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Shocker: the new Bose AE2's are actually good.

post #1 of 59
Thread Starter 

Yeah I know. Bose sucks. No highs, no lows...that's Bose! (or however that stupid joke goes). 


Anyway, I've owned Bose headphones in the past. Used to have the OE (they are terrible...ok sound but the bass is horrifyingly overwhelming). I also used to have the original AE's. 


I've always been a fan of the AE's, feeling that they were a lot better than most people on this site gave them credit for. They had a very open, warm sound with a great balance. Unlike their OE bretheren, they didn't have a ridiculous emphasis on bass. They were comfortable and lightweight. Durable? A lot of people said no, but mine never broke. Mine were stolen, however...


Anyway, I finally fell victim to the Bose displays and bought these. I've been listening to them for a few days non stop. They basically take everything that the original AE's got right and added a few new things. For starters, these are without a doubt the most comfortable pair I've ever worn. The ear pads are either real leather or a very good quality pleather. They are INCREDIBLY lightweight. I at first thought them to be flimsy because they are so light. I can literally wear them for hours and almost forget they are there. 


The design has also received an update. It still sports the classic black/grey bose look, but they've been flattened somewhat and have more black than grey, and the logo is quite dominant on the outside of the ear cups. I find them to be rather attractive, honestly. In addition to this, the cord is now only one sided, and is also detachable just like the OE's, which I think is incredibly useful. If the wire craps out, I can easily and simply replace it. 


Also, the ear cups now fold flat. This makes storage easier and reduces the chance of accidental stress/breaks. 


Now for the sound. 


They are awesome. No jokes. First let me say that I've primarily used Sennheisers for a long time after I first got the bose. I still love my senns. I still wholeheartedly recommend the 280 pros and the HD 203s and the PX 200s (which I still use when I work out :). 


I describe the sound in some of the same terms that I used to describe the original AE's. (warm, open, balanced) However there is a difference. The biggest difference is in the fullness of sound. The original AE's tended to be a bit hallow sounding. The new versions tend to always have a full, warm sound. The sound is also a bit more spacious and 3 dimensional. When listening to jazz recordings (like take 5) or Dark side of the moon, I can tell a very clear sense of space and instrument placement. I couldn't do this with either the original AEs or the OEs. To be blunt, there's a very nice soundstage. 


Another major difference, although this is more of an improvement (as the original AE's were actually pretty clear), is the clarity of the sound. Instrument separation is phenomenal. Yes, phenomenal. Even on heavy metal tracks, I could actually distinguish between guitars playing the same rhythm part very distinctly. I haven't been able to do this even on my Sennhieser HD 203s. The bass is ever present yet in the background of the soundstage, which is a very pleasant effect. When the mix brings the bass to the front, you hear it nicely and clearly. I think the bass could use more definition, but it's actually quite improved from the original AE's, and these are actually slightly more bass heavy, although the balance is still very nice. 


The final kicker: they are extremely durable. When I was at the display, the best buy employee actually took the AE2s and wrung the headband in any which way he could. He even attempted to cris cross the ear cups around each other...and after he was done the head band retained it's original shape and there was no sign of wear. He said he had been doing this to anyone who has been looking at them. I tried it to my new ones and got the same results. Bose stepped up on the quality control isssue. 



I will admit that this sound probably isn't what hardcore audio enthusiasts would describe as "accurate". The sound is still very much sculpted and colored to present a distinct sound signature. However, I find the Bose sound to be very pleasant and inviting. These headphones basically present the sound of the old floor model speakers in the the form of headphones. For listening, even on the analytic level, these work really well. But for mixing and mastering, steer clear. 


Last but not least, I would even go as far as to justify the price. The sound is finally what I think $150 merits, plus you get a limited warranty, ease of replacing parts (like the detachable cable), extreme comfort and durability. 



Let the hate commence. 


EDIT: One more thing I forgot to mention is that these actually really benefit from amplification. They work well without, but on certain recordings they almost need to have an amp to really bring out the recording (mostly with lower volume classical recordings). 


Edited by swaffleman - 9/24/11 at 1:43am
post #2 of 59
What other headphones have you listened to extensively? Have you spent any time with speakers? Which ones?

I'm not saying you're wrong, but I'd like to know what you're comparing these to. The headphones you reference aren't the best around.

If you've listened a lot to very good headphones, I'll give your opinion some credibility. If not, you need to spend some time with good headphones before making a claim like this.

Bose deserves their bad reputation. It'll take a lot to overcome that.

Part of me wishes Bose would make something good. They're certainly capable. I don't care who the manufacturer is; I own headphones from seven or eight manufacturers. If it's good, I don't care who makes it. But Bose has never put out anything worth listening to.
post #3 of 59
Thread Starter 

I know you like the MDR V 6s, which I own and have used a lot. I can't use them for long because they fatigue my ears a lot, but they are great for transcription purposes. 


I also owned the Senn HD 25-1s, which I loved but had to return due to financial difficulties... 


I have listened to grado SRi60s and those famous M50s everyone's talked about (the audio technicas). 


I think the new AE2s compare well to all of those, and I prefer the warmer sound over the more neutral sound of some of these. 


I dunno man, Bose has made a lot of great equipment, particularly their older floor standing models. I also like the acoustic wave radios, they do a very good job of filling the room with a pleasant, warm and clear sound. 


I have to admit that I'm not much of a speaker enthusiast. I've been exposed to some Polk audio speakers at school which I thought sounded very nice. We use those a lot at my music school. 

Edited by swaffleman - 9/24/11 at 2:05am
post #4 of 59

I agree, some bose products are actually decent if not value for money. I personally like their jewel cube lifestyle systems, the 901 speakers, the companion 20s and the qc15s

post #5 of 59
Thread Starter 

My friend has some nice bose computer speakers. They sound nice, although the sub woofer that comes with them tends to be overpowering. Every time I'm over I end up turning the volume down on it.


Don't get me wrong, I'm not a hardcore Bose supporter, I can admit they've made bad products, such as their in ear monitors and OE headphones (both of which suffer from a monstrous amount of bass that overwhelms). But I can't understand the hate they get. I've even seen people claiming that apple ear buds and even coby products sound better than the Bose headphones, which is absolutely ludicrous in my humble opinion. 

Edited by swaffleman - 9/24/11 at 2:18am
post #6 of 59
Originally Posted by swaffleman View Post

My friend has some nice bose computer speakers. They sound nice, although the sub woofer that comes with them tends to be overpowering. Every time I'm over I end up turning the volume down on it.


Don't get me wrong, I'm not a hardcore Bose supporter, I can admit they've made bad products, such as their in ear monitors and OE headphones (both of which suffer from a monstrous amount of bass that overwhelms). But I can't understand the hate they get. I've even seen people claiming that apple ear buds and even coby products sound better than the Bose headphones, which is absolutely ludicrous in my humble opinion. 


 It's two fold reasoning :- objectively speaking their general range of products may not sound like apple ibuds or a TEAC i-dock but :-


1) They are seen as a status symbol of quality and luxury by many of the general public, this falsity breeds contempt within the audio community.


2) Price to quality ratio - Teac is cheap, ibuds come for free with your apple product. Bose is far from cheap and in respect to it's perceived quality

    bears the brunt of heavy criticism.




post #7 of 59
Thread Starter 

By who's standards are they judged to be of inferior value when weighed against price? I personally think the AE2s are of a great value, even given their $150 price. 


If you were to talk about the beats, then I might agree with that, since they typically cost $100 more and I perceive them to be inferior sound wise. 

Edited by swaffleman - 9/24/11 at 2:32am
post #8 of 59

Well, the AEs, I find, really aren't that bad.  Everyone seems to hate them, but they're actually pretty good.  Sound-wise, at least.  Unfortunately, due to build quality issues, I don't really think they're worth the full price...maybe $50-60 overpriced, to me.


But if they've fixed those issues with the AE2, it could actually make them somewhat competitive to the headphones that are generally popular around here, as long as people can swallow their pride and actually say they're good...but I've never listened to the AE2 before, so I can't exactly defend them.

post #9 of 59
Thread Starter 

Well, Bose basically pulled a Sennheiser and made a "2" out of them. The durability is much better now...I seriously wish I had taken a video of what the guy at the display did to them. I was like "wow he's gonna break them and get in trou- oh wow they aren't breaking...."

post #10 of 59

I haven't heard the AE2's myself so I cannot comment, it's more of a case that once a brand produces 1, 2, 3 or more products

that are universally panned then it is a very hard road back on a site like Head-Fi. Just look at Skull Candy, you won't find many

fans here yet that does not change my opinion of the Aviators - they are shoddily built but sound somewhat ok. A real surprise.


I can personally say that the Bose Soundock Dock II and QC15's are very poor products for their price in Australia.


I was the same with Sennheiser, until I heard the HD 650 - I was starting to think that there was some sort of conspiracy

going on because the HD 515, HD 201 don't deserve any praise at all at any price in my book.


Monster may well go on to make a wonderful headphone, again it will be a very hard road from the pit that they have dug

for themselves.


The AE2's may be a reasonable product in your opinion but again, I'm siding with Uncle Erik - what is your reference

point? They're selling for $199.95AUD over here - that's a lot of money. Shure 840, Audio Technica M50, Grado 125i

and many others are yours for that money.


Here's what Cnet had to say in their conclusion about the AE2





"That small knock aside, we thought they were very good. Are they the best-sounding headphones we've heard for AU$199.95? Probably not."




post #11 of 59
Thread Starter 

well you know what my reference is. I've listed several pairs of mid range to upper mid range headphones, nearly all of which have universal critical acclaim as being audiophile level headphones (some of which are coined as being entry level, but nonetheless are considered to be good). Even if I don't listen to the really expensive stuff, that doesn't mean I don't know what a good sound is. 


Even if there are other options that are cheaper, if the product is good then it's good, isn't it? Besides, you are paying for more than merely the sound. In this case of the AE2s, I think the design is part of the price. Extremely comfortable, now quite durable, replaceable cable, plus good sound. I'd say it's a great value, coupled with a warranty as well. 


BTW have you heard the Senn 203s? I think they are rather nice for what they are. 

post #12 of 59

I've always enjoyed the sound of the Around-Ears in stores. But armed with my experience at Head-Fi, I knew I was wrong.

post #13 of 59

Okay guys, I'm going to add a shocker to this Bose shock.  I lost my Grado SR80i headphones a while back, and while I was deciding on a replacement pair, I picked up a pair of Bose IE2 in-ear things because they were on sale for almost half price at Future Shop in Canada.  I tried the Klipsch S4s after reading a million online reviews about how great they are.  They are not great, and they are super uncomfortable.  The Bose don't fit deep into your ear canal, and they don't sit on your ear like the apple horrible buds do.  They kind of rest comfortably half-way into your ear.


Are you ready for this?  The Bose sound very very good.  Deep, punchy base. Fairly neutral sound with excellent highs and mids.  All around excellent sound.  No where nearly as good as the Grados, but nothing really comes close.


They don't isolate.  Neither do the Grados.  But I hate being isolated, so I liked them for that.


The one thing I do like about Bose is that you can return them within a month if you don't like them, which I did.  Not because I don't like them, but because I'm not the type of person that listens to music out and about.  Once I decided on a Grado replacement (MS1i), I took them back.


Now, the AE2s are the headphone style version of the IE2, so I would have to recommend them. (I did listen to the AE2s at Future Shop, by the way).  Of course there are tons better for the price, but if you find them on sale, I think they're a pretty good choice.


Head Fi is chock full of Bose haters, I know.  But I'm not one of them.  I mean, it's also full of Grado haters too.  Go figure.

post #14 of 59

I have a pair of AE2 that I enjoy every now and then. Bose has been around our home awhile now, so , I am a little loyal. And on top of that it does not sound bad to me. I had the first Tri-port that lasted me for years and I traded it in for newer AE2. 




Happy Listening!!!!!!

post #15 of 59

Sennheiser and AKG conducted a joint study some years back on Bose demographics. They found a high prevalence of impaired cognitive skills and social conformism; also, narcissistic personality disorder.


I call, bias.

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