Bose sells itself as a premium brand for audiophiles who want the very best — or in some cases, just seem to want something with a Bose logo on it. What then, are the AE2w headphones, its take on Bluetooth Stereo Headphones like?
Bluetooth as an audio medium isn’t always the best way to get the most out of your music, with even stereo-capable A2DP cans often falling short; they’re either sonically weak or suffer from poor connection profiles. Bose’s AE2w are essentially a pair of the existing AE2 headphones with somewhat integrated Bluetooth.
On the plus side
I say somewhat integrated because, unlike competing Bluetooth headphones from companies such as Jabra or Plantronics, the Bluetooth integration on the AE2w really is on the AE2w.
It’s a small module that clips onto the left earpiece by directly plugging into the 3.5mm headphone jack. This means it’s perfectly feasible to use the AE2w headphones as regular old corded headphones. Indeed, Bose provides a cable to enable you to do just that, although if you were keen on that, why you’d spend $299 on Bluetooth-compatible headphones escapes me.
The audio from the AE2w suits the way I like to listen to music, which is to say that I’m not personally a big fan of really heavily bass-adjusted headsets. I very much get that this is a style choice, and to a certain extent reflects the type of music you choose to listen to.
Still, all too often I find bass-boosted headphones simply blow out the more subtle nuances of what I’m trying to listen to in an effort to simply sound deep. There’s none of that with the AE2w, which manage an excellent job of audio reproduction across a variety of genres. As I type this, for what it’s worth, I’m rather enjoying Stevie Wonder’s Superstition through them.
In any case, the other genuinely excellent aspect of the AE2w is how particularly light they are. I often have issues with heavy set headphones, because they can all too quickly become a chore to wear with heat and sweat issues.
The AE2w headphones feel delightfully light on the skull even for extended listening sessions, and that’s a very good thing indeed. While they’re not specifically noise cancelling, the combination of the soft over the ear pads and the audio output do an excellent job at blocking out the outside world. I guess that’s a risk factor if you’re crossing the road, but anything that can let me listen to Stevie Wonder and ignore my kids playing a noisy game a few metres away from me is doing pretty well.
On the minus side
I’ve really only got a few small quibbles with the AE2w headphones. They’re most certainly light, but that light weight makes them feel a tad on the fragile side compared to some headphones in this price bracket. I tested them head to head with Jabra’s Revo Wireless, and while I preferred the weight and audio from the Bose, the Revo are no doubt a much tougher set.
Bluetooth headphones are undeniably meant to be portable headphones, but there’s no folding hinge on the AE2w headphones. That’s going to make them bulkier in a bag when you’re not wearing them, which is mildly annoying.
It’s probably obvious from the video above, but the Bluetooth module is quite easy to pop off the headphones, and it really does jump off. It’s light — which is good — but I could see it all too easily being lost when removed, at which point you’re just using straight wired headphones. Also, while it’s interesting engineering, it’s not the most aesthetically pleasant way to incorporate Bluetooth into a headset. Bose’s big claim here is that the module only weighs as much as the cable it’s replacing, but many other Bluetooth sets simply put the circuitry inside the headset.
Bose lists the AE2w with an Australian asking price of $299, and I haven’t spotted too many online retailers discounting it as yet, although there’s a lot of variance around the Bluetooth-free AE2 headphones. As such, if you were ordering them online, it’d be wise to double-check that you were getting the Bluetooth version if that’s what you want.
The AE2w offer excellent audio over either Bluetooth and cabled connections, which is great. Being Bose, you’re going to pay a premium for them if you want them, and they’re not the most portable Bluetooth headphones you’ll ever come across, even in the full headset category. I’d prefer it if the Bluetooth connectivity was internal rather than via a slightly clunky external module, but that’s a pretty minor quibble.