Thursday, April 15, 2021

Bose Sport open-ear headphones review

Must read


Bose is no stranger to sports headphones. The company made a number of them over the years, including many pairs true wireless headphones. However, for its most recent option, Bose takes a different approach. Sport Open headphones ($ 199.95) are indeed true wireless, but they do not have the typical eartip that enters your ear canal.

Instead, as the name suggests, they have an “open” design that sits on the outside of your ear. Not only does this increase comfort, but it also allows you to hear what’s going on around you at all times – a key safety feature for runners. Add a sporty ear hook design and water resistance and you have headphones prepared for the gym or trail. The only question is whether you are willing to make the sacrifices to stay in tune with your surroundings.

Gallery: Bose Sport Open Ear Headphones Review | 14 photos

Design

Billy Steele / Engadget

Like many sports headphones, both wired and wireless, the Bose Sport Open headphones have a hook that goes over your ear and back. This, of course, keeps them in place as you move on a run or in the gym. And this is even more essential with these as there is nothing in your ear that would otherwise prevent them from falling out.

The hook design keeps things still, but they are made of hard plastic. They don’t provide as much comfort as a soft or soft-touch material. Plus, they don’t bend to fit the contours of your ears. You’re stuck with the exact shape selected by the designers at Bose, which isn’t uncomfortable on its own, but it’s not as comfortable as it could be.

Due to the design of the Sport Open earphones, the real ‘earpiece’ component sits at the top of your ear rather than just outside your canal. This allows for an “open” design that allows your ears to hear what’s going on around you while you listen to music or podcasts. Bose has created what it calls OpenAudio technology that delivers “rich, wideband sound” to your ears while reducing what other people nearby might pick up. It’s a similar concept to the Bose Frames, although these headphones position the sound source much closer to your ear. So instead of using bone conduction, the Sport Open headphones use specifically placed acoustic ports that route music to its intended destination, powered by two 16mm speakers. It sounds good on paper, but in practice my family could easily hear the sound of these, even at medium volumes.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, also offers an “open” type design. But with these, Samsung places the speaker directly over your ear canal. So even though there is no ear tip inside your ear, the headphones are much closer, which helps with noise isolation and overall sound quality.

Bose Sport open earphones

Bose

Finally, Bose hasn’t completely removed on-board controls for Sport Open headphones. There are two small physical buttons – one on each side – which offer a few options. On the right, a single press plays / pauses, a double press goes to the next track and a triple press goes to the previous track. This same button is used to turn on the headphones and answer / end calls. The control on the left earbud activates your desired voice assistant when you hold it down, and you can set it to announce the battery level with a single tap. Thanks to a post-launch update, you can adjust the volume with a simple tap on the outside of the earbuds. Use the right to increase the volume and the left to decrease it. Bose also gives you the option to turn off volume control entirely inside its app (it’s off by default).

Interestingly, Bose uses both a physical button and touch gestures for the onboard controls on these headphones. The tap is the least invasive action, so it would be great if the company could activate some of the items that press buttons. Either way, it’s clear that Bose plans to improve the experience over time, as it’s already doing so shortly after the product’s launch.

Sound quality

Bose is definitely doing what it planned to do with its latest true wireless headphones.  The company keeps your ears open to your surroundings while you exercise, which can increase the safety of runners and other training situations.  At home, you won't sound like an idiot by not responding to your partner while listening to a podcast.  However, the design that makes Sport Open headphones attractive for training limits performance elsewhere, so you have to accept sacrifices that could be the deciding factors.

Billy Steele / Engadget

Going into this review I got some flashbacks for testing the Galaxy Buds Live. Samsung’s design choices were quite unique, and these headphones did a lot of what it intended to do. However, the audio quality just wasn’t there. Additionally, the company included active noise cancellation (ANC) on a product that didn’t seal your ears, which sort of defeated the goal. My first experience with an “open” design headphone set showed me that always having your ears tune in to what’s going on around you means big sacrifices in audio quality.

This is still the case with the Bose Sport Open headphones. Bose has achieved a lot of its goals: primarily, keeping your ears clear when you exercise. It is undeniable that this has huge implications for safety, especially for runners. But, I could hear a lot of them at home while testing them. And, if your gym looks like the one I went to before the pandemic, it plays a variety of pop music at unreasonable volumes. The main reason I wore headphones was to block that out, and these Bose headphones won’t help you much there. You should also know that these won’t give you the audio quality you are likely looking for in a $ 200 set of headphones. This is especially true when it comes to the low end.

While the Sport Open headphones have decent clarity, the lack of bassy thump sucks a lot of energy out of songs that are otherwise big and boomy. And if you’re like me, you rely on a lot of low end to stay motivated during a workout. With these headphones you get a lot of highs and mids, but that’s about it. This means that they are great for podcasts but are suitable for most genres of music.

- Advertisement -spot_img

More articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest article