Historically, Bose has been known for its noise-canceling cans, specifically the QuietComfort series, which has made quite a name for the manufacturer over the years. However, Bose has also made, for some years now, a quality line of non noise-cancelation headphones. These models come in two varieties, an on-ear and an around-the-ear flavor, both of which have recently suffered some steady improvements and modifications leading up to a new release.
With that in mind, may we present the AE2 (short for around-the-ear) the most recent, non noise-canceling set of headphones by Bose with some killer promise.
Comfort and Design
Before being christened the AE2, this pair of headphones was formerly called the TriPort, and it largely maintains the same shape and size. Both phones feature a relatively lightweight design that lends itself toward commuting, but there have been a few subtle improvements since. For starters, gone are the dual cord connectors running to both ear cups. Instead, they’ve been replaced by a single-cord look that better fits the times.
The new edition also folds flat, making them even easier to take on the go. Otherwise, the same patented and plush black leather can be found here, forming an incredibly comfortable over-ear pad that didn’t get sweaty for us, even during a heated play test. Additionally, though these are not noise-canceling headphones, they do form a fairly tight seal, which helped to isolate some of the ambience.
Sound Quality and Performance
The AE2 headphones put us in an unusual position, as their audio quality is actually so accurate and so over-emphasized, that it comes across as being a bit harsh. In other words, these headphones are too good to sound great, creating an interesting listening experience, at the least.
What we mean is that the highs were often too articulated to be pleasant, sounding brash and uncouth. Likewise, the bass was too defined to provide us with the rumble we so often crave in a good set of headphones, and no matter what track we threw at the AE2s, the distinction between instruments prevented them from creating a truly uniform symphony out of the music. All of that being said, it’s still a decent level of quality for a pair of headphones that costs only around $150 on the market.
All in all, we were pleased with the additions Bose has implemented since the original TriPorts, leading us to look favorably on the AE2. Are they the best pair of $150 headphones we’ve ever listened to?
No, but they’re certainly comfortable, well-crafted, and decent sounding. In other words, if you’re a dedicated Bose fan, and want the latest, but cheap, innovations, you could certainly do a lot worse than these puppies.