Bose AE2 Review
The Bose AE2s aren’t a bad entry-level bet, but you can definitely do better.
Despite the brand recognition and reputation of Bose, these headphones fall flat in performance for their price range. With a poor frequency response and some distortion issues, they may not be a good fit for audiophiles, but they could serve well as a portable option for those who are looking for a lightweight set of cans fitted to the outdoors... provided they find these cans on sale.
Comfort Design & Features
While very comfortable, the AE2s offer limited cable options and give no maintenance options.
When talking about the construction of the Bose AE2s, the general theme is overall cheapness: The materials used are cheap, the overall construction is cheap, and what you get is far different than what you pay for. The band in particular is cause for concern, as cheap plastic will withstand some bending and pressure, but don’t go testing its tensile strength.
Additionally, the cord of the Bose AE2s is 3.93 feet long, and really does not have any other connectivity options outside of its standard plug. That’s it. There’s no more. There's also almost nothing you can do to clean or maintain the AE2s outside of being very careful with them. This could cause you great frustration in the future, so take note.
Included in the packaging for the Bose AE2s is a carrying pouch, but that really doesn’t do much aside from protect your cans from dust. Aside from that, the AE2s are very lightweight, so they won’t weigh your bag or purse down if you decide to store them there.
Plopping the AE2s on our heads, the majority opinion was: “Wow, these are comfortable.” Given their light weight, adjustable band, and soft padding, this comes as no surprise. Still, we must make note that, because all craniums and ears are of different shapes and sizes, they may not be for you! See if you can try them on first before you buy.
The Bose AE2s tested with disappointing frequency response and poor attenuation.
The AE2s from Bose are entry-level headphones, and they sound that way. Their frequency response—how much "attention" they give various frequencies—was fairly poor. They don't give proper volume leveling to higher frequency sounds like a violin or a female vocalist, meaning those specific instruments will be lost in the mix during playback. Your music is not going to sound the way it should.
While it’s no secret that on-ears typically don’t attenuate sound well, the Bose AE2s do nothing to buck this trend, as they seem to only block out a short swath of higher-end frequencies, and absolutely no bass at all. The practical problem here is that they'll do little to block most ambient noise around you, and you'll be forced to turn your music up to hear it well—potentially to dangerous volume levels.
In terms of compatibility with smartphones, the Bose AE2s have just about the right impedance and sensitivity to work with almost any mobile device well enough that you will not have to worry about it. If those terms are new to you, feel free to check out our article on impedance for a better understanding.
Overall, the Bose AE2s aren’t a bad entry-level bet, but you can definitely do better no matter what you’re looking for in headphones.
The cost is a little hard to swallow for the performance they give, but if you can find them for cheaper than their MSRP of $149, they warrant a look—assuming you’ve weighed your options and still decide that these cans are worth it.
Be advised though: while they are ultra-light and portable, the AE2s are, by no stretch of the imagination, world-beaters. In regards to other cans designed for better audio performance in this price range, they're on the wrong side of the fence, and you can definitely get more bang for your buck elsewhere.
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