Bose Soundlink AE2 is a wireless headphones by Bose. It is also known as Bose Soundlink around-ear wireless headphones II. I have used these as wireless headphones since 2018, mostly with my work and home computers. I have found them to be light and incredibly comfortable to wear for hours on end. As headphones (listening only), the audio quality is quite good. But as a headset (listening and using its mike) on video calls, this is utter trash (details below).
- This headphones can be connected using both Bluetooth wirelessly or an analog audio cable.
- When connected over Bluetooth, Windows lists it as two audio devices: headphones and headset. The headphones is listed as Bose AE2 Soundlink Stereo. The headset is listed as Bose AE2 Soundlink Hands-Free.
- The headphones device uses the Bluetooth A2DP profile. This profile only supports one-way audio playback or sink (like a speaker).
- The headset device uses the Bluetooth Hands-free profiles (HFP or HSP). This supports two-way audio. So it is used for both audio playback or sink and also audio input (like a microphone).
- In headphones mode, it seemed to be using the SBC codec. SBC is the lowest-bandwidth highest-latency oldest codec of Bluetooth. Settings in Windows listed this as
2-channel, 16-bit, 44.1KHz (CD Quality).
- There are other better codecs like AptX (supported by Qualcomm and supported on Android phones) and AAC (supported on iPhones), but this headphones did not seem to be using either.
- In headset mode, it seemed to be using a
1-channel, 16-bit, 16KHz codec. This sounds quite terrible, with the loud hiss of an old broken radio. Settings in Windows even lists this as tape recorder quality.
- In applications, like video calls, which use both a audio sink and source, you cannot choose the headphones as sink and the headset as source. This type of mixing is not supported since they involved different Bluetooth profiles (see above) and only one profile can be in play at a time.
- The headset mode sounded like utter trash for video calls! There was a background buzz which would temporarily go away when someone spoke.
- For video calls, I ended up using an external microphone in my webcam and used headphones mode for listening to the audio in the call.
- Firmware update: I was able to update the firmware of the headphones by visiting the https://btu.bose.com/ website. It provides software that can be downloaded and installed. Once installed this utility runs in the system tray as a background utility. You now connect the headphones to the computer using a USB cable and then the above website detects it (browser -> utility -> USB -> headphones) and will update the firmware. For my headphones, it said it would install a newer version 3.0.3 and proceeded to do that. I did not see any noticeable difference in the headphones after this update.