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Bose SoundSport Free Review

Great sound quality can't make up for the high price and lack of athletically inclined comfort
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Price:   $200 List | $169 at Amazon
Pros:  Great sound quality
Cons:  Not particularly comfortable, average athletic performance, expensive
Manufacturer:   Bose
By Max Mutter and Steven Tata  ⋅  Jul 24, 2018
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58
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 15
  • Sound Quality - 30% 8
  • Comfort - 20% 4
  • Athletic Performance - 20% 4
  • Battery Life - 15% 6
  • Portability - 15% 6

Our Verdict

While these buds sound very good, they really don't live up to the "sport" part of their name. These heavier than average totally wireless earbuds felt like they were tugging on our ears when we took them on a run or to the gym. Combine that with the big $200 price tag and it added an unnecessary level of stress to our workouts. If you're looking for an athletically inclined, totally wireless set of earbuds we would wholeheartedly recommend the Jabra Elite 65t over these earbuds. In our opinion the Jabras sound slightly better, are slightly less expensive, and are infinitely more comfortable than the Bose SoundSport Free.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

While Bose was able to pack in some good audio quality to these earbuds, they didn't fare particularly well when we actually used them for working out, which is what they're supposed to be designed for.


Performance Comparison


Due to somewhat average performance when we used these buds for working out, they slipped to the middle of our overall score sheet. Even a great sound quality score couldn't save them from mediocrity.

Sound Quality


This is the one area where the SoundSport Free really excels, earning an 8 out of 10 in our testing. Boasting Bose's signature punchy bass and great clarity, these buds made us feel like we were sitting in our living room listening to a nice speaker while we were out on a run. However, both the bass and clarity of the Jabra Elite 65t are slightly better, so the Bose SoundSport Free misses out on being a superlative in any sound category.

the SoundSport Free sounds great  but aren't' the best in the truly wireless athletic category.
the SoundSport Free sounds great, but aren't' the best in the truly wireless athletic category.

Comfort


This is where the SoundSport Free started to lose favor with us, picking up a score of just 4 out of 10. The buds come with 3 different ear fin sizes, but only one earpiece size. The realtively large size and weight of these buds tend to create a tugging sensation when you move around with them on, and a perfectly fitting earpiece would have gone a long way towards abating that feeling. However, many of us felt the one earpiece did not fit well, leaving us scared these buds were going to fall out, even with a well fitting ear fin. This did not happen in our testing, but due to the nature of the fit we couldn't shake the fear that it would.

The large ear protrusion makes these buds feel a bit bouncy when you're moving around.
The large ear protrusion makes these buds feel a bit bouncy when you're moving around.

Athletic Performance


That annoying tugging feeling that we mentioned above amplified only got worse when we used these buds in the gym or on a run. In the gym this feeling wasn't so bad, as having an earbud fall out wouldn't be so catastrophic. When outside on a run that tugging kept us constantly worried we were going to lose $200 worth of earbuds down the drain. That being said, we never had one of these earbuds fall out on us, but nonetheless, that tugging sensation wasn't pleasant, even if we could quell our fear of the buds falling out. Compare that to the Jabra Elite 65t, which we couldalmost forget we were wearing whilst working out.

The SoundSport Free does offer IPX4 water resistance. However, as we've said before, we've never run into any issues with Bluetooth earbuds being damaged by sweat. Therefore, in our experience water resistance is more of a peace of mind feature than a required one.

Battery Life


The SoundSport Free lasted 4.5 hours on a single charge in our testing. The case was able to provide another 2 full charges, bringing the total figure up to 13.5 hours before needing to find an outlet. This is comparable with the Jabra Elite 65t, which lasted 5.25 hours in our test with a case that provided about 2 full charges as well.


Portability


Like all of the truly wireless earbuds we've tested, the SoundSport Free nestles into a small carrying/charging case that can easily be shoved into a pocket. However, the case is significantly larger than those of the Jabra Elite 65t and the Apple AirPods, so if you're looking for something really compact these aren't the buds for you.

The SoundSport Free carrying/charging case.
The SoundSport Free carrying/charging case.

Value


The Bose SoundSport Free lists for $200. The Jabra Elite 65t, which we found to be superior to the SoundSport Free in almost every way, list for $170. Therefore we don't feel that the SoundSport Free quite lives up to the premium price tag.


Conclusion


The Bose SoundPort Free is a reasonable attempt at athletically inclined, truly wireless earbuds, but other companies have already done better.


Max Mutter and Steven Tata