About three years ago, there were very few Bluetooth headphones available which were light enough to stay on my head while I went through a workout. What I really needed was in-ear headphones because those would be less likely to fall off, but they were not many good-sounding ones around. That's changing and there are lots more options available now. I recently checked out Apple's AirPods and highly recommend them if you can spare the money, even if you have an Android phone.
But now here's a set of earphones from Bose, the newest in the SoundSport range, designed specifically for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
The Bose’s SoundSport earphones don't lodge completely into the ear canal. The earbuds are a bit clunky and have an extremely peculiar big plastic disk on the outer side. Moving inwards, there's the in-ear portion and a wingtip in between, which you'd find in all of Bose's in-ear headphones and meant for stability.
For all that, this complicated assembly does fall out of my ears, even when I opt for the smallest silicon tips provided in the box. It takes me 10 minutes to wear them until I feel they won't fall out. But if I get overenthusiastic about my exercise, they do. If you like the Bose sound and want to consider these, it might be a good idea to try them out at a store that allows you to in case it's not a good fit with your ear size. And priced at Rs 13,275 the assurance of usability is important, as anyone would agree.
The SoundSport earphones are easy to just flip around your neck with the tangle-free cable between the two earbuds. But Bose could have done better with one of those neck collar designs instead of a flimsy looking cable or even gone completely wireless like Apple with the AirPods or Samsung with its IconX earphones. I hate the idea that I could snag the cable with a hand carelessly going in its direction. In any case, for the cost, this set neither looks impressive nor really durable. For controls, there's a thin plastic bit with the few buttons you need for volume, changing tracks, and taking calls. The charging slot is under a little flap.
But if there's one thing that the SoundSport has going in its favour, it's the sound quality. Though they're meant for sporty activities and perhaps listening to cues on movements or instructions from a guide, you can just as easily be listening to music on them. They sound good. There's a nice solid bass, without heaviness to it, and the sound is clear and loud enough. There's not much by way of noise cancellation because of the design, and sound will leak out as well as in, but considering it may be used on the road while running or jogging or cycling, too much noise cancellation will probably be a dangerous thing.
I find the SoundSport earphones difficult to recommend considering for just an additional Rs 2,000, you could pick up the more innovatively designed Apple AirPods which are also comfortable enough for long listening and wire-free for exercise. There are also cheaper Bluetooth in-ear headphones such as from Sony and Skull Candy that would work well for exercise and occasional listening. Watch this space also for Bose's own Quiet Comfort in-ear headphones, hopefully coming to India, although there's no word on that.