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Brief Review: Bose AE2

MSRP: $149.95; $179.95 for AE2i model with mic & 3-button Apple iOS remote
Current Price: $150 from for AE2; $180 from for AE2i

Form factor: over-ear | Space-Saving Mechanism: Flat-folding
Cord: detachable (recessed 2.5mm connector), 5.3ft (1.6m) length, straight, 3.5mm L-plug termination; AE2i cable includes mic + 3-button iOS remote
Accessories: carrying bag 

Build Quality (8/10): The construction of the Harman Kardon CL is impressive – over-engineered, even. At first glance it’s a simple floating-headband design with flat-folding earcups. Rotate the earcups a full 180 degrees, however, and they disengage from the headband and simply pop out. The stretchy suspended headband pops out, too, allowing the metal part of the headband to be replaced. Two sizes are included in the box – a small and a large. It’s a very good concept and quite well executed. It doesn’t hurt that most of the parts are metal – the outer band, the frames of the earcups, and even the hinges. The cable is detachable, though it uses a 2.5mm connector instead of the more common 3.5mm. The pads are magnetically attached, as with a couple of the Bowers & Wilkins sets I’ve reviewed previously.

Comfort (10/10): The cups pivot about the vertical axis. Together with the two headband sizes, this makes it possible for the CL to be comfortable for several hours at a time – more so than the average portable headphone. There is one caveat, however – for some reason they are not very tolerant of glasses and create pressure points that other on-ear portables do not

Isolation (7/10): Average for a closed-back, over-ear headphone

Sound (7.75/10):

Vs Matrix2 About prefer Matrix2

Matrix2 bassier, a bit warmer, more natural, similar clarity – brighter bose could be a little clearer but mids are recessed which hurts clarity,a  little more forward b/c mids less rececesed/less v-shaped, more full-bodied, can get a touch muddier with bass-heavy tracks

AE2 a little brighter, thinner, touch more v-shaped, mids a little recessed, less natiral


DNA PRO more bass but also brighter, clearer overall, more sensitive, fuller-sounding

AE2 less bassy, thinner, flatter but a little more mid-recessed

Vs HD428 – quite similar; AE2  a bit better

HD428 a little warmer, bass punchier but impact seems a little off and lacks depth, tonally a little more natural but muddier

AE2 a little thinner, clearer, brighter, more v-shaped, still not particulatly harsh or anything

Vs HD25

HD25 less mid-recessed but bass is much stronger, deeper, still a touch clearer, more forward

AE2 bit less clear, more balanced, even more mid-recessed, more spacious in general, touch more harsh

Value (8/10): About as comfortable as it gets

The good: lightweight and oh so very comfortable; good clarity
The bad: recessed 2.5mm connector on detachable cable

Note: this brief review was based on just a few days’ worth of listening impressions of a headphone that otherwise wouldn’t have been included at all.





Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.


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