The new (2020) Bose Frames Tempo : Setup and Review

A short unboxing, review, thoughts and comparison to the previous generation Bose Frames Alto.

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I ordered the new Frames Tempo along with its three accompanying lenses. The Tempo is one of three new frames introduced this year. The other two — Tenor and Soprano are for comfort wearing (upgrades to the previous gen Alto and Rondo). I got the Tempo since I already have the Alto and could use the Tempo for outdoor activities like cycling/hiking. And also, Tempo supposedly has better drivers than the other two, so you could hear the music better during cycling/running. I also got the three accompanying lenses which serve different purposes.

Unboxing

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In the box you find the following:

  1. Frames with their default black polarized lenses
  2. Carrying case
  3. Cleaning cloth
  4. USB-A to USB-C charging cable
  5. Documentation

Setup

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Setup was easy, you press the power button and it shows up in the Bose Music App. The previous generation Bose Alto still connects to the older Bose Connect app. Bose doesn’t do a good job in having a unifying software ecosystem for their products.

Once in the app, it will tell you how to try the different nose tips for finding the best fit. The default ones are size 2, I found the fit slightly better with size 1.

Background

So if you’re completely new to the Bose Frames — they were introduced back in January 2019.

I was immediately impressed by the product. I loved the concept of open audio where you can still hear everything happening around you. It’s great for taking calls, using the voice assistant and for putting some ambient music in your world. Of course, the sound wasn’t anywhere close to in-ear headphones but I wasn’t disappointed! The build and looks were not bad either.

I was pretty excited by the news of Bose coming up with the next generation of these frames. Once I saw their lineup, I knew I had to get the sport version. I actually have used the Bose Alto twice before for biking, it’s not a snug fit at all but it managed to stay and the helmet straps helped. But I didn’t like that experience.

Sound Quality

Imagine placing your mobile phone’s speakers close to your ears — the Bose Frames try to be the best at that. So, naturally, you do suffer from getting the high clarity and power in your ears. But it’s surprisingly pleasant to listen to these! I often love having some melodic and less demanding songs, like old rock or classical. That being said, I enjoy the heavy pop song variety as well. These frames carry a lot of the Bose sound signature from the previous gen.

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The new frames Tempo alongside the previous generation Alto

The Tempo definitely sounds a bit richer than the previous gen. Alto, and the bass response is improved — but don’t expect anything thumping. All things considered, it’s not a radical improvement over the previous generation but it’s noticeable.

Controls

Controls are the same as before, a single button for play / pause / next / previous / assistant / taking calls. The two new comfort versions (Tenor and Soprano) now have touch controls, but not the Tempo. I am not complaining with the controls here. And like the previous gen., if you place the frames upside down — it powers off.

Swappable Frames

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I dig this design. The process for swapping the lens was pretty easy. It’s a simple pop-out and pop-in process as shown in the photo here. I never felt any discomfort during the process.

I quickly tried the different frames and was happy with the variety. I am quite sensitive to sunglasses and I often will prefer just being with the naked eye. So I definitely welcome this support for an adjustable range of polarization.

Comfort & Build Quality

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These glasses are comfortable and the build is solid. Compared to the previous gen. Alto, I’d say the build quality has improved. With the previous gen. you can see the wires at front when looking through light. I took the frames with “Road Orange” lenses on a 1.5 hour bike ride on a sunny day, and I found it relaxing. The fit with the Tempo was snug. The frames don’t feel too heavy and I can easily keep it on for hours.

Final Thoughts

The new Frames are the best sounding open-audio frames yet. Use them to interact with your phone or to bring some music to your lonely walks/rides outside! It’s a different type of product from Bose and I think they need to exist. There have been similar alternatives — bone conduction comes to mind. Perhaps the most popular alternative to this is to use in-ear headphones that come with the “ambient sound mode” like AirPods Pro, Sony WF-1000XM3 and many more are starting to exist in the market. The Frames won’t sound as good as these headphones but I use them for a more natural feel and to have one less thing hanging from my ears.

Written by

Software Engineer, Computer Scientist, Music, Technology

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