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Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

How does the newest challenger on the block stack up against the venerable competition?
By

Published onApril 9, 2024

Sony WF-1000XM5
MSRP: $299.99
8.3
Check price
Positives
Excellent ANC and Isolation
Comfortable
SBC, AAC, and LDAC support
Great app support
Great battery life
Negatives
Price
Default sound too bassy
The Bottom Line.
The Sony WF-1000XM5 takes notes from the success of its predecessor and runs with it. Featuring a more comfortable design, outstanding ANC performance, and fantastic battery life, they have secured their place as one of the best noise canceling earbuds on the market.Read full review...
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
MSRP: $299.00
7
Check price
The Bottom Line.
Bose may have long held the title of "king of ANC," but that title is complicated by the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II. It has great active noise canceling (ANC) and some fascinating features, but weird sound choices, and a sky-high price make for a poor value.Read full review...

The Sony WF-1000XM5 are the hot new wunderkind of the earbuds world. But how does it stack up against some of the best options already on the market? The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II have earned its reputation as a solid pair of earbuds with good design language, usability, and active noise canceling (ANC). So, how do the two of these top contenders compare?

What’s new?

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What’s it like to use the Sony WF-1000XM5 compared to the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II?

A closeup of the Sony WF-1000XM5 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II side by side.
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The design language is clearly a little different between these two products, but they both have a slick appeal of their own.

Both the Sony WF-1000XM5 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are IPX4 rated, meaning they can handle water splashes. Their primarily plastic designs are slightly different, with the Bose earbuds having more of a stem. They both come with multiple swappable ear tips for customizable sizing. The Sony WF-1000XM5 come with four different sizes of ear tips, whereas the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II come with three. We notice more fit issues with Bose’s earbuds than with Sony’s very comfortable WF-1000XM5. However, the stemmed shape on the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II helps with stability somewhat. Sony’s charging case uses a matte material that resembles the recyclable packaging the product comes in. The WF-1000XM5 case supports Qi wireless charging, while the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II case does not.

How do you control the Sony WF-1000XM5 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II?

A man wearing the left earbud of the Sony WF-1000XM5 as he holds up a finger to the earbud
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The Sony WF-1000XM5 touch sensors can control playback, volume, ANC/Ambient sound, and more.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 and the Bose QC Earbuds II feature touch pads on the backside of the earbuds that allow you to control your music, and the controls available are similar. The Sony WF-1000XM5 will automatically pause playback if you take one of the earbuds out.

Sony WF-1000XM5 controls:

INPUTACTION (left bud)ACTION (right bud)
INPUT
ONE TAP
ACTION (left bud)
ANC/Ambient sound
ACTION (right bud)
Play/Pause
INPUT
TWO TAPS
ACTION (left bud)
Quick Access
ACTION (right bud)
Next
INPUT
THREE TAPS
ACTION (left bud)
Quick Access
ACTION (right bud)
Previous
INPUT
FOUR TAPS
ACTION (left bud)
Volume Down
ACTION (right bud)
Volume Up
INPUT
TAP AND HOLD
ACTION (left bud)
Quick Attention
ACTION (right bud)
Voice Assistant

You can adjust the controls in the Bose Music App if you’re unhappy with the default setup.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II controls:

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

Should you use the apps of either Sony WF-1000XM5 or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II?

The Sony Headphone Connect app's custom EQ with the WF-1000XM5 next to the phone.
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The Sony Connect app includes a six-band equalizer for fine tuning your sound.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II have dedicated companion apps to enhance the user experience. The Sony Headphones Connect App provides various functionalities, including custom EQ profiles, touch sensor customization, and support for Sony’s proprietary audio technologies like 360 Reality Audio and DSEE Extreme. The Bose Music App has similar features but is not as extensive as Sony’s. Ultimately, both apps offer great tools for maximizing the earbuds’ potential, although you might want to pass if you value your privacy.

How do the Sony WF-1000XM5 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II connect?

A view of the ear tips of the Sony WF-1000XM5 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II.
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
Pairing is pretty easy on both of these devices, but the Sony option offers more options for higher-quality Bluetooth codecs.

The Bose QuietComfort II and the Sony WF-1000XM5 are both built on Bluetooth 5.3; however, the Bose QuietComfort II only support SBC and AAC codecs, while the Sony WF-1000XM5 offer a wider selection with SBC, AAC, and Sony’s LDAC codec. LDAC allows higher bitrates compared to SBC and AAC. The Sony WF-1000XM5 stand out with their inclusion of LE audio for low-latency streaming, making it an attractive option for gamers or users who prioritize minimal audio delays during video playback.

For setup and pairing, the Sony WF-1000XM5 introduce a dedicated pairing button, simplifying the initial connection process. Furthermore, the Sony WF-1000XM5 offer Bluetooth multipoint, allowing connection to two devices simultaneously. This feature is absent from the Bose QuietComfort II, making the Sony a more versatile choice for users who frequently switch between devices.

Is battery life better on the Sony WF-1000XM5 or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II?

A view of the charging cases for both the Sony WF-1000XM5 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The Sony WF-1000XM5’s case allows wireless charging, while the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II only uses USB-C.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 have the advantage when it comes to battery life. According to our testing, the Bose QuietComfort II provides a respectable 7 hours, 15 minutes of playback on a single charge with ANC on. In comparison, the Sony WF-1000XM5 surpass this with 9 hours, 32 minutes of continuous playback with ANC on. Qi wireless charging in the Sony WF-1000XM5 adds extra flexibility to keep the earbuds powered up on the go.

Do the Sony WF-1000XM5 or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II block noise better?

A comparison of the ANC performance between the Sony WF-1000XM5 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II showing them being fairly close in performance.
The Sony WF-1000XM5 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II trade blows when it comes to ANC + isolation performance.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are fairly comparable regarding active noise canceling performance. Although Sony is well known for its superb ANC, Bose keeps up with it here. Passive noise isolation is slightly improved thanks to the better fit on the WF-1000XM5. It’s important to note that there’s no way to disable the active noise canceling on the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II; you can only turn on the passthrough mode that amplifies the sounds around you. Sony allows you to disable ANC and Ambient Sound Mode (aka passthrough mode).

Do the Sony WF-1000XM5 sound better than the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II?

The frequency response comparison between the Sony WF-1000XM5 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, showing slightly more bass on the Bose earbuds.
Generally, the Sony WF-1000XM5 follow our headphone preference, whereas the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II have more bass and treble than we’d like.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II each offer something different when it comes to sound. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II can acoustically measure your ears to automatically adjust the EQ to fit the shape of your ear canals best. The Sony WF-1000XM5 don’t have this feature, but they have a frequency response that matches our headphone preference curve much more closely. Of course, both of these earbuds offer the option to change the EQ in their respective apps. The Sony WF-1000XM5 app can automatically change the sound settings depending on your environment, whether you’re at home in a quiet room or out and about on a loud subway train.

Do the Sony WF-1000XM5 or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II have a better microphone?

Holding the left earbud of the Sony WF-1000XM5 in hand
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The mesh cover on the Sony WF-1000XM5 microphones helps reduce wind noise.

Neither the Sony WF-1000XM5 nor the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II have great microphone quality. They both use an array of microphones to best pick up the voice and to try to filter out excess noise and turbulence from wind. Both sound bad, but in different ways, and are barely adequate for phone calls, Zoom meetings, and other everyday tasks.

You can listen below to samples from each of them and judge for yourself.

Sony WF-1000XM5 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Sony WF-1000XM5 microphone demo (Office conditions):

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II microphone demo (Office conditions):

Which microphone sounds better?

2510 votes

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: Price and availability

The Sony WF-1000XM5 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II sitting side by side on a wooden table.
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The microphones aren’t as good as we’d in either set of buds.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are dead matched for price at $299.99. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are a little older, so they may also be subject to discounts you might not find on the Sony WF-1000XM5 yet.

Should you get the Sony WF-1000XM5 or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II?

Sony WF-1000XM5 charging case open on the table with the earbuds placed behind the case
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The Sony WF-1000XM5 are among the best noise canceling headphones on the market — but they don’t come cheap.

Overall, the Sony WF-1000XM5 offer a more compelling package for most people. They better justify their premium price with impressive noise canceling capabilities, superior sound quality, and robust software support. Although they may not warrant an upgrade from the previous Sony WF-1000XM4 ($278 at Amazon), the improved comfort in the Sony WF-1000XM5 could be a significant factor for those who may have struggled with the fit of their predecessor.

For those seeking top-notch noise cancelation, sound quality, and enhanced comfort, the Sony WF-1000XM5 represents a better value proposition compared to the Bose QuietComfort II. However, some may still find something to like about the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, such as preferring the design or the very bass-heavy default sound profile.

See price at Amazon
Sony WF-1000XM5
23%off
Sony WF-1000XM5
Great ANC
Improved sound quality
Comfortable fit with four ear tip options
See price at Amazon
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
16%off
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Self-adjusting sound
Bluetooth 5.3
Bose's best ANC to date

Frequently asked questions

The Sony WF-1000XM5 supports Bluetooth multipoint, but the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II does not.

No, both pairs of earbuds are fully compatible with the iPhone, although you’ll be limited to the AAC Bluetooth codec.