Bose SoundSport Free Review
Pros: Great sound quality
Cons: Not particularly comfortable, average athletic performance, expensive
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More