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Bose SoundSport Free review. Bose soundsport in ear Android

Bose SoundSport Free review

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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 signature and identifiable button controls. As far as true wireless are concerned, they’re a great option because they do everything well enough even though there’s ample room for improvement. Listeners who want a more modern headset should consider something from Beats or Jabra for a similar price.

Bose SoundSport Free

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 signature and identifiable button controls. As far as true wireless are concerned, they’re a great option because they do everything well enough even though there’s ample room for improvement. Listeners who want a more modern headset should consider something from Beats or Jabra for a similar price.

Mono listening (right bud only)

Intermittent connectivity drops

Lacks Bluetooth multipoint

Back in 2016, we lauded the Bose SoundSport Wireless, and now there’s a newer, shinier kid in town: the Bose SoundSport Free. Although it doesn’t perfect the true wireless experience, the SoundSport Free meets most athletes’ audio demands including water-resistance and a secure fit. If you don’t mind the comically large housings, these earbuds are a great addition to the Bose ecosystem.

Editor’s note: this Bose SoundSport Free review was updated on November 23, to address the Bose Sport Earbuds.

What is the Bose SoundSport Free like?

bose, soundsport, free, review, android

The charging case provides an extra 10 hours of battery life to the Bose SoundSport Free true wireless earbuds.

Upon opening the SoundSport Free, it’s apparent that a sizable portion of your money is funneled back into Bose’s packaging design department. Inside, is a tubular charging case, a microUSB charging cable, two alternative pairs of StayHear ear tips, and the SoundSport Free earbuds. Maybe the people over at Bose have abnormally large ears, or maybe they get their kicks from making their customers look ridiculous. Whatever it may be, these look goofy and jut from the ear.

Looking beyond the bulbous build, the SoundSport Free buds provide a very stable fit, due to the StayHear ear tips. The wing tips are grippy, flexible, and comfortable. Ambient noise easily permeates the seal, but that’s more of a “pro” with workout earbuds, making them safer than something like the RHA MA750 Wireless. This way, users can run outside with these and still hear traffic and other pedestrians.

bose, soundsport, free, review, android

The SoundSport Free housing is larger than the SoundSport Wireless housing, which was already large to begin with.

Though they’re constructed from plastic, the Bose SoundSport Free are durable. An IPX4-certification and high-grade materials mean that these can withstand most workouts, save for aquatics. The included charging case is sturdy, too. It provides two additional full-charges to the earbuds, which isn’t great for its size-to-battery ratio.

Do the Bose SoundSport Free stay connected?

bose, soundsport, free, review, android

Bose’s SoundSport Free charging case uses two internal LED indicators, which light up when the earbuds are inserted.

Though the connection isn’t quite as dicey as a game of Yahtzee, there’s plenty of room for improvement. Let’s start with the good. The SoundSport Free are a breeze to pair, and they reconnect instantaneously. The difficulty lies in maintaining a stable connection. Like other true wireless earbuds, connecting is a linear, rather than simultaneous, process. All you really need to know is that the left earbud loses connection a few times every hour, and because they don’t support aptX, Android users are bound to experience audio-visual lag. iPhone users, however, benefit from AAC Bluetooth codec support, providing high-quality wireless streaming.

The Bose Connect app supports the company’s Bluetooth products and has a peculiar option to nickname your device. Aside from its Zoey Deschanel-like quirkiness, the app provides useful features like “find my ‘buds.” A warning prompts users to remove the earbuds before playing the ascending beep, making it easy to locate when they’re lost in the same or an adjoining room. It’s not all good, though: the app has a tendency to crash. I had to uninstall it a couple of times and hope to see stability improvements with future updates.

How is the battery life?

Bose lists the earbuds’ standalone playback time at five hours; our objective testing measured a consistent 5.5 hours of playtime before I had to pop them back into the case which supplies an additional 10 hours of listening. While this isn’t up to snuff compared to more modern total wireless earbuds, longevity shouldn’t be an issue for those diligent about placing the earbuds back in the case. Which you should, because despite their protuberant style, they’re easy to misplace. Of course, battery life varies with how loudly you’re listening, so users can probably squeak out a little extra listening time by keeping the levels in check.

The charging method of choice, microUSB, is surprising, given the original price tag of 249. If Bose isn’t going to give us consumers USB-C charging, at least give us dual-functionality with the charging case like the JLab Epic Air Elite.

Do the Bose SoundSport Free sound good?

bose, soundsport, free, review, android

On the rear of the charging case is a micro-USB input. In order to charge the earbuds, they must be placed in the case.

The SoundSport Free’s sound signature is a departure from Bose’s notorious weak bass response. Like their predecessor, these earbuds pump out a strong low-end. Treble and midrange frequencies are exaggerated too but not to the same degree. At first listen, highs seem acutely detailed. A more attentive listen reveals that this is a consequence of treble accentuation and can sound sibilant (that familiar hiss) and fatiguing after extended periods. Bose does a fine job reproducing a deliberately altered sound signature that appeals to exercise enthusiasts.

Lows, mids, highs

It’s clear that the bass is engineered to please athletes, but Bose’s StayHear tips demonstrate the vulnerabilities of an improper seal. In Emily Blue’s song Blackberries, the bass line receives substantial amplification, and the occasional bump refracts down the ear canal. Granted, for the most part, bass is simply just loud and is physically unable to maintain a steady thump. Bose emphasizes the low-end for good reason, but their attempt falls flat a bit.

AJR’s song Sober Up relies heavily on Ryan Met’s vocal lead and, relative to the bass and treble, the mids are the least emphasized part of the SoundSport Free signature. This is good and bad: they sound accurate but are quickly masked when an unrestrained kickdrum makes itself present. If these weren’t workout earbuds, this would receive more criticism, but given the intended use for the SoundSport Free, it’s easy to look past.

In Baseball by Hippo Campus, the filtering of the highs is most apparent during the first verse. Nathan Stocker’s guitar picking comes through clearly, even as it takes a backseat to the bass. High-pitched frequencies resonate, as his fingers travel up and down the fretboard. This is appealing within the context of Baseball; however, in Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, the violins quickly lose their charm, instead, becoming irritating.

Should you buy the Bose SoundSport Free in 2020?

With the advent of the Bose Sport Earbuds, it’s hard to justify the SoundSport Free. If you’re heavily invested in the Bose family and appreciate the reliable nature of Bose products, then yes, the Bose SoundSport Free was a fine true wireless option. However, snagging a new pair of these buds has become increasingly difficult as remaining units are sold by smaller distributors. For people dead set on buying the SoundSport Free before it’s officially discontinued, the company offers refurbished models on its website for just under 120.

Get the Bose Sport Earbuds or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds instead

bose, soundsport, free, review, android

Bose fans need not fret, for the company recently announced a new line of true wireless earbuds. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are a pair of noise canceling true wireless earbuds aimed squarely at the Sony WF-1000XM3, while the Bose Sport Earbuds are considered the successor to the SoundSport Free—designed for people with active lifestyles. The Sport Earbuds feature a new design that mimics the Bose Headphones 700, along with an IPX4 rating.

For those on a tighter budget, we at SoundGuys highly recommend the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 for their water-resistance, aptX and AAC codec support, and battery life. If you want to save even more money, the JLab JBuds Air Icon is available for 59 and features an IP55 dust and water resistance rating, making them an affordable and budget-friendly pair of workout earbuds.

Workout-friendly alternatives to Bose

bose, soundsport, free, review, android

Long battery life benefits all listeners, and the Master Dynamic MW07 Go charging case supplies an extra 12 hours of listening before needing to be recharged.

The Bose SoundSport Free was a unique product when released back in the fall of 2017, but we’ve seen a Rapid uptick in truly wireless earbuds. As any Freakonomics fan will tell you: as competition increases, eventually decrease. We’ve seen more affordable and comparably priced workout earbuds enter the market, and the Bose SoundSport Free just can’t keep pace with the others. The large earbud housings look ridiculous in comparison to the IPX6 rated Master Dynamic MW07 Go, and even compared to the sportier Jaybird Vista.

Additionally, what the Bose SoundSport Free once championed its extended playtime which ran circles around the competition two years ago. However, now we’re seeing total wireless earbuds that handily exceed six hours of playback with more playtime afforded from an even slimmer charging case. Suffice to say, the SoundSport Free is showing its age.

The Jabra Elite Active 75t are a great alternative for daily use

bose, soundsport, free, review, android

If you’re looking for a set of earbuds to use regularly but don’t want to sacrifice durability, the Elite Active 75t earphones are your end game. Jabra went through the effort to get these IP57-certified, meaning they’re great for rock climbers and poolside athletes alike. That said, you can’t actually use these for swimming because they lack on-board storage. However, the waterproof rating means you can rest assured if the headset happens to slip into a pool.

Other great features include the design and fit: these earbuds are about half the size of the SoundSport Free and are just as, if not more, secure. Each earbud panel is a tactile button that lets you adjust playback, volume, and access Google Assistant (Alexa, or Siri). The microphone system is excellent for hands-free calls and is even good enough for professional calls. If you want a pair of exercise earphones with a more modern design, get the Elite Active 75t or the standard Elite 75t.

iPhone users should save for the Apple Airpods Pro or Beats Powerbeats Pro

bose, soundsport, free, review, android

Apple includes wireless charging capabilities by default with its Airpods Pro noise canceling true wireless earbuds.

If you’ve been considering the SoundSport Free earbuds for their AAC support, you’d greatly benefit from saving until you can afford either the Airpods Pro or Powerbeats Pro. Both headsets integrate Apple’s H1 chip for greater energy efficiency, hands-free Siri access, and streamlined use across iOS devices. What’s more, the Airpods Pro are the first of the Airpods line to have an official IP rating (IPX4), so you can sweat in them to your heart’s desire without worrying about water damage. Coincidentally, the Powerbeats Pro buds are also IPX4-rated.

Neither pair of earbuds juts out from the ear as much as the SoundSport Free and both support fast charging. For the Beats workout earbuds, you get 1.5 hours of listening from just five minutes in the case, which is pretty remarkable. Anyone drawn to the Powerbeats Pro but want to save a few bucks should instead get the Beats Powerbeats.

Frequently asked questions about

The Bose Sport Earbuds improves upon the SoundSport Free in almost every way imaginable. While the Sport Earbuds still features the IPX4 rating of the SoundSport Free, it offers a minimalist design with improved ear tips, USB-C charging, newer drivers for better sound quality, and Bluetooth 5.1 for more consistent device connectivity—compared to its predecessor.

Because batteries degrade over time, no set of wireless audio products are going to last forever. True wireless earphones like the Bose SoundSport Free have very tiny batteries in them, making their battery life already pretty short. If there’s any degradation in the cells (which would happen in items a couple years old), you’ll notice dramatically worse battery life. Lily covered this a little more in detail on our sister site Android Authority, so if you want you can read up on it here.

Firmware updates can be accessed using the Bose Connect app, available for Android and iOS.

Despite Bose’s powerhouse status in the noise canceling headphones sphere, the SoundSport Free lacks noise canceling technology. If you’re interested in the company’s ANC earbuds, checkout the Bose QuietComfort series.

Bose SoundSport In-Ear Headphones Review

bose, soundsport, free, review, android

The Bose SoundSport are decent sounding in-ear earbuds. They have a comfortable and open fit that some may prefer over typical in-ear models. The tips’ design, lets you hear traffic while jogging but also, doesn’t block any ambient noise. They won’t be ideal for loud and noisy commutes.

Our Verdict

The primary usage for these headphones is for sports. The lack of isolation means they won’t be versatile enough for loud environments and commuting. On the upside, they deliver a decent enough sound for most listeners, and they’re stable, portable and breathable enough, to comfortably run and workout with.

Average for neutral listening. They have a surprisingly open sound for in-ear headphones. However, they lack a bit bass for a balanced neutral listening experience.

Below-average for noisy commutes. They’re comfortable and compact but they barely block any ambient noise. They struggle in loud environments.

The SoundSport In-Ear are good headphones for sports use. They have a stable and open in-ear fit that allows runners to monitor their surroundings. Also, They’re small enough to carry around on your person wherever you go.

Mediocre for office use. They don’t leak much but won’t block the chatter of a busy office.

  • 6.0 Mixed Usage
  • 6.2 Neutral Sound
  • 5.4 Commute/Travel
  • 7.1 Sports/Fitness
  • 5.7 Office
  • 5.2 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.0 Wired Gaming
  • 6.2 Phone Call
  • Updated Nov 21, 2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  • Updated Nov 21, 2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  • Updated Feb 16, 2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  • Updated Oct 02, 2017: The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here
  • Updated Aug 10, 2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1.
  • Updated Mar 01, 2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.0.
  • Updated Jul 01, 2016: Review published.

Test Results

The Bose SoundSport In-Ear have a bright and sporty red and black color scheme that stands out and looks good. The earbuds are a little bigger than the similarly designed SoundTrue In-Ear and are available in a variety of colors to suit your tastes. They have a unique ear bud tip design that’s smaller and more open than the StayHear tips of the Soundtrue IE and QuietComfort 20.

The Bose SoundSport are incredibly comfortable. They are extremely lightweight, and the fit does not apply any pressure to the ear canal. They feel like you don’t have headphones on once they’re in your ears. However, this can get slightly frustrating as you’re frequently tempted to adjust the fit, assuming the earbuds are not correctly placed in your ears. You get used to it eventually, but the open and airy effect is a little unsettling at first.

The SoundSport have an above-average control scheme. They provide call/music, track-skipping, and volume controls. Sadly, like the SoundTrue In-Ear the buttons are a little cramped on the small inline control module and also don’t deliver good tactile feedback.

The SoundSport In-Ear are one of the most portable headphones we have reviewed so far. They will easily fit into your s or purse. Although there’s no specific way to fold them into a smaller footprint, the cable is not too long or thick to take up much space.

These headphones come with a small circular soft pouch that will protect your headphones from damage. The case fabric is tough, and it will easily fit into a or purse. However, a soft case may not be able to protect these headphones from water damage as a hard case would.

Decent build quality. These headphones are lightweight and the earbuds are made of a relatively dense plastic that won’t break from a couple of falls. The audio cable is decent and moderately durable. Unfortunately, like the SoundTrue In-Ear, the audio cable could be a little thicker, to prevent it from getting damaged by everyday wear and tear.

The SoundSport are above-average stable headphones. They offer special stability tips that prevent the headphones from falling out of your ears while jogging. Their hybrid in-ear tip design is very open and airy, allowing runners to monitor their environment. However, the lack of a seal in the ear canal makes them fall out of your ears easier than the StayHear tips of the SoundTrue In-Ear or the QuietComfort 25. They’re ideal for jogging outside but may not be stable enough for high-intensity exercises at the gym.

The Bose SoundSport is a decent pair of sporty earbuds at just too high a price

Tom’s Guide Verdict

Bose’s SoundSport in-ear headphones provide balanced audio in a compact, sporty package, but the price is pretty steep.

Cons

Why you can trust Tom’s Guide?

Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what’s best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.

With a sporty, comfortable design, the Bose SoundSport in-ear headphones are made for those who need buds that can withstand regular, intense workouts. And, with balanced audio quality, these earbuds are worthy of a spot in the Bose family. We tested out the 129 SoundSport earbuds to see if they were worth sticking in your ears.

Bose SoundSport review: Price and availability

The Bose SoundSport were once 149, a price that has since dropped to 129. That’s still pretty pricey for what you get, however.

Nonetheless, if you want to pick up a pair, you have a choice of Amazon, Dell, Sweetwater or Bose itself.

Bose SoundSport review: Design

The Bose SoundSport in-ear headphones look as athletic as the people who would wear them. I buds I reviewed were colored in black and muted cerulean blue, with prominent C-shaped ear tips. The cord is ribboned in black and blue, as is the inline remote, which features a volume rocker and multifunction button for answering calls and pausing music. The earbuds are sweat- and water-resistant.

Bose provides three different sizes of ear tips, which are crucial to finding the right fit. I settled on the large, as they flexed to fill the openings in my ear. These earbuds don’t seal off your ear canal, so you will be able to hear the outside world. In the gym, however, the SoundSport did a good job of blocking the music jamming over the loudspeakers and most of the machines.

Bose includes a round, compact carrying case with an attached carabiner, which makes it easy to clip it to the inside of a gym bag or book.

It’s important to note that there are two models of the Bose SoundSport in-ear headphones. I used the ones made for iOS devices, and there’s another model made for Android devices. They both cost the same, so make sure you get the right ones for your smartphone, so you can make calls and control music from the inline remote.

Bose SoundSport review: Comfort and fit

Like the Street by 50 In-Ear Wired Sport from SMS Audio, the Bose SoundSport in-ear headphones come with silicone tips (which sit in your ear canal) and C-shaped wings, which fit into the side of your ear to better secure the earbuds when you’re moving.

While Bose supplies three different sizes of tips, they’re connected to the wings. In contrast, the Street by 50 In-Ear Wired Sport from SMS Audio headphones have separate ear tips and wings, giving you more fit options.

The Bose SoundSport felt superlight on my ears, and they never fell out during a workout or when they had to withstand a strong gust of wind. However, the Street by 50 In-Ear Wired Sport earbuds provide a more secure fit and better noise isolation.

Bose SoundSport review: Sound quality

The Bose SoundSport in-ear headphones pump out great sound across all genres. I zoned out to the twangy guitars in Luke Bryan’s “Checkin’ Out” because I felt like they were being strummed right in front of me. When I switched to Chayanne’s “Madre Tierra (Oye),” my ears were treated to a buzzy electric keyboard, punchy drums and the singer’s upbeat vocals.

However, I do wish the SoundSport delivered more bass. In Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown,” the bass sounded weak until I cranked up the volume to eardrum-crushing levels. SMS Audio’s Wired In-Ear headphones were much better in this regard. The drums boomed and vocals roared in Imagine Dragons’ “I Bet My Life,” urging me to go for a run even when I was sitting at my desk.

Bose SoundSport review: Verdict

Bose’s SoundSport in-ear headphones are some pretty sleek earbuds. Their basic yet sporty design will appeal to athletes who want a pair of no-fuss music makers, and their solid audio quality is nothing less than what you’d expect from the Bose name.

However, 129 is pretty steep for wired sport headphones. While they’re not as attractive, the SMS Audio Street by 50 Wired In-Ear Sport (38 to 79 on Amazon) provide stronger bass and more fit options for a much more affordable price. If you trust the Bose brand, these buds will satisfy, but they’re not the best value.

Follow Valentina Palladino at@valentinalucia. Follow Tom’s Guide at @tomsguide and on

Bose SoundSport Wireless review: The Bluetooth sports headphone to beat

Bose finally has a Bluetooth sports headphone.- it’s great and it isn’t crazy expensive.

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET’s Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He’s also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

Over the years I frequently get asked what the best Bluetooth sports headphone is. My stock answer is that none are perfect, all have their drawbacks, and the handful of top models may fit you well and work great.- or they may not.

bose, soundsport, free, review, android

Bose SoundSport Wireless

The Good

The SoundSoundSport Wireless is a very comfortable in-ear wireless Bluetooth sports headphone that’s sweat-resistant and sounds great. The earphones fit securely in your ears thanks to winged tips. The headphone works decently as a headset for making cell-phone calls and has an auto-off feature to preserve battery life.

The Bad

The ear pieces protrude noticeably from your ears (they’re a little bulky but don’t feel heavy); battery life tops out at 6 hours.

The Bottom Line

The Bose SoundSport Wireless is the most comfortable, best overall in-ear Bluetooth sports headphone you can buy right now.

Bose’s SoundSport Wireless, the company’s first Bluetooth sports headphone, isn’t perfect either, but it may just be the best Bluetooth sports headphone currently out there.

What makes it the best? Well, it’s very comfortable to wear, sounds good, seems well built, and.- at 150, £140 or AU249.- it isn’t outrageously priced.

Like the original SoundSport wired, which remains in the line and gets a price chop from 130 to 100, this new SoundSport Wireless has an open design. By open, I mean you don’t jam the earbud into your ear and completely seal off your ear canal (that type of headphone is referred to as a “noise-isolating” in-ear headphone). Thanks to Bose’s StayHear eartips, which come in three sizes.- small, medium, large.- the bud sits loosely in your ear yet remains securely in place.

This model is equipped with a special sport version of the StayHear tips that’s different from the StayHear tips included with Bose’s earlier in-ear headphones, so they aren’t interchangeable. I should also point out that because the earpieces extend out from your ears you’ll probably have some trouble wearing these under certain helmets.

The ear pieces are somewhat bulky, but not so bulky to feel heavy on your ears. However, if there’s a criticism of this headphone’s design, it’s that the ear pieces could protrude out a little less and be more discrete-looking. Easier said then done, of course.- today’s battery technology is holding back miniaturization efforts.

Rival headphones.- such as Jaybird’s X2 and Freedom, Beats’ Powerbeats 2 Wireless and Monster’s Adidas Sport Adistar.- give you the ability to shorten the cord length (or cinch up the cord) for those who want to wear the cord closer to the neck. With this headphone, you can’t adjust the cord length, but what Bose has done is provide a clip you can hook on to the back of your shirt (at the top) to keep the cord from flopping about. It’s a Smart design and I thought it worked well; the cord remained fairly stable, even while I was running.

The only downside to the floating-fit, open design is that ambient sound does leak in: this isn’t a great headphone for noisy environments. (If that’s your preference, Bose’s upcoming QuietControl 30 is a wireless model that features active noise-canceling.) But if you’re out running or biking, you’ll be able to hear cars coming, which is why a lot of runners and bikers prefer their headphones to have open designs.

As you might expect, the headphone is sweat- and water-resistant and there’s an inline mic and remote that lets you skip songs, adjust volume, and take and make calls. Bose is touting its quality as a headset for making calls, as well as how reliable the Bluetooth connection is. I can attest to experiencing only minimal Bluetooth hiccups and was satisfied with how it performed as a headset, though the QuietControl 30 and QuietComfort 35 offer superior headset performance. Those models have noise-reduction features that muffle ambient sound, including wind and street noise.

Just as importantly I had no trouble pairing and repairing the headphone with my iPhone 6S and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (the Bose features near-field communication tap-to-pair technology for devices like the Samsung that support this feature). I also simultaneously paired it with my iPhone 6S and MacBook Air and had no trouble switching between the two when a call came in as I was watching a video on the computer.

Bose Connect, a free app for Android and iOS, allows you to manage your pairing list, upgrade the firmware and change the auto power off settings (the headphone powers down if you don’t use it for a certain length of time, which is a good battery-saving feature). When you turn on the headphones, a female voice alerts you how much battery life is remaining and with which devices you’re paired. That information is also available in the app.

At launch, the headphone is available in two colors.- black and aqua.- with citron (yellow) coming in September. Also in September, Bose is releasing the SoundSport Pulse Wireless, which costs 200 (£170, AU299) and has an integrated heart-rate monitor that’s compatible with Runkeeper, Endomondo and other fitness apps.

Battery life for the SoundSport is rated at 6 hours, which is fairly decent for this type of small headphone (though not great overall), and 5 hours for the SoundSport Pulse. Both SoundSport wireless headphones come with a simple neoprene carrying case, but Bose will also sell an accessory case that has a built-in battery for on-the-go charging that’ll cost 50. That battery case provides three full charges, or up to 18 hours of battery life.

Smooth operation

I used the the SoundSport Wireless for over a week, taking it to the gym, using it on the streets of New York, and doing two runs with it on Randall’s Island. I used the large StayHear eartips and was able to get a comfortable, secure fit.

With a lot of in-ear sports headphones, I find myself having to make little adjustments to relieve some discomfort or get a more secure fit, especially while running, but with this headphone the adjustments I had to make were minimal. They were easy to put on and take off, they powered on and paired quickly to my phone, and worked as well as any Bluetooth headphone I’ve used.

The sound quality is very good for an in-ear sports Bluetooth headphone. There’ve been some complaints about it not playing loud enough, but I didn’t have that issue with the iPhone 6S or Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge I tested it with. (Bluetooth performance on computers tends to be a little dodgy and perhaps some of the volume complaints are related to computer connectivity.)

The headphone doesn’t sound as good as Bose’s 130 SoundTrue Ultra wired headphones, which I like a lot and offers cleaner, more dynamic sound, with better defined bass. But that’s the nature of Bluetooth. You lose a little something. In the case of the SoundSport Wireless, the loss isn’t huge. There’s some clarity missing (the highs are a little recessed), but you get lots of bass and the midrange sounds pretty natural and warm. It’s also a fairly open-sounding headphone.

What’s interesting about the sound is that this headphone seems to be optimized for outside use. Inside, in a quiet room, the bass can sound a little bloated, which gives everything a slightly dull edge. But when you’re walking around outside, the bass sounds toned down because it’s competing with ambient noise, whether it’s the wind or traffic or whatever. If you didn’t have that extra bass the headphone would sound thin outside. The way it’s tuned, it sounds smoother and better balanced outdoors.

I didn’t think it sounded better than the Jaybird Freedom, which also delivers excellent sound for an in-ear Bluetooth headphone.- though that model costs 33 percent more. But it bests the Beats PowerBeats 2 Wireless, Plantronics’ BackBeat Fit and Monster’s Adidas Sport Adistar. The latter two models cost less than the Bose.

All that said, what ultimately makes the Bose the superior headphone and easy to recommend is its fit and comfort level. No, it’s not perfect.- and it won’t be a perfect fit for everyone.- but it’s one of the few “premium” in-ear Bluetooth headphones that I think will work for the vast majority who buy it.

The SoundSport Wireless’ highlights:

  • Available in two colors at launch (black, aqua), with citron (yellow) version coming in September
  • Price: 150, £140, AU 249
  • 6 hours of battery life
  • Water- and sweat-resistant
  • Auto-power off feature
  • Accessory charging case costs 50
  • Works with Bose’s free Connect app for Android and iOS devices
  • NFC tap-to-pair technology for devices that support it
  • SoundSport Pulse Wireless with built-in heart-rate monitor ships in September for 200, £170, AU 299; comes in red and has 5 hours of battery life

Editors’ note September 27: After a small percentage of SoundSport Wireless units experienced problems with heavy sweat, Bose removed this product from stores in July 2016 and updated its design ( read the full story here ). If you’ve had any issues with the SoundSport Wireless, Bose will replace your unit free of charge with the updated model, which is now shipping. CNET has received the updated version of the headphone and is currently testing it. If there are no issues with the updated SoundSport Wireless, we’ll reinstate the Editors’ Choice award that the product initially received.

Editors’ note December 1: After some testing, we’ve determined that earlier problems with the Bose Soundsport Plus have been resolved, so its Editors’ Choice award has been reinstated.

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