Update: Our initial review was based on defective headphones. See our updated review here.
Monday was the official street date for the new Bose On-Ear Bluetooth SoundLink headphones arrival, but some stores (such as Fry’s Electronics) have been selling the stereo headset since last Wednesday. We have been testing the headphones out for two days and even though they are better then Bose’s 2013 disaster, known better as the AE2w Bluetooth headphones, there is still some minor disappointment.
First, the sound: We are happy to say that it has improved. In fact, the On-Ear headphones sound almost as good as Bose’s wired headphones. The lows are stronger and the bass is thumping, but warm. The highs are enticing and the mid levels are just about right. The best way to describe the bass is that it kicks you, but with a nice pair of socks. In comparison, the Beats headphones kick you with their bass, but it’s a kick with steel shoes (not that this is a bad thing for many people). Listening to soft EDM music was heavenly with the Bose Bluetooth headphones.
Unfortunately, we used the headphones with two different devices and could hear the skip and scratch sounds that Bluetooth stereo headphones made when they first started becoming available last decade. An update from Bose can possibly fix this. But that isn’t the only problem: The volume still isn’t completely adequate. It’s better than it was on the AE2w headphones, but only slightly so. For most people, the volume will be okay. But without noise cancellation, this will be an issue for some consumers.
Speaking of noise cancellation, it’s disappointing that Bose couldn’t include this feature in their new Bluetooth headphones. Both Sony and Beats have made sure their Bluetooth headsets are filled with noise isolation and it’s a wonder why the always marketing-savvy Bose left this out. The good news is that the cushion pads will already block a lot of noise. Music will often override the outside sounds, but not voice calls, which the headphones are pretty good at.
We like the fact that the Bose On-Ear Bluetooth SoundLink headphones can connect to two devices at once and it’s actually easy to instantly switch devices, but still hear sound out of the headphones. We like the fact that the On-Ear headphones feel so comfortable that even sleeping with them on is a pleasure. However, Bose is known for perfection–take their SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III, for example. The On-Ear Bluetooth SoundLink headphones are good, but don’t represent the perfection we expect from Bose.