Bose Sports Earbuds (earphones) – sweat it out (review)

The key to understanding and appreciating Bose Sports Earbuds is to forget the word Bose (and all that usually means) and look at these for what they are. Sports (wingtips), IPX4 sweat-resistant, no ANC (vented), no EQ or fancy sound manipulation, basic BT connection and about 5-hour battery life.

Most buyers see the word Bose and automatically assume they are among the best. In this case, it is more about Bose build quality than the smarts we have come to expect. And I am good with that.

In fact, most buyers’ criticisms on its website are precisely because buyers had higher expectations of noise cancellation, sound quality, call quality. Perhaps they are justified for $299.95 because there are several wingtip sports earbuds – Beats Fit Pro (ANC), Sony WF-SP800N Sports, JBL Under Armour Rock Edition, JBL Reflect Mini ANC and quite a few under $200.

So, the real challenge is to review and rate the Bose Sports Earbuds precisely for what they are.

Bose Sports Earbuds

Bose Sports Earbuds are for sport – gym, running etc. IPX4 means sweat-resistant (water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect).

To ensure a good fit and reduce the potential for dropping out of your ear, they have StayHear integrated tips and wingtips in three sizes – essentially Small, Medium, and Large.

They don’t have any active noise cancellation, so the StayHear fit provides a degree of passive isolation. But in reality, this just covers fellow sports buff’s grunts, and they let through most noise due to the vented design.

Each earbud has touch controls (not configurable), and the right bud is the only one with a mic – it can be used in mono mode.

Comfort – good and won’t fall out

Get the ear tip/wing size right, and they are very comfortable. They won’t fall out. Being vented, they don’t get too hot, and pulsatile tinnitus sufferers can use them.

The App – basic as

It allows you to select a source (up to seven pairings), but it is not multi-point (automatic). That is about it, and no EQ, no fancy tricks – nada.

Codecs

Strictly BT SBC and AAC – no high-res or adaptive codecs. This is fine as music to overpower grunts is all you need.

Battery – middling in class

At 75% volume over three charges, we got between 3 hours and 14 minutes and 4 hours and seven minutes. Quick charge – 15 minutes for two hours is good.

Sound – fit for sport

We don’t have in-ear bud testing (we have headphone testing gear). So the sound is a little more subjective. We use a frequency generator to get an indication of the frequency curve.

These have no low-bass, and there is a hint of late-mid-bass. It is flat from 100Hz to about 1kHz before peaking at 13kHz, then dipping and falling off the cliff at 11kHz.

It is primarily a neutral sound signature (that neither adds nor subtracts from the original music!). The only issue here is garbage-in, garbage out – the better the music quality, the better it sounds.

Bass can be muddy for two reasons. First, the fit is critical to bass. Second, mid-bass is not strong and is the most critical to getting all the musically important bass.

There is a slight mid-treble emphasis which helps on vocals.

You can read more about sound signatures and test tracks – How to tell if you have good music (sound signature is the key)

Remember, these are sports buds – and they meet that criteria nicely. If you want better sound, buy the Bose QC or Sony WF-1000XM4 (review).

Sound stage

Despite the vented design, it is still within the ears. Left/right separation is good.

Hands-free

Sorry but this is a disappointment. The right ear has two mics in an array. These are not beamforming or noise cancelling. Outdoors the callers commented on too much background noise and a reasonably weak voice. Indoors was better in quiet areas.

Missing

  • Multipoint or NFC pairing
  • ANC (others have it at this price)
  • EQ
  • Qualcomm aptX codecs or LDAC high res
  • Latency is too high for games

Comparisons

There are plenty of sports earphones. But can I suggest you take advantage of Bose’s 90-day trial and see for yourself?

CyberShack’s view – Bose Sports earbuds are a solid sports contender

If you are into sports, these should be on your shopping list as they are perfect for that. Audio is more satisfying than exceptional.

But if you want a set of general use buds, you can do a lot better.

Pro

  • Excellent secure fit
  • IPX4 – fine for sport
  • Can use right bud in mono
  • Sound quality and volume is as expected for a sports bud

Con

  • Poor handsfree in noisy environments and no sidetone
  • No aptX or LDAC
  • No App EQ or pre-sets
  • Middling battery life
  • No BT multi-point or NFC

Bose Sports Earbuds

Note: Bose does not publish detailed specs

Earphone comparison chartBose Sport Earbuds
STYLE
   BudsIn-ear canal
   Sports (with wing)Yes – three sizes
    IP ratingIPX4
   Ear tip typeStayHear Max silicon integrated with wingtip
   ColourTriple black (Baltic Blue and Glacier White may be available)
   ClassSports/premium
CONNECTION
   Bluetooth5.1
      CodecsSBC/AAC
      A2DP, AVRCP, HFPYes – three sizes
   True Wireless (Qualcomm)No
   Google Fast PairNo
   Windows Swift pairNo
   MultipointNo, but you can scroll through the last seven devices using the BT button on the case or via the App
SIZE
   Weight each6.75g
   Dimensions W x H x D mm1.87 cm H x 2.66 cm W x 2.1 cm D
CONTROLS
   TypeCapacitive touch on both ears
Includes Spotify client
   Auto PauseYes
NOISE
   ANCNo
  Ambient passthroughNo
   Conversation modeNo
   Game modeNo
AUDIO
   Speaker size mm?
   Frequency responsetested 45Hz to 13kHz
   Impedance?
   Driver sensitivity 1kHZ/1mw (dB)?
BATTERY (unless cabled)
   mAh in each bud?
   mAh in case?
   Case charge type (USB or Qi)USB-C
        Case size/weight3 cm H x 9.14 cm W x 4.14 cm D
   Charge voltage rating5V/1A
   Battery time excluding case ANC offUp to 5 hours (tested 3hrs 14min at 75%)
   Battery time excluding case ANC onN/A
   Additional battery time in case hoursNo specified – around 15 hours
   Charge time case3hrs case
2hrs buds
15min for 2hrs
Mic
   Number on each budDual-microphone array on the right earbud
   OtherHand-free calls were poor outside or in noisy environments
VOICE ASSISTANT
   TypeFrom phone
APPBose Music
   FeaturesBasic
   EQActive EQ in buds
   Find my budsNo
   SpatialNo
 OS supportAndroid and iOS app. All BT hosts

Continued

GENERAL
   WebsiteProduct page
   Warranty1-year 90-day risk-free trial
   Price$299.95 on special at $249.95
   FromBose Online and retailers
Accessories includedS/M/L eartips/wings
MISSINGMultipoint or NFC pairing
ANC
EQ
Qualcomm aptX codecs or LDAC high res
PRO 1Excellent secure fit
2IPX4 – fine for sport
3Can use right bud in mono
4Sound quality and volume is as expected for a sports bud
CON 1Poor handsfree in noisy environments and no sidetone
2No aptX or LDAC
3No App EQ or pre-sets
4Middling battery life
5No BT multi-point or NFC
RATING
Features7.5
Basic no-frills sports buds
Value7
There is a lot of competition in this space
Performance8
Good for sports. Middling battery life
Ease of use8
No App required, but lack of multi-point is a pain
Design9
Great fit and comfort for sports use
Score /107.9

Bose Sport Earbuds

$299.95 but shop arond
7.8

Features

7.5/10

Value

7.0/10

Performance

8.0/10

Ease of Use

8.0/10

Design

8.5/10

Pros

  • Excellent secure fit
  • IPX4 – fine for sport
  • Can use right bud in mono
  • Sound quality and volume is as expected for a sports bud

Cons

  • Poor handsfree in noisy environments and no sidetone
  • No aptX or LDAC codecs
  • No App EQ or pre-sets
  • Middling battery life
  • No BT multi-point or NFC


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