The battle between Sony and Bose has moved across over-ears and true wireless earphones. Both the WF-1000XM5 and QuietComfort Earbuds II received five stars in their respective reviews – both premium true wireless offer a high quality performance.
So, which out of the Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds is the best? Read on to find out.
The WF-1000XM5 go on sale August 2023, and have an RRP of £259 / $299 / €320. Compared to the WF-1000XM4, the price has gone slightly up in the UK, $20 in the US and €40 more in Europe.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are £279 / $299 / €279 / CA$379 / AU$429, though as they’ve been available since late 2022, you can find them for cheaper than the WF-1000XM5. Currys UK has them at £229 and at Amazon UK they’re at £239.95 at the time of writing.
The Sony WF-1000XM5 are more compact than the QuietComfort Earbuds II, which you might describe as being the chunkier of the two buds. Both offer a strong noise-isolating seal against external sounds, although in our experience we found the Bose were a little easier to get settled in our ears, though over longer use we found the Sony more comfortable to wear.
Each comes with a range of ear-tips, the WF-1000XM5 comes with extra small to large ear-tips in the packaging, while the Bose has three sizes: small, medium, and large. If you want extra small or extra large ear-tips, you’ll need to go through Bose Support to order them.
Both utilise touch controls and out of the two we’d say the Sony are a little easier to operate as on the Bose some taps can be interpreted as swipes, which inadvertently increase the volume. IPX4 sweat/water resistance is covered across both earphones for those who might consider using these earbuds in the gym.
We think the Sony WF-1000XM5 have the better overall design but there’s not much to knock the Bose for. The Sony are smaller, (slightly) lighter, and arguably more comfortable to wear.
We won’t go through all the features presented on these wireless earphones as you might be here all day, but in terms of the amount of features on offer, then the Sony wins easily. The spread of the smart, convenient features is impressive. There isn’t a wireless earbuds as feature-rich as the WF-1000XM5.
Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are built-in on the WF-1000XM5 (that’s not the case on the Bose). There’s also greater flexibility in terms of customising the experience from the audio EQ, wireless performance, noise-cancelling modes, upscaling of audio. The Sony presents more options with which to tailor the performance to your liking.
Battery life is longer on the Sony with eight hours compared to the QuietComfort Earbuds II’s six. However, overall battery if you include the charging case is the same with noise-cancelling on (24 hours). Wireless charging is supported on the Sony but not on the Bose (we don’t think it’s that big a miss).
In terms of its wireless performance, we would say that the Bose is more stable and resilient to interference over a Bluetooth connection. The Sony does support the higher quality LDAC codec for an improved audio performance though, and we’re yet to see the aptX Adaptive/Snapdragon Sound support that was announced several months ago. You also get Bluetooth multipoint on the Sony for those who like to multi-task.
Or course, the real test is how well they perform in cancelling sounds, and in this area we’d give the win to the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II. Both cancel noise very well, though we find the Bose suppresses sounds a little stronger, while the Sony’s noise-cancelling adopts a more natural tone (the Bose can sound processed).
The transparency mode is slightly clearer and more detailed on the Bose too, but the difference is not a huge amount. The Bose also has a cool feature whereby in its ‘Aware’ mode, Bose’s ActiveSense technology kicks in and suppresses any loud sounds so you’re not suddenly surprised by them. It works very effectively.
Call quality on both is mixed. Both have a tendency to let noise in when you’re speaking, though it is worse on the Bose as in busy areas it can reach the point where the sounds of the environment can be distracting.
Overall, the Sony offers the wider range of features, especially for those who like to customise their experience to fit their daily routine. Though we’d add a note to say that the noise-cancelling on the Bose is better.
If sound is the most important aspect for you, then again we’d say that the Sony would be the better choice. Like the Bose their approach is a balanced one, but we find the Sony to be the more musical-sounding pair with the tracks we listen.
Support for LDAC does help in this context, but even so, with the new Dynamic Driver X, they put in an energetic, detailed and clear performance with music. To our ears they sound more natural than the QuietComfort Earbuds II.
However, the Sony don’t offer the same bass impact as the Bose. The Bose buds offer a bigger, weightier bass performance while the Sony takes a more measured approach to the low frequencies. If you like you bass the QuietComfort Earbuds would be the earbuds to take a closer look at, though be mindful that you could get a similar bass performance by altering the WF-1000XM5’s EQ settings.
Although we’ve given the Sony WF-1000XM5 the win in each category, it would not be true to say that they are far and away the better true wireless earbud.
They are the better-sounding of the two, but in terms of noise-cancellation we prefer the Bose. The range of features on the Sony is much greater, and offer more convenience, while the compact design and slightly better comfort levels are further areas where we feel the Sony edges ahead.
Both are great buys. As an overall package, the WF-1000XM5 ticks most, if not all, the required boxes. Nevertheless, if you want the best noise-cancellation currently available, then the QuietComfort Earbuds II are the buds to get.