Most athletic earphones work fine for everyday tasks, but everyday earphones usually aren’t suited to athletics. Working out or playing sports takes a heavy toll on them. Moisture from rain, mud, or sweat can fry their delicate electronics. Even cleaning them can be risky after sweaty workouts if they’re not water-resistant. For that matter, everyday earbuds usually aren’t designed to handle the vibration and jostling inflicted on them by joggers.

Bose’s SoundSport Wireless Bluetooth Headphones are designed to tackle those athletic challenges and they handle themselves well. They’re resistant to the elements, they stay secure in your ears, and I even like their sound. Unfortunately, a handful of minor flaws hinder their potential.

Design

Much like Bose’s excellent SoundSport Free true wireless earphones, the battery and the bulk of the electronics are stuffed in pods inside the endcaps of each earbud. This design comes with a number of pros and cons.

On the plus side, having all these guts packed into the pods rather than inline on the pods’ connective cable means that they feel balanced and don’t bounce around when I’m exercising. This also eliminates much of the microphonics I come across while testing other in-ear headphones. On the downside, this design makes the pods noticeably larger and heavier than what you’ll see from most competing Bluetooth earbuds. If your fashion sensibility leans toward clean-lined minimalism, these earbuds aren’t for you.
bose soundsport wireless headphones 2Bose
And with colors like that, Bose is going to make sure people see you wearing them.

Bose compensates for the potential discomfort of that heft and weight with its incredibly comfortable StayHear+ ear tips. The tips are made from a single piece of silicone and come in three sizes, and they’re designed to ride loosely on the ear’s auricle, just outside of the auditory canal.

Since they’re not tightly squeezed into the ear canal, though, they only serve up a small degree of passive noise cancellation. You wouldn’t want them if you’re seeking a sublime auditory experience, in other words, but their ability to allow outside noise while channeling the sound from your audio source allows for increased situational awareness. This makes them wonderful for gym-goers, joggers, or cyclists.

As we’ve come to expect from Bose’s other in-ear products, the headset’s volume, multi-function button, and microphone are baked into a lightweight in-line pod that hangs about an inch and a half below the right ear. The microphones in the pod provided clear call quality, and people I chatted with on the phone and through Skype said the mic provided decent audio voice quality while limiting environmental noise.

These headphones also have an IPX rating of 4, which means they can handle a bit of rain or sweat, but you wouldn’t want to throw them in the pool. If you finding yourself having to hose down both yourself and your gear after a workout, you should consider Jaybird’s completely waterproof X4 earphones instead.