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Customer ratings & reviews
Great sound without dropoutsPosted
Pros Solid Bluetooth connection with extremely rare dropouts Great overall sound range Securely stays in ear Fit is comfortable Weight is barely perceptible while worn Total play time with case is 15 hours Find my headphones can make headphones play a sound if they are in range Tips allow ambient sound in for safety IPX4 sweat resistant Earbuds have all controls needed for music playback and calls Cons No option for noise isolating tips Sweat resistance is listed to decrease with age No equalizer option StayHear+ tips can cause discomfort with extended use Control buttons are tight during initial use The Bose SoundSport Wireless Free are the latest in the sport earbuds from Bose and the first completely wire free. The left and right earbuds work as a pair but without any wires tethering them together. This can be great for those who have problems with the short wire between traditional sport earbuds snagging and pulling them out of the ear. Battery life feels shorter than others at just 5 hours but with the included charging case you have up to 15 hours of use. The case is the only way to charge them and serves as the standard way to turn them on and off. The moment you remove them from the case they turn on and will be ready to use. If left on they will turn off to save battery but the recommended way to turn them off is to place them back in the case. This is most certainly a good idea considering how easily the earbuds could be lost. The SoundSport Wireless Free are larger than normal Bluetooth earbuds because each earpiece needs to house everything it needs within the small casing and it shows. Traditional earbuds could be easily overlooked but the SoundSport Wireless Free looks like you are wearing two old fashion Bluetooth earpieces that were all the rage several years ago. Not much can be done about this so if you are wanting truly wire fee, this cosmetic issue must be accepted first. About the only people who could wear them unnoticed are those will long hair. With as large as they are you would think that they would be very heavy, but they feel surprisingly light during use. You can feel the weight but they feel secure even with rapid head movement. The earbuds are secured in the ear with what Bose calls StayHear+ tips. They are uniquely different from other earbuds tips and only come in three sizes of the same style. For now, this means replacement tips won’t be as easy as buying a universal set from your local electronics store. It also means if you must have noise isolating earbuds you will have to look elsewhere. If you like earbuds to allow ambient sounds for safety, these work great. You can easily hold a conversation while wearing them without yelling. They stay secure by hooking behind the cartilage of your ear so, unlike others, a secure fit doesn’t mean jamming the tip tighter in the ear or wrapping a wire around your ear. This method works well, although some might feel some slight discomfort during extended use. Controls for music, volume, and voice controls via your phone assistant are all on the right earbud. There is a distinct difference between each section making finding the right control by feel easy. Using the controls is a little imprecise as the buttons are quite hard to press. Sometimes when pressing you may tend to initially pull the earbud slightly out of the ear. This creates an adjustment period on becoming accustomed to using the controls. Hopefully with repeated use the buttons will break in. After a couple of days of use, pressure required decreased slightly and control felt easier. Sound quality is something you expect to be great coming from Bose and with the SoundSport Wireless Free they do not disappoint. The most important part of great sound with compact wireless sport headsets where failure is common is keeping a solid connection. Bose claims to maintain a reliable wireless connection with a special antenna design and it seems they have achieved what they claim. A connection to the phone could be maintained walking into the next room of the house while leaving the cell phone in place. Another, more important, test is cross body signal strength. It seems that no matter where the phone was kept on the body, the earbuds kept a strong signal with no dropouts. Bose does not list if they incorporate Bluetooth 5.0 to handle higher quality sound. If they do not, they have done quite well with the limitations of traditional Bluetooth. Bose incorporates what they call a volume-optimized EQ. Whatever the techniques they use they seem to work quite well as sound was very well balanced throughout the range. Unfortunately, if you like to customize the sound to your likely there are no such controls unless your device offers an EQ. If any criticism could be leveled at the automatic EQ is that highs, such as vocals, could be just slightly higher. This is more of a personal preference though. For most, this will not likely be a problem as the default setting does quite well. Of course, any earbuds today will include the ability to place and take calls. Accepting calls is a matter of pressing the play button. You can place a call by pressing and holding down the play button to launch your phone’s assistant. Depending on the assistant of your phone you may have other functionality as controlling music as well as reading and responding to texts. Call quality is not usually a strong point of sport earbuds simply because the microphone is so far away from the mouth. As with others, callers reported I sounded farther away as if I was on a speakerphone. However; generally people reported I sounded closer or clearer than on other sport earbuds used in the past. Durability is an important area for sport earbuds. The SoundSport Wireless Free are IPX4 which means they are sweat and what they call weather resistant. This isn’t the highest rating in sport headphones and some car with water should be taken. A run in the rain is probably not a good idea nor is washing them off under the faucet. This seems to be a side effect of higher sound quality earbuds as other high-end earbuds often have a similarly limitation. Listed within the information is a warning. The IPX4 rating is expected to decrease with age. Overall, the Bose SoundSport Wireless Free earbuds are a solid first time offering from Bose. Although long term durability is hard to gauge, they feel very well made and as though they will last. Use is about as hassle free as you can get allowing you to enjoy using them and the sound they produce. Hopefully as Bose continues to evolve the design the cons will be improved or even eliminated. Even with the cons, there is no reason to avoid enjoying great sound to help keep you motivated during your workout.
I would recommend this to a friend
Amazing sound quality marred by video sync issuesPosted
SUMMARY: The SoundSport Free offering from Bose will give you the best quality audio of any truly-wireless headphones to date. The sound is rich, clear, and full. It easily surpasses the audio quality of Apple's offering and provides a far better fit for my ears. Video quality is highly flawed, however. Some apps (namely YouTube) have a serious audio delay of 0.5 to 1 second, making them all but unwatchable. Connection is rock-solid. The headphones have lost signal only once and this was prior to upgrading the firmware. The controls are on the right earbud and they're membrane-style. This makes it difficult to use and is an outmoded design. They are very large and stick out of your ear, so minimalists need not apply. FULL REVIEW: COMFORT: 8/10 These use Bose's proprietary StayHear+ ear tips. Some will love them and others will hate them. They do not sit inside the ear canal like most earbuds. Instead, they sit just outside of the canal, funneling in sound. As a result, they do not provide a seal (more on this in a bit). The ear tips, which are silicone, have a wing on the top that sits inside the cymba of the ear to hold it into place. For my ears, they're very successful. Neither of the units have ever fallen out of my ear nor have they ever came close. They're extremely comfortable for my ear, but the wing tips do provide some pressure which can make them slightly uncomfortable after a few hours of wearing them. Given that they're fairly light (but heavier than most other truly-wireless earbuds), it most likely won't present as a problem for most people. For comparison, I was able to wear the Airpods for no more than 45 minutes at a time before my ears would be screaming in pain. I was able to wear the SoundSport Frees for 3 hours with only minimal discomfort. The Airpods are much lighter, but they have a far inferior fit for my ears and the hard plastic casing makes them supremely uncomfortable for me. I far prefer the comfort of the SoundSport Frees over the Airpods. APPEARANCE: 6/10 These things are huge! Everyone around you will know that you're wearing them. They very noticeably stick outside of your ear and look like you're wearing two old-school bluetooth headsets from the mid-2000's. If you're looking for minimalist design, these are not for you. However, Bose did a good job styling these to look fairly premium. The blue earpieces look rather stylish and, in my opinion, look better than the antennae coming off of the Airpods. This one's almost a toss-up, but I prefer the look of the SoundSport Frees over the Airpods. Design: 7/10 The SoundSport Frees come with a charging case; however, the case is at least twice the size of the Airpods. These do not fit nearly as comfortably as the Airpods' case in your pocket. Bose did, however, make the charging pins magnetic which locks the earpieces into the case. The case is also hard plastic which will help keep your SoundSport Frees safe. The case will provide two additional charges, tripling the stated battery life (with a large catch -- it takes two hours to fully charge the SoundSport Frees). The controls on the SoundSport Frees are almost entirely on the right earpiece. There is a volume-up, volume-down, and multi-function button. These buttons are membrane-style; this is quickly becoming a far inferior and outdated design, and it's easy to see why. You have to press very hard on the buttons on the SoundSport Free to activate them, and this is difficult to do when they're in your ears. Bose needs to carefully consider going to the tap-style controls of the Airpods and Samsung's offering. This is a better, more intuitive control scheme. SOUND: 9.5/10 Admittedly, I am an audiophile. I have extensively listened to some of the world's best speakers and headphones (Bowers and Wilkins 800D, MartinLogan Summit Xs, SonusFaber Aidas, HifiMan HE1000s, etc), and I sold high-end audio for a long time. As a result, I simply cannot listen to low-quality headphones and speakers. With that being said, I do my best to scale down my expectations with the price. You simply cannot expect a $250 pair of earbuds to sound like $50,000 speakers. Simply put, these are the best-sounding pair of wireless earbuds on the market and, possibly, in the top 5 sounding earbuds I've ever listened to. Bose has had a poor reputation in the home audio realm (and rightfully so), but they've found their calling in mobile audio. On first listening to the SoundSport Frees, I was very pleasantly surprised to hear excellent imaging. The next facet that really stood out was the authority of the bass: clear, balanced, and deep. Don't expect these to sound like Beats, however; these have a very flat curve (whereas Beats and other similar offerings are extremely bass-focused). The mid-range is clear, warm, and forward, emphasizing vocals extremely well. Guitars sound friendly and inviting. The piano sounds rich and resonant. Overall, it's very good. Treble is exceptional. You clearly hear small details from songs that you didn't hear before, like symbols, chimes, and the upper-register of the piano. Female voices sound sweet and clear. It's very, very good. Overall, from an audiophile standpoint, these deliver the goods. If you simply want the best sounding truly-wireless earbuds on the market, look no further. Nothing even comes close in my opinion. VIDEO: 2/10 These have a serious, serious audio delay with some video apps. YouTube is an especially egregious offender of this. Even with the latest firmware update (1.4.5), there is very noticeable and, honestly, inexcusable amounts of audio lag. I simply cannot watch YouTube videos with these on. Other apps seem to work fine, but given that I watch most videos from the YouTube app (and I suspect most others do as well), this is a serious flaw. If you plan on using these for video, either choose something else (e.g. Airpods, which have zero audio delay), or wait for Bose to fully fix the problem. ON THE GO: 6/10 How can I rate these so marginally when they're completely wireless earbuds? One word: isolation. These are a semi-open design, meaning that they do not block out most ambient noise. This is not a design fault, however; Bose intentionally made these semi-open for two reasons: to provide better imaging in the music, and as a safety feature. Bose states that this provides those working out a better awareness of their surroundings and, as these are really marketed towards athletes and those working out, I can understand that. It is important, however, to note that these simply aren't suitable for loud environments (subways, airport terminals, etc). A good deal of environmental noise will make it to your ear, requiring you to turn up the volume to almost unsafe levels. Additionally, these earbuds leak out quite a bit of noise. This is exasperated by the fact that the StayHear+ tips do not create a seal in your ear and, instead, rest on the opening of your ear canal. Overall, this design works very well for runners and not so well for those of us who want to wear them on-the-go. Battery life is very good at 4-4.5 hours @ 75% volume. You can most likely squeeze 5 hours out of them if you listen to them at 50% volume, but due to the semi-open design, you most likely won't be able to listen to them at that volume. The provided charging case can triple that life as it's able to charge the SoundSport Frees twice before needing a charge itself. Bose provides a (very short) MicroUSB cable to charge the case. You cannot charge the SoundSport Frees without the case, so don't lose it. The SoundSport Frees are IPX4 rated, meaning they can withstand direct splashes of water from any direction. This also makes them pretty sweat resistant. This is good if you get caught in a sudden rain storm, but I definitely wouldn't shower or swim with them. It's also important to note that Bose states in the user manual that the IPX4 rating will most likely wear with time, making them less sweat-resistant as it ages. OVERALL: 8/10 I really love the Bose SoundSport Frees. My only serious concern is with the audio delay in some apps. Bose is aware of the problem and actively pushing firmware updates to fix it, but as of the date of this review, I still have unacceptable amounts of audio delay in some apps and the sound isolation is poor. I am more than satisfied with the comfort and, especially, the sound quality. If you can live with the limitations and issues of the SoundSport Frees, I suggest you buy a pair.
I would recommend this to a friend
Truly FREE listening experience.Posted
Intro I thought fully wireless earbuds were just a gimmick until I tried them. The listening experience is truly liberating, and Free. Hence the name of the SoundSport Free. Here’s my very comprehensive review of the earbuds. Sound As anybody would expect from a Bose product, the sound quality is stellar. Overall the sound is warm, with slightly recessed mids. Bass is powerful and treble is tastefully detailed, but still smooth. Soundstage is also surprising; I often start looking around thinking there are sounds coming from the world around me, not just from the earbuds. They sound almost identical to the SoundSport Wireless, but just a little smoother. They block very little sound. I actually really like this, because it allows more awareness of surroundings, and you can still talk to people without needing to pause music or remove an earbud. Comfort & Fit The StayHear+ tip design from Bose has always been one of the most comfortable and stable earbud designs, and the SoundSport Free is no exception. The earbuds go in with one swift motion, and with no need for adjusting, they will “stay here” (haha). However, I found it strange that my ears become slightly sore after roughly two hours of continuous wear. I have used the StayHear+ eartips for many years on my Bose QC20 earbuds with no comfort issues, so I swapped the eartips and that solved my problem. It turns out, the SoundSport Free uses a slightly different “StayHear+ Sport” eartip, which is identical in design but slightly stiffer than the standard StayHear+ tips for increased stability. (The softer, standard StayHear+ tips cost $10 for a pair). I stuck with the standard StayHear+ tips because they were plenty stable for all of my gym, and track & field sprint workouts, and allowed me to wear the earbuds indefinitely… for as long as the battery lasts, of course. Battery Life & Case Speaking of battery life, it is really good. Five hours of listening on a single charge doesn’t sound like much, but the case carries an additional two full charges. So realistically, the SoundSport Free have 15 hours of battery life, which is much more than the 6 hours of the SoundSport Wireless. They charge quick in the case, and the case also charges quickly. Using the earbuds for exercise and for casual listening, I never encountered any frustrations with the battery running out before I anticipated. The case is extremely solid and under no normal circumstance would they fail to protect the earbuds. This does make it a little too heavy to run with in a pocket, because it bounces up and down, but you’ll never need the case to charge the earbuds in the middle of a run anyway. So overall very good on the case and battery life. Usability/Reliability The earbuds have reliable bluetooth connection, with a range of roughly 60 feet with no obstacles from source to right earbud, and 60 feet of range between the left and right earbud. This actually makes the SoundSport Free a great way to share music with a friend. For watching videos: On my phone, there is always a noticeable delay. It’s not unbearably bad, but not ideal. On my laptop, however, the earbuds or laptop somehow figure out how to sync up the audio, and everything is perfectly in-sync with no perceivable lag. I have two small complaints. 1) They only connect to one device at a time, unlike almost all other Bose earbuds and speakers. But it’s not too big of an issue because it is very easy and quick to switch connection between devices. 2) For phone calls and online video/conference calls, audio only comes out the right ear. It’s a little annoying, but again, not a big issue. Design Design wise, they actually look quite good! For some people they stick out of their ears a little, but for me they sit very flush with my ears, and it looks quite slick and futuristic. On the black colorway there’s a beautiful subtle gold glow on the outside. Photos Last but not least, enjoy some photos! You can see the two different eartips I mentioned earlier in my review. The black ones are the StayHear+ Sport tips that it comes with. The white/translucent ones are the (standard) StayHear+ tips. I hope my review helps!
I would recommend this to a friend