Reviewed on May 06, 2016

Bose SoundLink On-Ear Wireless HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.3
7.0
Mixed Usage
7.3
Neutral Listening
7.0
Commute/Travel
7.3
Sports/Fitness
7.0
Office
5.6
Wireless Gaming
7.2
Wired Gaming
6.5
Phone Call
Type : On-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Bose SoundLink On-Ear are decent wireless on-ear headphones. They're comfortable and deliver a stable listening experience. Their sound quality is above-average, and they have an efficient control scheme. Sadly, they don't block much noise and leak quite a bit. They won't be ideal for traveling and may disturb people around you at higher volumes.

Test Results
Design 7.3
Isolation 5.8
Microphone 6.4
Active Features 7.6
Connectivity 7.1
Pros
  • Comfortable and stable fit.
  • Lightweight, wireless design
  • Efficient, audio controls.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Leaky at high volumes.
  1. Update 11/6/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  2. Update 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  3. Update 9/28/2017: The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here
  4. Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

Check Price

7.3

Design

The Soundlink On-Ear are well-crafted, stylish headphones that deliver a comfortable and stable listening experience. Their build quality feels durable, and they have above-average audio controls with good tactile feedback. However, the buttons feel a little cramped on the ear cup, and they're also not stable enough for high-intensity sports and will slip off your ears while running.

Style

The Bose SoundLink On-Ear, closely resemble the Bose QuietComfort 25 but in a more compact design. They have the same fabric-covered padding for the headband and the two-tone black and blue color scheme. They look sleek and stylish and are well-crafted headphones.

7.5 Comfort
Weight : 0.35 lbs
Clamping Force
:
0.61 lbs

The SoundLink On-Ear are very comfortable headphones, especially for an on-ear design. They're lightweight, and the ear cups' padding is soft and cushions the ear well without applying too much pressure. The headband is also decently padded and does not feel tight on your head. However, the small ear cups, make a comfortable fit a little harder to achieve. The SoundLink Over-Ear may be a better choice for some listeners that do not find the on-ear fit as comfortable.

7.2 Controls
OS Compatibility
:
iOS
Ease of use : Great
Feedback : Good
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
:
No
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
:
N/A
Additional Buttons : No

Button layout and functionality is above-average but feels a little cramped. These headphones offer; track-skipping, call/music, and volumes controls and the corresponding buttons deliver good tactile feedback. Unfortunately, due to the headphones compact size, the buttons feel a little cramped on the right ear cup, which is slightly disappointing.

7.3 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 3.4 C
6.6 Portability
L : 4.72 "
W : 4.92 "
H : 2.36 "
Volume : 54.87 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

The Soundlink On-Ear are above-average portable headphones. They fold up into a compact format that doesn't take much space in a bag and could even fit into a jacket pocket. Sadly, they are not as small as some other on-ear models and will not fit in a pants' pocket or a purse like an in-ear design would.

7.0 Case
Type : Soft case
L : 5.91 "
W : 5.12 "
H : 2.56 "
Volume : 77.34 Cu. Inches

Comes with a soft case that will protect the headphones from scratches but adds a bit more volume. The tough fabric of the case will prevent damages from minor falls. However, it will not absorb greater impacts like a hard case.

7.5 Build Quality

The Bose SoundLink On-Ear have a good build quality and are sufficiently sturdy to be to handle a few drops without significant damage. The headband is relatively thick for an on-ear design, and the ear cups are made of dense plastic. Their mostly plastic design and multiple hinges are weak points that could get damaged by wear and tear and moderate physical stress.

7.0 Stability

These headphones are quite stable. They're able to maintain their position and fit during casual listening sessions. Their wireless design also helps with stability as there are no cables that can get hooked by the environment and yank the headphones of your head. However, they are not designed for sports and will start to slip off your ears during high-intensity activities like jumping and running.

Headshots 1
Headshots 2
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Sound

They sound as good as the MID ANC; they have a very good and extended bass, a very good mid-range and an excellent treble. Additionally, their mid-range is very slightly recessed and their treble is on the warm side. However, their performance is prone to inconsistencies and could vary a bit from person to person. They also don't have an open and spacious sounding soundstage.

Sound Profile
Neutral
:
7.8
Bass-Heavy
:
9.1
Warm
:
4.3
Bright
:
8.0
8.1 Peaks/Dips
Peaks
:
1.1 db
Dips
:
1.26 db
7.0 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
0.62 dB
8.3 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.19
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.49
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
1.24
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
16.26
4.7 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
2.88 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
1.59 dB
PRTF Distance
:
8.23 dB
Openness
:
4.8
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
3.4
8.3 Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
:
0.138
WHD @ 100
:
0.089
5.8

Isolation

These headphones only isolate passively. They can block a decent amount of high-frequency noise, but because they can't cancel any noise that seeps into the ear cups, they struggle in louder environments. They may let a lot of ambient noise into your listening experience while commuting or traveling and leak quite a bit of sound. They will be distracting to the people around you if you use them in an office at higher volumes.

5.2 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-13.45 dB
Bass
:
-0.19 dB
Mid
:
-9.59 dB
Treble
:
-31.3 dB

Poor isolation. However, considering the passive, on-ear design of these headphones the performance is quite decent. The passive isolation provided by the ear cups starts to kick-in at around 200Hz, which is above average. The overall amount of isolation achieved in the mid-range is poor, but these headphones do well in the treble range. The isolation reaches its maximum of 42dB of reduction at 20KHz. If you like on-ear designs but need a bit more isolation for your noisy commutes, then check out the AKG N60NC Wireless, the Marshall MID ANC.

7.1 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
39.23 dB

Decent performance. The significant portion of the leakage happens between 1KHz and 3KHz, resulting in a relatively narrow-band leakage. The overall level of the leakage, however, is moderate and could become noticeable at loud volumes.

6.4

Microphone

Integrated
:
Yes
In-line
:
No
Boom
:
No
Detachable Boom
:
N/A
6.2 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
297.71 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
2.48 dB
HFE
:
2487.12 Hz
Weighted THD
:
7.896
Gain
:
40.08 dB
6.6 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
:
18.06 dB
7.6

Active Features

The SoundLink On-Ear have an average wireless range but a decent latency despite not having aptX or aptX (LL). They also last surprisingly long for their small size and also have and don't take too long to charge. Unfortunately, they won't be the ideal headphones for watching videos or gaming but the latency shouldn't be an issue for audio streaming.

8.4 Battery
Battery Type
:
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
:
21 hrs
Additional Charges
:
0
Total Battery Life
:
21 hrs
Charge Time
:
2.43 hrs
Power Saving Feature
:
Auto-Off Timer
Audio while charging
:
No
Passive Playback
:
Yes
Charging Port : micro-USB

Update: 17-05-2019We've updated the text. The Soundlink will shut down automatically when inactive but unlike some of the other Bose headphones, they do not have an adjustable timer since they do not have access to the Bose Connect app.

The SoundLink OE deliver up to 21 hours of continuous play time at average volumes. This makes them decent headphones to use on long flights or road trips as you won't need to charge the battery as often. They also have an auto-off timer that helps prolong battery life. Unfortunately, you can't use them while they're charging and they also take a quite bit of time to charge. So if you're out of battery, you won't be able to use the headphones for about 2.5 hours.

0 App Support
App Name : N/A
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
N/A
ANC control
:
N/A
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
:
N/A
Playback control
:
N/A
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

No compatible app.

7.1

Connectivity

8.2 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
4.0
Multi-Device Pairing
:
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
:
No
Line of Sight Range
:
94 ft
Default Latency
:
149 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A
0 Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line of Sight Range
:
N/A
Non-BT Latency
:
N/A
9.5 Wired
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
No
Detachable : Yes
Length : 4 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS
Wired Latency
:
0 ms
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC / PS4 Analog
:
Audio Only
PC / PS4 Wired USB
:
No
PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless
:
No
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox Analog
:
Audio Only
Xbox Wired USB
:
No
Xbox Wireless
:
No
0 Base/Dock
Type
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A

In the box

  • Bose SoundLink On-Ear Headphones
  • Audio cable
  • USB cable
  • Manual
  • Carrying case

Compared to other Headphones

See our recommendations for the best headphones under $200 and the best on-ear wireless headphones.

Sony WH-XB700 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose SoundLink On-Ear Wireless are better headphones than the Sony WH-XB700. They are one of the most comfortable on-ear headphones we’ve tested so far and their sound quality is better than the Sonys unless you are looking for a bass-heavy sound profile. They feel noticeably more durable and their battery performance is better thanks to lower charging time and a useful auto-off timer. On the other hand, the WH-XB700 have a decent app and support NFC. They also have better wireless range and support the aptX codec, which the SoundLink don’t.

AKG N60NC Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose SoundLink On-Ear would be better headphones than the AKG N60NC Wireless if you care about comfort and sound quality the most. They have a more neutral sounding audio reproduction, the earcups feel more lightweight, and the padding is softer. They also have a great 21-hour battery life and can also connect to two devices, like the AKGs. The N60NC have the edge in the isolation performance and will block more ambient noise, making them a better choice if you’re looking for headphones to use while commuting every day.

Grado GW100 Wireless
SEE PRICE
B&H

The Bose SoundLink On-Ear are better headphones than the Grado GW100. They are more neutral sounding and don’t feel as flimsy as the Grados. Their closed-back design isolates more noise and leaks less, but you won’t get the openness of the GW100. Also, the Bose have bass delivery inconsistencies, especially if you wear glasses, which you shouldn’t get with the Grados. The GW100 have better wireless range and also support aptX-LL for low latency.

JBL Everest 310 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose SoundLink On-Ear are better headphones than the JBL Everest 310. They are one of the most comfortable on-ears we’ve tested so far, and are well-built as well. They also have a great neutral sound profile that is common to Bose headphones. They also have a slightly lower latency. On the other hand, the JBLs will be better suited for bass-heavy music and come with a much nicer hard case. You can also share your music with another Bluetooth headset thanks to their unique music share feature.

7.0 Mixed Usage

The SuondLink OE are good everyday headphones. They're sufficiently well designed and have an above average sound quality that will satisfy most casual listeners.

7.3 Neutral Listening

Decent for neutral listening. They're comfortable for long listening sessions and have a decent sound quality. However, soundstage is a little limited due to their closed back design.

7.0 Commute/Travel

Mediocre for commuting. They don't block much noise but their comfortable, lightweight and not too cumbersome. They also have decent control scheme.

7.3 Sports/Fitness

Decent as sports headphones. They're lightweight comfortable and not too bulky. They're relatively easy to carry around and have a decent control scheme.

7.0 Office

Mediocre for office use. They won't block the chatter of a busy office and leak quite a bit at higher volumes.

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