DHRME Audio,True Wireless EarBuds AIRPODS PRO 2 WINS? vs Bose QC Buds 2 / Samsung Buds 2 Pro / Sennheiser Momentum 3 / Sony WF-1000XM4

AIRPODS PRO 2 WINS? vs Bose QC Buds 2 / Samsung Buds 2 Pro / Sennheiser Momentum 3 / Sony WF-1000XM4

You gotta lotta money to spend on True Wireless Earbuds? Let’s pit the 5 most popular ones against each other, the Apple Airpods Pro 2, the Bose QuietComfort Buds ii, the Samsung Buds 2 Pro, the Sony WF-1000 XM4, and the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3.

At the end of this article, we’ll talk about which one is worth buying based on the prices, but prices keep changing whereas performance does not.

So let’s get right into it with active noise cancelling performance.

Active Noise Cancelling

For Active Noise Cancellation, to our ears the Bose is simply unbeatable.It was almost eerie how much sound is cut out. You know someone mentioned this in the comments and we agree – the great noise cancelling of 2021 is now the good noise cancelling of 2022. I think this year has seen the biggest jump in terms of how strong active noise cancelling on earbuds have gotten.

I mean when Apple saw Bose’s announcement – they must have been kicking themselves! They probably wanted to be industry-leading and Bose has made them very ‘boos’ about losing the top spot. Just to give you an example – even typing hard on a keyboard or a TV running in the background completely disappears when you use the Bose QuietComfort 2’s noise canceling. But Apple’s ANC on the Airpods Pro 2 is no joke either. Considering that these might be the most popular earbuds in the world – Apple has set a new standard that many people will now consider ‘normal’.

What is really incredible about Bose and Apple is that they are not just eliminating low-end sound, which we’ve been seeing for a while now, but also mid and higher frequency sounds. Which likely requires considerably more processing power. We’ve long held Sony as one of the standard-bearers and its WF-1000 XM4 has been the best at ANC for low-end sounds for a while now. But we really think that Samsung with its Buds 2 Pro has pipped Sony at the post, especially at the lower frequencies.

The Sennheiser is really good too, MUCH better than its predecessor, the Momentum 2. But again – in 2022, the Momentum True Wireless 3 has serious competition to live up to and On this list, the Sennheiser comes in last. So these are rankings for noise cancelling strength at about 70-80dBA:


Airpods Pro 2’s Transparency Mode Performance Color-coded with the red line graph

The incredible thing about the Airpods Pro 2’s transparency mode is that they’ve had just one goal in mind. Well two… scratch that three goals. The first one is to make the transparency sound as natural as possible.And that is crazy good! We never ‘forget’’ that we’re wearing earbuds – but the Airpods Pro 2 is the one that makes you forget. Also great for heartbreaks.

The first thing it does exceptionally well is the noise floor. Sitting in a very quiet place, we struggled to hear ANY white noise from the transparency algorithm. We’ve tried to visualise the white noise for you, since we’re visual people like that. White noise, just for clarity, is the hiss you hear when nothing is playing and this comes into play when you’re in a really quiet environment. 

Secondly, the clarity is very good. All frequencies are replicated perfectly well. It’s very much like natural hearing. And the third amazing thing is the adaptive transparency. Which can be done almost in real time. It’s an incredible technical achievement. We’ve heard YouTubers suggesting you could in theory go up to loud speakers at a concert and wear these to listen to the concert, but please don’t do that. It’s not that good because: A. there’s a limit to how loud a sound it can protect you against and B. You don’t wanna listen to a concert using the DSP of an Airpods Pro. You might as well listen to a recording of the concert using your Airpods. Bose, by the way, also has this protection which they call ActiveSense for lowering louder noises.

And in our testing, it also worked well.  So what about rankings? Well let’s take a look at the graphs at about 70dBA.

Which is kind of what a public place would be at. Apple is clearly the best here – very close to the sound level graph in red. The Buds 2 Pro follow Samsung’s legacy of being excellent at transparency. The Bose also comes in a very close third. The Momentum is also very good and takes the approach of cutting out the low end sounds. And even though this graph is flattering, the XM4 has clearly the worst transparency to our ears. The overall volume is simply too low, even though it’s usable in a pinch. 

What is interesting is that if you use transparency or ambient mode at lower volumes, Apple still tops the list. But Sennheiser goes from 3rd on the list to the last simply because of the loud noise floor you hear. So here’s the ranking at low volumes: Here’s the ranking at moderate volumes: 

Now which of these sounds better? It’s going to be hard to do a 5 way comparison, but let’s just talk about the special features and then the highlights of each of these. 

Sound: Special Features

First off – Sony, Bose and Sennheiser all have custom EQ settings for you to modify as you need, with Sony giving you maximum control over your sound with a 5 band EQ and a ClearBass slider. The Buds 2 Pro gives you EQ presets and the Airpods Pro 2 gives you nothing except the presets you get with iOS.

Samsung’s 360 Audio Settings on the Galaxy Buds2 Pro Via the Samsung Wearable app on Android

Both Sony and Apple offer spatial audio or 360 features. Sony has been doing this forever and calls it 360 Reality Audio. Another catchy Sony name combining letters and numbers. But we have to admit that Apple has taken it one step further and – given the weight it has in the industry – Apple’s spatial audio is probably going to be adopted far quicker than Sony’s 360 audio ever was. 

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3’s Custom EQ Presets via Sennheiser’s Smart Control app

There are also other smarts on board – we loved Sennheiser’s custom sound profile implementation and it worked well for us. And Bose claims to play audio tuned to your ear canal.

Bose and Apple both have some form of Adaptive EQ that makes listening at lower volumes very pleasant as well. Sony offers DSEE for upscaling lower quality audio. All right – so much about the special features – but what about the sound itself?

Sound: Buds 2 Pro  

Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro’s Frequency Response Graph

The Buds 2 Pro has a very nice, open sound – hugging that Harmon curve closer than ever. What this means is that – this sound profile will be enjoyed by most people. And when the audio god Crinacle rates it as the best TWS, you know – that means something. So things we like – the stock tuning and the sound with Samsung phones in particular. And the things we don’t like – the fact that you only have EQ presets, not custom EQ bands to tweak.

Also – on devices other than Samsung phones, you won’t be able to utilise these to their maximum potential, but that’s a smaller disadvantage, since these sound so good to begin with. To us the treble out of the box can be a bit too much, especially when you start listening to podcasts and the like, but it shines with certain kinds of music.

Bose Quiet Comfort 2

Sound: Bose QC ii

The Bose’s bass is second to none and they really lean into that bass with their custom drivers.

Bose Quiet Comfort 2’s Frequency Response Graph

Bose is also a bit harder to measure because they have a lot of ‘smart EQing’ they do with their adaptive EQ. Bose in general doesn’t have a sparkly sound that lends itself to a warmer sound signature and a lot of people enjoy that as well. It doesn’t have the most advanced codecs out there – like LDAC or APTX, but what they’ve done with AAC is quite impressive. And surprisingly these sound better on iPhone than most of the other buds on the list except the next one.

Sound: Airpods Pro 2

I mean – at this point – the Airpods Pro 2 for Apple devices is a no-brainer. No they did not come with lossless audio as many people predicted, but did they really need to? With custom ear scanning, Apple’s spatial audio gets a new lease of life. An audiophile friend of the channel – you know who you are – pointed out that they listened to Miles Davis’ ‘Kind of Blue’ with spatial audio enabled. This is a very stereo recording, and it was revealed to them in a completely new light with spatial audio turned on. For an audiophile to discover something new about a classic album makes the Airpods Pro 2 something special. This is Apple flexing its tech skills and knowledge to move audio forward. We were a spatial audio skeptic but we think that is slowly changing. And even when you’re not talking spatial audio, the Airpods Pro 2 sounds fantastic and are an upgrade to the OG Airpods Pro in every single way when it comes to sound. That H2 chip is also doing a lot of ‘smart stuff’, so measurements aren’t so simple as a graph anymore!

Sound: Sony XM4

Sony WF-1000 XM4’s Frequency Response Graph

Ah Sony – we love Sony. They brought LDAC to wireless earbuds – I mean LDAC is Sony’s codec so whoever else uses it, Sony wins. And in the battle between LDAC and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound, we’re all winners. We still love the sound that the Sony WF-1000 XM4 brings to the table. But the one area where we think it kinda lacks is the stock tuning – which is way too bass heavy. Also if we were to look for flaws, the treble is on the quieter side, which cannot be fully fixed by EQ.

Sound: Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3’s Frequency Response Graph

That Sennheiser bass is BASSY! And there’s also a pronounced bass boost in the normal mode as against the ANC mode. Which is weird. In most cases you see the reverse – but whatever So the default tuning – much like the Sony is not to my taste. And Sennheiser’s smart ‘Sound Check’ feature almost seemed to know this – because it spat out a high treble EQ preset which I thought made it sound pretty good where much more detail is revealed.  

So guys it’s really hard to rate these buds for sound, since they all have their strengthsand weaknesses, but still  – we promised you a ranking, so you’ll get a ranking.

Here it is:

Yes, we know it’s kind of a cop-out, but hopefully this helps.

Phone calls

Ok, let’s talk phone calls. To hear the phone call quality samples check out the video at the top of this article. But TLDR, the best in this particular situation was almost a toss up between the Sennheiser and the Samsung. The Sennheiser was interesting; it let in more of the ambient sounds like the birds chirping and cancelled a lot of the car sounds out. The voice was also relatively natural sounding and audible even when Rohan was speaking softly. 

The Samsung takes a slightly different approach – almost similar to what you would be hearing if you were walking alongside Rohan. It tries to keep everything natural – so you hear the background sounds but you also hear the voice clearly even when he was speaking softly. Things start to get less good now. 

The AirPods do a good job at cutting out the cars in the background whilst keeping the voice audible. The drawback is that the voice does sound slightly muffled at certain times, so not the most natural sounding. 

Then we’ve got Bose who might be king at noise cancelling but not for its microphones. You hear a lot of the background noise, especially the cars. You can still understand Rohan when he speaks loudly but it starts to get very difficult when he speaks softly. At the bottom of the barrel, as expected from previous experiences, is the Sony. You just hear a lot of disturbance, even a whooshing sound from the cars which isn’t pleasant to listen to. The voice is distorted even when Rohan was speaking loudly and very difficult to understand when speaking softly. 

So here’s our ranking (best to worst): 

1. Sennheiser

2. Samsung

3. Apple

4. Bose

5. Sony 

Overall phone call rankings and control

Let’s just be clear that none of these buds are fantastic since wind noise is a tough cookie to crack. Or however that saying goes. But from what we see the AirPods Pro 2 is on top. It’s able to cut out a lot of wind, however now and then you hear some interference. Rohan’s voice is audible for the most part and gets a little tricky when he speaks softly.

Then the Bose earbuds take another approach. You hear almost no wind, and the voice is audible throughout but it does have a weird reverby effect to it, probably a result of harsh wind noise cancelling. The Sennheiser starts to struggle even with little wind. You could hear quite a bit of the wind being piped in. Luckily Rohan’s voice rarely cut out and you could still make out what he was saying but it got more difficult when he was speaking softly.

On the Sony you hear a lot of the wind but when Rohan speaks loudly he’s still understandable. Not bad. But when he starts speaking softly the wind noise is overpowering and becomes hard to follow.

And finally Samsung had it the worst with a lot of wind in the sample and it clearly shows. Samsung couldn’t handle it. You could barely hear Rohan’s voice and it was totally gone when he was speaking softly. Also we feel sorry for the other person on the other end of that phone call having to hear so much of the wind being let through. 

But our verdict on calling is never complete without talking about the controls de la vakman.  All earbuds these days support answer and hang up controls, but we get all warm and fuzzy inside when earbuds support volume controls, muting and the ability to change ANC modes all from the earbuds and while on a call. Most of the buds here have volume controls except for the Sony, which is kind of odd since it does support it for audio. Unfortunately none of the buds can mute the microphone so that’s a shame. And almost all buds allow you to change ANC modes except for the Sennheiser. 

Now there are also a few special call features like transferring the call to the phone when you take the earbuds out of your ears. That’s supported by all except for Bose. The Bose does get a special shout out for their ‘self-voice’ feature which can adjust how much of your own voice you’d like to hear while on a call. And a special mention for the Sennheiser which can automatically accept a call when you place the buds in your ears. 

All in all, most support a solid feature set as long as you’re not desperate for that mute control So there’s performance and there’s experience. All these buds give you a very different experience, and that’s as important or more important than the performance itself.

Experience: Devices and Connectivity

First off for you Apple iPhone or other Apple product users – there’s going to be a case to be made for the Apple Airpods Pro 2. You know – with the automatic pairing, the spatial audio ear scanning, the Airpods finding and the buds customizing It’s not a no-brainer, but Apple makes it realllllly easy for you to buy and use the Airpods Pro 2. And the fact that it performs so well – well you know how that gravitational pull of the ecosystem works.

Out of all the buds here, the only one we DON’T recommend for the Apple ecosystem is the Samsung Buds 2 Pro because the Galaxy Wearable app on iOS doesn’t support the Buds 2 Pro. Samsung’s pulling an Apple and provides some nice, deep integration on a Samsung phone and gives the app on other Android phones. Samsung also has automatic switching between Android devices, but you need to login to your Samsung account in the Galaxy wearable app.

But the apps of the Sony, Bose and Sennheiser all work just fine with Apple devices too. And the Sennheiser has an advantage here – it’s the only one of these buds that supports multipoint. Which means you can use not only Apple, but another device – be it windows or Android or Mac. Apple and Samsung also let you easily pull connection from a previously connected device without disconnecting from the current device – a brutally underrated feature. Especially if you start using more than 2 devices. Sony also does this, but has another neat trick: Google’s fast pair is on board so you can connect to all your Android devices. 

Bose and Sennheiser have a nice device list in their Android and iOS apps to make switching that much easier. One disadvantage that Bose has here is that you can only use the right earbud on its own, since it’s the primary earbud. The left earbud cannot be used without the right earbud. It’s a small detail, but it’s disappointing that this exists at this price in 2022. More on price at the end of this article.

Experience: Fit and Comfort

Everyone’s ears are different, but by far the most complaints from you guys are of two kinds.

One – about the fit on the Sony and two – about the comfort on the Samsung Galaxy series of buds. With Sony, the hybrid foam tips don’t fit everyone’s ears. Either that – or most people don’t know how to squeeze the tips and twist the buds because these are not silicone tips, so they need to be treated a bit differently.

When it comes to our personal experience, we feel the Sony’s fit is good but just isn’t comfortable for longer durations. However, the fit wasn’t all that great for us on the Samsung but because of the oval shaped tips they were very comfortable for us without any allergic reactions However with the Galaxy Buds series, at least till before the Buds 2 Pro, we’ve heard complaints about allergic reactions for some folks. Like we said – this has not happened to us, but might be good to mention.

Sennheiser & Bose’s Both Have replaceable “Stability Bands” also known as “Wing Tips”

Other than that – the least secure fit for us was the Sennheiser Momentum 3. Both Sennheiser and Bose tout ‘stability bands’. But give us the simplicity of a well designed earbud with solid tips any day. The Airpods Pro 2 and the Bose are the most comfortable for us and the Bose is also the most secure.

Experience: Controls

All right – so what is the experience of using these buds in daily life? All of them have sensors to play and pause music once you take them out of your ears. But the controls – that’s another story.  The Airpods Pro 2, Sennheiser and Bose have the best controls in our opinion. All give you volume control, right out of the box. The Sony makes you choose between volume or others and the Samsung has one smooth surface for adjustment as well control, which either works or it doesn’t. One thing we need to mention about the Bose is that touching the surface is… very… uncomfortable. It’s hard to explain, but it felt like there was a pressure on our ears every time we touched the surface. We might be going crazy or it’s the Bose noise cancelling mics at work. In any case – you’ve been appropriately informed!

Experience: Build / IP Rating

Let’s talk pocketability – all these buds are fairly pocketable. Probably the only one that’s bordering on bulginess is the Sennheiser’s case. The only case that’s water resistant here is that of the Airpods – and that makes sense, if you’re stuck in a light shower, the rain isn’t going to avoid the case and hit just the buds. And speaking of the buds – all the buds here are IPX4, except for the Samsung which is IPX7 – which means it can resist a fair bit of liquid. Just don’t submerge it in stuff – none of these buds are rated for that. 

All of these are flagship products, so you can expect top notch build quality in terms of materials. All are hard plastic but the Sennheiser takes a step up with that textile finish.

If we had to nitpick though, we’d say the Sony’s case has always been a bit creaky, even when it was new. And age makes us all a bit creakier.  In terms of charging holes, you get what you would expect. Type C on all the buds except for the Bose. Nah just kidding, except for the AirPods – which has a bad old lightning port! Don’t make the EU slap you in the face, Apple! All of these can do wireless charging – except the most expensive one – the Bose QuietComfort Buds 2. *sigh* I guess you really pay the price. 

Experience: Battery Life

If we purely look at the numbers on paper, the best battery life on the earbuds is to be had from Sony at 8 hours and the worst is the Samsung at 5 hours. But the case contest goes to the Airpods  with about 24 from the case. These are the numbers overall with ANC On. But it’s important to mention that these numbers are not the same numbers in real life. For example, if you use Sony’s LDAC codec, you’re going to get lower battery numbers. Also calls are more battery intensive than just music. ANC, transparency, volume – all these affect your battery life.

But at the end of the day, having a case with extra charges and the ability to listen to just one bud on its own can make you stretch out that battery life to its limit. Which one should you get?

Prices and Purchase Decision

At current prices, the Samsung is a steal. Samsung and Sony also regularly discount their products. Samsung at this point even throws the buds in for free with new phones – which means you’ll have a lot of people selling unopened boxes on Marktplaats – or whatever secondhand marketplace variant your country has. Whereas Apple, Bose and Sennheiser – they don’t get discounted that often. Still, Sony and Samsung give you excellent value for money when they’re on sale. 

As the most expensive, the Bose is something we can recommend for one reason only – their noise cancelling. It’s eerily good. Just another level. But that might not be enough to justify their price premium. On balance, the Sennheiser is our pick if you’re moving across devices and are okwith slightly lower performance. But the Apple Airpods Pro 2 have really changed the game with their price, comfort, ANC, smarts and sound. In fact – you could even consider the Apple Airpods Pro 2 if you’re NOT on Apple, because they still have excellent ANC and transparency. But of course, you’re going to miss out on all that ecosystem lock-in… I mean goodness.

From Left to Right: Technics EAH AZ60, Google Pixel Buds Pro & Jabra Elite 7 Pro

And while we’re talking premium, there are a few other buds that come to mind that just missed the cut – the Jabra Elite 7 Pro, the BeoPlay Ex, the Oppo Enco X2, the Pixel Buds Pro and the Technics AZ60. All of these do multipoint. All of these sound great and the Technics, out of these might just be the best for phone calls. Great buds, but we had to draw the line somewhere. Check out the many videos we’ve done on these buds on our channel. And we will have a full roundup for 2022, so stay subscribed!

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