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Reviewed on Apr 27, 2018

Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
6.9
Mixed Usage
7.2
Critical Listening
6.7
Commute/Travel
7.4
Sports/Fitness
6.7
Office
6.1
TV
6.7
Gaming
Type : Earbuds
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra are above-average in-ear headphones for most use cases. They have a decent sound quality that packs a lot of bass and a comfortable earbud fit that you can wear for hours. They're stable for sports, lightweight and compact. They also barely leak and block a good amount of noise but since they're wired they may not be as convenient for everyday casual use as some of the more recent wireless models from Bose like the QuietControl 30.

Test Results
Design 7.6
Sound 7.1
Isolation 7.6
Microphone 6.4
Active Features 0
Connectivity 5.1
Pros
  • Stable and comfortable fit.
  • Above-average audio reproduction.
  • Minimal leakage.
Cons
  • Mediocre noise isolation.
  1. Update 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  2. Update 10/2/2017: The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here
  3. Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

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7.6

Design

The Bose Soundtrue In-Ear have a straightforward in-ear design that blends the simple aesthetic of the SoundSport Wireless with the earbud tip design of the QuietComfort 20. They deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience. They're small enough to fit in most pockets, and come with a decent soft case to protect them from damage. Also, the button layout is efficient but feels a little small and cramped compared to the QC 20's control scheme. The cable is also a little bit thinner.

Style

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra have a simple design that looks good. They have relatively small earbuds and share the same StayHear+ earbud design as the QuietComfort 20 and QuietControl 30. They have a stylish two-tone black and dark gray finish but are also available in a variety of colors with different accents.

7.5 Comfort
Weight : 0.04 lbs
Clamping Force
:
0 lbs

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra are comfortable headphones. They have an earbud design that is much more comfortable than the Eytomotic ER4XR; it does not fully enter the ear canal, removing the pain and fatigue that some listeners feel from in-ears. They deliver a comfortable listening experience. However, the earbuds move around sometimes while walking, breaking the air-tight seal which changes their sound quality and can be a bit annoying.

7.0 Controls
Ease of use : Decent
Feedback : Mediocre
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
:
N/A
Additional Buttons : No

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear have an above-average control scheme. They deliver call/music, track-skipping, and volume controls. Sadly, although the inline controls are similar to the Bose QuietComfort 20, their buttons are a little more cramped and don't have as good tactile feedback.

9.0 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 1 C

The SoundTrue Ultra, like most in-ear/earbud designs, are very breathable headphones. They trap a bit of heat within the notch of your ear due to their earbud tips and stability fins but won't make you sweat more than usual since they do not cover your outer ear. It's a negligible temperature difference even during more intense exercises, which makes them a good option for sports.

8.4 Portability
L : 3.35 "
W : 1.97 "
H : 1.18 "
Volume : 7.75 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

These headphones, like the most in-ear/earbuds, are incredibly portable. There's no specific way to fold them into a more compact format but the cable is not too long or thick, and the earbuds do take too much space. They will easily fit into most pockets, purse, or bag and they come with a convenient carrying case

7.0 Case
Type : Soft case
L : 3.54 "
W : 2.76 "
H : 1.18 "
Volume : 11.47 Cu. Inches

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra have a decent soft case. The case fabric is tough and will protect your headphones from minor water and physical damage. They also don't add too much bulk to the headphones and can easily fit into your pocket.

7.0 Build Quality

The build quality is above-average for an in-ear/earbud headphone. The earbud tips, although small, look and feel dense enough to be able to handle a fair amount of physical stress without getting damaged. The cable is also decently rubberized and should be able to handle regular wear and tear. However, the cable is not as thick or as durable as that of the QuietComfort 20 which have a very similar design. However, if you do not mind more traditional in-ear fit then check out the T2 and T3 from Tin audio which have a much better build quality and detachable cable that can be replaced if ever they get damaged, unlike the Bose.

7.5 Stability

The Bose SoundTrue, like the QuietComfort 20, are quite stable and share the same StayHear+ earbud tip design. They won't easily fall out of your ears and are stable enough to use while running or exercising at the gym. However, the long audio cable could get hooked on something, which will pull the headphones out of your ears. Also, the earbuds sometimes move around while exercising, which slightly affects the audio and can be a bit frustrating.

Cable
Detachable : No
Length : 3.84 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRRS

These headphones do not come with any additional cables.

Top
Headshots 1
Headshots 2
7.1

Sound

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra are an above-average sounding pair of closed-back earbuds. They have a consistent, well-balanced and extended bass, a very good mid-range, and a very good treble. This makes them very versatile and suitable for a wide variety of genres from bass-heavy ones like EDM and Hip-hop, to rock and vocal-centric ones like folk/indie. However, their mid-range is every-so-slightly recessed on vocals and lead instruments, and their treble could be a bit uneven on S and T sounds. Additionally, they image very well, but like most other closed-back design, they don't have an open and spacious soundstage.

9.0 Bass
Std. Err.
:
1.46 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
11.72 Hz
Low-Bass
:
1.98 dB
Mid-Bass
:
0.93 dB
High-Bass
:
1.48 dB

The bass of the Bose SoundTrue Ultra is excellent. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 12Hz, and low-bass, where thump and rumble sits, is above our neutral target by about 2dB. Additionally, mid-bass (responsible for punch) and high-bass (responsible for warmth) are very flat and overemphasized by less than 1.5dB. Overall, this results in an extended and deep bass with just the right amount of thump and punch.

8.9 Mid
Std. Err.
:
1.47 dB
Low-Mid
:
-0.19 dB
Mid-Mid
:
-1.9 dB
High-Mid
:
1.04 dB

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra has a great mid-range. Low-mid and high-mid are flat and within 1dB of our neutral target, which is great. This ensures a well-balanced and clear vocal reproduction. The wide 3dB dip in mid-mid nudges vocals and lead instruments towards the back of the mix by giving more emphasis to bass and treble ranges, but this effect will be quite subtle.

8.6 Treble
Std. Err.
:
2.76 dB
Low-Treble
:
0.27 dB
Mid-Treble
:
-0.42 dB
High-Treble
:
-4.54 dB

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra have a very good treble performance. Low-treble is flat and within 0.3dB of our neutral target. Mid-treble, is a bit uneven, especially in the sibilance range (6KHz-10KHz), which could make the S and T sounds a bit inconsistent.

9.4 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
0.12 dB

The frequency response consistency is excellent. If the user is able to achieve a proper fit and an air-tight seal using the assortment of tips that come with the headphones, then they should be able to get consistent bass and treble delivery every time they use the headphones. However, if the air-tight seal between the ears and the earbuds are broken, the user may experience a drop in bass.

8.1 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.09
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
1.38
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
2.86
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
4.74

The SoundTrue Ultra have excellent imaging. Their weighted group delay is at 0.09, which is very good. Also, the GD graph shows that the group delay response never crosses the audibility threshold. This suggests that they have a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were exceptionally well-matched in amplitude, frequency, and phase response, which ensures a accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video game effects) in the stereo image.

1.2 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
N/A
PRTF Distance
:
N/A
Openness
:
3.4
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
0.3
Correlated Crosstalk
:
-0.03 dB

The soundstage of the SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear 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. Also, because these headphones have a closed-back enclosure, their soundstage won't be perceived to be as open as that of open-back earbuds like the Apple AirPods or the Bose SoundSport Free.

6.5 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
:
4.096
Weighted THD @ 100
:
39.686

The harmonic distortion performance is mediocre. The overall amount of harmonic distortion in the bass range is quite low, and it doesn't rise dramatically under heavier loads either. However, the mid and especially the treble ranges produce elevated amount of THD, which could make the sound of those frequencies a bit harsh and brittle.

7.6

Isolation

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra block a decent amount of noise passively. The earbud tip design does not have the semi-open fit of the Bose SoundSport line-up so they isolate better in loud environments. They also barely leak so you can turn up the volume to mask some of the ambient chatter on noisier commutes without disturbing the people around you. However, their noise isolation performance is strongly dependent on the quality of the seal you can achieve with the earbuds. In some cases, you may still hear what's going on around you, which may require to adjust the fit or switch out the earbud tips for a bigger or smaller size.

6.6 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-13.97 dB
Bass
:
-8.3 dB
Mid
:
-14.2 dB
Treble
:
-19.99 dB
Self-Noise
:
0 dB

The isolation performance of the Bose SoundTrue Ultra is about average. Although these earbuds don't have ANC (active noise cancellation) and isolate passively, they achieved more than 8dB of isolation in the bass range. This is about average for reducing the rumble of airplane and bus engines. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they isolate by 14dB, which is quite decent. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts, they achieved an isolation of 20dB, which is above-average.

9.7 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
22.85 dB

The leakage performance is excellent. The significant portion of their leakage is concentrated in a narrow band in the treble range. This means their leakage will sound quite thin and mostly consist of sibilances (S and Ts). The overall level of leakage is very low too. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 23dB and peaks at 40dB, which is quite a bit lower than the noise floor of most offices.

6.4

Microphone

Integrated
:
No
In-line
:
Yes
Boom
:
No
Detachable Boom
:
N/A

The in-line microphone of the Bose SoundTrue Ultra is about average. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this mic will sound quite thin, but detailed, present and easily understandable. In noisy situations however, they will struggle to separate speech from background noise even in moderately loud environments, like a busy street.

6.8 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
479.46 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
3.49 dB
HFE
:
17726.19 Hz
Weighted THD
:
1.827
Gain
:
16 dB

The microphone of the SoundTrue Ultra has a decent recording quality. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 479Hz, resulting in a recorded/transmitted speech that sounds quite thin. However, the HFE (high-frequency extension) is at 18KHz, which is very good. The response between LFE and HFE is quite flat, except for the 20dB dip around 8KHz. This means speech will lack sibilances (S and Ts), but other than that, will be detailed, present and easily intelligible.

6.1 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
:
13.02 dB

The in-line microphone is mediocre at noise handling. In our SpNR test, they achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 13dB. This means that they are best suited for quiet environments, and may have difficulty separating speech from ambient noise in moderate and loud situations.

0

Active Features

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra have no active components and therefore do not require a battery. They also have no app support for added customization options.

N/A Battery
Battery Type
:
N/A
Battery Life
:
N/A
Charge Time
:
N/A
Power Saving Feature
:
N/A
Audio while charging
:
N/A
Passive Playback
:
N/A

These are passive earbuds with no active components that need power so they do not have a battery.

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

The SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear do not support the bose connect app.

5.1

Connectivity

The SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear are passive, wired headphones, so they only connect to other devices via their 1/8" TRRS audio cable. The non-detachable cable is also OS-specific (in this case IOS) which means their in-line remote and mic will not work with consoles. On the upside, since it's a wired audio cable, it has no latency when watching movies and gaming but unfortunately, the limited range of a wired connection isn't as convenient as that of wireless headphones.

0 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
:
N/A
NFC Pairing
:
N/A

The earbuds are wired and do not have a Bluetooth connection. If you want a versatile wireless Bluetooth headphone with the same earbud fit as the Bose SoundTrue, then consider the QuietControl 30.

7.8 Wired
OS Compatibility
:
iOS
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
No
PS4 Compatible
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatible
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
:
Audio + Microphone

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra have a 1/8TRRS audio cable with an inline remote microphone that's not compatible with consoles and may require a headset adapter for PCs.

0 Base/Dock
Type
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A

These headphones do not have a dock. If you need a headset with a dock that also has a wired connection for gaming or watching movies, then consider the SteelSeries Arctis 7.

0 Wireless Range
Obstructed Range
:
N/A
Line of Sight Range
:
N/A

These headphones are wired and do not have a wireless range.

10 Latency
Default Latency
:
0 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra have negligible latency since they're wired, They are a suitable option for gaming and watching movies, but they are limited by the relatively short range of their audio cable.

In the box

  • Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear Headphones
  • Earbud tips (x3)
  • Carrying case
  • Manual

Compared to other Headphones

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra are above-average, decently well-designed headphones. They have a comfortable earbud fit that's similar to the QuietComfort 20 and QuietControl 30. They're stable enough to be used at the gym and they barely leak any sound so you can listen to music at high volumes, without distracting people around you. They have one of the best sound quality for a wired in-ear but they may be a bit pricey when compared to some of the better-built in-ears below. See our recommendations for the best noise cancelling in-ear headphones, the best closed-back headphones, and the best travel headphones.

Sennheiser HD1 In-Ear / Momentum In-Ear
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear are better, wired headphones than the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear. The Bose have a more comfortable earbud design that most will prefer over the fit of the Sennheiser. The Bose also have a better-balanced sound and a more stable design for sports. On the other hand, the Sennheiser In-Ear have a bit more isolation in loud, noisy environments, although not by much. They also have an easier to use in-line remote than the Bose.

Beats urBeats3 Earphones
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear might be a slightly better option over the Beats urBeats3, thanks to their very comfortable earbud-like tips that doesn’t enter the ear canal as deeply. They also have a slightly more accurate audio reproduction. On the other hand, the urBeats3 have a noticeably better microphone and their in-ear fit isolates more noise than the SoundTrue Ultra, making them a better option to use in public transit.

KZ ZS10
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear are a slightly better headphone overall than the KZ ZS-10. The Bose have a more comfortable earbud fit, which most will prefer over the in-ear design of the ZS-10. They also have an in-line remote and a mic so you can more easily use them with your phone, and they're more convenient when gaming. On the other hand, the KZ ZS-10 are better built, with a replaceable cable. They also have a variant with a mic that should perform a little better than the Bose. The ZS-10 also look a lot more premium than the SoundTrue Ultra In-Ears, especially for their price.

6.9 Mixed Usage

Above-average for mixed usage. They're comfortable and easy to carry around. They also have a well-balanced sound that's good for casual and even critical listening. Their earbud fit also blocks a lot of noise passively, so they're a decent option for commuting and to use in louder environments. They have no latency since they're wired which makes them versatile enough for watching movies and gaming but their mic is not compatible with consoles and their range is limited by the relatively short audio cable so they won't be as convenient as some of the other wireless models by Bose.

7.2 Critical Listening

Above-average for critical listening. The SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear are comfortable earbuds with a decently well-balanced sound that packs a lot of bass. They sound a bit dark depending on the fit of the earbud design which changes their bass profile. Overall, they should sound good enough for most listeners. Unfortunately, since they are closed back earbuds, they do not have the most spacious soundstage for more critical listening.

6.7 Commute/Travel

Above-average for commuting. They're very portable and have a good control scheme. Also, altough their isolation is passive, it's sufficient to block the ambient noise of a regular commute but won't be as good as noise cancelling heapdhones for low-frequency rumbles like that of an engine.

7.4 Sports/Fitness

Good for sports use. The Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear have a stable and comfortable fit that won't fall while exercising. They're also small enough to carry around on your person everywhere you go. Also, their passive isolation is more than sufficient for the ambient noise of a gym. However, since their wired, they may hinder your movements a bit and may get yanked out of your ears if the cable gets hooked by something, which makes them a bit less stable.

6.7 Office

Average for office use. They barely leak so can have your music playing at high volumes and not distract your colleagues. They also block a lot of noise passively and they're comfortable to wear for long listening sessions. Unfortunately, their wired range might be a bit limiting

6.1 TV

Mediocre for home theater use. They have no latency but a relatively short audio cable. This means they would be a good option for watching movies on a tablet or PC but won't have the range to watch TV from your couch unless you have an extension cord for the audio cable.

6.7 Gaming

Average for gaming. The Bose SoundTrue Ultra are comfortable they have good sound and a low-latency wired connection. Unfortunately, their iOS variant is not compatible with consoles and they lack a good app to customize their sound profile, like most gaming headsets.

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