It seems like we review a lot of Bose products here at Ausdroid. This is for several reasons, key amongst them being Bose make popular gear, they’re well known and the company are very good in providing us timely access to review devices. Who wouldn’t want to test out some of the best headphones in existence given the chance?
To say I frequent the gym a bit is a bit of an understatement. You could say I occasionally leave the gym to go home or to work. Regardless, one of my pet hates at the gym is people speaking to me. It is not a social event for me. How do I prevent this? Headphones. Currently I use Sennheiser MM100 Bluetooth headphones which sound pretty good but they would have to be close to 10 years old now and are showing their age (as is their battery life). It’s time for a new pair and thus I have been on the hunt for a decent pair of high quality Bluetooth gym headphones that are not a pair of massive donuts sitting over the top of my ears.
These Bose SoundSport Wireless headphones seem, on paper at least, to fit the bill so I was excited to give them a thorough test when the opportunity arose. Read on to hear (or read) my thoughts on them.
Design and Comfort
The overall design of the Bose SoundSport wireless headphones (known as SoundSports hereafter) is nothing revolutionary. Other companies have done the wireless earbuds half decently for a while. A friend of mine uses Jaybird Bluebuds X and they look very similar and to be honest there is not much a company can do to set them apart from the opposition- there needs to be a cable connecting each earphone plus an inline remote on the cable. The SoundSports have all this. This is one issue I had with the SoundSports- the inline remote was possibly too heavy causing the headphones to sit unevenly around my neck. That made them a tad uncomfortable and they certainly did not sit around my neck like they do in the Bose product images/advertising. This is definitely nitpicking, trying to find something wrong, because let’s face it that is pretty much what reviews are finding the good and bad things about a product. This was more a slight annoyance than a deal breaker.
The inline remote itself, while a bit heavy, is different to that on the wired SoundSport in-ear headphones. The buttons are a softer material allowing for a more tactile experience when using them. There is the usual volume up and down, next/previous track buttons and a play/pause button. The play/pause button, with a long press, can be used to trigger the Google Now (“OK Google”) display to allow you to speak voice commands to the phone using the microphone within the inline remote.
Where a manufacturer can improve on others is the comfort and fit of the earbud itself. In my review of the Bose SoundSport wired in-ear headphones I was suitably impressed with the comfort and feel of the StayHear tips that provided a great seal and thus blocked out a lot of the background noise. The SoundSports have the next evolution of these ear buds, the StayHear+ Sport Tips. They are made of a similar soft silicone material to the original StayHear tips but are shaped differently at the tip which Bose say create a better “seal at the entrance of the ear canal, which helps to improve audio performance”. I’ll discuss my thoughts on the sound later but I can say that the earbud is extremely comfortable and feels very secure in my ear, even with the larger earbud than with the wired variety (due to the presence of Bluetooth). Once again, I required the large fit earbuds (there are three different sizes in the box- S, M and L) and for these, with the weight of the earbuds, a good tight seal is very important. My ears are not massive so if yours are mistaken for Vulcan ears I suggest you go and test out the fit before purchasing the SoundSports.
Once I had the correct fit these earbuds were very extremely comfortable, even more than the wired variety. Even with the slight annoyance of the wonkiness of the sit with the inline remote these received two thumbs up from me when it comes to comfort.
The packaging the SoundSports arrive in is similar to that for their wired cousins. There is a stylish pouch with a small mesh pocket to house the spare earbud tips or different sizes. Combined with the carabiner clip it’s the quality one should expect from a high end pair of headphones.
I could say that I am an audiophile but that would be a bit of a stretch. I like my music. I like it to sound good but I am not one to be able discern the smallest of adjustments in sounds etc. In saying that, even though I consider the sound that comes out of my Sennheiser the best I have ever heard from a Bluetooth headphone designed for the gym (sweatproof etc). The Jaybird Bluebuds X couldn’t hold a candle to the MM100s even though they were years newer. The bass on the Jaybird wireless earbuds was lacking. The SoundSports on the other hand do not suffer from this in the least. Just as I found with the wired variety, the sound quality from the SoundsSports was not just crisp and precise but also loud and had enough base to keep me satisfied.
From metal to HipHop, from Taylor Swift to podcasts the sounds produced were full and each not discernable from the next. I’d always felt the Sennhieser MM100s had a top sound quality but comparing them to the SoundSports made them sound a cheap, inferior product (although in their defence they are at least 10 years older). The Bluetooth connection was constant with not just my Nexus 6P but also the Huawei Mate 8, no skipping, just pure sound.
In the past it was expected that the sound quality going from wired headphones to a Bluetooth headphone would be diminished. With the advance in Bluetooth codecs and standards the sound quality (at least to me) is extremely similar between Bluetooth and wired headphones. Comparing the wired SoundSport in-ear headphones to the wireless SoundSports the sound was as good as, if not better, with the wireless variety. There seems to be a better depth to the bass and the music itself seems to be crisper. To say I was impressed with the sound produced by the SoundSports is an understatement.
The SoundSports do NOT have noise cancelling which is a tad disappointing but considering they are designed for gym/active use it is not a glaring omission. The seal on the earbuds themselves is extremely effective at minimising ambient noise from the listening experience.
The SoundSports also have multi-point technology that allows the headphones to be connected to more than one device at a time. I was able to effortlessly pair and connect them with my Nexus 6P and my Surface Pro 4 simultaneously. This allows you to, for example, to watch a movie on one device while also be able to answer calls etc from another device. The music from one device will pause while there is an incoming call on the other. When the call is finished the sound from the other device with switch back and begin again.
This is a seriously cool feature.
Unlike many of the high end over-the-ear headphones there is no facility for the SoundSport wireless headphones to play back music while the battery is depleted. With only a 6 hours battery life it means you need to be on top of the charging of it. Luckily there are two ways to determine the battery level to ensure you charge it so it is enough for next use- the headphones themselves will announce the battery level to you when connected, or through the Bose Connect app. The app also allows you to control the connected devices and their volumes and also helps to pair the devices.
As mentioned above the battery life of the headphones is only 6 hours. For times when more battery life is required there is a SoundSport charging case available that will not only house them in a stylish hard case but also charge them using the built-in battery (that obviously needs to have been charged previously itself). This was not tested but I can certainly see where it may come in handy. When there are many cheaper options available out there, at $89 is it an expensive charger that seems to be not worth the extra money.
- Dimensions without the cable: 3.05 cm H x 2.5 cm W x 3.05 cm D (23 g)
- Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
- Charging time: 2 hours
- Battery life: 6 hours per full charge
- In the box:
- SoundSport® wireless headphones- Black or Aqua
- 3 sizes of StayHear®+ Sport tips
- USB charging cable
- Carrying case
- Quick start guide
- Warranty card
Hands down, the Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones are the best Bluetooth gym headphones I have ever tried. They are relatively light weight and sit comfortably within the ear. My only gripe came with their slightly uneven fit around the neck due to the inline remote. The sound out of them has to be heard to be believed. I went into this review not expecting much, with all Bluetooth earbud gym headphones I have tested lacking severely in bass. Bose surprised me by delivering an amazing sound not just for a Bluetooth earbud-style headphone but good enough to compete with any other gym-style headphones out there, even with the lack of noise cancelling.
This of course comes with a hit in the pocket. At $250RRP they are not cheap but it depends where your priorities lie. If you really place a big emphasis on the quality of music then these could well be the headphones for you. They are available in aqua and black colours from the Bose online store as well as selected bricks and mortar stores. JB Hifi have both varieties listed at $249.
While these headphones are not perfect (is anything ever really 100% perfect?) they are extremely close to it in my opinion and they are well deserved of their two large thumbs up they receive from me.