Bose’s flagship QuietComfort Earbuds are understandably some of the most impressive and highly sought in-ear music headphones on the market. But at $400, they are also a demanding investment. Look down lower on the price scale and you’ll find the newer Bose Sport Earbuds, which are obviously designed more towards the fitness/running crowd, but sound just as good.
In fact, I’d say they are the single best sounding sports earbuds I’ve tested. Even besting my other favourite sports earbuds from Jabra.
While I’ve experienced some stuttery connection issues over time, I’m confident in writing that these $300 earbuds are worth paying attention to, even if there are a few issues.
While I do think similar offerings from Jabra are just better designed overall, the function-forward aesthetic works quite well to keep those buds sitting still in your ear despite any physical jolts. The plastic surfaces do feel a little cheap, but help maintain a very lightweight build that feels comfortable in the ear and hooks on with soft wing tips.
Three soft and flexible silicone tips come in the box, playing on the usual sizes of small, medium, and large. There’s a good distinction between all three and I’d be surprised if most people couldn’t find something that fits snugly.
The important part is that these buds aren’t jutting too far into your ear canal, and yet they sound as good as lifestyle competitors which would reach further into the ear.
While there is no active noise cancelling, like with the QuietComforts, the passive noise cancelling works rather well. Whenever I’ve popped these on in the office I’ve been unable to hear anything talking to me, although loud-pitched noises do come through noticeably. Outside, traffic still sneaks in quite a bit, which is a good thing given the use case for the Bose Sport Earbuds.
The buds have a solid IP4 rating, which means they are sweat resistant and can stand a great deal of water, so rain shouldn’t be an issue.
The charging carry case is very slim and pocket-sized although does have some bulk to it. Regardless, the buds slide in very easily and the five LEDs at the front tell you how much juice you’ve got left to recharge them. Interestingly, the Bluetooth pairing button is located on the case, so you’ll need it handy should you want to pair the buds to any new device.
There are no physical buttons on the earbuds themselves, but there are touch controls that implicate the usual playback options. Unfortunately I’ve found the touch surface to be largely inconsistent, not to mention so small – given the buds’ profile – that I’ve found myself just using the phone instead.
A beautiful balance of lows, mids, and highs – Bose have nailed the sound here, with extra points for clarity and brightness. While my Sony WF-1000XM3 lifestyle earbuds do punch much harder when it comes to the lows, and are able to pick apart smaller details, the Bose Sport Earbuds coming close is remarkable – given that these aren’t the type of earbuds that’d lock you into your own private audio chamber.
Pairing can be a pain sometimes. The buds seem to have trouble switching between two paired audio devices, and the voice that indicates battery level and connection is almost whisper-quiet to the point where I’ve had to double check my phone’s settings to confirm the connection is good to go.
As mentioned above, while the connection is strong, I’ve run into the occasional stutter that lasts a few seconds. Sometimes the music even distorts and speeds up when trying to restore connection. Funnily enough, I’ve had this issue on a run, but rather when I’m sitting completely still.
As for taking calls – don’t bother. The clarity and volume just isn’t there with the Bose Sport Earbuds, reflecting similar issues most in-ear buds tend to have.
Verdict & Value
At $300, the Bose Sport Earbuds are still quite the investment even if they are $100 less expensive than the lifestyle-focused QuietComfort buds. For that price, you some of the best soundings sports earbuds on the market, and a solid fit that surely won’t fall out even on those more intensive runs.
Yet there are a litany of issues that could be addressed with a second iteration. Stutter may not last long, but it’s a common annoyance with the connection. Plus, call quality is just terrible at the best of times. I’d also love to see a clearer and more pronounced indication that the earbuds are on and good to go as soon as I pop them into the ear.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Excellent, well-balanced sound with great brightness and clarity; superb fit that won’t fall out.
Lowlights: Questionable touch controls; terrible call quality; some stutter issues.