Wireless earbuds are rapidly growing in popularity, and virtually all audio manufacturers are releasing their own versions.
Apple is currently the park leader with the AirPods, and it seems that many other audio manufacturers want a piece of the market as well.
Bose has recently released its first pair of true wireless earbuds called the SoundSport Free, and it is designed for runners and users with an active lifestyle.
The Bose SoundSport Free are true wireless earbuds offering great comfort and versatility to suit different users. They have well-balanced sound and good bass to cater to all music genres and have a great earbud fit, making them comfortable to wear for long runs or workout sessions.
Bose SoundSport Free “True Wireless” Earbuds
- Bluetooth: 4.1
- Wireless Range: 30 inches/ 9.1 m
- Charging Port: Pins
- Recharge Time: 1.9 hours
- Material of construction: Plastic, silicone
- Weight: 14.2g/ 0.5 oz.
- Charging case, USB case, and tips included
Design and Comfort
The SoundSport Free feels solid with soft ear tips that have a comfortable fit. The fit is so comfortable that you might end up forgetting you have something in your ears. However, from users’ reviews, some folks had a hard time making the earbuds remain anchored.
Appearance-wise, the earbuds are pretty bulbous, which means they stick out, not to mention that the case is quite big to fit in a trouser pocket.
The earbuds sit magnetically into the case’s slots, which also doubles as a charging pod. You will find buttons that pop the case open, triggering a series of indicator lights to show the amount of charge remaining. White LEDs inside the case shows when the earbuds are charging.
One area Bose failed to improve on is the ease of buttons usage, which is extremely stiff, making it hard to adjust volume or change tracks. However, they are responsive, with the button on the left earbud being for connecting/power while the volume and play/buttons are on the right earbud.
These earbuds have an IPX4 water-resistance rating making them great for outdoors regardless of weather conditions.
The SoundSport Free has an excellent sound experience with a lot of mid and treble details, which means you will have enjoyable running sessions. In fact, these are one of the best-balanced earbuds we have tested.
With deep and extended bass that gives your tracks the thump and rumble you need without overwhelming your ears with vocals and instruments, you will truly appreciate the sound quality of these earbuds from Bose.
The mid and treble settings are evenly balanced and well-rounded, even for tracks with higher frequencies. This means you will not experience those sharp and piercing sounds, as with some in-ears devices.
On the downside, the Bose SoundSport Free earbuds have a semi-open design making them unable to cancel out noise. They let in a lot of noise, making them not ideal for people looking for an earpiece to use in public transit where there is noise.
On the upside, the lack of noise canceling makes them ideal for runners as you will monitor your surrounding environment for traffic. However, they do not distract people around you, and thus you can mask noise by playing your audio a little louder.
Overall, we can term them as an excellent choice for those into workouts and outdoor running but not great for travel or commute.
Microphone and Connectivity
If there is an area the Bose SoundSport Free struggles in is the microphone and connectivity. In fact, we can say they have a mediocre wireless range and some connectivity issues.
Of course, Bose has tried to fix the issue since its launch by updating the earbuds firmware, but a few flaws remain.
While using this earbud’s microphone, you will find your voice lacking details, even in a quiet environment, which means your recipient will struggle to keep up with lengthy conversations.
The mic also lacks a noise cancelation feature and struggles to separate speech from ambient noise in the surroundings. This makes them not ideal for making calls while in public transit or noisy or windy outdoor environments.
There was too much latency, especially for watching videos and their weak wireless range means you will experience issues pairing it with a fixed Bluetooth source like your PC or TV.
However, if you carry your phone with you during your runs, you shouldn’t experience any issues, but for those who watch a lot of YouTube videos on their phone, this earbud may not be an ideal choice. For those into podcasts and music, the SoundSport Free should be fine.
Performance and Battery Life
When taken out of their case, the Bose SoundSport Free automatically gets into pairing mode. Unfortunately, they lack the NFC (near-field communication) feature, which means you have to pair it with your phone’s Bluetooth settings.
Upon successful pairing, a voice prompt will announce the name of the device it has connected to. The earbud can store up to seven devices in its pairing list to make it easier to connect with them in the future.
The SoundSport Free allows connectivity to your phone via the Bose Connect App, from where you can manage the list of paired devices, brand your earbud, update the firmware, and check the battery life. This app is available for iOS and Android phones, and there is no difference in the features offered on both platforms.
There is also a Find My Buds feature, which you can enable via the app to help you trace your earbuds in case you misplace them. The feature remembers the last location of your earbuds, and you can even trigger alarm sounds on the earbuds to help you find them. As long your earbuds are within Bluetooth range, this feature will work even if they are not actively connected with your device.
These wireless headphones have commendable battery life at 4.8 hours of playback with an additional 10 hours using its charging case. This means they can keep you entertained in the course of your running or workout sessions. However, they may not be ideal for heavy users.
With a recharge time of 1.9 hours, it means you will need to wait a little longer to have your earbud fully charged, but on the upside, you can access an auto-off/standby timer on its app, a feature that allows you to save power when they are not in use.
Another limitation is that you can only use the master earbud when charging, unlike advanced earbuds such as the Apple Airpods, which don’t limit the choice of the earbud.
What We Liked
- Powerful audio performance with boosted bass to give you the best sound quality
- Water-resistant design making them great for outdoor runs
- Exceptionally secure fit for most people, which means they won’t come out when running
- Have a sturdy and premium build quality
What We Didn’t Like
- Although comfortable on your ear, they are bulky and thus may not be ideal for use for prolonged periods
- Intermittent connectivity drops make them frustrating to use with a fixed Bluetooth device
- Difficult to use controls due to stiffness of its buttons
- Lacks an in-app EQ
Bose SoundSport Free True Wireless Earbuds Comparisons
Bose SoundSport Free vs Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Earbuds
Bose released a new line of true wireless earbuds in recent years, with the QuietComfort Earbuds taking center stage thanks to their noise-canceling nature. They have an IPX4 rating and are designed for people with an active lifestyle.
For those on a tighter budget, the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air offers a decent battery life, is water-resistant, and supports aptX and AAC codec.
If you are looking for a pair of truly wireless workout or running headphones, there are a lot of things to like about the SoundSport Free. They have one of the best sound quality thanks to the distinct ‘Bose’ sound, and the fit is secure. Not to mention that they have a solid, sturdy built.
Unfortunately, they feel a little bit bulky, and their bulbous design makes them more noticeable since they stick out of the ears. For those who are into watching videos, this will not be an ideal option.
As seen in its predecessor, the SoundSport Pulse, a heart rate monitor could have been a welcome feature, and the buttons could have been made softer.
In the end, we can term them a good buy for runners who like to listen to music when in their running sessions.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is through constantly challenging yourself.