Beats vs Bose Headphones and Earbuds Comparison

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Beats and Bose are the two biggest names in the headphones and earbuds market. Beats is owned by Apple and originally started by Dr. Dre while Bose has a long history of coming out with innovative speakers and headphones. The two companies are fierce competitors and have also been in the news for their legal battles against each other.

Both Beats and Bose, put together, constitute a majority of the total headphones and earbuds market in the US. If you in the market for purchasing new headphones or earbuds, then chances are that you are considering either Beats or Bose products as one of your potential options.

In this article, we will compare how two specific product lines from these two companies stack up. First, we will look at the headphone lineups of Beats and Bose. Then, we will do the same for the earbud products of the two companies.

Bose vs Beats Headphones

The headphones that we will assess are as follows:

Beats

  • Beats EP (wired)
  • Beats Solo 3 Wireless
  • Beats Solo Pro
  • Beats Studio 3 Wireless
  • Beats Pro (wired)

Bose

  • Bose on-ear Wireless
  • SoundLink around-ear Wireless headphones II
  • QuietComfort 35 Wireless
  • Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Audio Quality

The single most important metric for any headphone is the audio output that it gives. While comparing audio quality is quite subjective, we looked at the technical side of things. In particular, we looked at the frequency range that the headphones cover.

All headphones have a certain frequency range which they are capable of processing. The lower frequencies are important if you are a bass fan. In general, having a wider frequency range means the headphone is more versatile and can give out a wide range of sounds.

Besides the frequency range, factors like the driver size and the impedance levels also matter. Ultimately, all of these technical factors determine how deep the bass is, how rich the highs are, and how clear the sound is.

ModelAudio Quality
Beats EPEntry Level (2/5)
Beats Solo 3Intermediate Level (3/5)
Beats Solo ProIntermediate (3/5)
Beats Studio 3Premium Level (4/5)
Beats ProStudio Level (5/5)
Bose on-earEntry Level (2/5)
SoundLink around-ear IIIntermediate Level (3/5)
QuietComfort 35Studio Level (5/5)
Bose Noise Cancelling 700Premium Level (4/5)

+1 for the QuietComfort 35

+1 for the Beats Pro

Battery Life

We all want our headphones to work as long as possible. This is especially true if you plan to use your headphones on a long flight or at an outdoor activity. You probably do not want to keep charging your batteries every few hours or keep swapping them as that would mean interruptions to your listening experience.

Battery life is an extremely important metric when selecting headphones. Headphones need battery power for noise cancellation and wireless/Bluetooth functionality. A headphone with a long battery life will mean a more hassle-free usage.

ModelBattery Life
Beats EPNo battery operation
Beats Solo 340 hrs
Beats Solo Pro22 hrs
Beats Studio 322 hrs
Beats ProNo battery operation
Bose on-ear15 hrs
SoundLink around-ear II15 hrs
QuietComfort 3520 hrs
Bose Noise Cancelling 70020 hrs

+1 for the Beats Solo 3

Warranty

Warranty periods on consumer electronics products are an indication of the confidence that the manufacturer has in the longevity of the product. If you are going to invest a substantial amount of money on a good quality (or premium range) headphone set, then you want to protect your investment with a long warranty period.

Warranties are like insurance policies that give you peace-of-mind in case your headphones break down or have any technical issues. The longer the warranty period, the more “safe” will be your investment.

Even though we looked at the warranty periods for all our assessed headphone models, you must always read what is covered under a warranty. The devil is in the details. You may be interested to know that warranties offered by various manufacturers on various models can have plenty of variations.

ModelWarranty Period
Beats EP1 year
Beats Solo 31 year
Beats Solo Pro1 year
Beats Studio 31 year
Beats Pro1 year
Bose on-ear1 year
SoundLink around-ear II1 year
QuietComfort 351 year
Bose Noise Cancelling 7001 year

Noise Cancellation

Headphone manufacturers in recent years are increasingly incorporating the noise-canceling functionality in their models. The feature has now become almost a default for higher-priced models and customers expect to see it if they are going to pay anything over $150 for a pair of headphones.

Noise cancellation helps reduce any unwanted ambient sounds which may interfere with the audio of the headphones. Active noise cancellation technology uses a microphone to capture the ambient sound. It then produces a sound wave to counter that ambient sound, thereby “cancelling” the disturbing noise.

Some of the latest headphones, especially from beats, use adaptive noise cancellation or adjustable noise cancellation. In such models, users can adjust the level of noise cancellation that they prefer.

ModelNoise Cancellation
Beats EPNo
Beats Solo 3No
Beats Solo ProYes (Active Noise Cancellation)
Beats Studio 3Yes (Adaptive Noise Cancellation)
Beats ProNo
Bose on-earNo
SoundLink around-ear IINo
QuietComfort 35Yes
Bose Noise Cancelling 700Yes (11 levels of NC)

+1 for the Noise Cancelling 700

+1 for the Beats Studio 3

Portability

The size and weight of the headphones affect the ease with which it can be carried around. Whether you are traveling on a flight or going on a trail run, the weight and size of the headphones will matter.

As a general rule of thumb, on-ear headphones are lighter than over-the-ear headphones. However, over-the-ear headphones provide better noise isolation. So, there is a slight trade-off in portability and sound quality.

The smaller the headphones, the easier it is to pack them and carry them. Bulky and large headphones will require their own luggage space. Smaller headphones do not necessarily mean the best headphones. However, if size and portability are important priorities, then the information below will help you make a decision.

ModelDimensionsWeight
Beats EP7 in (H) X 8.5 in (W)680 grams
Beats Solo 37.8 in (H) X 5.5 in (W)215 grams
Beats Solo Pro7 in (H)267 grams
Beats Studio 37.2 in (H)260 grams
Beats Pro7.7 in (H)400 grams
Bose on-ear7.1 in (H) X 5.5 in (W) X 2.4 in (D)161 grams
SoundLink around-ear II7.5 in (H) X 6 in (W) X 1.5 in (D)198 grams
QuietComfort 357.1 in (H) X 6.7 in (W) X 3.2 in (D)235 grams
Bose Noise Cancelling 7008 in (H) X 6.5 in (W) X 2 in (D)254 grams

+1 for Bose on-ear

+1 for the QuietComfort 35

Connectivity

Wireless connectivity has become a very useful feature in newer headphone models that are wireless. Headphones normally connect to the audio source (device) via Bluetooth. Such wireless connectivity allows you to use your headphones when performing activities that involve a high level of movement.

However, some of the latest headphone models also have NFC connectivity options, connectivity with Amazon Alexa, and connectivity with Apple Siri.

ModelConnectivity
Beats EP3.5mm fixed wire plug
Beats Solo 3Bluetooth, Apple W1, Siri, iCloud, microUSB
Beats Solo ProBluetooth, Apple H1, Siri
Beats Studio 3Bluetooth, Apple W1, Siri, iCloud, microUSB
Beats Pro3.5mm fixed wire plug
Bose on-earBluetooth, Siri, Google Assistant, fixed wire connectivity
SoundLink around-ear IIBluetooth
QuietComfort 35Bluetooth, NFC, Alexa, Google Assistant
Bose Noise Cancelling 700Bluetooth, Alexa, Google Assistant

+1 for the QuietComfort 35

+1 for the Beats Solo 3

+1 for the Beats Studio 3

Price

Headphones can have all the right features, the best technology, and incredible sound quality. But ultimately, the one question that every buyer asks himself/herself is “what’s the price?” In other words, every buyer wants to know how much he/she will have to pay for all the great features that a particular headphone offers.

Headphones are generally categorized within three price ranges: Budget, Mid-range, and Premium. Here is how our assessed headphones stack up when it comes to pricing:

ModelPriceCheck Price
Beats EP$129Check Price
Beats Solo 3$199Check Price
Beats Solo Pro$299Check Price
Beats Studio 3$349Check Price
Beats Pro$399Check Price
Bose on-ear$179Check Price
SoundLink around-ear II$229Check Price
QuietComfort 35$349 to $399Check Price
Bose Noise Cancelling 700$399Check Price

+1 for the Beats EP

+1 for the Bose on-ear

Bose vs Beats Earbuds

The earbuds that we will assess are as follows:

Beats

  • urBeats 3 (wired)
  • Powerbeats 3 Wireless
  • Beats X
  • Powerbeats Pro

Bose

  • SoundSport in-ear
  • SoundSport Free Wireless
  • QC20 Noise Cancelling
  • QuietControl 30 Wireless

Audio Quality

Audio Quality is something that is every potential buyer explores first up in any brand of earbuds. The good earbuds will have a rich high tone, a deep bass, and crystal clear sound. A lot of the sound quality depends on the driver that is used and the impedance that the earbuds have.

ModelAudio Quality
urBeats 3Entry Level (2/5)
Powerbeats 3Premium Level (4/5)
Beats XIntermediate Level (3/5)
Powerbeats ProPremium Level (4/5)
SoundSport in-earEntry Level (2/5)
SoundSport FreeIntermediate Level (3/5)
QC20 Noise CancellingIntermediate Level (3/5)
QuietControl 30Premium Level (4/5)

+1 for the Powerbeats Pro

+1 for the Bose QuietControl 30

Battery Life

Batteries are needed in earbuds too for a variety of reasons. If the earbuds have a noise cancellation feature, a remote controller for taking phone calls, or wireless Bluetooth connectivity, then power is needed to drive the circuitry that delivers such functionalities.

If any gadget has batteries, then users obviously want them to run for as long as possible without charging them. Earbuds are also in the same bucket. Imagine using your earbuds on a long flight or when you go for a day-long outdoor activity. You want your earbuds to keep running for long hours. Having to charge your batteries every few hours would mean interruptions to your listening experience.

Hence, battery life is an important metric when selecting earbuds that use batteries. The longer the battery life, the more hassle-free the usage will be.

ModelBattery Life
urBeats 3N/A
Powerbeats 312 hrs
Beats X8 hrs
Powerbeats Pro9 hrs
SoundSport in-ear6 hrs
SoundSport Free5 hrs
QC20 Noise Cancelling16 hrs
QuietControl 3010 hrs

+1 for the QC20 Noise Cancelling

+1 for the Powerbeats 3

Warranty

Warranty periods on consumer electronics products are an indication of the confidence that the manufacturer has in the longevity of the product. If you are going to invest a substantial amount of money on some premium quality earbuds, then you want to protect your investment with a long warranty period.

Warranties are like insurance policies that give you peace-of-mind in case your headphones break down or have any technical issues. The longer the warranty period, the more “safe” will be your investment. All the Bose and Beats earbuds come with a standard 1-year warranty. You can purchase additional warranty in some cases, but that is a personal choice.

Another thing that you should know about warranties is that it is a must to read what is covered under a warranty. The devil is in the details. You may be interested to know that warranties offered by various manufacturers on various models can have plenty of variations.

ModelAudio Quality
urBeats 31 Year
Powerbeats 31 Year
Beats X1 Year
Powerbeats Pro1 Year
SoundSport in-ear1 Year
SoundSport Free1 Year
QC20 Noise Cancelling1 Year
QuietControl 301 Year

Connectivity

Connectivity differentiates the earbuds as wired or wireless. Connectivity features also impact the overall experience that a user has with his/her earbuds. For example, certain earbuds offer connectivity to Siri or iCloud which allows you to give out voice commands and access your music library remotely.

In terms of connecting the earbuds to your phone or music device, you can either do it via Bluetooth or NFC. Some Bose earbuds have the NFC option which allows you to pair your earbuds to an NFC-enabled device.

One another neat feature that we came across was the ability of two Bose QuietControl 30 earbuds to connect via Bluetooth with each other so that both users can listen to the same audio.

ModelConnectivity
urBeats 33.5mm plug/Lightning Connector
Powerbeats 3Bluetooth, Apple W1, Siri, iCloud, microUSB
Beats XBluetooth, Apple W1, Siri, iCloud, Lightning Connector
Powerbeats ProBluetooth, Apple H1, Siri, Lightning Connector
SoundSport in-earBluetooth, NFC
SoundSport FreeBluetooth, USB
QC20 Noise Cancelling3.5mm plug
QuietControl 30Bluetooth, NFC, Connect 2 Bose earbuds for co-listening

+1 for the Powerbeats 3

+1 for the Bose QuietControl 30

Comfort/Ease of Use

Comfort is about how well the earbuds fit into your ears and how well they can stay there for long periods. You want your earbuds to stay in your ears even when you exercise. You also want your earbuds to isolate some amount of noise. This is possible only when the earbuds fit well.

Another factor that contributes to comfort is how the earbuds interface with each other and with your audio device. Wired earbuds are slightly less comfortable since you have wires getting in your way. Wireless earbuds without any wires whatsoever provide the most amount of freedom of movement and the best ease of use.

Model
urBeats 3Wired, 4 Eartip size options
Powerbeats 3Earhooks, wire connects two earbuds,
cable adjustor, 4 Eartip size options
Beats XWire connects two earbuds,
4 Eartip size options
Powerbeats ProEarhooks, completely wireless,
4 Eartip size options
SoundSport in-earWire connects 2 earbuds,
3 Eartip size options
SoundSport FreeSpecially design eartips,
completely wireless,
3 Eartip size options
QC20 Noise CancellingWired, 3 Eartip size options
QuietControl 30Neckband-wire combo connecting
2 earbuds, 3 Eartip size options

+1 for the Powerbeats Pro

+1 for the Bose SoundSport Free

Price

Pricing is one of the most important factors for any earbud purchaser. Ideally, every user would want as many features in his/her earbuds as possible. However, every feature costs money. So, ultimately, purchasers will end up balancing their desire for more features with their ability to pay.

For someone who is on a limited budget, an entry-level earbud might make sense even if it means sacrificing high-end features. For someone who has no budget limits, opting for the premium range earbuds would be an easy decision.

For those who have a reasonably high budget, opting for a mid-range option with a mix of features and competitive pricing would give them the best bang for their buck. We have listed the prices for each of our assessed earbuds below:

ModelPriceCheck Price
urBeats 3$59Check Price
Powerbeats 3$199Check Price
Beats X$99Check Price
Powerbeats Pro$249Check Price
SoundSport in-ear$129Check Price
SoundSport Free$199Check Price
QC20 Noise Cancelling$249Check Price
QuietControl 30$299Check Price

+1 for the urBeats 3

+1 for the Bose SoundSport in-ear

So which headphone or earbud should I buy?

Now that you have seen all the metrics of the headphones and earbuds that we compared, you know how they all stack up against each other. The next step for you is to figure out which metrics are most important to you.

You will have to prioritize what you are looking for in your new headphones or earbuds and then pick out the best product accordingly.

For example, if the price is important to you, then the Beats EP or the Bose on-ear headphones are two options to choose from. However, those models do not offer noise cancellation features or premium sound quality.

Among earbuds, the urBeats 3 and the Bose SoundSport in-ear are the lowest priced options. So, if you have a fixed budget, then you will probably want to limit your research to earbuds in the price range of your budget.

If having the best sound quality is important to you, then the Beats Pro or the QuietComfort 35 are the headphones to look at. But, they will cost you money as well.

The same goes for the Powerbeats Pro or the QuietControl 30. They offer excellent sound quality among the earbud models that we reviewed. However, they also cost upwards of $200.

In this manner, you can also look at metrics like wired vs wireless or noise cancellation vs noise reduction or over-the-ear vs on-ear.

The way you prioritize your preferences will be guided by your intended end-use. For example, if you want to listen to music when exercising outdoors, then you probably want something that is completely wireless, compact, and weather-resistant.

Each person will have a different set of preferences and hence a different final choice. We wish you good luck in your search for that new set of headphones or earbuds!