Bose SoundTrue over-ear headphones
Bose has nailed comfort, but missed the mark on sound with these headphones
- Supreme comfort
- Sound quality doesn’t match the price
The SoundTrue headphones are all-rounders. They are capable of impressive sound, but fail to deliver dynamic frequencies during busy songs. But where Bose falls short in performance, it delivers in physical design, making this pair the most comfortable we’ve tested.
Price$ 229.00 (AUD)
At $229, the SoundTrue over-ear headphones promise plenty despite being significantly cheaper than Bose’s signature QuietComfort 3 and QuietComfort 15 models. The headphones’ highlight is the physical design that makes them the leader in comfort, although the sound quality, while high, falls short of ideal and will leave the avid listener disappointed — particularly at the price point Bose demands.
Design and user comfort
The SoundTrue headphones take comfort to a new level; we would go so far as to say they are the most comfortable over-ear headphones we have tested. This is the result of attention to physical build; nevermind the average (borderline cheap) aesthetic appearance of the unit which, on its own, makes the headphones look like a budget pair.
A number of factors influenced our judgement. First and foremost is the use of lightweight plastic (which was black on our review unit, but also comes in ‘mint’ and white). It coats the technical components inside the earcups and the thin and flexible headband that connects the two. Spongy foam is complementary, supplying a good amount of cushioning to the head, and ensuring the headphones fit softly but steadily.
Bose’s choice of materials has allowed it to bring the SoundTrue headphones down to a mere 144g, halving that of many competitors at the same price point, and making the headphones suitable for long-term use without discomfort or fatigue; three- to four-hour sessions prove a pleasure.
Adding further to the SoundTrue’s proposition is the positioning of its drivers. Instead of sitting flat inside the earcups, they are installed at a slant to allow the ears to sit naturally rather than being pushed against the head. While the space is appreciated, the enclosed design does generate heat as air is trapped; great for winter, but periodic ventilation may be preferred by some users. That said, the enveloping form compensates for the lack of active noise cancellation, so external ambience is minimised.
Bose’s emphasis on form factor is not without sacrifice. Handle the headphones and you will notice excellent flexibility, but poor durability. Put simply, they feel flimsy, unstable, and vulnerable. They’re the sort of headphones which should be transported inside the supplied carry case to avoid cracks, scuffs, or other damage. The auxiliary cable with which the SoundTrue headphones ship suffers the same pitfall. We didn’t experience a break, but the frail build is evident and will suffer from negligence.
A cliche best describes the SoundTrue headphones: a Jack of all trades, but master of none. The unpowered drivers inside these headphones deliver balanced sound at a high quality, but that balance proves lacklustre when it comes to reproducing content that blends a range of frequencies.
This isn’t a problem when listening to songs of the acoustic genre, for example; Jack Johnson’s Banana Pancakes is reproduced accurately, offering the high level of detail required to appreciate the intricacies of the beautifully calm song. Vocals, guitar, backing vocals, and effects are made clear, with appropriate tone segmenting these elements.
But when it comes to the likes of After All (Original Mix) by Henrix, Darmon and Eran Hersh, the SoundTrue headphones come short of providing the dynamic bass, sharp highs and consistent lows the song demands. Even the Bose Freestyle in-ear headphones (part of the same range) manage to do better.
Increasing the volume helps marginally, but while clarity is retained from between 80 to 100 per cent, sound succumbs to partial flatness.
Periphery’s Feed The Ground faces a similar fate when played through the SoundTrue headphones. All facets of the song are present and noticeable, but the headphones are unable to retain their full quality when combining them.
Should you buy them?
Amateur enthusiasts and audiophiles-to-be look away. The SoundTrue headphones won’t satisfy. But for those of you who are more sporadic listeners, or need an all-purpose set of headphones capable of high quality sound, these headphones might be worth looking at. Remember, these all-rounders are very comfortable so they can be used for long periods without feeling intrusive, or wearing you out. That said, the price is steep, so it could be a good idea to scout online for a better price, or wait for the Christmas sale signs to pop up.
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