tap to pair.

Is battery life better on the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II or Sony WF-1000XM4?

A photo showing the Sony WF-1000XM4 in the charging case.
The charging case for the Sony WF-1000XM4 is well sized so you don’t worry about pocket space.

The battery life for both these earbuds is remarkably close, with only about a half an hour longer life for the Sony WF-1000XM4. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II lasted for 7 hours and 15 minutes in our testing, and the Sony WF-1000XM4 lasted 7 hours and 43 minutes. Both earbuds also support fast charging, meaning if you find the batteries empty it should only take a few minutes to charge them for an hour of use or more. The Sony WF-1000XM4 is also noted for its eco-friendly packaging, but both these headsets use battery technology that is quite harmful and wears out easily.

Do the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II or Sony WF-1000XM4 block noise better?

A chart comparing the ANC performance of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II and the Sony WF-1000XM
ANC is great with both earbuds, but it’s clear that one is a generation ahead.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are earbuds that feature active noise canceling (ANC) technology. Performance is somewhat fit dependent, as the first step to blocking out outside noise is to find a good fit, but once they’re in both earbuds offer adjustable ANC.

In a direct comparison, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II is more effective than the Sony WF-1000XM4 at attenuating outside noise using ANC, especially in the low end. However, while the QC Earbuds II cancels dramatically more noise up to 300Hz, the Sony earbuds feature much better high-end attenuation due to its passive isolation performance—this is where those foam ear tips really start putting in the work. Both earbuds offer a transparency mode that allows outside sound to become more audible, making it easier to converse. The Sony WF-1000XM4 even enables this transparency automatically if you begin talking.

Does the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II sound better than the Sony WF-1000XM4?

A chart comparing the frequency response of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II and the Sony WF-1000XM4, which shows how different the bass response of the two is.
Sony boosts it’s bass, but not nearly as much as Bose.

Both the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II have some unique features when it comes to the sound produced. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II in particular has a feature that “chirps” your ear canal in order to find the correct fit. Both earbuds have access to EQ settings, which can change the sound profile of each pair of earbuds to suit your preference better. The Sony WF-1000XM4 also has 360 Reality Audio as well as DSEE Extreme which is aimed at trying to make poorly encoded lossy audio files more listenable.

Based on the default sound profile without any EQ, both headsets have some deviations from our ideal consumer curve. We tested both sets of earbuds on the same rig and compared to the Sony WF-1000XM4, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II has a significant bump in the bass frequencies. It also has a slightly exaggerated high end as well, when compared to our ideal curve. The Sony WF-1000XM4 in comparison is flatter when it comes to the bass and midrange frequencies, but is also less prominent when it comes to high end frequencies compared to our ideal curve.

Does the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II or Sony WF-1000XM4 have a better microphone?

A photo showing someone using the touch controls of the Sony WF-1000XM4.
The capacitive touch controls are straightforward, but somewhat customizable.

Like most earbuds, both the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are perfectly serviceable for phone calls and quick voice chats, but they leave a lot to be desired for other purposes. Using them when you’re out and about in windy conditions will see both sets of earbuds struggling due to the noise. The Sony WF-1000XM4 also comes with a software feature that attempts to further cut down on noise when it detects that the user isn’t speaking (additionally, voice chat software like Discord often employs its own version of that same process on top of that). You can listen below to samples from each set of earbuds to get a sense of how they perform.

Sony WF-1000XM4 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Sony WF-1000XM4 microphone demo (Office conditions):

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II microphone demo (Office conditions):

Which microphone sounds better?

4182 votes

Should you get the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II or the Sony WF-1000XM4?

The Sony WF-1000XM4 on a wet, red bench, also with moisture on the earphones.
An IPX4 rating means splashes, sweat, and humidity won’t kill your earphones.

Considering that the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II both run for around $300 USD, finding points of differentiation that matter to you is important. They both have similar, yet slightly diverging features. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II may be better for people looking for earbuds to wear during workouts thanks to the way they sit in your ear, and their design is quite nice.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds IIBose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Self-adjusting sound • Bluetooth 5.3 • Bose's best ANC to date
MSRP: $299.00
Bose put its best ANC technology in these earbuds
The QuietComfort Earbuds 2 feature Bose's best audio know-how. They personalize the sound quality and isolation to fit your ears each time you wear them. They also come with Bluetooth 5.3, USB-C charging, and can last 6 hours on a charge (24 with the case).

Overall though the Sony WF-1000XM4 is the best choice between the two. It excels when it comes to sound quality, with fewer deviations from our ideal consumer curve. It has roughly half an hour more battery life in our testing. It also has support for LDAC Bluetooth audio, which when used with the right device can deliver higher bitrate audio streams.

Sony WF-1000XM4Sony WF-1000XM4
SG recommended
Sony WF-1000XM4
Great ANC • IPX4 rating • 360 Reality Audio
MSRP: $278.00
Powerful active noise canceling earbuds.

What should you get instead?

If you’re looking for something a little cheaper than the previous generation models of both these earbuds are a good first place to look. The Sony WF-1000XM3 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. One of the biggest competitors in this space is also the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation), which delivers comparable quality and is notably cheaper than both the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the QuietComfort Earbuds II. The only issue is that it’s designed to work best with Apple products.

If you want the latest and greatest of Sony’s product line, the Sony WF-1000XM5 is the successor to the Sony WF-1000XM4 and improves on several of its core selling points. However it’s likely a little more expensive than the WF-1000XM4, it can currently be found for $298 at Amazon.

If you’re a Google Pixel owner, then the Google Pixel Buds Pro pair really well with that line of phones. Another really good choice is the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, which is quite a lot cheaper and has both pretty good active noise canceling and sound quality.

Frequently asked questions

Thanks to a software update the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds now support multipoint Bluetooth audio. However, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II does not.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 supports wireless charging through Qi-compatible charging pads, which you’ll have to buy separately. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II do not support wireless charging.