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Technology Bose Sport Earbuds review: Excellent sound and fit with one downside

14:40  08 october  2020
14:40  08 october  2020 Source:   cnet.com

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True wireless Bluetooth sport earbuds from Bose featuring lifelike sound and a comfortably secure fit . 2 Bose Sport Earbuds ( fitted with medium eartips). Charging case. Small and Large eartips. Bose Sport Earbuds are designed to withstand sweat and weather but they are not intended to be

Experience earbuds from Bose . Find earphones that deliver a powerful audio performance in a small comfortable earbud design. If you prefer earbuds instead of traditional on- ear or around- ear headphones, you shouldn’t have to make sacrifices in fit , or comfort, or — most important — sound .

I first wrote about the Bose Sport Earbuds way back in June 2019. Back then, Bose was calling them the Earbuds 500 and I got to try on a non-working prototype. At long last, more than a year later, they're about to hit stores. At $179 (£180, AU$300), they're the more affordable, non noise-canceling alternative to Bose's flagship QuietComfort Earbuds, which retail for $279 (£250, AU$400). While Sport models have some downsides -- their quality during phone calls could be better, for example -- they feature excellent sound, are lighter and smaller than the QuietComfort Earbuds and also slightly more comfortable to wear.

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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Bose Sleepbuds™ II Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Bose Frames Bose Sport Get clear, powerful sound from our first truly wireless in- ear headphones. They’re engineered to stay Provide a secure and comfortable fit , so your headphones won’t fall out.

Bose Sport Earbuds . In addition to the audio performance, comfort, and stability our SoundSport Free earbuds are known for, this smaller and sleeker version promises new features, such as intuitive touch controls. In short, everything you need to power through the day.

a hand holding a cell phone: Bose's new QuietComfort Buds next to its Sports Buds, which don't have noise canceling. © David Carnoy/CNET

Bose's new QuietComfort Buds next to its Sports Buds, which don't have noise canceling.

The Sport Earbuds have the same IPX4 splash-resistant rating as the QuietComfort Earbuds, are equipped with Bluetooth 5.1 (my connection was rock solid) and share a similar design aesthetic, with three color options available. To be clear, they have no active noise canceling and an hour less of battery life -- 5 hours instead of 6 -- as well as no wireless charging. While they do stick out from your ears, they're noticeably smaller and lighter than the QuietComfort Earbuds and their case is about 30% to 40% smaller. The case still isn't as small as the cases for such competitors as the AirPods Pro, Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, Galaxy Buds Live and Jabra Elite 75t. But it feels reasonably compact.

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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Bose Sleepbuds™ II Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Bose Frames Bose Sport Earbuds Headphones Rated 5 out of 5 by Erikpn from Excellent for every day use I bought these almost 2 years ago, also got to experience Bose Customer Service since they

The Bose SoundSport Free headphones are genuinely wireless earbuds made for working out. Still, the Bose SoundSport Free headphones offer a very secure fit that will fit on all ears looking to The ear tips come in varying sizes, so you’re likely to find one that fits , and the headphones come with

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I found them slightly more comfortable to wear than the QuietComfort Earbuds, which work fine for for sporting activities. But the Sport Earbuds will be better for runners: For biking both the Sport Earbuds and QuietComfort Earbuds stick out from your ears and create wind noise -- the Galaxy Buds Live are better for cycling.

The touch controls are responsive although fairly limited. You can double tap the left earbud to advance tracks, tap the right bud once to pause, and tap and hold the right bud to access your voice assistant. There are no volume controls on the buds themselves.

Two major selling points

Really, the the two biggest selling points for the Sport Earbuds are their fit and sound. The earbuds include three different sizes of Bose's new StayHear Max eartips, which have integrated wing that allows you to get a really secure fit. Most noise-isolating earbuds are designed to nestle in your yours. With Bose earbuds -- and that includes the earlier SoundSport Free -- the StayHear tip is what does most of the nestling and the main portion of the buds end up protruding from your ears. It's not the greatest look, but some people love the way Bose earbuds fit, and with the large tips I was able to get a tight seal that passively seals out a lot of ambient noise and allows you to get optimal sound quality.

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The best wireless earbuds for sound quality that we've tested are the Samsung Galaxy Buds +. That said, these headphones have a decently versatile performance and an excellent noise cancelling performance that ranks them among the best noise cancelling earbuds we've tested.

The Bose SoundSport Free aren't the coolest buds on the market, but as far as workout earbuds are concerned, they remain one of the best- sounding options. The SoundSport Free earbuds fit well but have a bulky look. If you can get past how far they protrude, then you'll appreciate the versatile sound

a close up of a toy lying on the ground: Sport Earbuds (left) compared to QuietComfort Earbuds (right). David Carnoy/CNET © Provided by CNET Sport Earbuds (left) compared to QuietComfort Earbuds (right). David Carnoy/CNET

Bose has made an effort to reduce the size of the Sport Earbuds after some people complained their predecessor, the SoundSport Free, were just a little too big and heavy. And they are smaller. But Bose could only shrink them so much without sacrificing too much battery life and performance, so they're just not as discreet looking as some competitors.


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The Sport Earbuds don't sound quite as dynamic and their bass doesn't go quite as deep as that of the QuietComfort Earbuds, but they're well-balanced with nice detail and punchy bass. I found the Sport Earbuds a touch brighter. (There's currently no equalizer in Bose Music companion app for iOS and Android.) And while it's quite possible some of you who might think the Sport Earbuds sound better than the QuietComfort Earbuds -- everybody's ears and brains are different -- I slightly preferred the QuietComfort Earbuds' sound, though I'd be happy to listen to either model.

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The Bose SoundSport Free are truly wireless earbuds with a well-balanced sound profile. They've got a comfortable earbud fit with a semi-open design The Bose SoundSport Free's frequency response consistency is excellent . Assuming the user can achieve a proper fit and an air-tight seal using the

Super-affordable wireless sport earbuds with great sound . In determining the best wireless earbuds , we consider fit , battery life, sound quality, design and value (are they worth the price?). We also factor in features like how well the controls work and how easily the earbuds pair with phones.

David Carnoy wearing sunglasses posing for the camera: The Sports Earbuds are smaller and lighter than the earlier SoundSport Free. David Carnoy/CNET © Provided by CNET The Sports Earbuds are smaller and lighter than the earlier SoundSport Free. David Carnoy/CNET

As for how they compare to competing products in their price range, they do sound slightly better than highly rated earbuds like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus and Jabra Elite 75t. They just offer a little more clarity and more powerful bass with better definition. However, those models have a more discreet design and offer superior voice calling performance.

Call quality assessment

The SoundSport Free was criticized for only having mono sound for calls -- meaning, the audio of a phone call only came through the right earbud. The Sport Earbuds have stereo sound during calls, though the microphones are housed only in the right bud, so that's your only choice if you want to make calls with only a single bud. Call quality was pretty good -- I could hear callers well and they could hear me -- but if I went into noisier environments, the volume of my voice would sometimes drop a bit.

In fact, Bose says that the SoundSport Free has two microphones in the right earbud for voice pickup, versus a total of six mics on the QuietComfort Earbuds. (At least some of those are used to handle the active noise canceling on the latter model.)

I think Bose's engineers could make some improvements via a firmware upgrade -- or at least I'm hoping they can. But for now, voice calling is only fair to decent but falls short of its competitors. It should be a bit better for a $180 set of earbuds.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review

  Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review While Apple's AirPods and Samsung's Galaxy Buds may be the benchmarks for greatness in the true wireless earbuds world (evidenced by our own testing), Bose is coming for that crown with a new, redesigned take on true wireless earbuds. © Jacob Krol/CNN The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds ($279.95; bose.com) have all the necessary tropes of true wireless earbuds (no wires, multiple ear tips, a carrying case that doubles as a charger and easy pairing), but they also have an X factor: the Bose legacy.

a pair of shoes: The Sports Earbuds case is significantly smaller than the QuietComfort Earbuds' case but it doesn't feature wireless charging (only USB-C charging). David Carnoy/CNET © Provided by CNET The Sports Earbuds case is significantly smaller than the QuietComfort Earbuds' case but it doesn't feature wireless charging (only USB-C charging). David Carnoy/CNET

Spend the extra $100 or not?

As I said in my review of the QuietComfort Earbuds, if great noise canceling is what you're after -- or you just want the flexbility of having it -- you shouldn't hesitate to spend the extra money on the Quietcomfort Earbuds. But if you don't need active canceling or find it grating (some people are sensitive to it), the Sport Earbuds do deliver excellent sound and a comfortable, secure fit. That said, I do think with all the new true wireless models coming out, Bose will ultimately have to get these down in bit in price (to less than $150) to make them more competitive.

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