If you’re at all familiar with the world of HiFi, then you’ll have come across the name Bose. Whether it’s speakers, stereo systems, or, as in this case, headphones, Bose is a name people associate with high-end audio products.
The Bose SoundLink 2 has been on the market for a few years now but still has a lot to offer. We put them through their paces to see if they still live up to their reputation as one of the most popular Bluetooth headphones of recent years.
So, how did they fare? Let’s find out in our in-depth Bose SoundLink 2 Around-Ear Wireless Headphone Review…
The overall design of the Bose SoundLink 2 has a very similar look and feel to Bose’s QuietComfort range of active noise-canceling headphones. The majority of the build is durable plastic. As a result, it keeps the weight down to 190 grams. This is pretty light for a full-size pair of around-the-ear headphones.
The headband is well-padded with memory foam. It’s lined with Alcantara, a durable synthetic material designed to emulate suede. Faux leather covers the top of the band, and the arms extending down are reinforced with aluminum rails.
The headband seems remarkably durable too. During our stress test, we bent and twisted the SoundLink 2 with zero noticeable damage or fatigue to the structure. In typical Bose fashion, it feels like subtle, simple, and refined luxury. It is no stretch to call these some of the most comfortable Bluetooth headphones you can buy.
Moving down to the relatively low profile earcups, they turn a full 90 degrees for easier storage in the accompanying carry case. There’s also a good range of pivot movement. This ensures they will fit any head profile without a problem. Unfortunately, they don’t fold inwards to create a smaller footprint when in storage. So, the carrying case is a little on the large side.
Each earcup is labeled for easy channel identification. The memory foam earpads are covered in faux leather and are comfortable enough to wear for long durations. We’ll talk about that more in the comfort section shortly.
As for connections…
Although the SoundLink 2 is a wireless pair of headphones, the left earcup has an input for wired listening too. The provided cable is about 3.5 feet long, more than enough to be able to keep your phone in your pocket.
The cable and input do not have a locking mechanism. However, when attempting to simulate a pull or yank on the cord, the wire stays in very well. Unfortunately, the cable doesn’t include any kind of inline remote, so you’ll have to use your phone for manual control.
On the right earcup…
You’ll find three buttons, two for volume control and a central multi-function button that looks after play/pause, track selection, and call management. The buttons are very easy to locate and separately identify.
An on/off switch on the outer face of the cup also provides voice prompts about how much battery is remaining and which device you’re connected to when turning the headphones on.
The Bose SoundLink 2 is one of the best lightweight wireless headphones we have ever tested. As mentioned already, they only weigh 190 grams. Because they are so light, the relatively thin padding on the ear cups isn’t an issue.
The well-padded headband spreads the minimal weight of the SoundLink 2 evenly. And the clamping force is strong enough to keep them firmly in place whilst never causing any discomfort. You can wear these for hours on end with no fatigue whatsoever.
Whilst not necessarily the best headphones for exercising, as long as your workout isn’t too vigorous, they should stay in position fine. The clamping force was strong enough to keep them in place whilst bench pressing at the gym. Anything more vigorous, and you’ll probably find them slipping off.
The Bose SoundLink 2 is charged via a micro-USB cable. The port can be found on the bottom of the right earcup. A full charge from empty will take three hours, and Bose claims this will provide you with 15-hours playback.
While not industry-leading, this will hopefully be enough to cover your daily commute for the week. If you accidentally forget to charge them, a quick 15-minute charge will deliver two hours of playback. The SoundLink 2 will also turn itself off after 20 minutes of not being used.
The supplied carrying case is of the soft-shell variety, a mixture of faux leather material and some other fabric. The inside is felt-lined, and there’s a neoprene pouch built into the wall to carry the supplied cables.
While it doesn’t offer a huge amount of protection from the hardest of knocks, it will protect the headphones from any scratches or damage they may receive while rolling around inside your rucksack.
The Bose SoundLink 2 uses Bluetooth 4.0 technology and can pair up to two devices simultaneously. Pairing is a very straightforward affair. Voice prompts let you know when the process is complete. NFC pairing is also supported to make things even simpler.
Unfortunately, using the SoundLink 2 to stream videos isn’t the best experience. There’s a degree of latency that’s enough to make the experience a little annoying.
Audio tastes vary from person to person, and people hear things differently. But to my tastes, these are some of the best sounding Bluetooth headphones you can currently buy. That being said, it’s a sound profile that won’t appeal to everyone.
As with all Bose products…
The sound is very well-balanced, with sufficient but not overblown bass. They don’t deliver the kind of finesse and depth you can get from wired headphones. But as far as the best wireless Bluetooth headphones go, these have a smooth and pleasant profile that most listeners are going to appreciate.
When compared to other Bluetooth models such as the Beats Studio wireless, the SoundLink 2 packs way less of a punch in the bass department. However, Bose has far more clarity and detail going on across the frequency ranges.
These are certainly not the wireless headphones for bass-heads or those that purely listen to hip-hop or EDM. The SoundLink 2 sounds a little subdued when listening to those genres. Furthermore, these are not headphones for those that play their music at ear-splitting volumes.
Optimizing the sound…
Bose has also applied quite a lot of digital processing to the signal when in Bluetooth mode. One feature is the volume-optimized EQ, which gives the bass a bit of a boost when you are listening to lower volumes. The bass can drop off a little when you turn the volume down. This aims to compensate for that and does a good job.
Active EQ processing is another feature. This works to get rid of any distortion from the incoming signal, especially from lower-quality files. It basically smooths the overall sound out on the go.
These adjustments are sure to annoy the purists who prefer their sounds delivered without any interference. However, for your average listener, they’ll improve the overall experience.
Bose SoundLink 2 Around-Ear Wireless Headphone Review – Pros and Cons
- Lightweight and comfortable.
- Clean and dynamic sound.
- Excellent for extended listening.
- Decent battery life.
- No inline remote on cable.
- DSP will irritate audiophiles.
Looking for more superb headphone options?
You may also be interested in our reviews of the Most Comfortable Headphones, the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Running Headphones, as well the Best Headphones and Earbuds for Sleeping you can buy.
Bose SoundLink 2 Around-Ear Wireless Headphone Review – Final Thoughts
No manufacturer has managed to create the ideal Bluetooth headphone just yet. Ideal, meaning one that has the same level of sound quality as the best wired headphones. However, Bose continues to do a good job of closing the gap.
The SoundLink 2 combines a slick and uber-comfortable lightweight design with a good level of audio performance. Creating a highly desirable product that most buyers will be very happy with.
Until next time happy listening.