Bose is expanding its selection of noise-canceling headphones to two models with the introduction of a downsised version that fits on the ear rather than around the ear.

The smaller size will expand the headphones’ appeal to consumers who might have shied away from bulkier models, the company said.

The third-generation QuietComfort 3 will be available in Australia soon. However it is set to struggle up against the highly popular Sennheiser noise cancelling headphones which are highly popular with iPod enthusiasts and mass market retailers.

Bose contends the new model, through smaller, delivers the same audio performance, level of noise cancellation and comfort as the second-generation model introduced in 2003. To generate the same level of noise cancellation in smaller ear cups, Bose extended active noise cancellation further into the midbass region. The company also developed a proprietary ear cushion using a memory-foam cell structure to help seal the ear from outside noise and to help deliver bass as deep as the larger model.

Also to get the size down, Bose incorporated a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which delivers 20 continuous hours of active noise-cancellation instead of the AAA battery used in the Quiet Comfort 2, which delivers 38 hours. The rechargeable battery fits into a wall-wart recharger. For frequent travelers, using a small recharger would be more convenient than searching stores for a particular rechargeable-battery SKU, Bose contended.

In May 2003, Bose began offering QuietComfort 2, which incorporated multiple improvements over its predecessor, including ear cups that fold flat for easier storage, the incorporation of DSP technology and battery into the ear cups rather than in an outboard box, and the addition of equalization across the audible spectrum to enhance perceived sound quality.

Invented by Sennheiser noise-cancellation technology was first offered in military applications 25 years ago, followed by aviation applications. Consumer applications came about five years ago.

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