Bose AE2 headphones: A good NC alternative

If you can't afford Bose's noise-canceling models, the Bose AE2s--and their improved design and sound quality--make for a good alternative at half the price.

The Bose AE2 headphones cost $149.99--or half the price of the noise-canceling QuietComfort 15s. Bose

In the headphone realm, Bose is probably best known for its noise-canceling (NC) line of QuietComfort models. But it's long made some non-NC models, including an around-the-ear design as well as an on-ear design. Bose has shortened those names to AE and OE, respectively, and now the AE model reviewed here is up to version 2.

Formerly known as the TriPort, the AE2 still uses the same basic design, but Bose has implemented some significant design improvements. For starters, these headphones, like the noise-canceling models, now fold flat. Also, Bose has moved from a double- (running to each earcup) to a single-cord design--and the headphone cord detaches--which means you can wear these simply to cover your ears and muffle sound.

As noted, the Bose AE2s don't offer active noise cancellation, but they do offer a tight seal and filter out a lot of noise from the outside world. When you put them on, the first thing you notice is that these are very comfortable headphones that have Bose's trademark plush, black leather earpads. They also feel lighter than your average full-size, closed earcup models from the likes of Sennheiser and AKG.

So, how good to the AE2s sound? Read the full review to find out.

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