Travel Tech: Bose Soundsport Free First Impressions

Travel Tech: Bose Soundsport Free First Impressions

I’ve been in the market for a new pair of headphones for a while now. I’ve specifically looking for a good pair of wireless headphones ever since Apple dropped the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. The obvious choice is of course the Apple Airpods. While Airpods seem like the best option, I have a serious issue with them. They don’t fit in my ears, at all. Apple’s headphones have never fit my ears and fall out even when just sitting still. While there are a few silicon tip solutions, I’d rather not have to put them on and take them off each time I want to charge an earbud. So, my search continued.

I eventually settled on the Bose SoundSport Wireless headphones. I’ve long been a fan of Bose headphones, specifically their fit and audio quality. So after searching for a solid pair of bluetooth headphones its no surprised that I landed on the SoundSport wireless headphones.

Then, just as I jumped on Amazon to purchase a pair, I discovered the new Bose SoundSport Free headphones which are similar, but lack the behind the neck cord. I recently received the headphones and have been testing them out for a few days now. Today I’ll share my first impressions of the SoundSport Free headphones and will write a more in-depth review in the coming weeks.

Bose SoundSport Free Headphones

Bose recently released the SoundSport Free headphones which are an enhancement to the already fantastic Bose SoundSport Wireless headphones. SoundSport Free headphones are essentially the same as the wireless version, but without the wire in between the earbuds. For that added freedom, the price increased from $150 to $250.

While I too initially gawked at the seemingly high $250 price tag, I ended up getting $50 off from an American Express offer and an additional $15 off from an Amazon coupon. In total I only paid $175 (30% off) for the SoundSport Free headphones which greatly impacted my decision to purchase these wireless earbuds.

Bose SoundSport Free Charged
Bose SoundSport Free Charged

While the Bose SoundSport Free headphones are completely wireless, it doesn’t exactly mean that they’re small. The carrying case which doubles as the charging case is essentially the size as an extra long D battery. As you open the case 5 indicator lights illuminate to reveal the current battery level of the charging case. Once open, two lights (one left, one right) either blink to let you know if either individual earbud is charging or shine to show you that each earbud is fully charged.

According to Bose each earbud carries a 5 hour charge and the battery case packs an additional 10 hours of charge for the pair. In total, you should get 15 hours of active listening from a completely full charge. I haven’t had these headphones long enough to test this, but so far battery life is excellent.

A Few Days With The Bose SoundSport Free Headphones

I’ve had the Bose SoundSport Free headphones for a few days now and am undecided if they are worth buying or not. There are a few things I love about the headphones, but they aren’t without fault. I’ve had a few issues with the headphones that make me question the $250 price tag. For $250 I expect a pair of headphones be perfect and the SoundSport Free headphones aren’t so far.

The Good

You can’t talk about the Bose SoundSport Free headphones without mentioning their size. Some people complain that the earbuds are quite large and protrude too far from the ear. While I agree with this when looking at someone wearing them, I don’t notice their size once they are in my ears. Sure they’re a little big, but you’re not looking at them on you so their size doesn’t bother me.

The SoundSport Free headphones are also incredibly lightweight and the “StayHear” tips keep the earbuds snug in the ear. I’ve long been a fan of Bose Sport headphones so I love the fit of the headphone. Bose earbuds rest gently in the ear canal. This makes them comfortable and also allows a decent amount of ambient noise to get through. I like this fit since I can hear cars and other people when running on city streets, but some prefer noise isolating headphones.

Lastly, the Bose SoundSport Free headphones are extremely easy to pair and use. I’ve had the Bose Connect app on my phone for a while now which is needed to easily pair the headphones. Simply pull the buds out of the charging case and they’ll appear in the app. Drag down to connect and you’re all set. Pairing out of the box took just a few seconds. Also, when you pull the buds out, they pair instantly and when you put them in the case, they disconnect. They’re incredibly easy to use on a daily basis.

These aren’t the only things I like about the Bose SoundSport Free headphones, but rather specific things I’ve notice in the first few days of using them. I’ll hopefully have more positive things to say in my full length review.

The Bad

For starters, I really dislike the charging case. The case is quite large and I tend to not carry very much when walking around. I don’t love carrying around the bulky charging case everywhere I go. I’d like to stop carrying the charging case with me when commuting to/from work, but at the moment I’m not sure how to turn off the earbuds individually. As far as I know, the only way to turn off the earbuds is to place them in the charging case.

Another thing I really dislike is that the right earbud alone is the master. The right earbud connects to your phone and the left earbud paris to the right bud. You can place the left bud in the case and only use the right, but it doesn’t work in reverse. This bothers me because I tend to alternate listening to a single earbud at a time. I’m not yet comfortable placing the buds directly into my pocket, so I instead place the unused bud in the case. This means that I can only listen to one bud in the right ear which gets old. It’s also worth noting that you can only take/receive calls with the right bud. Phone conversations only play through the right bud at the moment, but I’m willing to bet this gets corrected via a firmware update.

The third issue I have with the earbuds are the tactile buttons on the right bud. Right out of the box the buttons are extremely stiff. It’s not exactly comfortable forcing the volume button up/down while the bud is in your ear. I’m hoping these buttons loosen up with time and hopefully I’ll know that by the time I write my in-depth review of these headphones.

Final Thoughts

I loved my Bose QuiteComfort 2 headphones. Those headphones introduced me to Bose headphones and I’ve never looked back. I loved the Bose QC15 headphones I upgraded to years later. The Bose QC20 in-ear noise canceling headphones were amazing! Out of the box, the Bose QC20 headphones impressed me nearly as much as my initial pair of QC2s. I’ve had the Bose QC35 headphones for almost a year now and they’re easily my favorite pair of headphones to date. I’ve also enjoyed using the Bose SoundSport wired headphones for years. As you can see, I’m a huge fan of Bose headphones and I expected that trend to continue with the SoundSport Free headphones.

Sadly, right out of the box, I’m not that impressed with the Bose SoundSport Free headphones. Sure they’re easy to use and sound great, but there are a few small things (mentioned) that frustrate me. If the headphones were just $100 I wouldn’t worry about these minor issues, but at $250 I can’t overlook their flaws. For $250 I expect a pair of headphones to be perfect and the Bose SoundSport Free headphones aren’t. I’m hoping as I use the headphones more that they’ll grow on me, but at the moment, I’m not even sure they’re worth keeping. I’ll write a full review in about a week and hopefully have a final decision on whether or not to keep these headphones.