Review: Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II

7 minute read

Every city adventure needs a soundtrack. A good soundtrack. The Bose SoundLink Around-Ear headphones make the best soundtrack crisp, beautiful and clear.

I find the around ear design to be the perfect headphone for urban life. They make any good soundtrack a great soundtrack. In addition to my around-ear headphones, I also own a pair of sport style in-ear headphones. They don’t enhance the music as much as the around-ear design, which blocks out more ambient noise. The strongest blockade of background noise comes from the QuietComfort noise canceling models.

Product Description

The Bose SoundLink headphones are blue-tooth enabled, and also have a traditional 1/8 inch headphone jack. The SoundLink headphone is an around-ear model, as opposed to on-ear and in-ear models, which Bose also makes. The Bose SoundLink headphones are rechargeable via an included Micro-USB cable. The Bose SoundLink headphones are lightweight, with a minimalist design. The SoundLink headphones have a rich sound quality that allows me to experience true sound immersion. The bass is well tuned to both sound excellent in bass heavy music, as well as sound great with more guitar focused music. From bass heavy favorites like Rap, HipHop and Trap to guitar heavy favorites like Rock, Blues and Punk the Bose SoundLink deliver. Even fringe genres like New Wave, Goth and Trance music all sound crisp with the Bose SoundLink headphones.


Ear fatigue from continuous wear is an important consideration to me. Heavy headphones decrease single session wear time. Less music is less fun. I’m all about maximizing fun. The Bose SoundLink is about as heavy as I can tolerate. Though the noise canceling is popular I personally dislike it. I find the mechanism to be heavy. Too heavy. It decreases single session wear time. Also, I get too disoriented with total sound isolation. Whether it’s at the office, or on the street, the noise canceling models go a step too far.

It’s also about safety. Completely blocking out city sounds and voices means I can’t hear cars behind me or citizens warning me of dangers. I avoid the QuietComfort and other noise canceling technology. For office jobs with noisy co-workers or for those traveling by plane, noise canceling can be the difference between a a distraction free day and total noise pollution. However, for me, it’s not the sounds that distract me in the office. I usually listen to music. For me, it’s movement that causes me to get distracted in the office. Something noise canceling cannot remedy.

The Bose SoundLink headphones are rechargeable. The case includes a Micro-USB charging cable. What a great decision by Bose. Any Android phone charger can be used in place of the included cable. Additionally, the headphones are rechargeable either through a computer, due to the USB design, or the wall with a wall adapter.

Making Calls

The Bose SoundLink aren’t only for listening to music. You can make phone calls as well. The headphones contain a built in microphone, making it possible to make calls or use with video games. Anywhere you might need a microphone the Bose SoundLink are an option. I tried them out to make several personal phone calls. While it’s very easy to hear the other side of the conversation, the experience is strange for the speaker. It’s difficult to hear yourself. It makes speaking feel awkward. It’s disorienting when you can hear yourself far away, like your voice is in another room. I believe it’s something that can be overcome with time and practice, but I much prefer the Bose in-ear models for making phone calls.

The Bose SoundLink ear cups fold flat and fit snuggly inside the included case. The case contains a small pouch to store the Micro-USB charging cable as well as the 1/8 headphone backup cable. The right ear cup contains controls for the device. There are volume controls, as well as pause, skip forward, skip back button. The center button also functions as an answer call button.

The Listening Experience

When you first power on the headphones, by flipping the power switch, a woman’s voice reports the battery charge level, as well as the name of the device the to which the headphones are connected. There is a simple, but sometimes annoying, process to switch between devices. I generally pair my headphones with 4-5 different devices depending on my activity. The SoundLink headphones only allow two devices to connect at a time. So it’s a sometimes tedious path to get the correct device connected. Bose could definitely use some work on the pairing process.


My Devices

Headphones are a completely different audio experience than the home stereo. I feel closest to my music when I am wearing headphones. Especially when I use the Bose SoundLink Around-ear headphones. The around-ear design, the freedom of movement blue-tooth provides over the long, heavy headphone cords of similar headphones come together to deliver an emotional, energetic listening experience. The Bose deliver a rich, concert like experience with every song. Whether it’s recorded in the studio or live, I experience the guitar like I am sitting right next to it. The sound clarity is impressive. It does no favors to lesser quality recordings. It’s too clear for a number of bands that I listened to.

I’ve preferred Bose headphones for many years. They are the best performing headphones for the money. I still own of the now discontinued Bose Around-Ear. I gave that pair to my fiancée when I purchased the Bose SoundLink Around Ear Wireless Headphones II. I’ve also owned the Beats on-ear headphones. I personally dislike the Beats model. Ear fatigue is very high. I can’t wear those headphones for more than 20 minutes at a time. I’ve also owned a pair of Etymotics in-ear as well as a number of lower cost models. As expected, the cheaper pair of headphones didn’t last. The more expensive models are still functional, just no longer in daily use.

One drawback of the Bose SoundLink Around Ear Wireless headphones is that the ear pads get hot. I occasionally need to re-adjust the ear cups because my skin feels hot and sweaty where they are resting. In the summer, it’s difficult to wear them for extended periods of time outside. However, since my office is always freezing cold, I never have any issues at work. They get the most use at the office.

I wouldn’t want to use the Around-ear model at the gym. The ear pad material wouldn’t stand up to the sweat and cleaners. Nor are the headphones waterproof. Though the headphones do stand up to some moderate slam dancing and headbanging, they aren’t tight enough to hold firmly in place in more energetic activities. That’s a good thing. The pair of headphones appropriate enough slam dancing aren’t the pair I want to wear for hours at my office.

I purchased the Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II in August of 2016. I’ve been using them for 6 months and I really like them. They are the best pair of around-ear headphones I’ve owned so far. I stand firmly by my choice. Bose has been a reliable brand over the years. I’m able to freely roam around my multi-room apartment, listening to music, without issue or interruption. It’s the best experience I could expect for the price that I paid.

Written wearing Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II. Let your music sound good, while you look good.

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