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Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Review: Stylish, with Sound Trade-offs

Bose recently introduced its new Ultra Open Earbuds, departing from its previous collaboration with Kith. Priced at $299, these earbuds rest outside the ear canal and securely attach to the ear ridge. Unlike traditional earbuds, they do not feature active noise cancellation due to their open design but offer Bose’s Immersive Audio technology for spatial sound.

In 2021, Bose launched the Sport Open Earbuds with an over-the-ear hook made of hard plastic, which limited comfort and compatibility with glasses or hats. Addressing these concerns, the Ultra Open Earbuds prioritizes comfort, style, and functionality. Although there are trade-offs with this design, such as reduced noise isolation, the appeal lies in all-day wearability and awareness of surroundings.

Introducing Bose Ultra Open Earbuds: A stylish accessory with both pros and cons.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Review: Stylish, with Sound Trade-offs



Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Review: Design

Bose’s Ultra Open Earbuds feature a distinctive two-piece design comprising a rounded speaker chamber outside the ear canal and a cylindrical battery box behind the ear. A strip of soft-touch, flexible silicon provides a comfortable grip around the ear. Each side includes a battery barrel with a single multi-function button for onboard controls.

Described as more of a fashion statement than typical wearables by Bose, these earbuds certainly make a statement with their appearance. However, opinions on their aesthetics may vary, with some finding them off-putting.

Despite their polarizing design, the Ultra Open Earbuds excel in comfort. Unlike traditional earbuds, they don’t insert into the ear canal, making them suitable for extended wear. The clip-on pressure is minimal, and the lack of a hook contributes to their comfort, even during workouts.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Review: Bose Music App and Features

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Review: Bose Music App and Features

The Ultra Open Earbuds are compatible with Bose’s Music app, offering access to various settings and features. Most features are similar to the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, except for guidance on wearing the Ultra Open Earbuds.

Essential tools like battery life, sound modes, EQ, Immersive Audio, and Bluetooth connections are easily accessible on the main screen. However, these earbuds lack multipoint Bluetooth connectivity, allowing only one device to sync at a time.

The app allows customization of the onboard button’s function, primarily through press-and-hold gestures. Default settings include toggling between stereo and Immersive Audio modes, adjusting Immersive Audio settings, switching Bluetooth connections, activating voice assistants, or disabling the button. Each earbud’s button can be configured independently.

Despite having one physical button, onboard volume control is included. Users can increase volume with a double press and hold on the right earbud and decrease it with the same sequence on the left.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Review: Sound Quality

The Ultra Open Earbuds offer flexibility in positioning along the ear for optimal sound and comfort. According to Bose, placement around the ear doesn’t significantly affect sound quality as long as the speaker component is positioned correctly.

Bose combines Open Audio with Immersive Audio technology for an enhanced listening experience. However, sound leakage becomes noticeable above 50% volume, affecting nearby individuals.

While Immersive Audio improves the listening experience, its impact on battery life prompts consideration. The difference in sound quality between stereo and Immersive Audio modes is subtle, making it advisable to disable Immersive Audio when not discernible.

Open-type earbuds prioritize comfort over sound quality, resulting in subdued bass and mid-range audio profiles. Despite decent low-end thump and detail in certain tracks, the overall sound may feel compressed and lacking compared to in-ear buds.

The earbuds may exhibit a reverb-like echo, particularly noticeable when listening to podcasts, potentially affecting the listening experience. Further inquiries have been made to Bose regarding this issue and potential solutions.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Review: Call Quality

The design of the Ultra Open Earbuds makes them ideal for call clarity. With open ears, there’s no need to raise your voice or deal with poor transparency mode. Voice quality is decent in quiet environments, but ambient noise is noticeable during medium-to-high noise levels, affecting call clarity.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Review: Battery Life

The Ultra Open Earbuds’ battery life is significantly affected by Immersive Audio, lasting up to four and a half hours with it on, and up to seven and a half hours with it off. Although this reduction was expected due to Immersive Audio’s impact, it’s more pronounced compared to previous models.

During testing, approximately five hours of playtime were achieved at 75 percent volume with Immersive Audio active most of the time. The case offers nearly three full charges regardless of audio mode, with a 10-minute rest providing up to two hours of playtime. Charging the Ultra Open Earbuds takes one hour, but the case does not support wireless charging out of the box. However, a wireless charging cover is available for purchase separately.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Review

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Review: The Competition

When it comes to open-wear earbuds, there are fewer options compared to traditional models. Shokz offers an alternative with its OpenFit open-ear headphones priced at $180. We noted “rich bass” with a “crunchy” edge to low frequencies. Senior commerce editor Valentina Palladino highlighted their balanced weight distribution, ideal for workouts, though they come with over-the-ear hooks, which may interfere with glasses or headwear.

For a mainstream alternative, Bose’s QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds are recommended. Priced at $249, they boast stellar ANC performance and Immersive Audio technology for spatial sound without the need for specialized content.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Review: Wrap-up

Bose deserves praise for its innovative approach with the Ultra Open Earbuds. Their unique design offers exceptional comfort, crucial for all-day wear. However, users may need to compromise on audio quality unless the earbuds fit snugly near the ear canal. If prolonged wear and the benefits of an open design are priorities, users may overlook these sonic shortcomings.

The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds are now available in black and white colors for $299.

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