Review: Bose SoundSport Free

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True wireless Bluetooth in-ear headphones are no longer a pipe dream. The Bose SoundSport Free headphones have a 5h battery life, an autonomous charging case and three patented nozzles. Because the Bose SoundSport Free in-ear headphones are made for workout sessions, you needn’t worry about sweating or about the earphones staying put. But are they musical?

Test Bose SoundSport Free

Even though Bluetooth in-ear headphones have been around for years, they were always connected by a cord and were fitted a small compartment holding a Bluetooth receiver, an amplifier, a microphone and a battery. To get rid of the cord, it was necessary to equip each earbud with an amplifier and battery, but also to transmit sound between the two earbuds. The latter is basically an impossible task as Bluetooth transmission with a smartphone, for example, can only send data to one receiver.

For this reason, Bose has integrated an extra wireless audio transmission system into their headphones: the right earbud receives digital data via Bluetooth and transmits sound via radio-frequencies to the other earbud.

Bose SoundSport Free: double mono amplification

Because the Bose SoundSport Free in-ear headphones aren’t connected by a cable, each earbud has to have its own amplifier. As a result, we have a pair of stereo earphones with a double mono amplification system. This changes pretty much everything.

Sound lateralization is remarkable and the soundstage is unusually wide.

Bose SoundSport Free: technical specifications

Bose doesn’t impart a lot of technical information about their earphones. The battery life (5 hours) and the wireless range (9 meters) are specified. However, the frequency response, the maximum output power or the Bluetooth transmission type aren’t provided. We can testify that the frequency response is wide and that these in-ear headphones never get frustrating. Because our smartphone operates with Android 8.1, we were able to determine that two Bluetooth transmissions are compatible : SBC (universal) and AAC (iPhone and devices with Android 8.x).

Test Bose SoundSport Free
The Bose SoundSport Free in-ear headphones in their charging case.

Bose SoundSport Free: charging case

The Bose SoundSport Free earphones come with a protective case which doubles as a charger. This case has an integrated battery which ensures two charging cycles. The earbuds’ LEDs blink while charging and the case also has LEDs to indicate the status of its own battery. The included micro-USB cable may be used to recharge the case and the headphones in two hours.

Bose SoundSport Free: test conditions

To get the most from the Bose SoundSport Free in-ear headphones, we recommend installing the Bose Companion app, available for iOS and Android. This allows you to update the earphones with a new firmware, change the language of the voice command or even consult the earphones’ user manual. The app even offers playback controls for the music application in use.

Test Bose SoundSport Free
The Bose Companion application allows you to update and configure the Bose SoundSport Free in-ear headphones.

Bose SoundSport Free: comfort

The Bose StayHear+ system is very well designed. The tip of the StayHear+ sits evenly inside the ear, while the upper part of the fin fits naturally and snuggly. Not only do the earbuds fit snuggly into the ear, they also stay in place during physical activities. The Bose SoundSport Free in-ear headphones purposely don’t isolate the listener from surrounding sounds. These headphones are made for physical activity, which means they should let you hear what is happening around you in order to avoid any danger.

Bose SoundSport Free: listening impressions

We tested the Bose SoundSport Free in-ear headphones with an Android smartphone and used AAC Bluetooth transmission: the highest transmission quality possible with these headphones. We listened to FLAC files and a few Google Play Music playlists, consequently in MP3 format. The restitution is excellent, which is surprising considering that the sound is compressed for Bluetooth transmission. Despite everything, the sound signature is soft and detailed, and has great timing throughout the entire sound spectrum. Consequently, the sound stages are adequately layered. There’s a satisfactory range and a viable extension in the lows. The mids are open, soft and well placed, while the highs are light and lofty, without any unwanted coloration. We found that the soundstage was broad and spacious, with a well-controlled acoustic phase that places mono sounds firmly in the center.

Test Bose SoundSport Free
The Bose SoundSport Free Bluetooth, True Wireless in-ear headphones are fitted with the Bose StayHear+ system.

Bose SoundSport Free: AV synchronization and phone calls

Note that the wireless double transmission (Bluetooth + RF) affects the synchronization of sound and image when watching videos with a smartphone. Some apps (Youtube for example) can’t compensate for this. Others, like VLC, let you to adjust the sound/image synchronization via the playback settings.

Only the right earbud functions during phone calls, and the integrated microphone is always excellent. The artificial voice that announces the caller ID is perfectly intelligible.

Bose SoundSport Free : conclusion

It’s a home run for the Bose SoundSport Free in-ear headphones. These earbuds are most definitely musical. They allow total freedom of movement, which makes the listening experience even more enjoyable. The best part is that the battery charge really does last for five hours.

We liked

  • The amazing sound restitution
  • The comfortable and efficient StayHear+ system
  • The charging case with its integrated battery

We would have liked

  • Nothing else

 

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