Bose showed up at the Qualcomm Snapdragon Summit being held in Hawaii to make a surprise announcement: The company will be adding Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound certification to the QuietComfort Earbuds II (QCE II) in spring 2023, bringing 24-bit and lossless audio to Bose’s flagship earbuds.
When Bose launched the QCE II earlier in 2022, the wireless earbuds only supported SBC and AAC codecs, making them something of an outlier in terms of flagship wireless earbuds. Many of Bose’s competitors (with the notable exception of Apple’s AirPods Pro) support some flavor of 24-bit capable codec. At the time, we asked company spokespeople if there were any plans to add high-res capabilities, but all we got were some careful acknowledgments that it wasn’t out of the question.
Now we know that Bose was already using Qualcomm’s S5 sound platform inside the QCE II, which laid the groundwork for this latest announcement. Adding full Snapdragon Sound capabilities to the QCE II means the earbuds will use two of Qualcomm’s leading codecs: aptX Adaptive, for scalable sound that can reach as high as 24-bit/96kHz with lossy compression, and aptX Lossless, which is capable of delivering bit-perfect playback at 16-bit/44.1kHz CD quality.
Snapdragon Sound certification also means the earbuds will offer very low-latency performance when conditions require it — as low as 48 milliseconds — and they will support aptX Voice for better-sounding voice calls. It also means that Qualcomm has tested all of these features and will certify that they work as expected when the QCE II are paired with a Snapdragon Sound smartphone. That’s a key point: none of these new features will work with the iPhone — just select Android handsets.
Unfortunately, Bluetooth Multipoint is not a part of the Snapdragon Sound program, so even after this update, the QCE II may still be missing this valuable feature.
This is a significant upgrade for the QCE II. In our review, we noted that the earbuds sound really good, but that they stopped just shy of delivering the kind of high performance that demanding listeners would want. Was it Bose’s use of SBC and AAC that held these buds back? We’ll find out in spring 2023 when the upgrade to Snapdragon Sound will happen via a firmware update.
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