10 Bose Sound Sport dIn an increasingly cordless world I wish to put forward an argument in support of cords. I suspect many owners of Apple AirPods will find it compelling. These tiny and expensive devices are so damn easy to lose, whether it be at home or down the side of a plane seat. Worst case scenario is losing only one; the technology is such that the AirPods have to match up to one another and no others, and so they’re only sold in pairs. Lose one and you have to buy a single replacement ($99) and have it set up to operate with you existing AirPod.

The nice thing about pods joined by a cable is that they’re harder to lose. Easier to find too. Find one and you’ve found both.

I pondered this while listening to SoundSport Frees, the Bose answer to AirPods. What would I do if one of them dropped into the innards of the cross trainer while I’m down at the gym? If it bounced onto the floor would someone step on it before I could rescue it? At just 15 grams it could well wind up in the gym’s vacuum cleaner bag. I’d fret over all the possibilities if I’d parted with the $299.95 involved. Mind you, the SoundSports have a wing that nestles into the upper ridge of the ear to lock them in place most securely. They’re comfortable too.

10 Bose Sound Sport cThe best advice, obviously, is not to lose them. But listen; with Bose, if you lose one SoundSport while still under warranty (18 months) you can call the customer service number and if you generate enough sympathy you’ll get a new pair for free provided you return what’s left of the old. If they’re out of warranty and one is lost or damaged you’ll get a 25 per cent discount on a new pair in exchange for what’s left of the old. Anyway, there’s an app to show where they were last used. Handy as long as that place is not travelling back to LA at 800 kmh.

I guess you need to weigh the risk of loss against the considerable improvement in convenience these offer. And despite my propensity for losing stuff I’d take the risk because I sure liked the SoundSports. Great high range definition and detail, and powerful, punchy bass that adds heaps of excitement and presence without ever overwhelming the mids and highs. They sound terrific and go louder than AirPods. To my ears the sound quality improvement justifies the extra $70.95.

10 Bose Sound Sport bThey come in a hard plastic case – it’s a bit smaller than the one for your glasses – that’s also the charger, holding them magnetically so they’re always in the right position to charge. And the charger carries enough whack for two charges. It has a little LCD display indicating the amount of charge left, it’s all very neat. Each two-hour charge gives up to five hours play. On a long flight you’ll get five hours, then you’ll have to recharge for two hours to get another five hours. Bose says a 15-minute charge will give you 45 minutes play time.

The SoundSports are moisture-proof and can handle sweat and rain. But they sure do stick out. They stick out far enough to brush against things. And the folk at the gym will notice and whisper and giggle among themselves. The rude ones won’t whisper. My mate Bob the weight lifter asked me if the SoundSports were designed by the guy who did Frankenstein. Laugh? I nearly started.

Originally published on smh.com.au as ‘True wireless earbuds are freeing, but fraught’ March 2018.

Note: The story was corrected from the original version, which said loss of a single Apple AirPod necessitated the purchase of a new pair. I apologise for the error.


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