Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones have a really annoying problem

Bose makes some of the best audio products in the world. That’s a given. For decades, the company has stuck around as one of the premium brands in the audio business, despite plenty of competition from Sony, Apple, Beats, Sonos, and more.

While the company certainly has fans of its soundbars and home/portable speakers, I think it’s safe to say that the most beloved products Bose makes is its headphones. The history that this company has with making high-quality headphones with stellar noise cancellation is downright legendary, and for good reason. It’s commonly the one to beat when it comes to the feature.

Over the years, the competition has increased — not just with noise cancellation (Sony and Apple specifically come to mind), but with a range of features that try to tempt Bose loyalists away. From Spatial Audio to multipoint connection, there are tons of features that everyone is fighting to adapt to ensure their headphones stay relevant in a competitive market.

Bose’s On-head Detection has a fatal flaw

One of those features is the ability to detect whether or not you’re wearing your headphones. Until this feature came out, taking your headphones off wouldn’t pause the audio of whatever you were listening to. Back in these ancient times (or 2024 if you have a pair of Beats Studio Pros), we had to remember to pause whatever we were listening to or watching to avoid having it continue to play endlessly without us realizing it.

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Fortunately, Bose made sure to add this feature to its QuietComfort Ultra headphones, its new flagship pair of over-the-ear headphones that compete directly with Sony’s WH-1000XM5, Apple’s AirPods Max, and Sonos’ new Ace. While this seemed like a great benefit when I first tried the headphones, I quickly uncovered a fatal flaw with this feature: leaning.

I came across this issue when I started wearing the headphones around the house. I noticed that the audio would start pausing randomly. At first, I thought perhaps I was out of Bluetooth range or the headphones were defective, but then I realized that the headphones only cut out when I leaned forward. That’s right, the headphones, every time I leaned forward, thought I was putting them down and would pause the audio.

There’s no way she’s still listening to music. Look how far she’s leaning — those headphones definitely paused the audio.

I had to be sure so I turned the feature off and, wouldn’t you know it, the audio kept playing when I leaned forward. I turned the feature on again, leaned forward, and yep — headphone technology foiled, they paused again. After a couple of days of squatting around my apartment to avoid leaning over and pausing my music unintentionally, I just turned the feature off.

This has to be one of the dumbest problems I’ve ever encountered with a pair of headphones. And sure, it’s good that Bose gives you the option to turn the feature off. But the company shouldn’t get a pass by giving that option. These headphones cost over $400, and for that amount of money, you shouldn’t be able to confuse your headphones into shutting off your audio because they don’t realize they’re still on your head.

I hope Bose can fix this with a software update, but until then, I’ll be leaving the feature off — unless I want to get in some more squats.

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