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Bose AE2W *review*

  1. localredhead
    I've always been a fan of underdogs and I've always had a fetish for the Bose headphones. I know, its kinky and it is bad, but I just can't help myself. I may need an intervention (and would welcome your arguments why I'm completely biased and wrong about this).

    I would call myself a mid-fi'er. I love my music to be enjoyable to listen to with no specific part of it missing. I want the high's to sparkle and the bass to be full and natural. This is what I would call fun. I am not an expert or an audiophile - I just go with what sounds good. I listen to a lot of genres - everything from 50's do-wop to gangster rap with some dubstep and edm sprinkled in there too.

    These are the headphones/earbuds I own and I think sound good:

    1. UE-6000
    2. Beyer COPs
    3. TMA-1 Studios
    4. Bose OE2
    5. Koss Pro DJ 100 (require an amp)
    6. Skullcandy Aviators
    7. A-151
    8. A-161

    I think I may have found a new favorite work-horse-portable-headhpone.

    How is the bluetooth? Doesn't bluetooth suck for audio?
    With the bluetooth on and within 15 ft of my source I cannot detect any loss in audio quality. It is purely enjoyable to listen to and I am hearing details in the song that I have not heard with other headsets, even my A-161's which consider somewhat analytical. From my personal listening the bluetooth does not degrade the audio quality enough to be noticed.

    How do they sound?
    For my range of musical needs they sound amazing. They really are a great sounding headphone. I think I actually prefer them to my UE-6000's which were my daily driver. Keep in mind I keep the NC on 24/7 on my UE-6000's which does alter the sound signature and adds some bass to it that is unnatural. That may be why I prefer the sound of the AE2W's more.

    I used the word "amazing" above because these are clear and have great instrument separation so I hear it all. The sound stage may be completely wrong, but my ears don't care so much because I hear *everything*. I am hearing things in songs I haven't heard before. I am able to pick out the backup singers in songs individually, which I can't with all my headphones on an average source. These headphones are doing great on what I would call a sub-par source (bluetooth).

    I don't really have to do any convincing here. Bose is known for their comfort. I can almost forget they are there except my ears are a littler warmer than normal.

    They came with a charge cable and a cable for listening when the bluetooth is charging. They also came with a bag that is meager at best. Horrible fail here on an otherwise great headphone.

    Sound Leakage
    They do leak a slight bit of sound. Someone sitting within 2 feet of you would hear what you are hearing.. not loudly or legibly but enough to bother them if they were say, trying to fall asleep beside you.

    I work as a software developer and I listen to music at least 2/3rds of my day, every day while I'm coding with headphones. I also have a standing desk and I like to pace while I think. These are my new daily driver.

    I'll miss the noise cancelling and the earbuds for blocking out the outside world, but I think the great sound of these headphones will do that for me and I am not tethered to my machine by a cable.

    What sounds good is truly subjective - because I've been told with all my research that Bose sucks... yet I can't deny my ears... they love it.

    EDIT - forgot the last zero on UE-6000
  2. bubsdaddy
    Thanks for the review. I've been waiting for this. I looked at a pair at the Bose store and they look identical to the AE2. I think the AE2 is much more detailed than most of the other phones in the Bose lineup. I was surprised at how normal they look as the pictures mad me think the bluetooth module was going to be huge and would make the wearer look Borgish. As is the case with most Bose products, the price is what held me back. I usually buy used or refurbished. The nice people at the Bose store told me they expect refurbs in about 6 months.
    I also checked out the new Soundlink Mini. It was truly spectacular for the size. I bought the Soundlink refurbed for $179 and I am very happy with it.
  3. localredhead
    At the price that they want it is a hard sell - if they had NC it wouldn't be though.

    The EQ on these is slightly different than the AE2 because they have something called "active EQ". I am not sure what ActiveEQ does but to my ears it is a nice balanced sound. I always felt the AE2 by themselves were a little bass bloated.

    The AE2W probably still have some color in the bass but not as much as its ancestors.

    When I compare how they sound to other heaphones that cost just as much I do not think I overpaid. The unit is light on accessories and such making the price tag feel steeper than it should.

    From a sound perspective the price is right where it should be. They sound like a 250$ headphone. They wear like a $250 headphone should.

  4. Rod98
    I bought a pair of these yesterday for use with my surface pro. the sound quality is excellent except I get a lot of drop outs when using the bluetooth. If I connect with the cable no problem. Bose have been no help so far with their suggestions telling me it is the quality of the ripping or sound card or low volume, surely if any of these were the cause it would drop out when using the cable or the tablet speakers
  5. localredhead
    Rod - I have experienced some issues as well.

    I have found that some sources (my cell phone) pair better than others (my mac book pro). I don't really have an explanation, but I have no issues at all when I pair it with a good source.

    On sources that give me trouble, I have noticed that I have to be close to the source to avoid signal attenuation.
  6. localredhead
    BTW - in my world Microsoft things require driver updates from time to time.

    I would investigate and see if you can update the drivers for the blue tooth firmware on your surface pro. This is the path I am taking with my mac book pro.
  7. Rod98
    Thanks Localredhead, I will try updating the bluetooth on my surface and see what happens. distance doesn't seem to be a problem, I can be 500mm from the tablet or 5 metres and it doesn't seem to make any difference. Bose told me to update the AE2w software but it was up to date.
  8. Rod98
    Thanks Localredhead, I will try updating the bluetooth on my surface and see what happens. distance doesn't seem to be a problem, I can be 500mm from the tablet or 5 metres and it doesn't seem to make any difference. Bose told me to update the AE2w software but it was up to date.
  9. Rod98
    Thanks again Localredhead, I think I may have solved my problem. I have checked all of the microsoft tablet bluetooth software and it tells me it is all up to date. However I do have a Microsoft bluetooth wedge mouse and if I turn this off I don't get any dropouts (so far) if I turn it on drops almost straight away. Does this sound feasible to you? It looks like the problem to me (a non tech head) and if it means I can't use the mouse and listen at the same time ,I can live with that.
  10. localredhead
    It sounds like you may be onto the problem! I'm glad to hear you may have the issue (almost) solved.

    If you feel like it - you should report this, as you have just explained it to me, to Bose as well as to Microsoft. Someone needs to fix it!

    On a side note, I found more information here: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/5035295?start=0&tstart=0

    tl;dr Bose claims mobile devices are better supported for these headphones, and that they don't necessarily support the use of the headphones with a computer (my case). This is why I have noticed that my cell phone pairs smoothly but my mac book does not!

    Per the discussion thread - there are Windows and Mac driver updates that can be downloaded and installed here: http://worldwide.bose.com/downloads/en/web/bose_bluetooth_headphones_system_downloads/page.html

    My headphones were already at the latest firmware but this may have installed some compatibility software on my mac book. I have not noticed any issues since I updated mine :)

    EDIT - spelling
  11. Rod98
    well I am sure i have detirmined what the problem is. it is other blue tooth devices in the near vicinity to the headphones and or surface. I use a microsoft wedge bluetooth mouse with the surface and if i turn it off i almost eliminate the dropouts. I have another usb microsoft mouse and keyboard that i use with a laptop mostly in another room. If I disconnect the usb from the laptop I eliminate the dropoits completely. Now the problem is how can i operate a mouse with my surface while using the headphones? or how do I use the headphones if someone is using the laptop with the microsoft keyboard and mouse in the next room. What happens if i am in a public place where other bluetooth devices could abound ? i will advise both microsoft and Bose of the problem as it needs to be resolved if these headphones are to be a product of merchantable quality. Thanks for your assistance localredhead.
  12. HAL 9000
    Active EQ is basically just Bose saying there's a DAC in the BT adapter on the headphones that produces what they think the music should sound like. Basically it's their hard-coded EQ built into the dongle firmware.
    The Surface Pro comes with a Marvell WiFi/BT chipset. For something labeled "Pro", and from a company as reputable as Microsoft, I would have at least expected them to choose an Intel Wireless card. Even the base model Intel WiFi cards with integrated Bluetooth (1030, 2230, 6230) are leagues better than anything I've used from Marvell. They could have even gone Broadcom, like Apple and a TON of smartphone OEM's, and been much better off. Broadcom would have given them a much better BGA solution. I have the Intel 6235 in my Vostro 3360 and I've never had a single issue, period, from my AE2w's.
    Now, on my smartphones (yes, plural), some suffer from degraded Bluetooth audio quality because of a low bit-pool size. This doesn't affect Apple devices, only some Android devices. It happened when Google changed Android's default Bluetooth stack.
    Overall, I really like my AE2w's though. The only thing I'm not crazy about is the lack of volume... they're really too quiet. Remove the dongle and wire them and they sound better. My setup is a Samsung Galaxy S III INTL (the model with Wolfson audio), with a custom compiled kernel that features an adapted version of Voodoo Sound from the WM8994. The DAC in the i9300 is WM1801, which is MUCH less complicated, but still produces a very nice sound when properly configured. I have that hooked to a FiiO E12 Mont Blanc, and I have to say... it's pretty amazing. The AE2's can handle a LOT of power, and an amp really wakes the AE2's up. They actually sound like their price point with an amp.
  13. altimaakash
    any quality cable recommendation that can remote with iphone 4s?
  14. dlhen68
    Any way to use these with a receiver (PS3 via HDMI)? I like to watch movies w/ headphones. I'm knee deep in wires.
  15. dc-k

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