Bose SoundSport Free review: truly wireless earbuds meant for laid-back listening, not sports

Bose SoundSport Free 1

Ever since the Apple AirPods turned into a sleeper hit for Apple, the truly wireless audio market has seen an influx of similar products. The latest entrant in this space is Bose – a brand that needs no introduction when it comes to audio. The SoundSport Free is Bose’ attempt to revitalise the space  with a premium product squarely aimed — for some odd reason — at fitness enthusiasts. And in that respect, it probably competes directly with Jabra Elite Sport more than any other product. 

I’ve used the SoundSport Free for a while now, and firmly believe that Bose has a winner in its hands. 

Bose SoundSport Free 2

Bose SoundSport Free: design, fit, specs, and battery

Wearing the SoundSport Free in your ears makes you look like a sentient from another planet. The SoundSport Free is by far the biggest truly wireless pair of earbuds I‘ve used till date. It is almost as big as the TIE fighter-lookalike Audeze iSine 20 open-back earphones. Thankfully, the big exterior – which houses the battery and the bluetooth module – is connected to an angled nozzle which enters your ear canal. And therefore, you don’t feel the weight of the massive units attached to these nozzles. 

However, you must note one thing – Bose uses ear hooks to secure the pods in place. You get three different sizes of ear hooks in the box. The largest one worked perfectly well for me. It locks in place and it doesn’t fall off easily from the ear. However, if you are doing an extensive workout then it is bound to slide out of your ears easily. Interestingly, the SoundSport Free is also sweat proof. So if your sweat glands have been activated by intensive exercise sessions, fret not your earphones are going to be safe. I actually do sweat a lot, and found that the SoundSport Free managed to play back music without any issues as such. 

Bose SoundSport Free 3

By the way, the play/pause and volume up/down are actual physical buttons that sit on top of the right earbuds. And they feel extremely rigid, to the point that I ended up using my device’s controls instead. I am definitely not a fan. 

Bose claims that the SoundSport Free can last 5 hours on a single charge. And, for most of my review period that claim was true. Moreover, you can charge the earbuds twice over using the pod-like charging case. So, that is definitely an advantage. 

Bose SoundSport Free: sound quality and Bluetooth performance

Before I talk about the sound quality, let me talk about the Bluetooth connectivity. I found it to be rock solid! Not once did the connection break. Also, the earbuds have the capability to remember a lot of paired devices. The moment you switch it on, it goes on a loop and a sweet female voice cycles through all the previously paired devices. While it is no W1 chip, it is still a good workaround. 

Also read: Sennheiser Ambeo review: one of the most innovative tech products to hit India in a while

Talking about the sound signature, the SoundSport Free’s wide soundstage took me completely by surprise. But don’t forget that the are still wireless and therefore they exhibit a certain characteristic sound that you immediately associate with wireless headphones. It sounds very artificial and coloured. Also, I can easily the define the SoundSport Free’s signature as a mid-forward sound. It is peppered with a very bloated low-end. You are not going to hear any depth treble and it exists for the sake of existing. Here’s how the audiophiles would describe it – the highs are rolled off. This kind of sound is laid-back and easy to consume, which is Bose’s style anyway.

But the problem with this signature is that anything apart from acoustic music or songs that include multiple instruments, lack the depth that you expect from it. That said, this sound signature is apt for a product like the Free because it sounds breezy, light, and unobtrusive. However, if you are a rock-head stay away from the SoundSport Free. I tried songs like Arctic Monkey’s Do I Wanna Know and Metallica’s Unforgiven III – nothing too heavy – and the timbre of individual instruments, especially the bass line, lacked any sort of finesse. 

Having said that, the SoundSport Free is one of the better sounding wireless earbuds you can buy right now. 

Bose SoundSport Free 5

Should you buy the Bose SoundSport Free?

This one is for the Bose fans out there, and I know there are tons of them. It is a perfect fit in their lifestyle. However, if you are looking at buying a pair of truly wireless earbuds and the Bose SoundSport Free only happens to be in your radar, I will urge you to look at other options. Let me break it down for you:

  1. Do you use the iPhone extensively? The AirPods are still by far the best options for you. They look fugly but the convenience factor is unparalleled. The sound’s not bad either. 
  2. If sound is your primary parameter, I’d suggest looking at the Jabra Elite 65T instead. It also comes with some cool features like a Transparency mode and the ability to access the Voice Assistant on your phone. Bonus tip: another Jabra truly wireless earbuds worth considering is the Jabra Elite Sport, especially if you are heavily into sports. 

Also read: RHA MA750 review: the best neckband-style wireless headphones you can buy

But let’s not forget one thing, the SoundSport Free is an expensive proposition at Rs 18,990 compared to the alternatives. What else did you expect from Bose? 

I really want to see the second iteration of the Bose SoundSport Free bring some much needed changes. Firstly, I’d like for Bose’s engineers to reduce the size. Secondly, the physical controls have to be fixed. Finally, I’d like to see more features like a Heart Rate Monitor like you have on the Bragi Dash Pro. 

All said and done, the SoundSport Free is still a good first attempt by Bose and I did secretly enjoy using it. I say “secretly” because, audiophiles love to hate Bose. 

What do you think of the Bose SoundSport Free, let us know in the comments below. 

Ershad Kaleebullah

When Ershad isn't writing, he spends time killing virtual zombies on his PS4. Having worked with a slew of renowned publications like PCWorld, Channelworld, CIO, NDTV Gadgets (now Gadgets360), MySmartPrice, The Inquistr, and 91Mobiles, Ershad brings a whole world of experience to Mr. Phone. He is trying hard to convert all the team members into Apple fans but is facing a lot of resistance. Is anyone willing to help?