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Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-ear headphones Review
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Review

Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-ear headphones Review

by 2015/11/05
Overview
Price

$149 on Amazon

Product Name

Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-ear headphones

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

Rating
Our Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
Sound Quality
56%
68%
Appearance
90%
73%
Worth it?
50%
74%
Ease of Use
89%
78%
Hardware
60%
75%
Features
50%
71%
Bottom Line

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.

66%
Our Rating
73%
User Rating
89 ratings
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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. Let us find out how they compare with the last year’s model.

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.

Related: Bose Soundtrue In-ear Headphones Review

Bose Soundtrue Ultra In-ear Headphones Case

Bose Soundtrue Ultra In-ear Headphones With Case

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.

Related: Best Bose Earphones: Buyer’s Guide

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.

Related: Bose Soundtrue vs Soundsport review

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.

United States: Target, Amazon, Newegg

United Kingdom: JohnLewis, Argos, Selfridges

International: Nordstrom, Ebay, BHphotovideo

It blocks out noise so well I found my self yelling when talking to people because I could barely hear my own voice

I dont know if its just me but i think the old Bose IE2s sounded better

The cords are stiff, so for using these while running, there's a constant "banging" occurring.

They don't sound that good as described. As least not that better than previous models.

 

  • 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
What's your reaction?
Thumbs Up
11%
Hype!
9%
Funny
11%
Cool
11%
Boring
6%
Rubbish
9%
Upsetting
43%
About The Author
Salil Tembe

Salil is an electronics engineer who loves to play around with the technology. He has a passion for expressing his love for technology through writing. Also, he firmly stands for open sourcing everything that makes our lives better, so that it can get even better.

  • Carol francis
    2016/01/30 at 6:18 pm
    Positives

    Cool and worth

    Negatives

    Bass is little flat

    Rating
    Sound Quality96%
    Appearance100%
    Worth it?83%
    Ease of Use100%
    Hardware100%
    Features92%

    Bass is little flat but not bad

  • Champz Franz
    2016/02/04 at 8:44 am
    Positives

    Looking good
    Great sound

    Negatives

    Lots of "banging" noise when touching the headset.

    Rating
    Sound Quality74%
    Appearance85%
    Worth it?60%
    Ease of Use83%
    Hardware91%
    Features67%

    Bass could be better but the sound is good anyway

  • timothy
    2016/05/07 at 6:42 pm
    Positives

    excellent sound

    Negatives

    wires don't feel durable

    Rating
    Sound Quality100%
    Appearance80%
    Worth it?100%
    Ease of Use70%
    Hardware70%
    Features100%

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

  • Matt
    2016/07/27 at 7:23 pm
    Positives

    Great Sound, Really comfortable, Fit ensures effective noise blocking

    Negatives

    Could be a bit louder

    Rating
    Sound Quality90%
    Appearance90%
    Worth it?85%
    Ease of Use95%
    Hardware75%
    Features90%

    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!

    • Stephen Charlton
      2016/08/01 at 4:26 pm

      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.

  • skris88
    2016/08/27 at 4:02 pm
    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.

    Rating
    Sound Quality100%
    Appearance50%
    Worth it?75%
    Ease of Use50%
    Hardware50%
    Features50%

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

  • Jose C.
    2017/06/28 at 9:32 pm
    Positives

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

    Rating
    Sound Quality100%
    Appearance100%
    Worth it?71%
    Ease of Use100%
    Hardware89%
    Features100%

    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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