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Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.3.1
Updated Apr 27, 2018 at 02:37 pm
Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear Picture
Test Methodology v1.3.1
6.9
Mixed Usage
7.5
Neutral Sound
6.8
Commute/Travel
7.2
Sports/Fitness
6.9
Office
5.5
Wireless Gaming
7.3
Wired Gaming
6.6
Phone Call
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.

Our Verdict

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.

7.5 Neutral Sound

Above-average for neutral 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 neutral listening.

See our Neutral Sound recommendations
6.8 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.

See our Commute/Travel recommendations
7.2 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.

See our Sports/Fitness recommendations
6.9 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

See our Office recommendations
5.5 Wireless 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.

See our Wireless Gaming recommendations
7.3 Wired Gaming
6.6 Phone Call
  • 6.9 Mixed Usage
  • 7.5 Neutral Sound
  • 6.8 Commute/Travel
  • 7.2 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.9 Office
  • 5.5 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.3 Wired Gaming
  • 6.6 Phone Call
Pros
  • Stable and comfortable fit.
  • Above-average audio reproduction.
  • Minimal leakage.
Cons
  • Mediocre noise isolation.
  1. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  2. Update 11/6/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  3. Update 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  4. Update 10/2/2017: The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here
  5. Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

Check Price

Android, Black
Unavailable
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Test Results

Design
Design
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
Design
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
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
iOS
Ease Of Use Decent
Feedback Mediocre
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
N/A
Noise Cancelling 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
Design
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
Design
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
Design
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
Design
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
Design
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.

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

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

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
1.22 db
Treble Amount
-1.14 db
9.4
Sound
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.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
9.0
Sound
Bass Accuracy
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
Sound
Mid Accuracy
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
Sound
Treble Accuracy
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.

7.9
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.29 db
Dips
1.21 db
8.1
Sound
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.

0.8
Sound
Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
3.8
Acoustic Space Excitation
0.4

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.

8.2
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.128
WHD @ 100
0.116
Isolation
6.0
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-13.97 dB
Bass
-8.3 dB
Mid
-14.2 dB
Treble
-19.99 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
Isolation
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.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
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.

7.1
Microphone
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
Microphone
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.

Active Features
N/A
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
N/A
Continuous Battery Life
N/A
Additional Charges
N/A
Total Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power Saving Feature
N/A
Audio While Charging
N/A
Passive Playback
N/A
Charging Port N/A

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

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

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

Connectivity
0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
N/A
NFC Pairing
N/A
Line of Sight Range
N/A
Default Latency
N/A
aptX Latency
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
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.

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.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
9.0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable No
Length 3.84 ft
Connection 1/8" TRRS
Wired Latency
0 ms

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.

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

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.

Compared to other headphones

Comparison picture

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.

KZ ZS10
Unavailable
B&H

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.

Sennheiser HD1 In-Ear / Momentum In-Ear
SEE PRICE
B&H

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
B&H

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.

Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear Price

Android, Black
Unavailable
B&H

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