When buying sports headphones, you want a pair that feel comfortable, won’t fall out and sound great on the move. The brilliant Bose Sport earbuds do all this and more — no wonder they’re on our roundup of the best running headphones (opens in new tab).
We were lucky enough to get our hands on a pair and quickly set about putting them to the test in a series of long slogs, sprints, hardcore home workouts, CrossFit WODS and more, to make sure they could handle a full-throttle fitness schedule. And, we’re happy to report, they passed with flying colors.
Their uniquely-shaped StayHear Max silicone earbuds might look strange at first, but they provide a surprisingly good seal. Combined with silicone fins designed to sit against your inner ear, we found they offered a stable fit so the headphones didn’t tumble to the ground during higher impact activities. What’s more, we were pleased to discover the silicone is softer than other models we’ve tried like the JBL Reflect Flow Pros (opens in new tab), so our ears didn’t ache during longer sessions.
Smart enabled/compatibility: Yes
Waterproof: Water resistant, IPX4
Battery life: 5 hours (up to 10 hours with charging case)
OS support: Yes
They made our music sound great too. Bose promises an “acclaimed, lifelike sound”, and we think it delivered, particularly on genres like rock and country. They may not have the same powerful bass as other headphones but anyone who likes to soundtrack their training sessions with guitar and vocal-led tunes will definitely be impressed.
The Bose Sport earbuds lose out on a perfect score because of their lack of Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) — an omission that puts them behind several rivals including the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pros (opens in new tab) — and comparatively poor five-hour battery life. But, if neither of these things are deal breakers for you, then we highly recommend these impressive running headphones.
Price and release date
The Bose Sport earbuds were released in November 2020 and have an MSRP of $179 (or £180 in the UK) on the Bose website. However, they can often be picked up at a lower or discounted rate.
Set-up and design
You can link the Bose Sport earbuds to your phone via Bluetooth and start listening — something we were able to sort in a matter of seconds. However, for a more personalized experience we recommend downloading the sophisticated yet simple Bose Music app. This will give you the opportunity to adjust the touch controls and play with the EQ settings, so you can fine-tune your sound.
You can further personalize the headphones by switching out the silicone earbuds and wings, with a selection of three easily interchangeable sizes to choose from.
We were big fans of the app, which put everything we needed at our fingertips without overcomplicating things, and being able to pick the right silicone tips for our ears ensured a secure fit.
When it comes to the design, Bose’s signature clean aesthetic again came to the fore. The earbuds feel premium, with matt gray frames that take a leaf out of Batman’s lookbook. We found the umbrella-shaped StayHear Max silicone tips and fins were comfortable yet effective at preventing the headphones from falling out while running, and the compact case can easily slip into a pocket thanks to its slim profile.
The frames are on the chunky side, protruding from our ears more than some of the smaller earbuds we’ve tried, like the Adidas FWD-02 Sports. But we were still able to take our sweatshirt off without the neckline knocking them loose — a common conundrum among true wireless buds.
The Bose Sport’s intuitive touch controls are among the best we’ve encountered. There’s no single tap option, minimizing the risk of accidentally pausing a song just as it approaches the drop. Instead, you double tap the right earbud to start or stop your music, and you can customize the double tap control for your left earbud — just use the app to assign it to open and start playing a suggested Spotify playlist, check the earbud's battery level or skip a track.
You can also adjust the volume by swiping up or down on the frame, and answer calls with a couple of taps too. So, there’s no need to fish your phone out of your pocket and disrupt your run.
We found the Bose Sport earbuds excelled when it came to their fit. Rather than the circular silicone earbuds we’re used to, they feature unique StayHear Max tips which are more ovular. These are intended to provide a good fit and seal, and we found they achieved this with aplomb.
They also have silicone fins attached to the tips that sit against the inside of the ear. After putting the buds in place and twisting them so the fins sat flush against our ears, we found these offered a really safe fit that was unmoving throughout every form of exercise we tried.
The silicone used to make the fins is also softer than many of their rivals too, so we were able to wear them for longer without our ears beginning to ache.
When setting them up, we would recommend using the Bose Music app’s “Fit Check” section. This won’t actively tell you which of the three sizes of silicone tips are the best fit for you, but it will describe how they should feel to help you select the right ones.
On its website, Bose claims these headphones’ lifelike sound will make it feel like your favorite musicians are performing in front of you. This may be somewhat hyperbolic, but we found the balanced, detailed sound is incredibly accessible and enjoyable, even when we were moving at speed.
EDM fans wanting bone-rattling bass may need headphones with slightly more oomph, like the Adidas FWD-02, but we found the Bose Sports were excellent when it came to neutral sounds, doing justice to our favorite vocal and instrumental-led tracks.
The Bose Sport earbuds tick nearly every box a great pair of running headphones should. Their silicone tips and fins offer a secure fit that won’t let you down when sprinting, they’re comfortable enough to be worn for longer workouts without causing your ears any discomfort, and we loved the brilliantly rich, detailed sound.
The lack of ANC is a disappointment as it means you can’t drown out distracting sounds during runs and gym trips, and the five-hour battery life is just over half that of many competitors, meaning these won’t satisfy many marathon runners and other endurance athletes.
However, if you’re looking for a pair of headphones that will make your music sound fantastic throughout a varied fitness routine these headphones are a fantastic choice.
Beats Powerbeats Pro (opens in new tab)
The Bose Sport’s battery life is one of the few black marks against its name. If you’re an endurance athlete looking for a secure, comfortable set of earbuds that won’t let you down, hour after hour, then look no further than the Beats Powerbeats Pro. We found the soft, flexible plastic hooks did a great job of keeping them in place, and their nine hours of playback time (boosted to 24 hours with the portable charging case) is enough for most sporting endeavors.
Mifo O5 Plus (opens in new tab)
Or, if you want some quality ear candy without paying through the nose, the Mifo O5 Plus earbuds are a great option. They look the part with a classy chrome finish, fit like a glove, and you can pick up a pair for under $100.