Got myself the BOSE AE2W wireless / bluetooth headset back in June. It’s been 2 months now and here are my notes / review
Bose Ae2W (spec page) is the first wireless headset from BOSE and boy did they get it right. I’d recommend this to just about anyone – including people who are currently hooked on bass-heavy headset. I am truly surprised at the sound, build quality and functionality of this guy – well worth the money. Ended up buying a second one for my girl and we are both hooked to this thing.
Control Module (a.k.a ‘the little guy’)
The headset is made up of two part: the main body, and the ‘control module’ (the little guy shown on the right in the picture above). The proper name for this according to BOSE is the Control Module – but I’m just going to call him the little guy. This pic is from BOSE – you can see how the Little Guy works form the other side.
The multifunction button is truly multifunction – for example, single tap plays music, double tap forward, triple tap backward, and when you hold volumeUP + the button together, it activates the bluetooth pairing mode. All the shortcuts can be found from the user manual – took a bit to get used to, but not that hard to remember. And once you memorized the important ones, you do appreciate the fact that BOSE didn’t overload this little guy with too much buttons. Just 3 main buttons and the power switch – its an elegant design.
Here’s the shortcut list for the multi function button (which shows what you can do with them)
- Play or pause • Press Multi-function once
- Track forward • Double press Multi-function
- Track back • Triple press Multi-function
- Adjust the volume • Press Volume + or Volume –
- Fast forward • Press, then press and hold Multi-function
- Rewind • Double press, then press and hold Multi-function
- Phone call actions Headphones control
- Answer or end a call • Press Multi-function once
- Ignore a call • Press and hold Multi-function
- Answer second call • Press Multi-function
- Ignore second call • Press and hold Multi-function
- Activate voice control • Press and hold Multi-function
Notes and Observation
- Looks Headset looks great, I prefer black over white as the white has got too much ‘plastic feel’ to it. Black goes well with most of my clothing – these looks good when you put suit on.
- Wireless ON/OFF so the little guy – is where all the magic is at (no pun intended), and it’s detachable!. The whole thing is powered by this little guy, so when you need to charge them, you can detach the little guy and charge them separately. It comes with a cable so when you are charging, you can use the cable – effectively turning it into a normal /wired headset.
- Battery last for ages – with continued use, it can easily last for 5-6 hour. With on/off use, I only need to charge it about three times a week. I checked the product page, who stated that the battery should lasted about 7 hour. In practice though, I find that it outlasted my iPhone4, which is basically also function as my main music player.
- Sound Quality – is astounding, I’m listening to my high quality mp3s and I can hear parts I don’t hear so clearly before. My whole music collection sounds different with this thing, and when I went back to my in-ear bass-heavy headset, everything feels ‘muffled’. See section below on bass-heavy vs rich-sound.
- Headset fit – the fit is great, I rollerblade regularly (on my Twister80) and I have no problem swooshing down the street on this guy. Doesn’t wobble, it fits very well on my head – which I consider a bit bigger than most people [coz its hard to find a hat that’ll fit on my head!!]. I think this is a part that BOSE have perfected over the years with their overall design, so there’s definitely no problem at all.
- Wireless Range – I haven’t really tested it, but I think it can go around 10-20m no problem, didn’t even notice any impact on the sound quality. But when there’s like a wall in between, and you move around the sound gets choppy. Happens a lot when I’m cooking, because between my kitchen and PC, there’s a little wall.
- The Little Guy only allows up to 2 device to connect to it – I really wished that my tablet, PC and phone all can connect to the Little Guy, but damn it they only allowed up to two. But for the two that is paired, the switching is very smooth. I could be watching a movie on my PC and the sound is on it, when a phone call came in from a different device, it will switch to the phone. Once the phone call stops, it switch back to the sound from the PC – automatically. Obviously they are using a stack implementation where the switch the sound to the head of the stack – but regardless its a very well-thought out design. So the third device to register in kicks out the first registered device. It operates on the basis that ‘the last one is the most relevant’ – which is quite spot on most of the time.
- No noise cancellation – but it does cancel a lot of noise. I’ll put it this way, you won’t hear people talking, but you will hear them shouting. On the road when I blade, with my music on, I won’t hear the traffic noise from cars and bikes etc, but if they honk, it’ll get thru. Which I suppose, is not a bad thing.
- In flight – I use the cable, I don’t use the wireless. Firstly to save the battery for my travel after I hop off the plane, secondly I try to not use any wireless device when I’m on a plane anyway, and thirdly because with the cable, I can plug it to the seat jack and watch the movie with a great sound quality! I fly JAL a lot (since I’m in Japan) and I have no problem plugging these guys into the seat jack. You can still hear the hum of the plane engine, but I feel that it’s reduced by about 40-50%. With the music / sound on, I can still hear the hum of the engine, but only a little bit.
Bass Heavy vs Rich Sound
Before I decided to get this guy, I was considering to get the Dre, which is bass-heavy. And I did try a bunch of them before I purchase. Maybe the thing I can say about ‘rich sound’ headset like BOSE is that – well, it is richer. It’s hard to explain, you gotta try it to understand it. I didn’t notice the difference at first when I tried it though, I do take a bit of a leap of faith, but few days on I am totally hooked to the sound quality.
The lack of thumping base actually didn’t bother me as much, I listened to a lot of Daft Punk, the balance and richness of the sound actually draws my attention to other parts of the music that I don’t usually pay attention to because of the overpowering bass. Let’s just say that this headset have baptized me into the realm of the rich sound, out of the bass-heavy land.
BOSE actually have another headset with an EVEN better sound quality and superb noise cancellation – the QC15.
If you are a sound fanatic, QC15 is actually extremely good in terms of sound, and the noise cancellation works like magic. With the noise cancellation active, you put it on and the world just fell silent. But unfortunately it’s not wireless (and more expensive too) so I decided to get the AE2W – I find that the freedom of movement, convenience and cool factor wins me over – and the sound quality of Ae2W is already very superb.
I actually ended up purchasing a second AE2W for my fiance, and didn’t regret the second purchase at all, she loved it very much. Both of these are on my wall now (and they look good there)