Bose has come late to the wireless earbuds party, but the SoundSport Free may turn out to be the ‘Ugly Duckling’ of wearable audio with class-leading sound quality.
In September 2016, Apple took the world by a storm when they revealed their wireless earbuds, the AirPods. They might not have been the pioneer in this field, but in true Apple style, they made it so popular that the major players either raised their game or were forced to enter this wearable audio segment. With advancements being made in the audio electronics range, how can the legendary Massachusetts based brand, Bose, stay behind. Therefore, by keeping up with the latest technology, Bose recently launched their wireless ear pods, the SoundSport Free, which is priced at ₹18,990. Now everyone knows that Bose is one of the most premium labels in the business, so a hefty price tag wasn’t really much of a surprise to us. Rather what we wanted to find out was whether it offered the class-leading rich clarity sound that is expected from the house of Bose.
Built to last
Sure, the SoundSport Free looks chunky and sticks out of the ears, making you resemble a Martian, but its bulky solid built quality ensures that it is no dainty darling and can rough out the wear and tear of daily usage. Keeping in the mind that the SoundSport is designed for gym goers and runners, it is dust, sweat and rain splash proof. As it is rated IPX4 water resistant, you can’t submerge it in a swimming pool.
As beefy and awkward as SoundSport Free may come across, each ear pod weighs only 15 grams. Therefore, I decided to take the ear pods out for a jog anticipating that at least once they will pop out of my ears, but to my surprise, this didn’t happen at all. As the Bose earbuds come with StayHear tips, these winged shaped tips ensured that it fit my ears comfortably without falling out. The StayHear tips come in three sizes – small, medium and large – with the medium size already mounted on to the earbuds. The earplugs are very easy to use, keeping in mind, there is a simple technique. First, place the ear piece’s tip in your ear so that it lines up with your ear canal. Now just tilt the bottom of the earplug forward and by doing this the StayHear is placed right underneath the ridge of your ear, which makes sure that SoundSport Free is comfortably and securely placed.
Once the SoundSport Free is paired with your smartphone, it remains true to its name and frees you not only from wires and you don’t have to rely on your mobile phone to change tracks and control the volume as the media buttons are integrated on the right pod. Unfortunately, the buttons don't provide much feedback as they are very hard. Initially, I ended up pressing the wrong controls, especially when I was changing the tracks as the button's situated between the volume control buttons. It takes a bit of getting used to, but in time it becomes second nature. The left pod, on the other hand, has a button that doubles up as power and Bluetooth connectivity controls.
Getting basics correct
Now the SoundSport Free doesn’t come with the noise-cancelling feature, but it manages to drown out outside noise as long as you're not in the middle of a vegetable market. I could still hear a bit of the surrounding’s sound, but this did help me be aware of outside environment. What is impressive about Bose is that instead of being swept away by adding unnecessary features, they have solely focused on a balanced sound output with a thumping bass. At low range frequency, the SoundSport Free’s is at its best as the deep bass slightly overpowers the treble without being overbearing to the ears. At the mid-range is where both bass and the vocals excel neither trying to outdo the other as they strike a perfect balance. Yes, throughout the entire range the bass is a bit heavier, but then it never muffles the treble. I love the bass thumping in my ears and the Bose ear pods surpasses its competition in that front.
One problem I faced when I was streaming Netflix was that the audio and the video weren’t in sync with each other. To iron out with this issue, Bose has uploaded an update, as a result, the entire experience is now smooth sailing.
What’s slightly disappointing is that the Bose app, Connect+, doesn’t really offer any additional features like equalizer settings. Now Bose claims it doesn’t need that as the SoundSport Free comes inbuild with ‘volume-optimised EQ’, which automatically adjusts the sound. I would have personally preferred to set it manually. The app does come with an important feature — "find my earbuds". If in case, you misplace the earbuds, the app shows you where they last appeared on the map.
The Bose buds’ battery lasted for 5 hours as claimed by the company, which is quite decent. It comes with a charging case that provides two additional full charges.
No doubt, the Bose SoundSport Free is expensive and at that price, one does wish it had noise cancelling feature, but having said that its audio quality is the best in the business and that’s what matters. The design is not the most attractive but it is durable and sturdy. So, if I had ₹18,990 lying around then I would buy them.
• Sturdy built quality
• Hard control buttons