Bose OE2 headphones review: Bose OE2 headphones

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.7
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 8.0

Average User Rating

4.5 stars 1 user review
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Bose OE2 Headphones are more compact than the original OE ("on-ear") headphones. They're lightweight, very comfortable, and feature a fold-up design with an included carrying case and a detachable headphone cord. They also offer very good sound quality.

The Bad The fidelity comes up short on bass resonance.

The Bottom Line You can debate the price, but the Bose OE2s are very comfortable everyday-use headphones with a compact frame and balanced, detailed sound.

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Here's something you don't see every day: a pair of white Bose headphones. Yes, it's the company's second-generation on-ear headphones, the OE2 ($149.95) and OE2i ($179.95), each offered in black or white.

That "i" in the step-up OE2i adds a microphone for cell phone calls along with an Apple-friendly inline remote compatible with more recent iPhone, iPod, iPad, MacBook, and MacBook Pro models. (Some Android smartphones also recognize the remote functionality, but volume control from headphones that carry the "Made for iPhone" stamp doesn't always work).

These headphones are smaller and lighter than Bose's original OE headphones that launched in 2008 and earned my approval for their excellent fit and comfort. Your ears will still get a little steamy under the OE2s in hot weather, but the material is plush for equal weight distribution, and just as importantly, they fold up to fit into a compact carrying case (included).


The headphones are very comfortable, but the on-ear design doesn't block out all external noise.

While they don't isolate noise as well as an over-the-ear model, they do pretty well muffling the sound. (If you want better noise isolation, go with the Bose QuietComfort series --which require batteries to cut out atmospheric sounds--or the Bose AE2 "around-ear" headphones.)

Bose claims that the newly redesigned earcup ports produce a more balance and natural sound without the manufactured "boost" across the frequency range. CNET contributor and audiophile Steve Guttenberg and I both listened for those improvements and agreed that the OE2s sound more natural and don't suffer from "Bose bloat," a term we coined for the obtrusive bass boost. Of course, some folks like the extra bass, so you may not enjoy these as much as the original OE headphones.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Bose OE2 (White)

Part Number: OE2 HEADPHONES WHT
MSRP: $149.95 Low Price: $65.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Color white
  • Weight 4.9 oz
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Additional Features Bose acoustic equalization
  • Type headphones
  • Headphones Form Factor ear-cup
  • Connector Type mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm