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In the box
Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear
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.
See our recommendations for the best Sports Headphones.
- Stable and comfortable fit.
- Above-average audio reproduction.
- Minimal leakage.
- Mediocre noise isolation.
Update 10/2/2017: The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here
Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.
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.
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.
The Bose SoundTrue Ultra are comfortable headphones. They have an earbud design that 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.
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.
- 100% Avg.Temp.Difference
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Bose SoundTrue Ultra block a lot 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 and more than some noise-canceling headphones we've tested. 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.
The isolation performance of the Bose SoundTrue Ultra is good. 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 19dB, which is quite good. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts, they achieved an isolation of 30dB, which is also good.
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.
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.
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.
- 100% SpNR
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.
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.
These are passive earbuds with no active components that need power so they do not have a battery.
The SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear do not support the bose connect app.
- 10% Bluetooth
- 32% Wired
- 10% Base/Dock
- 22% Wireless Range
- 25% Latency
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.
- 79% Multi-Device Pairing
- 20% NFC
- 0% PS4 Compatible
- 0% Xbox One Compatible
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.
- 13% Analog
- 9% USB
- 26% PS4 Compatible
- 26% Xbox One Compatible
- 26% PC Compatible
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.
- 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
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.
These headphones are wired and do not have a wireless range.
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
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.
The Bose QuietComfort 20 have the same earbud design as the SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear, but they're noise canceling. This makes them a bit better-suited for commuting thanks to their strong isolation and decently compact design. They're comfortable and easy to use with a durable build quality. Unfortunately, they will not be as portable as the SoundTrue since they have a control module and they do not sound as good since they don't have enough presence in the treble range, which make them sound dark. If you need more isolation for your commutes, then get the QC20 or the QuietComfort 35 (if you prefer over-ears). For sound quality, the Ultra In-Ears are better, especially if you do not need any fancy active features like wireless or noise canceling.
The Bose SoundSport Wireless are a more sport-oriented wireless headset with a semi-open fit, unlike the SoundTrue Ultra In-Ears. They're a bit more convenient for the gym since they're wireless and won't get tangled in your clothing or hinder your movements. Also since they have a semi-open fit, you will be able to monitor your environment for obstacles and traffic, which makes them a bit more suitable for outdoor joggers. Unfortunately, this also means they will not be the best choice for loud, noisy environments. If you use your headphones primarily at the gym, then get the SoundSport wireless. However, if the convenience of a wireless design is not a big deal for you, then go for the much cheaper SoundTrue Ultra.
The 1More Triple Driver are one of the better performing wired in-ears that we've tested so far, especially for their price. They have a good audio reproduction on par with the SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear. They're also compact enough to have on you at all times and sufficiently stable to run with. They have a better, sturdier build quality than the Bose that feel a bit more premium thanks to the metal earbuds. However being common in-ears, they won't be as comfortable as The SoundTrue's earbud design and they do not pack as much bass. If you want the more durable and better-built headphone and do not mind the fit of in-ears, then get the 1More Triple. On the other hand, the Bose are a great alternative especially for their comfort level and passive isolation.
The Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear are decent mixed usage headphones. They do well in loud environments for passive headphones, they're easy to carry around on your person and come with a great case. They also feel a bit more durable than the SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear. Unfortunately, their poorly balanced, bass-heavy sound quality is not as good as the Bose and may even be a deal breaker for some. If you're a big fan of the Momentum lineup by Sennheiser, they could be a decent alternative, but for almost every other test category, the SoundTrue Ultra are a much better headphone.
Questions & Answers
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