The fit and sound quality of the Bose Sport Earbuds is as good as anything out there under £200, but they lack a few features compared with the competition, including ANC.
- Comfortable and secure fit
- Excellent sound quality
- Short battery life
- No ANC
- Minimal EQ customisation
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Bose’s first attempt at truly wireless sports headphones was a bit of a swing and a miss. The SoundSport Free headphones sounded good, but the oversized design meant they stuck out a long way from the ear. This made them impractical to use for exercise because they didn’t stay in place reliably and caught the wind when running and cycling outdoors.
The new Sport Earbuds have a smaller design that sticks out less (although they are still larger than many sports-specific headphones) and provides an excellent fit. The sound is even better than on the SoundSport Free – it’s up there with the best workout headphones, leaving aside the wonderful but wildly expensive B&O Beoplay E8 Sport.
There are three sizes of tip in the box. Each has a wing on it which does the lion’s share of the work keeping the bud in place, with the in-ear section of the tip not fitting snugly in your ear canal – instead sitting just outside. This means it doesn’t block out as much external noise as a typical in-ear bud, but I found that this design made for a substantial improvement to how comfortable the headphones are.
The soft silicone used for the wing helps on this front too. I’ve not come across any more comfortable sports headphones that have as secure a fit as the Sport Earbuds. I’ve used them for runs, cycles and vigorous strength workouts without the headphones ever coming loose or causing any pain.
I tend to struggle to keep buds in my ears when running without an ear hook, or an oversized and rigid wing tip that becomes a little painful to use after an hour or two, so the Sport Earbuds are a very appealing new option on this front, placing them among the best running headphones out there.
You can only wear them for five hours at a time though, because that’s when the battery will require a charge. This isn’t bad, and 15 minutes of charging nets you two hours of playback, but most rival options at around the same price either last longer – the Jabra Elite Active 75t will last 7½ hours on a charge – or offer extra features like active noise cancellation. The Sony WF-SP800N does both with nine hours of juice with ANC enabled.
The Bose Sport Earbuds also offer little in the way of extra features. You can’t adjust the EQ on them in the partner app and even the controls are limited. You can double-tap the right bud to play/pause or hold it to activate a voice assistant, while double tap on the left bud can be set to skip track or check your battery level. That’s it. There’s no transparency mode for extra awareness when outside either.
The case is also a little large, especially given that it offers only another 10 hours of battery. It’s not pocket-sized like the case you get with the AirPods or Jaybird Vista, which both also pack in more battery life.
The Earbuds, then, need the sound quality to make up for these limitations, and luckily they do. The sound is incredibly clear and bright, and the bass, while not as punchy as on the Sony WF-SP800N headphones, is still powerful. There is no trace of distortion or harshness at high volumes, and the volume does go high enough to mask the sound of traffic when running by busy roads.
It’s this sound in concert with the excellent fit that has made the Earbuds my go-to option for running, even ahead of previous favourites like the Beoplay Sport E8, which I find less comfortable. Despite the merely OK battery life, basic controls and lack of features that are increasingly standard on similarly priced headphones, I’ve become very attached to them.
The headphones have an IPX4 rating, which means they are water and sweat resistant. Again, this isn’t as high a rating as you’ll find on other sports headphones, some of which are waterproof, but I’ve never had any problems with water damage using IPX4-rated buds so I don’t think this is a dealbreaker.
If you have struggled with the fit on other sports headphones, the Bose Sport Earbuds are definitely worth trying. If you haven’t, then it’s worth looking at the Sony WF-SP800N, Jabra Elite Active 75t and Jaybird Vista buds as sports headphones that offer a little more in the way of features and battery life for a similar price.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.