Inspired by the ocean, Bang & Olufsen’s SS18 collection strikes a calm and peaceful tone
Unrivalled sound quality and fit, the Bose Soundsport Free have staked their claim as the best wireless sports earphones on the market
As far as the wireless sports headphone market is concerned right now, Bose has nailed it with its latest ‘buds.
While they’re still a bit on the beefy side the Soundsport Free offer a snug fit, sound quality and an all-round fit-for-sports purpose that you don’t get with any of its rivals.
These earphones are Bose’s cordless upgrade from the Soundsport Wireless, launched in 2016. Doing away with the connecting wire might just be the best thing Bose do for sports earphones.
Now, with its patented StayHear+ sports wingtips, which work by latching onto your outer ear and then effectively screwing in to your inner ear, the Soundsport do not move. At all. Making the sound quality, with the ambient noise drowned out — not cancelled like the Quiet Comfort — but sufficiently dulled so you can hear your music and no-one else’s: no background lifting grunts, no trashy gym pop hits mix and certainly no resident gym monkey’s boring anecdotes about how much protein they consumed this week. The detachable tips also come in three sizes, so one is going to fit your ear.
We put the Soundsport Free through an intense range of CrossFit, HITT and powerlifting workouts to take them through handstand push-ups, 50” box jumps, tracks sprints, power snatches, Olympic-ring muscle-ups — basically any movement that throws your head around in quick, jerky movements, sometimes at funny angles. Guess what… the Soundsports didn’t move. At all. Having run this next statement through the resident Debonair tech geek, we can confirm: there’s no other earphone on the market that will withstand this sort of work-out volatility and be as secure as the Soundsport.
IPX4 Water Resistant Rating
In fact, you’re more likely to get more worked up and frustrated at trying to shake loose the grip of these ‘buds from your ears than you are from any workout where you have them plugged in. These puppies are stuck fast. And they won’t let go. They’re like marines of the earphone world: here to serve you, to give you the best you can ask for, every time, and they’re with you all the way to the end, until you decide it’s time to pull the plug on Operation Work Out.
Add in the fact that they come with an IPX4 water resistant rating, making them sweat resistant (a real bonus for Middle East wearers, especially those who partake in the odd outdoor climb, hike, bike or run), and you begin to understand why these have got us so worked up and excited.
A real bonus for Bose with the Soundsport Free is battery life. I was able to get a run about six hours out of them in one go. And that (consults resident Tech Geek after pulling them away from social media analytics) makes them the best on the market by some distance. They also come with a small charger pack, which the ‘buds slot neatly into, and which extends charge up to ten hours.
Find My Bud
Another really useful addition, considering the forgetful and complacent nature of many with something so small as wireless earphones, is the ‘Find my Bud’ feature in the Bose Connect app that you have to install to connect the ‘buds with your phone. You can see the last location you used them, and track it down with a beep that comes from the lost earphone or phones.
Now, with the Soundsport Free there is an elephant in the room: the size.
Size Isn’t Everything
Some reviewers have been pedantic and hyperbolic enough to suggest they felt like they were sprouting alien antennae from their ears when they were wearing the earphones. Frankly, this is nonsense. This criticism seems to be based on a comparison to the size of Apple’s AirPods. But this is a case of quite literally comparing Apples and pears.
Hint: Soundsport Free — gym. AirPods — Leisure.
(Sidenote: If you’re wearing your AirPods to the gym you need to take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and question what you’re doing. And not the sort of vain glance you give yourself up and down in the gym mirror.)
Where the Soundsport are designed for all things active and athletic, the AirPods are more suited to leisure or walking round malls talking to people other than those they’ve gone to the mall with (although, quite why this is acceptable social etiquette is fodder more another canon of social commentary for another time).
On the surface, while a comparison to the AirPods is not favourable for Bose in terms of size, Apple’s ‘buds have nothing on Bose’s superior durability, fit and sound quality: and considering Bose’s ‘buds are pegged as earphones for athletes and dedicated gym-goers, these are precisely the areas the Soundsport wants to score highly on. And does so.
There is another quibble to keep in mind with the Soundsport Free: the buttons on the underside of them are a little stiff and, to begin with, difficult to use — particularly when you want to flick track, turn volume up or down or pause quickly. But this is all –part of the getting-to-know-you process between machine and man, and further still an aspect of the Bose design we expect (Tech Geek nods approval) that will improve with later iterations.
On the whole, if you’re in the market for the best sports earphones out there, you won’t go wrong with the Bose Soundsport Free.