Bose SoundWear Companion Speaker Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.3.1
Updated Jul 13, 2018 at 11:01 am
Bose SoundWear Companion Speaker Picture
5.8
Mixed Usage
5.8
Neutral Sound
5.5
Commute/Travel
7.4
Sports/Fitness
5.2
Office
5.5
Wireless Gaming
5.3
Wired Gaming
5.8
Phone Call
Type Wearable
Enclosure Open-Back
Wireless Yes
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Bose SoundWear Companion Speaker is a wireless around-the-neck companion speaker that won't be versatile enough for most uses. It isn't the best option to use outdoors, since it leaks like a speaker and doesn't isolate from ambient noise. However, it's a decent option for listening to music, podcasts, and audiobooks at home or at the office. It also has excellent breathability and good comfort since it doesn't cover your ears. It'll sound good enough for most listeners, but it lacks quite a bit of bass due to its very open design.

Our Verdict

5.8 Mixed Usage

The Bose SoundWear is sub-par for mixed usage. It has a very niche design and appeal, as it's a personal listening device but provides no ambient noise isolation and leaks a lot. This makes it a decent choice to use at home or in an isolated office since breathability and comfort is very high. It also has a decently balanced sound, although it may lack a bit of bass. Unfortunately, it's poorly suited for everything else and wouldn't be ideal to use outdoors since you'll most likely distract everyone around you and won't be able to focus on your music or podcast.

Pros
  • Great breathability and comfort.
  • Tactile bass and unique soundstage.
  • Decent battery life.
Cons
  • No isolation from ambient noise by design.
  • Niche design with limited uses.
5.8 Neutral Sound

The Bose SoundWear is average-at-best for neutral listening. It has a unique soundstage since it's a speaker that you wear around your neck. This gives it a good ambiance that some neutral listeners may like; however, its sound quality isn't the most balanced. It has a decent representation of instruments and vocals, and it doesn't sound too sharp on already bright tracks. Unfortunately, it doesn't pack a lot of bass, but it's tactile so you do feel it in your body. It sits relatively far from your ears, especially when compared to headphones, and since it doesn't create a seal with ear cups or an in-ear/earbud fit, it has a difficult time producing a lot of bass. Moving the neckband closer to your ears somewhat mitigates this issue, but it's not a practical fix and won't be ideal for everyone.

5.5 Commute/Travel

The Bose SoundWear Speaker isn't suitable for commuting. It provides no isolation from ambient noise and leaks loud enough to be distracting to everyone around you, even on a busy bus.

7.4 Sports/Fitness

The Bose SoundWear Speaker is average for sports. It has excellent breathability since it doesn't cover your ears. It's comfortable and has an easy-to-use control scheme. Unfortunately, it's not the most stable option for more demanding exercises, as it moves and bounces around a lot and may fall off your neck if your workouts involve a lot of tilting and laying on your back. On the upside, it should be stable enough to jog and would be a decent option to use on your treadmill at home.

5.2 Office

The Bose SoundWear Companion Speaker is sub-par for office use. Unless you work alone or in an isolated office, the leakage level will be too bothersome for those around you. Also, since it doesn't block any noise, you'll hear all the ambient sounds in your environment fairly easily, even when listening to music at higher-than-average volumes.

5.5 Wireless Gaming

The Bose SoundWear Speaker is sub-par for gaming. It has a bit too much latency for gaming and is a Bluetooth-only speaker that won't work with your consoles. It also doesn't come with a cable to reduce latency. It's leaky and provides no isolation, so it won't be the best option for most gaming environments unless you game alone.

5.3 Wired Gaming

The Bose SoundWear Companion Speaker isn't suitable for wired gaming.

5.8 Phone Call
  • 5.8 Mixed Usage
  • 5.8 Neutral Sound
  • 5.5 Commute/Travel
  • 7.4 Sports/Fitness
  • 5.2 Office
  • 5.5 Wireless Gaming
  • 5.3 Wired Gaming
  • 5.8 Phone Call
  1. Updated Nov 21, 2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  2. Updated Nov 21, 2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.

Test Results

Design
Design
Style

The Bose SoundWear Companion Speaker has a unique around-the-neck design that blurs the line between a Bluetooth speaker and a personal listening device like headphones. It has a large and dense neckband that's covered in a fabric sleeve, which comes in a couple of color variations. It's a very simple design that doesn't have built-in earbuds like some of the other neckband speakers available. On the upside, it looks great for wearing at home or the office. It won't be the ideal option for outdoor use since the speaker will be bothersome to those around you, even if it looks cool around your neck.

8.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.6 lbs
Clamping Force
0 lbs

The Bose SoundWear is a comfortable neckband speaker that won't put any pressure around, on, or in your ears since it's not really headphones. On the upside, the neckband is flexible, easy to wear, and coated in a decent fabric that won't irritate your neck during longer listening sessions. It's a bit more lightweight than its size would suggest, although since there are no around-the-neck headphones with this weight, you'll feel a slight pressure on your shoulders. For some, this might be an issue, especially when wearing it for a while, but compared to most headphones, this is more comfortable.

7.2
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
N/A
Ease Of Use Decent
Feedback Decent
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 SoundWear has a decent control scheme, very similar to most Bluetooth neckband headphones. It provides a three-button setup for call/music management, track-skipping, and volume controls. It also has a dedicated power switch and Bluetooth button to easily pair it with new devices. The buttons are fairly clicky with above-average feedback, although the layout on the side of the neckband may take a bit of time to get used to.

10
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 0 C

The Bose SoundWear Companion won't make your ears warm since it doesn't cover your ears. This means it has excellent breathability and won't make your ears sweat more than usual, whether you're doing high-intensity exercises or wearing it the whole day. It'll make your neck a bit warmer than typical around-the-neck earbuds since it has a bit more surface area.

6.3
Design
Portability
L 6.7 "
W 6 "
H 1.8 "
Volume 72 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required N/A

The neckband design is fairly large and a bit cumbersome, but decently portable enough that you can carry it around your neck for most uses. It won't be the most suitable device for outdoor use since it's basically a speaker, but in terms of portability, it's slightly more practical than some over-ear headphones, especially gaming headsets. Unfortunately, since it's mostly made for indoor use, it doesn't come with a carrying case or pouch.

0
Design
Case
Type No case
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A

The Bose SoundWear doesn't come with a case or pouch.

8.5
Design
Build Quality

The Bose SoundWear has a great build quality that feels durable, but you may have to buy a new fabric sleeve after a while. The neckband design is very flexible, yet made with a dense plastic that's sturdy enough to handle multiple drops. The buttons are clicky and responsive, and even the speaker grills, vents, and rubber-line coating on the neckband feel well-crafted and high-end. The sleeve is also well-made, although it may get damaged over time by regular wear and tear more easily than the rest of the design. On the upside, it's sold separately on the Bose website, so you can always buy it again.

7.0
Design
Stability

The Bose SoundWear's neckband design makes it stable enough to run with but isn't the ideal thing for sports. It'll be a decent option to run indoors on a treadmill, and it's stable enough for a couple of home workouts. Unfortunately, its sound is strongly dependent on the position of your head, concerning the speakers. This means that as it moves and bounces around on your neck, the sound quality will shift and may be a bit frustrating if you're trying to focus. It's a bit less noticeable on podcasts and audiobooks, but the effect is still there. Also, although you can tighten the neckband, it won't be stable enough for exercises that require a lot of tilting or laying on your back, like crunches and some yoga poses.

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

  • Bose SoundWear Companion Speaker
  • USB cable
  • Manual

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-22.68 db
Treble Amount
1.3 db
7.2
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.57 dB

The Bose SoundWear Companion Speaker's frequency response consistency is above-average. Due to the design, the user doesn't need to worry about achieving an air-tight seal to get a consistent bass delivery. However, since it transmits a big portion of its bass through the body, it's important not to have very thick clothes between the speaker and your shoulders as it'll negatively affect the tactile sensation of their bass. The treble range is also quite consistent and only affected by different neck lengths and body shapes. The slight variations in bass delivery in our measurements are due to the different neck lengths and body shapes of our human subjects.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
1.0
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
23.31 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
380.55 Hz
Low-Bass
-45.2 dB
Mid-Bass
-15.06 dB
High-Bass
-7.7 dB

The Bose SoundWear Companion Speaker's bass is lacking. It doesn't produce much bass through sound pressure. However, it does transmit a decent amount of tactile bass through the body, but even the tactile bass isn't very extended. Overall, it does produce a decent amount of punch on the kick drums but won't produce any thump or rumble in the sub-bass range.

6.2
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
5.01 dB
Low-Mid
-3.2 dB
Mid-Mid
-0.91 dB
High-Mid
-4.48 dB

The mid-range is below-average. The response is uneven, and not very balanced. Low-mid is lacking around 300Hz, which thins out the vocals a little bit. Mid-mids are decently balanced, but high-mids are quite uneven and recessed. This negatively affects the intensity and projection of vocals and lead instruments.

8.0
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.47 dB
Low-Treble
1.85 dB
Mid-Treble
-2.12 dB
High-Treble
-2.25 dB

The treble range performance is very good. The overall response is a bit uneven but well-balanced. Low-treble is overemphasized by less than 2dB. This adds a bit of excess brightness to the overall sound. The dip around 7.5kHz has a small negative effect on the production of sibilances (S and Ts). This will be most noticeable on vocals and cymbals.

4.5
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
3.77 db
Dips
3.85 db
4.2
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
5.15
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.32
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
4.06
Weighted Phase Mismatch
136.81

The Bose SoundWear has above-average imaging. The weighted group delay is at 5.15, which is quite high. The GD graph shows that the high group delay only happens in the bass range, where the speakers don't produce much sound pressure. Most of the bass is tactile and transmitted through the body, so the experience of their bass isn't too bad. Also, the L/R drivers of our test unit were decently matched in frequency and amplitude but showed a big mismatch in phase response. This seems to be intentional and is Bose's way of creating a wide stereo image by creating phase shifts in the treble range.

7.4
Sound
Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
2.4 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
-1.67 dB
PRTF Distance
14.15 dB
Openness
9.9
Acoustic Space Excitation
10

The soundstage is above-average. Since the speakers are positioned on the shoulders rather than the ears, they get near-perfect scores for openness and acoustic space excitation. Also, it seems that the Bose has a cross-feed circuit which is always enabled, meaning some of the L channel signals come through the R channel, and vice versa. This replicates the crosstalk that occurs in an actual stereo speaker setup. However, it didn't perform very well in the PRTF tests, probably due to it being positioned below the ears, as opposed to in-front. It shows very little pinna interaction/activation, but a decent 10kHz notch. Overall, the soundstage is open, immersive, and out-of-head, but doesn't feel very large, natural, or speaker-like.

5.2
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
1.031
WHD @ 100
1.343
Isolation
0.4
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-0.08 dB
Bass
-0.1 dB
Mid
-0.1 dB
Treble
-0.03 dB

The isolation performance is poor. Due to its wearable design and lack of active noise cancelling, it's normal for them to provide no isolation since it doesn't cover the ears at all. However, this can be considered a desirable feature if you want to be fully aware of your surroundings.

0
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
88.57 dB

The Bose SoundWear's leakage performance is bad. This wearable speaker isn't advertised to have low leakage, so it was expected that it would perform more like portable speakers than headphones. A significant portion of their leakage is spread between 40Hz and 20kHz, which is the broadest we've measured so far. The overall level of the leakage is also the loudest we have measured. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 89dB SPL and peaks at 98dB SPL.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
N/A

The Bose SoundWear's microphone has average quality. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this mic will sound relatively thin, muffled, and lacking in detail. However, it'll still be decently comprehensible. In noisy situations, it can separate speech from background noise in a moderately loud environment, like a busy street.

6.3
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
364.41 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
2.03 dB
HFE
3044.37 Hz
Weighted THD
9.271
Gain
17.84 dB

The recording quality is mediocre. The LFE (low-frequency extension) means that speech recorded/transmitted with this mic will sound relatively thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) results in a speech that lacks detail and sounds muffled. However, the response between the LFE and HFE points is flat, which is good.

6.9
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
19.91 dB

The Bose SoundWear's microphone is decent at noise handling. It achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 20dB in our SpNR test, indicating that it can separate speech from ambient noise to a good degree in moderately loud environments. This is partially due to the proximity of the microphone to the mouth since the SoundWear sits on the shoulders.

Active Features
7.2
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
12.1 hrs
Additional Charges
0
Total Battery Life
12.1 hrs
Charge Time
2.7 hrs
Power Saving Feature
Auto-Off Timer
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port micro-USB

The Bose SoundWear has a decent battery life of about 12.1 hours. This means you won't have to charge it as often throughout the day. It also has an adjustable timer that helps prolong battery life. Unfortunately, you can't use it while it's charging, and it also takes quite a bit of time to charge at 2.7 hours.

6.5
Active Features
App Support
App Name Bose Connect
iOS Yes
Android Yes
macOS N/A
Windows N/A
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
N/A
Mic Control No
Room effects
No
Playback Control
Yes
Button Mapping No
Surround Sound N/A

The Bose Connect app looks fancy but doesn't have a lot of features. It only allows you to connect, rename, and update your SoundWear but doesn't provide you with an equalizer or any other sound-enhancing features. On the upside, you get the battery level status, an auto-off timer you can set at different intervals, and an in-app player that gives you some playback control, but that's pretty much it.

Connectivity
8.3
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
4.2
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
No
Line of Sight Range
141 ft
Default Latency
210 ms
aptX Latency
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
N/A

The Bose Soundwear Companion, like most Bose wireless devices, can be paired with two devices simultaneously so you can easily switch between your phone and PC/tablet. Unfortunately, it doesn't have NFC pairing.

It has a bit too much latency to be the best option for watching TV or gaming. Also, since it's a Bluetooth-only speaker with no low latency codecs, it won't be the ideal choice for a home theater setup.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
N/A
USB Audio
N/A
Detachable N/A
Length N/A
Connection N/A
Wired Latency
N/A

The Bose SoundWear is a Bluetooth-only companion speaker that doesn't come with a regular audio cable.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC / PS4 Analog
No
PC / PS4 Wired USB
No
PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
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

The Bose SoundWear Companion doesn't have a dock. If you need a headset with a dock that also has a wired connection for gaming or watching movies, consider the SteelSeries Arctis 7 Wireless 2017.

Compared To Other Headphones

Comparison picture

The Bose SoundWear is in its own class of personal listening devices, so it's not really comparable to any of the headphones we've tested. It doesn't cover your ears, so it has excellent breathability and great comfort. It also has a wide, spacious, but unnatural soundstage since it's basically a speaker you wear around your neck that doesn't block any noise. Unfortunately, this also means it won't be versatile enough to use outdoors. Its sound quality isn't quite as good as a real speaker setup or headphones close to your ears that can reproduce bass a little better. It's a niche device that won't be for everyone but will be exactly what some listeners are looking for, especially if you work from home.

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