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This article was published on January 6, 2021


Bose’s new earbuds sit… above your gaping sound holes?

Sticking less stuff inside you body since 2021

Bose’s new earbuds sit… above your gaping sound holes?
Callum Booth
Story by

Callum Booth

Editor of Plugged by TNW

Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He w Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He writes about gear, gadgets, and apps — with a particular focus on Apple — and also makes the occasional odd video. Basically, he's halfway between an abrasive gadget nerd and thinky art boy.

Ahh, the wild world of earbuds. Just when you think we’re all on the same page and agree the headphones should go in your ears, Bose comes along and makes a pair that… sits above them? This really is too much for this time of year.

Anyway, they’re called the Sport Open Earbuds and are a pair of wireless, uh, earbuds, designed for, um, sport. And they’re open.

What this actually means is Bose‘s new earbuds dispense with the rubber tip you normally find on these devices. Instead, the Sport Open Earbuds use a “contoured earhook” that grasp your sound flaps’ outer ridge. According to the company, this is all achieved with “virtually no skin contact.”

Sounds a lot like life during lockdown.

Bose's new earbuds open sport earbuds side view
The somewhat disconcerting noise-making side of Bose’s new earbuds. They make me shudder.

It’s important to note that Bose‘s new earbuds don’t work via bone conduction. The Sport Open Earbuds use a “tiny dipole transducer” that is meant to deliver pristine sound near the ear, yet doesn’t travel much beyond it. One assumes this will work in a similar way to the Bose Frames.

The question though is… why? Why release headphones like this?

Once you get over the initial surprise, Bose‘s new earbuds do have an exploitable niche. First off, having little bits of rubber in your ears isn’t always particularly comfortable — especially if you’re exercising intently. Sometimes, I just want my ears to breathe. The Sport Open Earbuds can solve this.

Then there are exercises where blocking out noise from the world isn’t exactly a great idea. No one wants to be running along a road at night without being able to hear a damn thing. Unless that’s your kink, then more power to you, friend.

Bose's new earbuds open sport earbuds side view case
Hope it’s just the image, but the texture of the case’s insides is making my skin crawl.

Before we go, let’s talk a little about specs. One downside of Bose‘s new earbuds are their bulkiness. The company says they measure 48mm by 55mm and each bud weighs a “mere” 14g. For some perspective, the AirPods Pro measure 21.8mm by 30.9mm and weigh 5.4g per bud.

There may be some benefits to this though. The AirPods Pro deliver 4.5 hours of listening time on a single charge, while the Sport Open Earbuds are claimed to have 8. I guess it’s all down to whether you’re happy to take some extra weight for added juice.

Basically, I’m intrigued and excited by these things — and can’t wait to get them on my sound flaps.

Bose‘s new earbuds will set you back $200 and will ship sometime in January. If you’re interested, you can get them here.


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