BOSE Earbuds Get Tough

BOSE IS ON a bit of a roll. Having recently launched the flatscreen TV audio-enhancing Solo speaker unit (see my earlier review), Bose have also launched a rather spiffing range of ear buds aimed at sporty types.

Branded with the consumer-friendly model name of SIE2 and SIE2i (does someone at BOSE have a Star Wars fetish?), BOSE claims these cans are not only able to deliver high-quality audio, but add stability, sweat-and water-resistance and durability to the pot. By now you’ve probably guessed that I am about as sporty as a bag of chips and a pint, but having received these bad boys I was pretty determined to test them out, even if it meant working up a sweat in the process.

Sporting a standard 3.5mm plug configuration, the SIE2 buds can be used with virtually any audio player, while the SIE2i sport headphones not only sound like a droid from Star Wars but are designed for use with Apple gear. As you’d expect, the SIE2i’s sport an in-line remote and microphone so you can adjust volume, skip, play and pause music and take or make calls.

According to the marketing bumpf BOSE also supplied, the SIE2 and SIE2i headphones feature what the company has branded TriPort Acoustic Technology, which they say ensures that “audio is reproduced with full, balanced sound”. BOSE also go to some pains to explain that there is no manufactured “boost” across the frequency range.

Having heard my fair share of hype and marketing speak around headphones and speakers, I’ve long been a firm adherent of the “hearing is believing” school of audio, and in this regard the SIE2i’s didn’t disappoint. Where a lot of ear buds tend to reproduce shrill and sonically fatiguing audio, the BOSE buds delivered a surprisingly life-like solid sound that only got better throughout the course of the week as their tiny drivers were gradually broken in.

BOSE also say “they were rigorously tested to ensure they could withstand the most intense workouts, indoors or outdoors”, and if you’re a sports billy then I’d like to hear your verdict. For me, they worked really well walking down a Wellington street head-first into a gale-force southerly, complete with drenching rain. The headphones survived, and the amount of wind noise was also pleasingly kept to a minimum.

Having heard from friends who’d trashed umpteen headphones at the gym, I was also relieved to see that BOSE had placed some emphasis on durable cable construction (which is somewhat of a blindspot that a good number of headphone makers overlook at their peril). The acoustic ports on these sporty buds is also positioned to resist sweat and water and is covered with a hydrophobic cloth to keep moisture out while letting sound pass through (making them ideal for Wellington’s so called spring and summer). Adding to their toughness cred, the SIE2i headphones also have watertight button housings.

Perhaps their most distinctive feature however, is what BOSE call StayHear tips (who comes up with these brandnames?). Bizarre branding aside, these silicon tips sit and conform to the ear’s shape, keeping the buds in place while in the throes of vigorous activities (such as knocking back a pint and scoffing some chips, in my case).

The StayHear tips sounded like something a canine obedience trainer would tell dog owners, but the Bose buds performed as advertised, staying snugly put even if I was running for a bus or tilting my head back to wring that extra bit of goodness out of an extra large pint of Tuatara.

Handily, the new buds are also going to be hard to lose thanks to them being available in a brilliant green-on-white design for $199 (the new SIE2i headphones are also available in orange-on-white and will lighten your pockets to the tune of $269). PAT PILCHER

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