The Bose SoundSport Free are surprisingly good-sounding truly wireless earbuds. They have a comfortable earbud fit with a semi-open design for outdoor runners, but this also makes them a bit worse for commuting since they do not block a lot of noise. Unfortunately, they are a lot bulkier than other truly wireless headphones we've tested, they have a few bugs with their wireless connection and no customization option with their app.
The Bose SoundSport Free have a good, sturdy design but they're slightly bulky and come with a fairly large case. They have the same comfortable earbud tips of the SoundSport Wireless, which makes them a bit more comfortable than most wireless in-ears. They're also decently breathable and stable enough for running and exercising. Unfortunately, the buds stick out of your ear quite a bit which doesn't look as good as some of the other truly wireless designs and slightly reduces their stability. They also have an extremely stiff control scheme with difficult-to-use buttons that force you to take the earbuds out of your ears which is not practical when working out.
These headphones look well-built and durable. They're a little bulkier than most truly wireless designs and come in a flashy yellow and blue color scheme that stands out. You can also get them in a more understated black scheme if you prefer. The buds feel premium and sturdy in the hand but once you put them on, the bulky design sticks out of your ears, which might not be ideal for everyone. They won't fit as discretely as the Jaybird Run or the Samsung Gear IconX, which is a little disappointing.
The Bose SoundSport Free have the same earbud fit of previous Bose models, like the SoundSport Wireless and SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear. This makes them quite comfortable. However, they are bulkier earbuds than the other models mentioned. This means since they are truly wireless, if you don't get the right tip for your ears, the weight of the buds will slightly pull on the stability fins and cause a looser or an unstable fit which feels a bit less comfortable than previous models. They are more comfortable than conventional in-ear designs but aren't the most comfortable Bose earbuds we've tested.
The Bose SoundSport Free have a mediocre-at-best control scheme. They have physical buttons that provide all the essential functions; call/music, track-skipping, volume controls and a dedicated pairing/Bluetooth button. Unfortunately, the buttons are so stiff it makes them really difficult to use. We often had trouble turning the volume up and had to remove the earbud from our ears to physically push on the button for it to work. You do get a click once the buttons are pressed but they're so rigid that it's easier to just switch tracks or change the volume directly on your smartphone which is not always practical when working out. This may be a deal breaker for some.
These headphones are quite portable despite their bulkier design. They will easily fit into most pockets but since you will most likely carry them in their case you will lose a bit of portability. Their case is surprisingly cumbersome and about twice the size of the Apple AirPods' charging case, which is not ideal if you want to carry them around on you at all times. They won't fit as nicely in your jean pockets.
The Bose SoundSport Free come with a bulky hard case that will protect them against impacts and drops but significantly reduces their portability. The case is larger than most other truly wireless headphones we've tested and isn't flat like the Sony WF-1000x. This creates a pretty big bulge in most pockets and feels a bit counter-intuitive for a truly wireless design.
The Bose SoundSport Free are stable headphones for sports. They're not the most stable of the Bose earbud designs since they are truly wireless and a bit heavier than most. This means if you don't get the right tip size for your ear they will be considerably less stable than the SoundSport In-Ear or the SoundTrue ultra In-Ear. On the upside when you have the right fit, they're stable enough for running and working out at the gym.
The Bose SoundSport Free is a good sounding pair of semi-open earbuds. They have a deep, consistent, and well-balanced bass, able to produce thumpy basses and punchy kicks. They also have virtually flawless mid and treble ranges, resulting in clear and well-balanced vocals and instruments. However, their bass is a little bit hyped, which fans of heavy bass may like, and they may distort in the treble range at maximum volume. Overall, they are a very versatile pair of headphones suitable for a variety of genres from bass-heavy EDM, to vocal-centric jazz, and even classical. However, like most other earbuds, they don't have a large and speaker-like soundstage.
The bass is excellent. Their LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 17Hz, which is great. However, this is not as low as some in-ears' such as the X3, the Run, and the BeatsX. This is expected for an earbud design and doesn't really have an effect on their bass perception, as frequencies below 20Hz are almost inaudible. Low-bass, which is responsible for thumps and rumbles, is within 0.26 of our target. Additionally, mid-bass responsible for punch and body, and high-bass responsible for warmth are reproduced virtually flat and within 1.75dB of our target. Overall, the bass is deep, well-balanced, and punchy, but slightly hyped.
The Bose SoundSport Free have an excellent mid-range performance. The response is very even and virtually flat throughout the range. However, it shows a bit of emphasis in the high-mid region. This adds some excess presence to vocals and lead instruments, but at 4dB, the effect will be very subtle. Overall, the mid-range of the Bose is outstanding but slightly forward sounding.
The Bose SoundSport Free earbuds have a great treble range performance. Low-treble is within 1dB of our target, which is excellent. Mid-treble is slightly underemphasized around 8KHz, but the dip is too narrow to have a significant negative effect. Overall, the treble is clear and present, with a good balance of brightness and detail between vocals, lead instruments, and cymbals.
The frequency response consistency of the SoundSport Free is great. This is especially impressive, considering the earbud design. The maximum deviation across 5 re-seats throughout the entire range is less than 2dB. This ensures a consistent delivery of bass and treble across users and re-seats, given proper fit and seal has been achieved by choosing the correct sized tip.
The imaging is excellent. Their weighted group delay is 0.15 which is excellent. Also, the GD graph shows that the entire group delay response is below the audibility threshold. This indicates a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were exceptionally matched. This is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, footsteps, video game effects) in the stereo field.
The soundstage of the Bose SoundSport Free is poor. This is mainly due to their earbud design, since earbuds fully bypass the pinna (the outer ear), and activating the resonances of the pinna is one of the key factors in creating a large and out-of-head soundstage. However, they will feel more open and spacious that closed-back in-ears, because of their high openness. Overall, the soundstage will be perceived as relatively open, but small and located inside the listener's head.
The distortion performance is decent. The overall amount of harmonic distortion is low and within good limits. However, there is a significant rise in THD between 2KHz and 4KHz at louder volumes, suggesting they could distort in the treble range under heavy loads. However, the small change in the bass range at 100dB SPL suggests that these headphones would be able to take a good amount of EQ boost in the bass range, despite the earbuds design.
The Bose SoundSport Free have the same fit as the SoundSport Wireless, which have a semi-open earbud design that doesn't isolate well in noisy environments. On the upside, it does make them a bit more suitable for outdoor runners who need to monitor their surroundings for traffic and obstacles but also a worse choice for regular commuters. On the upside, they do not leak much so you can turn up the volume to mask some of the ambient noise in your surrounding without distracting the people around you. Although higher frequency sounds will be audible at really high volumes.
The isolation is poor. This is expected and due to their earbud design and lack of active noise cancelling (ANC). In the bass range, where the rumble of airplane and bus engines sits, they don't provide any isolation. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they achieve less than 3dB of isolation, which is inadequate. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts, they achieve about 12dB of isolation which is below-average. Overall, they are suitable for situations where you'd like to be able to hear your environment, like jogging, and not for blocking it out. For an earbud with active noise cancelling, check out the Bose QuietControl 30.
The Bose SoundSport Free have a good leakage performance. The entire leakage is concentrated in the treble range, so their leakage will sound thinner than that of over-ear and on-ear headphones. The significant portion of their leakage is between 2KHz and 15KHz, which is quite a broad range. However, the level of their leakage is not very loud. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 36dB SPL and peaks at 64dB SPL, which is noticeably louder than the noise floor of an average office. Overall, the leakage should not be an issue in most situations, unless you are really blasting the music in small and quiet places.
The Bose SoundSport Free have a sub-par microphone. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this integrated mic will sound relatively thin and noticeably muffled and lacking in detail, making speech rather difficult to understand with this mic in certain cases. In noisy environments, they do a decent job separating speech from background noise in moderately loud environments, but they will struggle in louder places, like a subway station.
The recording quality of this microphone is sub-par. Low-frequency extension (LFE) is at 285Hz, resulting in recorded/transmitted speech sounds noticeably thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 1.8KHz is poor and means speech will sound significantly muffled and lacking in detail. This will have a negative effect on the comprehensibility of the speech, since speech intelligibility is mostly dependent on the 500Hz - 4KHz range.
The noise handling performance of the SoundSport Free's integrated microphone is about average. They achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 18dB in our SpNR test, which is decent. This indicates that this microphone is suitable for quiet and moderate environments, but it may struggle to fully separate speech from ambient noise in louder situations.
The Bose SoundSport Free have a decent battery life of 4.8 hours of continuous playtime, and up to 15 hours in total, thanks to the 2 additional charges provided by the case. Unfortunately, they take a bit longer to charge than other truly wireless designs and do not benefit from a good quick charge feature like the Apple AirPods, Jaybird Run or Jabra Elite Active 65t. Also, their app is fairly barebones and doesn't provide good customization options like an equalizer or room effects. However, since they have a decently balanced sound, this may not be an issue for some.
These headphones have a decent battery life with additional 10 hours of charge stored in the case. This gives them a total of 15 hours of playback but only 4.8 hours of continuous playtime between charges. This makes them good for more casual uses, but they won't be ideal for heavy users. They also have an above average standby mode that puts the earbuds in a sleep mode when they are not in the case and not playing any music after 20 minutes which is pretty convenient. Unfortunately, they do not have a quick charge mode like the Jaybird Run or the BeatsX.
The Bose SoundSport Free support the Bose Connect app which gives them a few features. It provides a standby timer, battery data, an in-app player, and a find my buds option that lets you locate the last known location of the earbuds which is a nice addition. Unfortunately, there are no Equalizer, room effects or alternate control options. We also encountered a few bugs when first trying to pair the earbuds via the app. This makes the app feel slightly less optimized for the truly wireless design, a bit barebones and not as useful as some of the other companion apps we've tested that give you more customization options.
The Bose Soundsport Free are Bluetooth only truly wireless headphones. This means they have no other connection options but Bluetooth and unfortunately can not pair with multiple devices simultaneously. They also do not have NFC support for easy pairing with smartphones. Their case/dock has no inputs but does provide 10 hours of additional charge. Their latency performance is much better thanks to the most recent firmware update (1.4.5) but they still won't be the best headphones for gaming or watching videos.
These headphones only connect to other devices via Bluetooth. They are not compatible with consoles, do not support NFC or multi devices pairing simultaneously. However, they store up to 7 devices in memory for auto-pairing when you open the charging case starting with the last synced device.
The Bose SoundSport Free have a charging case that delivers up to 10 hours of extra battery life. However, it has no inputs and isn't used to pair the earbuds to new devices, which is done by pressing and holding the Bluetooth button on the left earbud.
The Bose soundSport Free do not have the best wireless range even for a truly wireless design. There would be significant connection drops past 30ft when the source was obstructed by walls. In direct line of sight, they did a bit worse than the Jaybird Run or the Apple AirPods. We also noticed a few connection drops regardless of the distance from the Bluetooth source. It should be fine if you keep your phone in your pocket but leaving it on the desk and walking around a medium-sized office or home will often cause the audio to skip.
The Bose SoundSport Free have one of the worst latency performances for a truly wireless design. This makes them poorly suited for watching video content and gaming.
Update 07/03/2018: Firmware 1.4.5 considerably reduces the latency for the Bose SoundSport Free. They still won't be the ideal headphones for videos but they are within the comparable range for the most bluetooth headphones.
The Bose SoundSport Free are the first truly wireless headphones from Bose. They have a good and well-balanced sound quality and a sturdy and durable design. However, they're not as portable as some of the other truly wireless designs, they have a few bugs and somewhat high latency which makes them poorly suited for watching videos.
The Jaybird Run are a slightly better headset than the Bose SoundSport Free. The Run have a more compact and portable design than the Free. They also have a customizable app that lets you EQ their sound profile to your liking unlike the Bose. On the upside, the Bose have a better build quality that feels more durable than the Run. They also have an earbud fit that most will prefer over the fit of the Jaybird Run. Lastly, the Bose sound a lot better out of the box than the Jaybirds although they do not have an EQ so you won't be able to edit their sound quality like with the Jaybird Run.
The Jabra Elite 65t are a slightly better truly wireless headphone than the Bose SoundSport Free but not by much. The Jabras have a more reliable wireless connection that supports Bluetooth 5.0. They also have better isolation performance that's more suitable for noisy environments thanks to their in-ear fit. You can also customize the sound of the Jabra but not the Bose, and they're a bit more compact to carry around thanks to their smaller case. The SoundSport Free, on the other hand, have a much more comfortable earbud fit. They also sound better balanced and feel more durable and better built than the Jabra Elites. Their case is also sturdier despite being a bit bulky to carry around.
The Jabra Elite Active 65t are a slightly better truly wireless headphones overall than the Bose SoundSport Free. The Bose have a more comfortable earbud design. They also sound a lot more balanced out of the box than the Jabras. However, the Active 65t have a better noise isolation and leakage performance than the Bose, which makes them more suitable for commuting and the office. The Jabra also have easier to use controls and a more customizable app, which gives you access to an an EQ so you can tweak their sound to your liking.
The Bose SoundSport Free and the Jabra Elite Sport have about the same performance overall. The Bose have a more comfortable earbud fit that you can wear for a lot longer than the Jabra. They also have a much better default sound but do not have an EQ like the Jabra. On the upside, the Jabra Sport have a more rugged design, better controls and a more compact case that will easily fit into your pockets, unlike the SoundSport Free. They also have more customizable options and more sports optimized app that gives workout data. The Jabra are slightly better sports headphones overall and isolate better in noisy conditions but do not sound as good as the Bose even with a good EQ.
The Bose SoundSport Free are slightly better truly wireless headphones than the Apple AirPods. The Bose have a more stable fit for sports. They also have a better-balanced sound quality that delivers a lot more bass than the AirPods. The AirPods, on the other hand, have a better wireless performance with a more stable connection and a lot less latency when watching videos, especially on iOS devices. They also have a longer cumulative battery life at more than 24Hrs when you include the additional recharges from the case.
The Bose SoundSport Wireless and the SoundSport Free have about the same performance in a slightly different format. The Free are truly wireless earbuds that are a bit better for working out since they do not have a cable to hinder your movements. The Free also have a slightly better-balanced sound and a longer total battery life than the Soundsport Wireless. On the other hand, the SoundSport Wireless last a bit longer on a single charge. They also have a slightly more reliable wireless connection with less perceived latency.
The Beoplay E8 are a better truly wireless headset than the Bose SoundSport Free. The E8 have a more compact and premium looking design than the Bose, they also have a smaller case that's easier to carry around and a better control scheme, although it can be a little confusing at first. The E8 also have a customizable sound thanks to their app support, better isolation than the Bose due to their in-ear fit and a slightly better battery performance with a faster charge time. On the other hand, the Bose have an earbud fit that some will prefer over the fit of the E8. The Bose also have a better-balanced sound out of the box which may not even require an EQ for most tracks.
The Bose SoundSport Free are a better truly wireless headset than the Sony WF-SP700N. The Sony are noise canceling in-ears, so they do a little better in noisy situation although the ANC of the Sonys is not that strong. They also have a customizable sound which the Bose do not. On the upside, the Bose have a more comfortable earbud fit, a better-balanced sound that caters to a lot more tracks, and a more durable build quality. They also last longer on a single charge and have a longer cumulative battery life. Both headphones are equally poor for watching videos and with latency-sensitive content.
The Samsung Gear IconX are a better truly wireless headset than the Bose SoundSport Free. The Gear IconX have more features that make them more suitable for sports than the Free. They have a customizable app with a built-in coach to keep track of your workout progress. They're also a lot more portable than the Bose and have 4gigs of onboard storage, which makes them a bit more suitable when running and working out, since you do not have to carry around your phone. On the other hand, the Bose have an earbud fit that most will find a bit more comfortable than the in-ear fit of the Gear IconX. The Bose also have better-balanced sound quality, a slightly sturdier design, and a longer battery life.
The Sony WF-1000X are a slightly better truly wireless option than the Bose SoundSport Free, but not by much. The WF-1000X have an in-ear fit and isolate much better in noisy conditions which makes them a bit more versatile for commuting and different environments. They also have a more polished and premium looking design and come with a great case but do not feel as durable as the Bose. The SoundSport Free, on the other hand, have a much better balanced sound quality that does not need an EQ for most listeners. They also have a more comfortable earbud fit that you can wear much longer than the Sony's. Their open fit is also a bit more suitable for outdoor runners since it lets you monitor your environment for traffic and obstacles but also block a lot less ambient noise.
The Bose SoundSport Free are better earbuds than the Google PixelBuds. The SoundSport Free sound a lot more balanced than the Pixel Buds, despite having a semi-open fit they still pack a lot of bass and cater well to all genres, unlike the PixelBuds. They're also a bit more comfortable than the thanks to their softer earbud tips and their build quality feels a bit more durable than that of the google headphones. On the upside, the Pixel Buds have a longer cumulative battery life and since their fit is adjustable they will be a bit more suitable for all ear shapes and sizes.
The Jabra Elite 65e are slightly better wireless earbuds than the Bose SoundSport Free but not by much. The Bose have a slightly more compact design for sports. They also have a better-balanced sound quality that most will prefer over that of the Elite 65e although you can not EQ them. The Elite 65e, on the other hand, are noise canceling so they do a little better in noisy conditions. They also have a much better microphone for making calls and a customizable app that gives them more options than the Bose. They also last longer on a single charge, although the Free have a longer battery life overall when you include their charging case.
If you prefer the compact format of a truly wireless design then the Bose SoundSport Free will be a better choice, however, if you want a typical wireless in-ear for sports go for the Fitbit Flyer instead. The Bose SOundsport Free have abetter sound quality than the FitBit Flyer. They're also a bit more comfortable to wear thanks to their earbud design. The SoundSPort Free are aslo a bit more portable thanks to their truly wireless design although their case is rather bulky. On the other hand, the Flyers have a more isolating in-ear fit, which makes them more suitable for noisy environments and commutes. They're also more stable thanks to their multiple tips and stability fins sizes. They also have a longer battery life on a single charge.