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Bose AE2 - Sound Quality and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



  • Recommended by TR
Bose AE2 6


Our Score:


We've tended to have mixed feelings about the sound quality offered by Bose's headphones. The IE2 are muffled and muggy, the QuietComfort 15 pleasant and smooth, but hardly high-end given the costs involved.

The Bose AE2 take quite a different approach to these pairs, and to a surprising extent. They strive for clarity and a touch of the high-end vibe more than any Bose pair we've heard before, and it's a welcome change. Although less luxurious-sounding than the QuietComfort 15 and QC3 – with less warmth – they compare well on a pure sound quality level. That speaks in the AE2's favour given they cost around £150 less.

Bose AE2 6

Among their Bose brethren , the AE2 give the best impression of sonic balance, with a wide, impressively open sound for a reasonably-priced closed headphone. The top-end is coherent and the low-end punchy and almost perfectly judged. In all honesty, we were surprised by quite how well they perform in some respects.

There is, however, some evidence of Bose's usual psychoacoustic strategy. This is where tuning is based not on actual accuracy and flat frequency response but what the ear will perceive as positive. Turning up the critical listening dial, there appears to be some odd dips in the mid-range, leaving it sounding a little hollow and lacking detail. Cutting back on mids in this fashion is part of what lets the Bose AE2 sound so open and clear, but it robs vocals in particular of some of their detail and presence.

As such, these are certainly not headphones for critical listening, but for pure enjoyment we'd pick them over the more expensive Beats Solo HD in a heartbeat.

Bose AE2

Some have complained that the Bose AE2 headphones' cod-analytical approach makes them sound a little harsh, but it's not something we've experienced in our testing. They're actually rather adept at managing sibilant material.

They're not without their problems, but these are probably the best headphones Bose has produced, from a technical perspective at least.


Bose is a brand often criticised for offering poor value, whacking up prices to offset significant marketing costs. However, in these days of so many high-profile headphones, backed by major names in music, the Bose AE2 look like rather good value. Excellent comfort, highly enjoyable sound quality and a design that no longer marks you out as someone who probably has poor musical taste mean these are our new top pick from the Bose range. Just make sure you don't need noise cancellation, as you don't get it here.


Although the Bose AE2 headphones don't offer Bose's signature noise cancellation technology, a much cheaper price point and more balanced sound signature mark them out as an excellent alternative to the QuietComfort 15s. These are very comfortable cans, and while they're not quite the last word in audio quality, they outdo many style sets. For an out and about workhorse pair, these are among our favourites.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design & Features 9
  • Sound Quality 8
  • Value 8


August 22, 2013, 10:56 am

Trustedreviews opinion on these headphones is one of the most positive around and it wasn't here when I looked for a good pair of cans. I had some mixed feelings after reading the other reviews but eventually decided to give it a go. And I don't regret. They are the most comfortable headphones I've ever tried. Mid range is often criticised here and some complain on quite specific bass which emphasises very low, hardly audible frequencies. Yes, I can see what they are talking about but for me these are really a matter of taste and/or equipment. I am also not a fan of overwhelming, punchy bass. A bit of fine EQ tuning can do a lot here and many adjust EQ settings to match their preferences anyway. I am really delighted with the sound they can produce.


October 20, 2013, 5:16 am

No doubt they offer great comfort and an aesthetic appeal, only one problem. The sound output is quite low! I compare it to its equally priced cousin- the Bose OE2. They are arguably less comfortable than the AE2 and don't appeal as pleasing as them, but they are louder, more portable and come with a better storage case. The low volume is the only complaint I have on the AE2s, other than that, perfect pair. good review.

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