Disclaimer: I was employed at Bose Corporation for 10 years before they shutdown our Blythewood, SC manufacturing plant in 2015. They are the electronics manufacturer I referred to in my bio.
First, a bit of background. There are very few times when I run without listening to music. Occasionally, I tried listening to audio books, but that just did not cut it for me. My history with headphones and running starts with a rather simple $10 set of wired headphones, the kind with hooks that wrap around the back of the ear. When I first started running, I only ran with the left earbud in, and I hung the hook of the other earbud on my shirt collar, so I could hear traffic coming from behind as an extra precaution. I ran on the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic, but I liked to hear behind me as well.
When Bose came out with their earliest generation SoundSport wired headphones, I was able to purchase a pair at an employee discount. I was immediately impressed with the sound quality and ditched my $10 headphones for good. This is also the point where I began running with both earbuds due to the richness of the sound and the lack of hook to secure the dangling half.
Unfortunately, I would go through the early SoundSport wired headphones within a month or two because the control buttons around my neck were not exactly sweat proof, I guess, and they would stop working. Fortunately, I worked in the facility where Bose repaired and replaced returned merchandise, providing me a constant supply of replacement headphones. Life was pretty good, but that ended in 2015, as I mentioned earlier. I had one last pair of wired SoundSports, and I wondered how long they’d last.
Then one day the dog decided to chew up the controls on my last pair of SoundSports. I guess she liked the sweat taste. I decided it was time to make the switch to wireless/Bluetooth headphones. For Christmas 2016, we snagged a Black Friday deal on wireless Beats Powerbeats 2, and I broke away from Bose. Soon, I decided I was a fan of wireless. Just to be clear, these were wireless as in Bluetooth. They still had a wire between the two ear buds, which housed the controls.
Well the Beats didn’t last long, either. The three pairs we purchased as Christmas gifts for my children and me did not last more than a few months before we had to return them all under warranty. A month after I received my replacement pair, those tore up as well. I had to resort to stealing my daughter’s Beats, while I decided what my next step in headphones was.
Father Day 2018
Father’s Day 2018 brought a huge surprise – a pair of Bose in-ear SoundSport Free wireless headphones. My wife did not know it, but these were the next step I had been considering.
As I’m finishing up the writing of this post, I’ve had the headphones for just over two months. But let me tell you these are by far the best headphones I have ever had.
- Truly wireless – no wire between the earbuds
- Charge/carry case
- Two earbuds: Volume & pause/play controls on the right earbud, Bluetooth disconnect on the left
- Three sizes of Stay-Hear+ Sport tips
- Available in blue, black, and orange. I have the blue.
- Bose Connect app
The sound. The sound quality is very good – rich, with plenty of bass. Much better than the Powerbeats 2 and reminiscent of my earlier Sound Sport wired.
The fit. I was a little skeptical about how these would stay in. I’m a pretty heavy sweater, especially here in the heart of hell season, I mean summer, in South Carolina. The SoundSport Frees come with 3 ear tip sizes, and I use the medium. I’ve had absolutely no issues with fit or the earbuds staying put, even as I sweated it out in the sultry South Carolina summer.
The case. To me, the storage case is brilliant and maybe the best reason to purchase these. One of the challenges with any wireless headset is charging the batteries. The Bose case does this for you. You charge the case and then you store the earbuds in the case. There are lights inside the case to tell you if the earbuds are charging. There are lights on the outside of the case to tell you the charge level of the case. According to the documentation, a fully charged case can do two full charges on the earbuds before needing to recharge the case. Bose claims the earbuds have a five-hour charge life. I haven’t tested this. Another sweet feature is the earbuds tells you the charge level when you pull them out and place them in your ears.
The BoseConnect app. The app is an interesting feature. After a couple of months, I have not really used it after the initial setup. I did test out the “Find My Buds” feature, and it seemed to work. Hope I never have to use that feature, though!
Not sure if this is a problem or not. One observation is the control buttons for volume and pause/play are much harder to press than other headphones I have. This takes a little to adjust to, but I’m hoping this actually means these buttons will work longer. These seems to be a weak spot on any headphones I’ve used in the past.
Occasionally, the left ear bud has lost its connection. A quick press of the bluetooth button resolved the issue.
Finally, I think I look a little dumber than usual with the earbuds sticking out. They definitely stick out more than other earbuds. Kinda makes me look like I have those ear gauges in, just a bit higher. Oh well, I’ll just run faster so no one can have a long look.
I love these headphones. Taking the wires away makes dealing with headphones so much better.
They solve several problems I had with my previous headphones:
- No damaging sweat on the controls
- No hollowing out/damaging the headphone jack hole on the phone while I run with the phone in my pocket
- And my favorite – when running with one earbud in, the other one doesn’t have to dangle somewhere. I just leave it behind. (editor’s note: on pre-dawn runs, I only use one earbud. I do use a headlamp, but I don’t want the boogeyman sneaking up on me from behind!)
These headphones retail for $199.99, and my family fully paid for these.
My rating: 4.99 out of 5.0. Minor deduction for the sporadic mystery left ear connectivity problem.
Link to the FAQ on the Bose site: https://www.bose.com/en_us/products/headphones/earphones/soundsport-free-wireless.html#ProductTabs_tab3
Thanks for reading,