Bose Hearphones Review

Ewan Grantham
Sep 16, 2017 · 5 min read
Hearphones Box — Front

Let’s start with the fact these are a royal pain to purchase. Right now (Sept 2017) your choices are to go to one of the few Bose stores that have them in stock or to order online. Online store is rudimentary, and the free shipping takes forever. A couple days after the initial deadline I was finally able to get the attention of Bose and UPS, and it still took another two days to find them and get them to me.

Open Box with Hearphones

As the open box shows, these are packaged reasonably well, and look like dead ringers for the QC-30 headset with the exception of the color of the outside of the buds. The controls are similar too, although they are mapped differently. One could imagine that the QC-35 could get a firmware push and then be capable of much the same features as these. But then Bose might have more trouble charging the $100 premium for them.

Out of the box you get an almost comically short charging cable (no AC adapter as they presume you already have a USB charger), a carrying case (roundish with a zipper and slightly hard), and three sets of “StayHear” tips. Since these are designed to be worn all day long, you will want to spend some time playing with these to make sure you can find the combination that fits fully, but not too tightly. In the box the Medium tips are already attached. Like many folks you will probably find that one ear or the other needs a different size. They aren’t too hard to replace, although it is also clear that Bose has not spent time with folks with older eyes and older hands who could possibly use a bit more help — which is a bit disappointing considering the target audience.

The Hearphones themselves have some push controls that are again a bit harder to operate than they could (should?) be, and the cover for the charging port tempts you to tear it off every time you spend a couple minutes trying to get it open.

Once you have gotten through all that, it’s time to install the Bose Hear app on your phone. While the Hearphones will let you set mode and volume on the headphones directly, you can’t tune the mode without the app. And the defaults for the modes tend to be on the high trebble and medium volume sides. You can see more at:

As this shows, you have a choice of Directed (essentially what is right in front of you), Front (anything that isn’t behind you — so “wider” than directed) and Everywhere (enhance all noise/voice).

Do these work? Basically yes. But each mode requires a fair bit of tuning to sound right. Talking with my SO with the default settings made it easier to hear the speech, but made it sound like it was so processed I was actually on a call. Enhancing the bass helps, but I would have expected some thought into how human voice works for a device that is just one step below a hearing aid.

Bluetooth connectivity is about par for the course, and is one of the things that gives the Hearphones an edge over the $2K or more hearing aids that are out there. It is possible (though requires some more fiddling) to have some music playing lightly in the background while still hearing the conversations around you, and to take a call with just a simple tap.

Fully recharged, you should be able to get through a full day at work without having to take them off. Of course this presumes your office computer has bluetooth or you are allowed to add a bluetooth dongle (another $15-$20 cost). Caught myself at one point forgetting to remove the ear buds first and trying to get my headset on for a Skype call over them… and of course that doesn’t work.

Charging at the end of the day

Bottom Line —

If you are buying these just for their NC and music abilities you are paying WAY too much. Regardless of Bose’s PR material, these are inexpensive hearing aids that have bluetooth capability. If you have minimal to medium levels of hearing loss, then the $499 price (as of Sept 2017) is not that much more than you would pay for the visits to get your hearing checked and for the audiologist to adjust some much more expensive hearing aids to suit you. However, that means YOU are having to do the adjustments, and the app currently adjusts volumes for both ears together. IOW, you can’t set one ear to a different volume than the other. Since this uses a rechargeable battery (part of the reason for the collar) you will obviously save on the cost of hearing aid batteries.

Long story short, if you think you could use a bit of help with your hearing, and could use a new pair of headphones anyway, this is probably your best bet for now. Most of the competing “non hearing aid, hearing aids” (such as the Hear Now or the Bragi’s) will not get you through a full day without taking a break for charging.

I am still tempted to take advantage of the 30-day refund policy, but these work just well enough that so far I haven’t. Buy them if these sound like they will help, but hold onto the box, just in case.

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