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Bose SoundLink On-Ear Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.3.1
Reviewed May 06, 2016 at 01:11 pm
Bose SoundLink On-Ear Wireless Picture
7.0
Mixed Usage
7.5
Neutral Sound
7.0
Commute/Travel
7.4
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.

Our Verdict

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.

Pros
  • Comfortable and stable fit.
  • Lightweight, wireless design
  • Efficient, audio controls.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Leaky at high volumes.
7.5 Neutral Sound

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.

7.4 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.

7.2 Wired Gaming
6.5 Phone Call
  • 7.0 Mixed Usage
  • 7.5 Neutral Sound
  • 7.0 Commute/Travel
  • 7.4 Sports/Fitness
  • 7.0 Office
  • 5.6 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.2 Wired Gaming
  • 6.5 Phone Call
  1. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  2. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  3. Update 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  4. Update 9/28/2017: The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here
  5. Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1.
  6. Update 3/1/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.0.

Test Results

Design
Design
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
Design
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
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
iOS
Ease Of Use Great
Feedback Good
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling 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
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 3.4 C
6.6
Design
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
Design
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
Design
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
Design
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.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

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

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
2.44 db
Treble Amount
-0.09 db
7.0
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.62 dB
Sound
Raw Frequency Response
8.5
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.04 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
2.95 dB
Mid-Bass
1.98 dB
High-Bass
1.9 dB
8.0
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.66 dB
Low-Mid
0.68 dB
Mid-Mid
-2.56 dB
High-Mid
-3.56 dB
8.4
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.97 dB
Low-Treble
-1.7 dB
Mid-Treble
-1.63 dB
High-Treble
0.64 dB
8.1
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.1 db
Dips
1.26 db
8.3
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.19
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.49
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.24
Weighted Phase Mismatch
16.26
4.7
Sound
Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
2.88 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
1.59 dB
PRTF Distance
8.23 dB
Openness
4.6
Acoustic Space Excitation
3.7
8.3
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.138
WHD @ 100
0.089
Isolation
5.2
Isolation
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
Isolation
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.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
N/A
6.2
Microphone
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
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
18.06 dB
Active Features
8.4
Active Features
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
Active Features
App Support
App Name N/A
iOS N/A
Android N/A
macOS 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.

Connectivity
8.2
Connectivity
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
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
9.5
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable Yes
Length 4 ft
Connection 1/8" TRS
Wired Latency
0 ms
Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC / PS4 Analog
Audio Only
PC / PS4 Wired USB
No
PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio Only
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Wireless
No
0
Connectivity
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

Compared to other headphones

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

Sony WH-XB700 Wireless

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

The Bose SoundLink On-Ear Wireless would be better headphones than the AKG N60NC Wireless if you care about comfort and sound quality the most. The Bose have a more neutral sounding audio reproduction, the earcups feel more lightweight, and the padding is softer. The Bose also have a great 21-hour battery life and can connect to two devices, similar to the AKGs. The AKG 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

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

JBL Everest 310 Wireless

The Bose SoundLink On-Ear Wireless are better headphones than the JBL Everest 310 Wireless. 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. The Bose also have a slightly lower latency. On the other hand, the JBL 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.

Bose SoundLink On-Ear Wireless Price

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