Designed for sports, the Bose Sport Earbuds incorporate a particularly advanced active sound equalization technology, associated with a new acoustic load. They offer 5 hours of music and take care of all ears. Even the most delicate.
It’s been a few years since Bose launched headphones tailored for sports. The manufacturer has taken his time and offers with the Sport Earbuds a new iteration of the StayHear binding system, now in Max version. It also emphasizes its proprietary active sound equalization technology, depending on the volume. Does Bose have the means to compete with the tenors of hi-fi? This is what we wanted to verify.
Bose Sport Earbuds Data Sheet
This test was performed with headphones provided to us by Bose.
Impeccable wearing comfort
Completely wireless, the Bose Sport Earbuds were released at the same time as the QuietComfort Earbuds and replace the Bose Soundsport Free, which they are distinguished by a reduced size, new touch controls and StayHear Max tips. More discreet, the Bose Sport Earbuds also mark a technological step, since Bose has modified their acoustic load, now provided by a patented vent, with the key to increased performance in the lower audio spectrum, that is to say the serious. Autonomy is announced at approximately 5 hours continuously, and up to 15 hours cumulative thanks to the charging case. The IPX4 certification makes these headphones resistant to rain and sweat, but not waterproof. One can therefore indulge in the intensive practice of the sport of his choice, apart from swimming.
Bose therefore provides a storage case that acts as a charger, two pairs of additional silicone tips (three sizes in total), as well as a USB-C charging cable. The box is equipped with a push button with solid contact, five white LEDs on the front to indicate the status of its own battery, and those of the headphones when they are stored there. The headphones are rather compact, with a non-slip coating that makes handling very easy.
In use, the aptly named StayHear Max (understand “stay there”) mounting system, shows foolproof stability and even acoustic benefits. Indeed, the earpiece is not inserted into the ear canal, but positioned at its entrance and maintained by a cannula secured to the pinna of the ear. As a result, the canal is freed from an often painful mechanical stress: no more swelling and other irritations linked to perspiration, as well as the discharge of earwax which causes the earpiece to slip. Moreover, since the Bose Sport Earbuds do not move, the sound diffusion is never altered. The only counterpart to this excellent comfort, the passive insulation is arbitrary and you can hear very well what is happening around you (without music played).
But the main thing is there: throughout our test, while walking, running, cycling, the headphones did not move an iota, they never transmitted the slightest parasitic vibration, and, as a result we were able to focus on the music.
Bose wouldn’t be Bose without a premium user experience. To facilitate their use in a sporting setting, the manufacturer has equipped its headphones with only tactile controls. So no power button: the Bose Sport Earbuds wake up at the same time they leave their storage box. No pairing button either, it is deported in the box. When using for the first time, just press the small button and the box sends a signal to the headphones which switch to pairing mode. A voice message – in French – confirms it to you. Unsurprisingly, we didn’t encounter any pairing problems with our MacBook or with three Android smartphones. The stability of the connection is very good, even at 7-8 meters and a lower floor (wooden floor).
In use, the touch controls are satisfactory. Double tap the right earbud and music playback is paused or resumed. To accept a voice call, double tap on the right earpiece is required. To invoke the smartphone’s voice assistant, a long press is necessary. In addition, the volume can be adjusted by sliding your finger on the shell. As for the left earcup, the action linked to the touch contact can be personalized in the Bose Music app. Currently, only two choices are offered: knowing the battery level or going to the next track (the return is not possible). The application also allows to activate or not the in-ear detection, which interrupts the reading when the right earpiece is removed, then restarts it when it is replaced. If you ever have any doubts on how to proceed, there are many tutorials and animations integrated into the Bose Music app to guide you.
When connecting the headphones to the smartphone, a voice announcement specifies the battery charge level, as well as the name of the paired device. The handling of voice calls is good: an announcement is played upon reception – even when the smartphone is in “do not disturb” mode – then at the end of a call. The quality of listening is exemplary, the interlocutor perfectly intelligible. As for the microphone, it is of high quality and the surrounding noise is suppressed, which allows the other party to hear you well.
High quality sound performances
Bose did very (very) hard for the sound performance. However, there are many pitfalls in the development of acoustically efficient headphones, which the manufacturer has managed to circumvent. First of all, the integrated transducers are excellent: they show equal efficiency over the entire audio spectrum, with a frankly amazing dynamic capacity. Thus, we did not deplore any dynamic settlement at high volume, which is surprising in the case of small membranes.
Then, when Bose claims that its headphones feature dynamic sound equalization technology, which correlates with volume, it’s not just marketing. Indeed, the more you push the level, the more the bass is present and the stage gains in space: it is very pleasant. And then, it is coherent with a sporting framework where one expects a dynamic and catchy sound.
From a technical point of view, the on-board transducers descend low in frequency, with rigor and firmness. They are thus able to produce a very high sound level, without distortion. There is something to roll your eyes as the Bose Sport Earbuds hit hard and with discernment, because many helmets are incapable of such a feat. This is clearly a character trait to be blamed on Bose’s expertise in acoustic load. According to the manufacturer, two vents / resonators improve performance in the low register. But beyond that, we note that the on-board amplifiers have resources and never run out of steam, nor clip the dynamics. Hat.
The Bose Sport Earbuds deliver a playful, devilishly rhythmic sound. Whether you exercise or not, you never sulk your pleasure. Admittedly, they bring an additional treble, but just what is necessary to serve the restitution and not to color it and distort the stamps. On Spotify or our usual FLAC files, whether the codec used is SBC or AAC, everything goes smoothly. Note that the headphones are not compatible with LDAC or aptX.
We listened to Sting’s concert at the Olympia in 2017, whose Dolby Digital track is very close to the live scale. The bass drum bangs hard, Sting’s bass growls and his voice is well embodied. The Bose Sport Earbuds hold up: yet there is enough to make the transducers hound, generate diaphragm noises or blow out the amplification at high volume. But no, the restitution is powerful, massive and despite everything, it breathes. A host of appropriately articulated details reach our ears: the choristers are well positioned in the space, the songs of the audience located in the background with a clean space. Mayonnaise takes. Moreover, we highly recommend the revisited version of Roxanne with a bit of Bill Withers in it.
But back to listening to music and the beautiful balance offered by these headphones. According to Bose, the sound equalization is permanent and depends on the listening volume. We have indeed seen it and the results are astounding. Concretely, past 50% of the volume, the low register is reinforced. Under 50%, it is the high register that benefits from a boost, discreet, but effective. A kind of « loudness » intelligent, this function appeared in the 70s on amps and portable players to reinforce bass and treble, recently reintroduced by Yamaha on its hi-fi amps, but so far not very convincing. Using DSP and obviously well-written algorithms, Bose has reinvented – and succeeded – loudness.
To sum up, the sound signature of the Bose Sport Earbuds is rather physiological, with a wide and deep stage, a very marked stereo (thanks to the mono amps in each shell), as well as a surprising dynamic capacity. Finally, the maximum level is very high and allows you to isolate yourself in a bubble, even outdoors.
We were able to verify the announced autonomy, which slightly exceeds 5 hours for a charge. Since, like us, you are unlikely to manage to run that long, that seems sufficient, especially since 15 minutes spent in their case gives back 2 hours of battery life to the headphones.
However, do not expect to recover the 5 hours of autonomy in less than an hour, the charge slows down after 15 minutes and it actually takes 2 hours to recharge to 100%. As for the case, it allows two charging cycles for the headphones and requires 3 hours to be put back afloat.
Price and availability of Bose Sport Earbuds
Bose Sport Earbuds have been available since October 5. They are available in three colors, blue, black or gray, at a price of 199.95 euros.