Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-ear headphones Review

In-line Controls Soundtrue Ultra
Bose SoundTrue Ultra With In-line Controls
Reader Rating110 Votes
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Bose released the SoundTrue ear phones last year and they have been a big hit because of two reasons. First, they had almost a natural audio response and second, they did not feel like you have stuffed cotton balls in your ear holes, they felt comfortable because of the StayHear tips. This year, Bose has come out with SoundTrue Ultra in-ear headphones which were released in the month of September. In case you are interested in a more sports friendly pair of earphones, you can read the Bose Freestyle review.

Build

The most noticeable difference in comparison to the previous versions comes with the physical design. You will find the ear tips are a hybrid of the 2014 SoundTrue in-ears and the standard ear tips that plug in your ear. The shark fin design really ensures a firm fit while ear piece sits gently in your ears. The 2014 SoundTrue did not have the tips that sealed the ear canals well. They just sat there and let all the weight go on the shark fins. There was some issues with noise isolation which seems to be eliminated with this year’s release and now they call those improved tips “StayHear Ultra” but its simply a rebranding of “StayHear+” that come with the original QC20 noise cancelling earphones. You also get an extra pair of small and large StayHear Ultra ear tips with the package.

Another noticeable difference is the point where the left and right cables split from the main cable. That junction was designed to be a simple on the last years design. With the SoundTrue Ultra, Bose has made this junction to have a ‘T’ shape. Users have already complained about this design because there is no firm support at the point where cables split. It just makes this joint more prone to internal breaks. Even I would prefer the simple junction design rather than the ‘T’ shaped split. Speaking of joints, the headphone jack is a straight design and does not have an elbow.

Bose Soundtrue Ultra T Cable
Bose Soundtrue Ultra In-ear T Cable

The cables have no difference in comparison to last years model. They are thin yet feel strong enough to last a long time. Again, they are not the non-tangling cables that we all get these days. Bose has claimed that apart from the mentioned physical differences, SoundTrue ultra now offers more resistance to sweat and water. However we can’t find any information that says what IPX rating they are.

Bose Soundtrue Ultra In-ear Headphones Accessories
Bose Soundtrue Ultra Accessories

The package also comes with a carry case, which may appear a little bit smaller than the one came with previous model. The case is quite stiff although it does not seem to be made from a hardshell material, but be assured that it won’t bend and damage the contents inside.

Sound Performance

The original Bose SoundTrue offered respectable audio performance to please enough audiophiles around the world. I, personally do not find any significant flaws in the last year’s model taking into account the sound performance. Even though the noise isolation was not great it still managed to make a lot of users happy. With the Ultras, Bose seemed to have focused entirely on the physical aspects of the earphones whilst paying very little attention on improving sound quality. That raises the question of whether the 2015 model is really worth buying.

The sound coming out is definitely quite clear but there is a lack of bass on the Ultra model. Mids and the highs remain balanced and warm. The noticeable clarity becomes very pleasing while watching movies on a phone because the human dialogs stand out but the lack of balanced bass is enough to spoil the experience. Not that this will be of any importance to an average user, but considering the fact that Bose has an audiophile consumer base, this is indeed raising concerns for potential buyers.

Bose Soundtrue Ultra Earbuds
Bose Soundtrue Ultra Earbuds Close Up

An ideal bass should be inline with all the other frequencies. It should sound punchy and give a feeling of depth. The SoundTrue ultra earphones would definitely fail at keeping your expectations. If you are thinking of making a move from the 2014 model to 2015 model, you are better off buying another 2014 SoundTrue for $89 and putting on StayHear Ultra ear tips over it.

Another annoyance that becomes significant if you love running and working out while wearing earphones is the cable noise. The tapping noise that occurs due to cable brushing against your body is very significant on the Ultras. Some users even heard their own breathing become significantly louder when they wore the earphones. So, being water and sweat resistant is of no use if you cannot wear them while working out or while running. I believe that this noise became significant because of the tight seal made by the StayHear Ultra tips.

Conclusion

Bose has made a disappointing product by focusing solely on physical design and not really getting the audio right, not that the audio is altogether poor but considering the price we are paying for it, they should have offered a balanced if not near balanced audio response, something that Bose is known for. They could have even slapped in the same drivers used on older model and that would have made this product better.

The Bose QuietComfort 20 earphones review looks at extra features such as active noise cancellation. The magic being, ANC blocks unwanted background noise electronically, the Soundtrue Ultra in-ears don’t have this feature!

Specifications

  • SoundTrue® Ultra headphones (including cable and StayHear® tips):48″ L (0.63 lbs)
  • StayHear® Ultra tips:1.25″ H x 1″ W x 0.5″ D
  • Clothing clip:1″ H x 0.25″ W x 0.5″ D
  • Case:3.55″ H x 2.7″ W x 0.9″ D
  • SoundTrue® Ultra in-ear headphones (Samsung & Android)
  • 3 pairs StayHear Ultra tips (S, M, L)
  • Carrying case
  • Clothing clip

 

In-line Controls Soundtrue Ultra
Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-ear headphones
Conclusion
If you are thinking of making a move from 2014 model to 2015 model, you are better off buying another 2014 SoundTrue for $89 and putting on StayHear+ ear tips.
Sound quality
56
Appearance
90
Worth it?
50
Hardware
60
Features
50
Reader Rating110 Votes
72
Positives
Water and sweat resistant
Improved noise isolation
Comfortable ear tips
Negatives
Bass is weak
Headphone jack does not have elbow for strength
L/R cable redesigned junction prone to internal breaks
Does not come with non-tangling cables
Cable tapping noise is significant
61
Purchase Online
  1. Positives: Cool and worthNegatives: Bass is little flat

    78

    Bass is little flat but not bad

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  2. Positives: Looking good
    Great sound
    Negatives: Lots of "banging" noise when touching the headset.

    62

    Bass could be better but the sound is good anyway

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  3. Positives: excellent soundNegatives: wires don't feel durable

    75

    for those complaining about the bass, just use a goddamn equalizer !!

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  4. Positives: Great Sound, Really comfortable, Fit ensures effective noise blockingNegatives: Could be a bit louder

    71

    I’ve been reading a lot of reviews on these and a common complaint has been that the base is bad. It’s not at all. When I first got these I thought the base was horrible as well, but I quickly learned that the base sounded bad because I didn’t have them fitted properly in my ears. When you do this, they sound AMAZING! First, make sure you have the right size tips for your ears. Bose supplies you with different sizes in the box. Second, place the earphones over your ear opening and push them while at the same time turning slightly to form a seal, ensuring that the tip rests securely in the crevice of just above the ear canal. You’ll know you have them fitted properly if it sounds like you have earplugs in when not playing music. Trust me they sound great and the bass is awesome!

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    1. I think you’re on the money there. I agree the bass isn’t underpowered when you get the right fit. The bass isn’t as prominent as a lot of earphones these days, but then again a lot of modern earphones completely overpower the bass, so maybe a sensibly EQed earphone sounds like it hasn’t got enough bass to some people used to bass-boosted earphones.

  5. Positives: Rare flat frequency response.

    Amazing sound.

    If you don't want bloated and early rolled off bass, or spiky treble - these are the personal transducers to get. Negatives: Cable noise.

    54

    My 1st IEMs, after many, many years of searching!

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  6. Positives: Replaced original ear tips from my Bose SoundSport with the purchase of the Ultra ear tips.

    76

    I purchased the Bose SoundSport earphones during Black Friday of last year. Up to that point, I was satisfied even with the ear tips just sitting just outside the ear canal. Don’t get me wrong. Even at that, the sound was great; bass and treble was sufficient. I came upon the Ultra ear tips and saw the added flange tip. Once I replaced the tips, it was literally night and day. Well above noise isolation, the improvements was a welcome delight. Both ear buds stayed in place while at the gym. But the Ultra face a more concert hearing from the classics thru rock and easy listening.

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  7. Positives: flat response deep linear bass range no peaks in the whole audii range. silky highs and tailored mids. good isolation. very comfortable in ear. they stay firmly in place.Negatives: stiff cable trasmits handling noise to transducers. sealing is tight you listen your footsteps rumble. not good for gym! good for travel instead.

    75

    my 1st choice at this price and till 200 euros

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