“The Bose SoundSport Free are the brand’s first truly wireless earphones”

Cupertino giant Apple was heavily criticised for axing the headphones jack when the iPhone 7 Plus was launched, with many reviewers citing that the brand’s AirPods were no salvation from the missing headphone jack. While the company’s decision to remove the beloved analogue port is still debatable, I must say, Apple has sparked a completely new segment of audio products in the form of truly wireless earphones. Even though the segment is just a little over two years old, most big-name brands such as Sony and Jabra already have truly-wireless earphones in their portfolios.

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The latest company to join the leagues of wire-free earphones is Bose, who recently announced the SoundSport Free in India. Well, I’ve been walking around looking like Frankenstein’s monster with these in my ears so let’s see if they’re worth the trouble. Here’s my comprehensive review of the Bose SoundSport Free.

Design and comfort

Bluetooth earphones, especially truly wireless ones, don’t win many laurels when it comes to the design. Unfortunately, the same holds true for the Bose SoundSport Free too, which although have the colour scheme of a fancy sports car, have the body of a Subaru minivan. Now, for those struggling with the analogy, just look at the picture I’ve attached below and you’ll get the gist – the SoundSport Free are chunky and protrude outwards quite a bit. Consequently, you can forget about sleeping on one side as the earpieces will bite your ears quite a lot.

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But here’s the thing – the SoundSport Free aren’t supposed to be in your ears while you’re sleeping, but rather, when you’re exercising. That’s when you’ll appreciate the earphone’s double-flanged eartips, which managed to stay put in my ears without causing any discomfort for hour-long gym sessions. Flip the page over to cardio and you’ll get a similar result – despite sweating profusely while running over a stretch of 3 km, the SoundSport Free stayed anchored in my ears. And, thanks to their IPX4 rating, I didn’t have to worry about the earpieces being damaged by sweat.

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You do get some controls on the Bose SoundSport Free but quite frankly, I never used them. The right ear piece houses the volume controls as well as the multi-function button, whereas the left ear piece has a single button which is used to put the SoundSport Free in pairing mode. However, the buttons are rigid and it’s almost impossible to press one without loosening the in-ear grip of the earpieces. Therefore, you’d be better off with changing the tracks or the volume by using your smartphone.

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As is customary when buying a pair of truly wireless earphones, you’ll get a carrying case which doubles up as a battery pack with the Bose SoundSport Free too. The case has been constructed out of plastic, albeit has a solid in-hand feel and is compact enough to fit inside the pocket of your slim-fit jeans. You’ll also get five LEDs at the front, below the button to open the case which gives you an idea of the amount of charge left in the unit.

Sound and Performance

The Bose SoundSport Free is without a doubt, the best-sounding pair of truly-wireless earphones I’ve tested. The sound signature is very Bose-esque, in the sense that the earbuds offer plenty of details in the mids and the highs, but lack a bit of punch in the low-end. Be that as it may, I loved whipping out the earbuds from their case every time I wanted to listen to some music, even when I wasn’t working out. Now, a big reason why I find the earphones so much fun to listen to is because of their versatile nature. Be it Jax Jone’s Breathe which features a lot of chaotic beats, to something entirely different like Passenger’s Let Her Go, the SoundSport Free sounds crystal clear, regardless of whichever genre of music you’re listening to.

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Another thing I’d like to add here is that the SoundSport Free has the widest soundstage I’ve ever witnessed on a pair of earphones, wireless or otherwise. As a matter of fact, on several occasions, I felt like I had front row seats to an artist’s concert. Unsurprisingly, the earphones do a fantastic job at separating different instruments from one another and deliver a clean sound output. Now, while the earphones don’t offer active noise cancellation, the provided eartips form a satisfactory seal inside the ear to block out some of the outside noise. Moreover, the earphones get plenty loud, so if you really wanted, you could easily subdue environmental noise by increasing the volume. Although, be vary of maxing out the volume in public areas, as the SoundSport Free do leak the sound at higher volumes.

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People often make the case against truly-wireless earphones that they are easy to lose. Well, Bose has come up with a solution for that which can be found in the Bose Connect app for iOS and Android. From within the app, buyers can simply tap on ‘find my headphones’ option to locate their earbuds. The app shows you the last known location of the earbuds on a map and you even get the option of sounding an alarm which gets progressively louder to help you find them. It’s a really nifty tool which works flawlessly and I hope other manufacturers will implement the same with their truly-wireless offerings.

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In terms of battery, the Bose SoundSport Free adheres to the company’s claim and delivers a little over five hours of battery life off a single charge. On top of that, the provided case will add anywhere between 8-10 hours of battery life. If, however, you manage to run down the charge on both the earphones as well as the case, then a quick 15-minute top-up will give you around 45 mins of music playback.

Lastly, I am happy to report that the Bose SoundSport Free connect effortlessly to smartphones via Bluetooth and maintain a rock-solid connection for the most part too. Occasionally, the left earpiece would drop the ball and disconnect momentarily, but the audio playback would go back to normal in a jiffy.

Verdict

The Bose SoundSport Free retails for Rs 18,999 in India and for the price, you get a pair of fitness-focused truly wireless earphones which sound phenomenal and offer a solid battery life. That said, the earphones wouldn’t be my first choice and I’d much rather settle for the Jabra Elite Sport (review) which not only come with better water- and sweat-proofing, but are cheaper too. Moreover, the Elite Sport ships with more features which are geared towards fitness, such as an in-ear heart rate monitor and the ability to compute VO2 max scores.

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It’s obvious that Bose expects buyers to pay a premium associated with the brand’s name. Now, if you have deep pockets then, by all means, go for the earphones as they will not disappoint you. Else, you need not fret as you can get a number of truly wireless earphones which sound good, come with a lot more features and don’t break the bank at the same time. 

Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5

Pros: 

  • Impressive sound
  • Good battery life 
  • Solid connectivity

Cons: 

  • Expensive 
  • Lack fitness features 
  • No ANC 
Photos by Raj Rout

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