Bose's latest effort in the portable headphone space is a departure from their preferred over-the-head style. The Bose in-ear headphones are, as you might expect, somewhat similar to IEMs (In Ear Monitors) in that they rest in the ear canal. While not sliding in as deeply as full IEMs they offer quite good audio quality with exceptionally powerful bass. Our only complaints are that they don't really get any sort of seal with the eardrum, which lets in more external noise than we'd like, and that the plastic sleeve is easily lost.
- Sensationally powerful bass, comfortable to wear, good overall sound quality
- Plastic tips easily lost, no noise canceling
The Bose in-ear headphones won't be for everyone, but if you feel like your current earbuds or IEMs are lacking a little in the bass department, then they may be right up your alley.
Price$ 149.00 (AUD)
Make no mistake; these are probably the most bass heavy headphones of this type on the market right now. We were absolutely amazed with the power and strength of the bass the Bose in-ear headphones created, despite the fact that they don't achieve a seal with the ear canal. Generally with IEMs, if you don't get a good seal when inserting them, music sounds quite flat with thin bass and tinny highs. However, the Bose had no such problems. To test exactly how strong the bass was, we pushed them further into the canal, creating an artificial seal, but we didn't last long under the barrage of thundering lower register notes.
The bass-heavy sound won't appeal to everybody, but it sounds great with certain styles of music, including dance, hip-hop and electronica. When playing other styles of music, the quality of the bass is more important than the quantity, and in this area these headphones don't shine as much. It was a little bloated for our tastes, but had a reasonable amount of detail and should satisfy many listeners.
The other elements of the music were not as prominent, but still quite good. The mid range was reasonably detailed, although it lacked the richness of some other models. The treble was a little rolled off and somewhat overshadowed by the bass, but it had a smooth texture that suited the overall sound quite well. There was also a good separation between instruments, as well as a reasonably deep but not outstanding soundstage.
As they don't really seal properly with the ear canal, the Bose headphones are extremely comfortable, without the suction effect you often feel with deeper IEMs. We found they were great even for extremely long listening sessions. They small bud comes with a clear rubber sleeve that nestles on the tip and rests just outside the entrance to your ear canal. Three different sized sleeves are available, so different ear shapes are catered for and they are very easy to insert and remove. Our only complaint, and admittedly this is a relatively big issue, the sleeves were very easy to lose. In the course of a few days testing we managed to lose two separate sleeves, despite being very careful, and since you only receive one of each size in the box you'll find yourself quickly burning through them.
The lack of a proper seal also means that external noise does enter fairly easily and this may bother some. We didn't notice it being a huge problem, but do note that despite the name containing the phrase "in-ear" these headphones don't have any real noise canceling properties above what you'd expect from a pair of regular earbuds.
The other funky thing about the Bose headphones is their design. Following the typical Bose style of a classy, sleek design, the black headphone bodies with the clear plastic tip look great and should satisfy those after both a pair of headphones and a fashion item.
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