The Bose SoundSport Free are good headphones for sports and have a good audio reproduction for critical listening. They're comfortable earbuds with a semi-open design for 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 designs, and they have a few bugs when pairing with new devices.
- Great audio reproduction.
- Stable and comfortable fit.
- Sturdy and durable build quality.
- Poor noise isolation.
- Bulky truly wireless design.
- High latency.
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. 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 are a good sounding pair of semi-open earbuds. They have a deep and well-balanced bass, able to produce thumpy basses and punchy kicks. They also have virtually flawless mid and treble ranges, with the only remark being their slightly forward sound which gives a bit of emphasis to vocals and lead instruments. They also deliver a consistent bass and treble across multiple users and re-seats, and have a great stereo image. However, like most other earbuds, they don't have a large and in-front (out-of-head) soundstage.
The bass is excellent. Their LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 17Hz, which is excellent. However, this is not as low as some other 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 the bass 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 and high-bass are reproduced virtually flat and within 1.75dB of our target. Overall, the bass is deep, well-balanced, and punchy.
The Bose SoundSport Free have an excellent mid-range performance. The response is very consistent and virtually flat. 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 is great. This is especially impressive, considering the earbud design. The maximum deviation we measured through the entire range is less than 2dB. This ensures a consistent delivery of bass and treble across users and re-seats, if proper fit and seal has been achieved by choosing the correct sized tip.
The imaging is outstanding. Their weighted group delay is 0.15 which is excellent. As it is shown in the group delay graph, the entire response is below our 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 helps with accurate localization and placement of objects, such as footsteps, voices and instruments, in the stereo field.
The soundstage of the Bose SoundSport Free is poor. This is mainly due to their earbud design, since activating the resonances of the pinna (outer ear) is one of the key factors in creating a large and out-of-head soundstage and earbuds don't interact with the pinna. However, they will feel more open and spacious that closed-back in-ears, because of their high openness value. Overall, the soundstage of the Free will be perceived as 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 under heavier loads, suggesting the treble could sound slightly harsh and brittle at louder volumes. However, the small change in the bass range at 100dB SPL suggests that the Free 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 is a semi-open design that doesn't isolate well against noisy environments. This makes them a bit more suitable for outdoor runners who need to monitor their surroundings for traffic but a bit worse 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, although higher frequency sounds will be audible to those around you at really high volumes.
The isolation of the Bose SoundSport Free is poor. This is expected and due to their earbud design. In the bass range, where the rumble of airplane and bus engines sit, they do not isolate at all. They also don't isolate significantly in the mid-range, where the bulk of speech is located. In the treble range, where sharp sounds such as S and Ts occupy, 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 environments and not for blocking it out.
The Bose SoundSport Free have a good leakage performance. The entire leakage is concentrated in the treble range, meaning their leakage will sound thinner and fainter than over-ear headphones. The significant portion of the leakage is between 2KHz and 15KHz, which is a broad range. However, the level of the leakage is not very loud. 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. Speech recorded/transmitted with the mic will sound quite thin and noticeably muffled and lacking in detail. Therefore, speech may be rather difficult to understand with their mic in certain cases. In noisy environments, they do decently in separating speech from ambient noise, but they will have a difficult time doing so in loud environments such as a subway station.
The recording quality of the integrated microphone is sub-par. The low-frequency extension (LFE) of 285Hz indicates that recorded speech will sound quite thin. Also, the HFE (high-frequency extension) of 1.8KHz indicates that voice will lack in detail and sound muffled. This will have a negative effect on the comprehensibility of the speech.
- 100% SpNR
The noise handling performance of the integrated mic is about average. In our test, they achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 18dB which is decent. This means that the microphone is suitable for quiet and moderate environments, but the Bose SoundSport Free will struggle in loud environments.
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 lot longer to charge than other truly wireless designs and do not benefit from a quick charge feature like the Jaybird Run. 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.
- 10% Bluetooth
- 32% Wired
- 10% Base/Dock
- 22% Wireless Range
- 25% Latency
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.
- 79% Multi-Device Pairing
- 20% NFC
- 0% PS4 Compatible
- 0% Xbox One Compatible
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.
- 13% Analog
- 9% USB
- 26% PS4 Compatible
- 26% Xbox One Compatible
- 26% PC Compatible
- 4% Optical Input
- 22% Line In
- 4% Line Out
- 22% USB Input
- 4% RCA Input
- 9% PS4 Compatible
- 9% Xbox One Compatible
- 9% PC Compatible
- 2% Power Supply
- 13% Dock Charging
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. 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.
In the box
- Bose SoundSport Free Headphones
- Earbud tips (x3)
- USB charging cable
- Carrying case
Compared to other 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 Bose SoundSport Wireless are good sports headphones with an above-average sound and a comfortable earbud fit. They're decently compact although not truly wireless but have a better wireless range and latency performance. If sound quality is the most important factor for you then the Free are the better option but the SoundSport wireless are cheaper and have a bit less latency even if they're also not the best headphones for watching videos.
The Jaybird Run are more lightweight and portable than the Bose SoundSport Free. They're also better for sports with a more stable design and a customizable sound profile via their app. However, their battery performance is not as good as the SoundSport Free, and they do not sound as good out-of-the-box. For purely sports, go for the Jaybird Run but if you want a better sounding headphone, then the Bose are a good alternative.
The Apple AirPods are truly wireless headphones with a decent sound and good active features. However, they're more optimized for iOS so there are a few missing features on Android. Unfortunately, although they're better built and have a more stylish design, they're a lot less stable than the Bose SoundSport Free due to their one-size-fits-all design. They also lack quite a bit of bass. Overall, the AirPods are a little better especially when watching videos on Ios devices but the Bose have a more balanced sound.