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A review of a sports headset may not be the same as an general headset analysis. The environment where you will use them is very different and we don't look for the same things. Of course sound quality is something that should be taken into account (in the end its main use is listening to music), but it is of no use that they have a fantastic audio quality if the earphones falls or loses the connection 20 seconds after starting your workout.
And for the same reason manufacturers design specific headphones for running (or sports in general). Because if we stop and think about it for a few seconds, it's not a simple task.
They have to be comfortable, we don't want to have to adjust them every three steps. And light, because otherwise they will fall out or end up bothering on the ears. They should endure some kind of sweat protection and let us run in the rain. And be able to control playback from the headset without having to do it from the phone or any other device we are using. Of course the battery will have to endure workouts for a few hours. And they don't have to suffer any kind of drop-outs every now and then. Oh! Sound quality should be important as well...
I mean, we're not looking for headphones like those freebies you get on the plane, we want something a little more... well, decent. The market for fully wireless earphones is undoubtedly large, but not all meet all the requirements listed above.
- Balanced sound without falling into too intense bass
- Perfect fit without any movement during workouts
- Truly comfortable
- Controls that respond well to touch
- The charging box could be smaller
- IPX4 could be somewhat short in heavy rain
- The app does not offer equalizer
- The only supported codecs are SBC and AAC (but no aptX)
Bose Sport Earbuds features and design
Bose has been dedicated to HiFi for over 50 years, and logically these are not their first Bluetooth earphones.
Bose's catalogue of wireless in-ear headphones right now is simply made up of these Bose Sport Earbuds and their bigger siblings, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds with active noise cancelling (but not too suitable for sports).
These Sport Earbuds are the renovation of the previous model they had in catalog to cover the sports segment, the Bose SoundSport Free, to which they have improved in many respects.
A more compact size, new ear tips that are more comfortable (and there's no way to move from place, as much as you try) and a new touch control system more convenient than small buttons.
There are three colors to choose from: glacier white with hints of fluorine yellow, Baltic blue and typical black (called Triple Black).
The first feature you should keep in mind is that this earphones meet the Bluetooth 5.0 standard (version 5.1 to be more accurate). What does this mean? They use the Bluetooth LE -Low Energy- standard; it offers lower battery consumption and, consequently, greater battery life.
There is one of the earphones that is the master (the right), which is the one that deals with the connection and where the microphones are.
So if you want to use only one of them because you don't want to isolate yourself completely from the environment, it will have to be the one you put in your right ear, because the left one does not work by itself and won't connect with any other Bluetooth device.
That right earphone also has a sensor that detects when you put it on or take it off. When you remove it from the ear, the music pauses automatically, in case you want to have a chat with someone you've crossed, and when you put on the headset again the music will continue without you having to do anything else.
With this sensor you can also answer calls automatically by putting the headset in your ear. All this can be enabled in the app's options.
I insist, all this is built into the right headset, that's the “smart” one. Although the left is not entirely dumb.
There are no buttons on the Bose Sport Earbuds, which does not mean that we do not have the ability to control the audio player. Both have a capacitive touch interface. If you touch the right headset twice, we can pause or play the music, or by holding your finger on the headset you answer a call or access the voice assistant. The left headset also responds to touches, but in this case we can choose which function it will perform:
The application does not go much further, and it does not have the possibility of performing specific equalizations. But don't uninstall it yet, because when a firmware update is available you will have to do it with it.
The Bose Sport Earbuds are quite comfortable on the ear thanks to various aspects. First of all for its lightness as they weigh only 6.75 grams each. In addition, Bose debuts new tips in this model called StayHear Max, made of a very soft silicone. They do not put pressure on the ear so after a while using them you will not have that feeling of discomfort in the ear that does occur with the stiffest tips. Three pairs of tips of different sizes are included in the box, so you can find the one that offers best sealing for good bass and passive noise cancellation.
All of them have a wing that helps to attach the earphone to the ear, without using any kind of ear hook to secure them. And certainly the headset is perfectly fixed, it does not move at all whatever you do. You can do intense intervals, jump, shake your head... it's easier for you to hurt your neck trying to shake your head than the headset will fall from your ear.
Although one thing to keep in mind is that the Bose Sport Earbuds are quite protruding from the ear canal. It's not something that matters too much beyond an aesthetic issue, although it can happen that the headphones get a little bit in the way if we want to take some clothes off our neck.
As usual with all these earphones, the carrying box is both a charging box. With 100% charged earphones, the battery life is up to 5 hours of uninterrupted use, and if you need a little more they have a quick 15 minute charge that gives you up to 2 hours of extra use. Full charging of the headphones is done in two hours.
The charging box has an internal 290mAh battery, offering up to 2 additional full charges (which makes 15 hours in total). Charging the battery from the charging box completely will take three hours, and is done via a USB-C cable.
In terms of weather resistance, the Bose Sport Earbuds meet the IPX4 standard. This standard covers sweat resistance and water splashes, so you won't have a problem doing sports even if it starts to rain in the middle of a workout. However if the rain is very intense I would start to worry. I would appreciate it if Bose had come to meet the IPX7 standard (as Jaybird Vista does), which does offer complete resistance even for a hurricane or typhoon.
Bose Sport Earbuds use the company's own drivers and feature active EQ, a Bose-specific feature that modifies the frequency response to match the Bose response curve. That is, the typical sound we can find in the brand's products (and that is patented).
It offers a warm and fairly balanced sound. Basses have a presence, but without having an exaggerated presence as can happen with Beats headphones.
I checked this quickly with “Strict Machine” by Goldfrapp, a song in which low frequencies have a lot of presence in the development of the melody. But that bass presence does not mask Alison Goldfrapp's voice as it can happen with other headphones.
It's a song that offers deep and constant bass, to the point that depending on the equalization of the player they can become annoying or exaggerated. However in the Bose they are in their exact measure.
In this song the Jaybird Vista give a little more prominence to the bass. They accompany the song very well, but when they reach the chorus they are too uncontrolled and take away all the protagonism of the artist's voice.
“Given to Fly” de Pearl Jam es una canción difícil en general para los auriculares. Las letras de la canción pierden mucho protagonismo bajo la melodía y no es fácil escuchar a Eddie Vedder con claridad.
It's something I get with the Sony WH-1000XM2, which have much larger drivers. The Bose however do not get that balance and the lyrics are somewhat masked under McCready's guitar.
My litmus test with any sound equipment is always the fragment “O Fortuna” from “Carmina Burana”. In this opera we have a very wide dynamic range with great musical accompaniment with huge timpani. Soprano voices are very sharp and often escape or become stuffy with each other due to poor driver quality.
This is something that does not happen with the Bose Sport Earbuds, where active equalization finds a good balance in that wide range. They offer a fairly clean voice (with the limitations of such a device) and the sound is not as stuffy as I get with the Sony WH-1000XM2.
Moving to electronic music, we can listen to Deorro's Five Hours.
The Bose offers intense but controlled bass, at least more controlled than you can hear with the Jaybird Vista where they take too much prominence. Although in this case it is the Sony 1000XM2 that offer the brightest sound of the three thanks to its closed headset design.
However, although they don't reach the Sony's level, the Bose shows a very good ability to play electronic music. Something similar happens with”Friendships” by Pascal Letoublon.
Listening to “Till It's Gone” by Yelawolf the Bose offer a very clear voice, although the special “broken” bass of this song don't offer the desired sharpness.
On this occasion both the Jaybird Vista and especially the Sony 1000XM2 offer better performance and a very balanced sound, allowing you to enjoy the song over and over again.
The Bose do not have so much balance, there is not so much separation between the voice and the rhythms of the melody itself.
Where we will find some limitation is in the supported codecs. Bose only offers support for SBC and AAC. SBC is the basic codec that is included with any device that supports the Bluetooth audio profile. It's not the best, but it's “enough”, at least if we talk about listening to music while doing sports. The transfer rate is 192-320kbps. However, its main problem is that it presents some delay, so it is not the most suitable when it comes to, for example, watching video.
AAC meanwhile is a somewhat better codec, and it is included by default on Apple devices. It performs somewhat higher than SBC, but is still limited as a high quality codec, although it does not have the delay issue that SBC does.
Therefore the Bose Sport Earbuds do not offer support for more advanced codecs such as aptX or LHDC. Something to keep in mind if you want to have the highest possible audio quality. Although you should not forget that the earphones are only one part of the equation, it would be of no use if the device you use to play music does not offer it either (such as GPS watches or smartwatches).
Bose Sport Earbuds opinion
If we value Bose Sport Earbuds as sports earphones, the score they receive is very high. The earbuds stay fixed on your ear no matter what you're doing. As hard as you try, you're not going to get them to fall.
But it's not only that they stay in the ear when doing sports, it is that they do not move at all and also do not end up being uncomfortable. It's something that sometimes happens to me with the Jaybird Vista. After an hour running they move slightly and I have to reposition them, and many times I do not get the seal of the ear canal again. I've never had that problem with the Bose and never had to worry about their placement at all.
The sound quality is really good. Honestly, given its price I did not expect anything else, because when you spend quite more than 100€ on earphones one of the things you value most is precisely sound quality, otherwise it would not make sense. The Bose Sport Earbuds have a good bass level, perfect to accompany you while working out with music that keeps the spirit high, but that doesn't mean they care less about the rest of the ranges.
However, not everything is perfect. The charging and transport box is quite bulky compared to the rest of the competition, but that size does not bring a greater number of charges. If you have the box in your pants pocket, you would appreciate it having a more compact size.
And likewise I would also appreciate a higher range of IPX protection. Not because IPX4 is insufficient for sports or even to withstand rain, that level of protection should be sufficient. But if it's a very heavy rain, maybe we're playing Russian roulette... and these are not exactly cheap earphones.
In any case, it all depends on how passionate you are about music. If you are lucky and have cork ears you will not appreciate differences between these headphones and any other that costs 30€. And I say the lucky because when you're able to perceive the differences... you will get into a black hole. But if you like listening to music both training and everyday and want comfortable earphones with high audio quality, and you don't mind spending more than 150€ on them, the Bose Sport Earbuds won't let you down.
And with that... thanks for reading!