I've been using the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II since they arrived on the scene late in 2022. Before that, my go-to pair of earphones was the original Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (yes, I'm a bit of a Bose fangirl).
Not only did the second-generation buds impress me with their noise cancellation prowess, but I doffed my proverbial hat to Bose in my QuietComfort Earbuds II review for changing the design from the original bigger, bulkier option.
To keep the older buds in place, Bose designed fins that tuck into the fold of the ear ridge. The fins did their job marvellously well for me, but I always thought they weren't ideal for anyone without prominent cartilage folds or anyone with injuries that have resulted in cauliflower ears.
The redesign of the second iteration of Bose's QC Buds meant we no longer needed the fins. In their place we now have what Bose calls Stability Bands.
If you haven't tried the QC Buds II, then allow me to give you a quick rundown on these stability bands. They're essentially little silicone rings that wrap around the earpiece of each QCE II bud. One section of each ring has extra silicone that sticks out to create a seal around your ear canal when you wear them. To ensure comfort, the rubber is extremely soft and pliable... and therein lies my problem.
Unsealed with a flick
When I first started using the QC Buds II, the largest stability band size included in the box is the one that worked best for me. A good seal is paramount; it means that the proprietary tech Bose uses to automatically tune each bud to the listener's ears works optimally. And that was the case for about the first seven months of using the buds – hence my glowing five-star review.
However, using the QCE II almost every single day has meant that the soft silicone of the stability bands is getting misshapen (or worn out) and the left bud just doesn't fit right any more.
OK, confession time: I'm guilty of taking the buds out of the charging case by holding on to the stability bands. Perhaps that's a no-no, but I would argue that it's the easiest way to take them out for use. And nobody expressly told me not to!
Anyway, I did another fit test (via the Bose Music app) and found the middle size was appropriate. So I started using the large size for the right ear while the left got the intermediate option.
A couple of months later I ran into the same problem again.
We're not all as bilaterally symmetrical as we might first appear – there are subtle differences between our left and right sides, which is exacerbating the fit issue I have with the Bose QC Earbuds II. Neither the large nor the middle options work well enough for my left ear. And the small size is just too small. Now, the tiniest of movements – flicking my hair away from my face is a key offender – can dislodge the left bud.
There's no longer a good seal, which is affecting both the noise cancellation and the sound quality. It's gotten to the point where I'm almost ready to go back to the older model, even though they're bigger and heavier, because at least they still fit properly. But hang it all, I love the sound quality from the second-gen. model!
I can understand why the silicone is so soft (it needs to be comfortable after all) but Bose does need to rethink the design of the bands for the next iteration of the QuietComfort Buds.
Bose has an Alternate Sizing Kit that's sold via select retailers such as Amazon. This contains one extra small and one extra large set of bands and ear tips. While I'm tempted to buy this, I'm hesitant as my faith in the durability of the bands has been shaken.
That said, my faith in Bose's tech is still unchanged and I stand by my five-star review – the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II offer the best ANC there is right now... provided the buds fit you well.
Get daily insight, inspiration and deals in your inbox
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.
Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing camera kits or the latest in e-paper tablets, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She's also the Australian Managing Editor of Digital Camera World and, if that wasn't enough, she contributes to T3 and Tom's Guide, while also working on two of Future's photography print magazines Down Under.