Generally, you expect earbuds to go in your ear canal. Because, you know, that’s what earbuds do. But today, Bose is announcing its latest truly wireless earbuds — the Bose Sport Open Earbuds — and the company claims they don’t go in, over, or on your ears at all.
Well then, where the hell do they go?
According to Bose’s press release, the Bose Sport Open Earbuds sit above your ear canal thanks to an oddly shaped hook attachment. (Though, if you look at the picture below it sort of looks like it’s “covering” a teeny bit of the ear canal…) If you read sheet music, it sort of looks like the bass clef. Supposedly, you’ll be able to hear whatever you’re listening to at whatever volume you want, but without other people eavesdropping. Bose says you’re just supposed to twist the hook onto your ear’s outer ridge, and that it delivers sound with “virtually no skin contact” and without squeezing or vibrations. Bose claims the tiny dipole transducer in each enclosure delivers clear audio while cancelling out other noise, while the microphones are capable of isolating your voice from other noise and wind.
Spec-wise, the earbuds are 48mm wide and 55mm high — so it appears that these are relatively big boys. The Jabra Elite Active 68 T, for example, are 19.4mm wide and 16.2 mm high. Bose also says the earbuds “weigh a mere 14 grams per bud.” OK, but the AirPods Pro are 5.4 grams per bud and the Jabra Elite Active 68 T are 5.5 grams. For connectivity, there’s both an “etched antenna” and Bluetooth 5.1. The earbuds also have an IPX4 rating and an estimated 8 hours of battery life.
As the name implies, these earbuds are meant for outdoor enthusiasts — specifically runners, hikers, and cyclists who want to listen to music while keeping an ear out for ambient noise, like traffic or a chatty exercise partner. There are bone conduction headphones out there that promise to do the same thing, but those are generally better for the hearing impaired or less rigorous activity. If you’ve ever used a pair, the sound quality isn’t as good as regular earbuds, and depending on the model, they sometimes slip off your head while running.
We’ve seen this sort of open audio tech from Bose before — specifically in its Bose Frames sunglasses which double as a pair of headphones. When I tested those, they surprisingly delivered on that whole “listen to your music but others can’t hear it” promise. We’ll have to test these earbuds out, however, to see whether they get you a similar experience and if the heavier weight and ear hook are comfortable enough for exercise.
The Bose Sport Open Earbuds will retail for $US200 ($260), and come in Triple Black, which I guess is Bose’s term for “very black.” You can preorder online today at BestBuy or Bose’s website, and shipping/availability is expected sometime in the middle of this month.