A few weeks back my workout earphones bit the dust. It was a sad moment. I never could say I loved my Power Beats headphones but, I got them for free and they got the job done. I needed to replace them and I know from the search for earphones last time that it's an unenviable task. There are too many options, and the search is made worse by my audio quality preferences. I distilled my search down to three major things I needed out of new earphones:
- Must handle a lot of movement
- Must handle a lot of sweat
- Must have decent battery life
I looked at a good deal of options including Jaybird X2s and Apple AirPods. I consulted the WireCutter and I could never really settle on anything I loved. I eventually went to Bose. I’ve loved Bose noise canceling, over-ear headphones for 6 years now and never gave their earphones a shot. This was the time. So I bought a pair of their SoundSport Pulse, their current wireless active earphone option. I’ve had them for about 2 months now and here is my review.
The Bose SoundSport Pulse earphones are extremely comfortable. I will come out and say that compared to other earphones I’ve owned, they are laughably large. Despite being so large, they feel very light and comfortable in the ear. The clips (named StayHear+) are a dream compared to other earpieces I’ve used (Jaybirds). I’ve comfortably worn them on a run, a rigorous fitness workout and just walking around town. Everywhere I’ve taken them, they have been comfortable.
The battery life is, meh. I’ve gotten 5 hours pretty consistently and that’s nothing to shout about. 5 hours is pretty much the median time for this kind of earphones, so I will just live with it. 5 hours gets me through most of the week, and on a full charge, I can get through a long bike ride. One of the nicest features of the SoundSport Pulse is that it has usage detection and auto turn off. So when I’m not actively using the headphones after 5 minutes (You can toggle this time) it’ll turn off. That may seem like a small thing on the surface but it saves tons of battery when you are as careless as me.
You can pair and manage the earphones through the Bose App. It’s the same app I use to manage my Quiet Comfort 35s. The app is well designed and it allows you to toggle between Bluetooth devices you’re connected to.
The SoundSport Pulse can also connect to two devices at a time. This may seem superfluous but it’s extremely handy and it’s one of the things I love about my Quiet Comfort 35s as well. Bluetooth is an extremely cumbersome and temperamental standard. My devices disconnect and reconnect on a regular cadence. Further, connecting via Bluetooth on iOS takes at least a few taps into the settings menu to get there. It’s nice being able to connect to two devices. I’m usually connected to my iPhone for a workout but when I get home it’ll automatically connect to my iPad where I’ll listen to the news or other media without fiddling with settings.
The Pulse part of the SoundSport Pulse is because it has a heart rate monitor built into the device. It’s a cool addition, but I haven’t used it for real more than once. I’m a bit obsessive about collecting heart rate data during a workout. For example, I use a Rhythm+ instead of my Apple Watch because the heart rate data is much more accurate. I used the SoundSport Pulse for one workout on a stationary bike and it was smooth. It’s a nice feature but not for everyone.
These earphones are expensive ($200), and you can get similar functionality for a fraction of the price. That being said, I’ve grown to love Bose products and their ability to connect to multiple devices at once and manage connections through the application. Bluetooth is a royal pain and Bose has some really thoughtful design around dealing with them. All of that being said, Bose did release a fully wireless SoundSport Free and I’m looking at my wallet and thinking.