Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review

Dares to be different

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review

In today’s age where most electronics or gadgets look largely similar, even the smallest of innovations tend to stand out. And that’s not only because they look different, but also because a brand has dared to take a different path. One such brand is Bose, which recently launched its unique looking Ultra Open earbuds.

This is by no means the first-ever open earbuds or for that matter Bose’s attempt at such a design – remember the Bose Sport Open? But these new earbuds feel more than just a gimmick. Having spent the past few days extensively using it, here’s our Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds design

Let’s begin with what’s the most obvious talking point – the Ultra Open’s design. It features a cuff-like design that makes it look more like an ear accessory worn by goth teenagers than a pair of TWS. Instead of being plugged into your ear canal, these earbuds rest on your outer ears.

ALSO READ: Bose Ultra Open earbuds launched in India with a unique open ear design

The buds are built using soft silicone, and they have two parts joined by a flexible rubber band. The inner piece sits near the ear canal and using Bose’s OpenAudio technology, directs the sound towards your ears. The outer piece, on the other hand, houses the battery, antenna, and the playback controls.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review

You essentially put the barrel on the back of your ear and then wrap the rubber part around the side of your ear with the driver element placed over the opening of your ear canal. The design is not as complicated as it sounds. While at first it felt like I was putting on a pair of earrings, after a couple of times, wearing it became second nature.

The open and lightweight design makes the buds comfortable to wear for long hours. During a recent work trip, I put on the buds when travelling to the Mumbai airport and didn’t remove them till I had landed in Delhi. At no point was there any discomfort or fatigue. I’ve even worn the earbuds in office all day and barring the frequent requests from colleagues to try them out, there was no reason to remove them.

The design and IPX4 rating also make the Ultra Open useful in gyms. Whether I was running on the treadmill or jumping around during an intense functional workout, the buds didn’t pop out even once. Needless to say, the buds stay true to Bose’s claims of providing an all-day comfort.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds audio performance

When it comes to sound, Bose’s earbuds tend to surprise you. For an audio product with an open design and the way it sits in your ears, it has no right to sound this good. You get rich sound from the buds with an impressive level of clarity, which is quickly evident when listening to the latest Bollywood tracks or a soulful track from the latest Coke Studio album. With its OpenAudio technology, Bose has done a great job in beaming sound to your ears with precision.

That said, it is this design that also limits the performance levels of the buds. The sound lacks depth and bass just about makes its presence felt in the songs you listen to. We’re not saying that it is absent, but if you’re expecting a thump in Gustavo Bravetti’s Babel, you’ll be left feeling underwhelmed.

Bose has also included Immersive Audio feature, which we saw on the QuietComfort Ultra headphones. And the performance continues to be a hit and miss. In some music tracks, you can really feel the depth and the sound moving with you as you turn your head around. But on some tracks, the experience is not so seamless.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review

Unlike the QuietComfort series that isolate you from the world, the Ultra Open earbuds open you to your surroundings. Whether you’re in an office space or in a café, you will be able to listen to your music while being aware of what’s around you. For most parts, this works similar to the Transparency mode on other contemporary audio products and is particularly helpful when you’re walking down a crowded street or in office.

But when you’re in a loud environment, the earbuds tend to struggle a bit. During a recent flight, the noise of the engine and a crying baby in the front row often overpowered the buds. Despite the volume levels being above 85 per cent, the surrounding noise crept in affecting the listening experience. Throughout the two-hour flight, I missed my Bose NCH700 headphones and its blissful noise cancelling capabilities.

Then there are a couple of missing features, which should ideally be staple for a product at this price. For one, there’s no wireless charging, which is something being offered with products at far lower price segments.

Then there’s a lack of multipoint connectivity. In today’s world, where people use multiple devices simultaneously, you would expect your earbuds or headphones to seamlessly switch between devices. Don’t get me wrong, the Bose earbuds can be connected to multiple devices and can switch between them – but manually.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review

Unboxed take: Who should buy the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds?

At Rs 25,990, the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds are by no means affordable. But at this price tag, what you do get is a design that is unlike anything in the market, all-day comfort, and sound that surprises you. If you’re on the lookout for something unique with the reliability of Bose, and do not like pushing a rubber-tipped earbud down your ear canal, then the Ultra Open are for you.

But others are likely to point to the missing features, and better audio performance with noise cancellation from Bose’s own QuietComfort Ultra earbuds, and rivals like Apple AirPods Pro (2nd gen), and the Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbuds to name a few.

For this reason, we rate the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds 3.5/5. Stay tuned to Unboxed by Croma for more in-depth reviews.

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