The Bose SoundSport Free retails at a rather high Rs 18,990.
Each earphone is independently Bluetooth-powered and connects to the smartphone.
The sound is surprisingly good for a truly-wireless headset.
The Apple AirPods started a bit of a revolution, even if they weren’t the first truly-wireless headphones. After the success of Apple’s entirely wire-free headset, everyone wants a piece of the market. Android users obviously won’t want AirPods, and many of the existing players simply haven’t been able to crack the segment. Until now.
Although the Bragi The Headphone was the first headset to do away with wires completely, it has its weaknesses. Subsequently, we saw options from Samsung, Sony and Jabra, among others. The last good pair of truly-wireless headphones I reviewed was the Jabra Elite 65t, which got the concept mostly right. What has proven to be the case for the time being, though, is that truly-wireless technology is still the domain of brands that have a higher level of proficiency in making wireless headphones to start with.
One of those brands is Bose, and here we have the Bose SoundSport Free for review. Priced at Rs 18,990, it’s definitely among the more expensive options within this design concept. However, it does have a fair bit going for it. Here’s what I think about the Bose SoundSport Free.
Bose SoundSport Free Design and Specifications
Truly wireless headphones have the distinct feature of being larger than typical in-ear headphones, because of the need to include the battery, DAC, amplifier and wireless receiver in each earpiece. Each earphone of the Bose SoundSport Free is fairly large as such, significantly larger than typical in-ear headphones. While you’d expect the headset to be heavy, the plastic construction keeps the earphone light.
Depending on the color you buy, the finish and design will vary. Our review unit was the midnight blue-citron variant, which has an interesting combination of blue and lime-yellow, along with a contemporary and sporty texture and design on the outside. You also get an all-black variant, and a bright orange and blue variant, which look good as well.
The reason these rather large earphones fit in your ears so easily has a lot to do with the ear tips. The ‘winged’ tip design is one that has been well implemented by Bose with a lot of its in-ear headphones for a while now. While the outer part of the tip goes into your ear canal, a soft ‘rubber’ wing fixes itself inside your outer ear. The result is an effective fit that keeps the Bose SoundSport Free securely in your ears even if you’re moving around a lot, such as walking or running.
The top of each of the earphones has the buttons, which I disliked using during my time with the Bose SoundSport Free. The buttons are quite rigid and hard to press even when the earphones aren’t in your ears. I preferred to use the controls on the paired smartphone, including answering calls and changing tracks.
However, the headset is fairly well geared for use without you needing to get your phone out. During calls you get a voice prompt telling you the name or number of the caller, and pairing is automatic when you turn on the headset. Switching on itself is unique; you simply take the earphones out of the charging case to individually turn them on, and place them back in to switch off. Each headset receives its Bluetooth signal independently and doesn’t follow a dominant-subservient system as is the case with other truly wireless headphones.
Charging is through the case, which while a bit on the big side, is still fairly pocketable. The case has its own battery which can be charged even when the headset is in use, and while the headset is in storage, it’ll have its battery topped up. The earphones can hold about 5 hours of charge, with the case allowing each earphone to be topped up twice over, on average. As such battery life is good if you consider the total of fifteen hours of battery available – in five-hour increments, of course.
You get three winged tips of different sizes in the box, and the headset is IPX4 resistant against small splashes of water and sweat. The Bose SoundSport Free also comes with its own app, called Bose Connect for iOS and Android. This helps with pairing the headphones for the first time, managing paired devices and finding the buds through a function called ‘Find My Buds’. This helps you locate the buds on a map, which obviously won’t help you figure out where exactly in a room them are, but will definitely help you tell where you left them.
Bose SoundSport Free Sound Performance
Something that has tremendously contributed to Bose’s success as an audio products manufacturer is its dedication to good sound. Indeed, I haven’t heard a pair of headphones from Bose that sounds anything short of good, and the Bose SoundSport Free sticks to that agenda. While the truly-wireless audio space has typically had some catching up to do regarding sound quality, this Bose headset offers the best sound performance among the small set of truly-wireless headphones available today.
What particularly strikes you is the tonality and relative openness in the sound across the frequency range. The Weeknd’s Party Monster sounded great in the vocal department, with the powerful bass sounding excellent as well. Some of the lighter elements of the track also sounded decent, and the sound loyally adhered to the popular V-shaped sonic signature that works with most popular genres.
As a result, the bass sounds tight, defined and controlled, while the treble has just enough at the top to sound definite without offering a sound that’s too fatiguing. The mid-range naturally doesn’t have the same level of response as the highs and lows, but the drop is subtle enough for the sound to remain good. What I particularly loved in the sound was the hint of reverb in the bass.
With bass-heavy tracks such as the soulful Opposite Ways by Brasstracks or This Girl by Kungs, drum and bass hits felt present and three-dimensional, almost entirely realistic down to the shaking in my ears. This continued even in the strong saxophone-powered highs in both tracks which also had a hint of sparkle to it. While the sound wasn’t quite as hypnotic as a good pair of wired dual-driver in-ear headphones, it certainly sounded great for a headset with no wires whatsoever.
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2018 has finally been the year that truly wireless audio took off. The entry of the big brands into the picture has made the difference in establishing truly wireless audio as the future of convenient listening. The technology is still expensive though, but if you do have the money to spend, it’s worth investing in for a number of reasons. The technology will suit you particularly well if you’re a runner or commuter, since the lack of wires and small form factor are very convenient.
And as far as the segment is concerned, Bose is winning in my opinion. The Bose SoundSport Free is the best truly-wireless headset you can buy today, although the Rs 18,990 price tag might come across as a bit high. If your budget is indeed lower, you might also want to consider the Jabra Elite 65t, which costs close to Rs 6,000 less.