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