Bose Sport Earbuds
Jan 5, 2021 at 12:55 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1


100+ Head-Fier
Dec 5, 2017
Los Angeles
I've been using for the last four years the Soundsport Wireless, and then the Soundsport Frees; the first earned my loyalty thanks to their durability and fairly neutral, open sound signature with a really good handle of timbre -- the latter reinforced it thanks to their even cleaner presentation and deep bass reach and really excellent imaging, and an even more-improved handling of acoustics than the first iteration.

Of course, the Sportsport Frees had some issues on the usability side of things: they used an older BT codec, so audio didn't sync up exactly sometimes when watching videos, and they were prone to short, rare (but occasional enough to be annoying) drops in connection, as well as phone calls being transmitted via only the right ear (which never bothered me as I don't use these for phonecalls, but I'm sure are a dealbreaker for others). So, I was excited to try out the newly-released Bose Sport Earbuds, which hopefully would smooth out the Frees' rough spots, and maybe even refine their strengths further.

It seems to be, unfortunately, an instance of two steps forward, one step back. Yes, all those usability issues are taken care of (barring the infrequent weird delay in the buds connecting to my phone). But when I initially tried on the buds for a run or two, I found myself disappointed in the sound; the mids seemed shouty, now. Sure, the treble was a bit smoother and higher resolution, but the mids were getting to be straight-up fatiguing, and the bass was relatively anemic -- more focused on mid-bass oomph, like bass pedals, but not reaching as deep as the Frees did.

I was all ready to return them when on a whim decided to swap the changeable earpieces for the Small size, and lo and behold -- with what must be a better seal, the sound is marvelous! The bass is deep and authoritative, and reaches probably even lower than the Frees, but also with a greater sense of thickness and texture -- think burlap vs velvet. The mids are tamed in the soundscape accordingly and offer up lots of nuance and timbre detail, and the highs are well-articulated and smooth and, as mentioned, much more high-resolution than the Frees. The soundstage is a little more hemmed-in, but the exchange being a better sense of detail retrieval, and the bass is indeed less bloomy and diffuse, more focused into the midbass area, so there's in fact stronger impact.

What gives? The Medium size was perfect for me on the Frees. At a glance, it seems like Bose adjusted the ratio between ear-canal insert and the wingtip that goes into the upper groove/fossa of the ear, so that the Medium ear-canal part is more like the large on the Frees, and the Small is more like the Medium. This leaves some comfort issues for me, now, since the wingtip doesn't quite reach up to my ear's fossa, and so the Sportbuds are kind of just wedged into my ear canal without any of the intended support from the outer part of the ear. There is also some difference in the shape of the insert where the eartip clicks onto the earbud itself and so you can't use the tips from the previous models with the new ones. At the moment they are comfortable enough to use, though I question how secure they'll remain after getting all sweated-up and bouncing around on a multi-mile jog, and whether they'll remain comfortable.

I'm still putting these through their paces, but sound-wise these are really excellent -- heads and shoulders above Bose's over-ear offerings. Comfort and fit will be a case-by-case scenario. But if you're looking for truly audiophile-worthy sound for something to use on runs (these probably don't have enough passive isolation for gym use) these may just scratch the itch -- if you can get the seal right.
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