Bose In-Ear Headphones Review

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bose-inear-1.jpgThe Bose Company has touted itself as an audio leader for years.  These days you can hardly fly anywhere without seeing the ubiquitous Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones on at least a few of your fellow passengers.  The Bose product line includes far more that just Wave Radios and Noise-Canceling Headphones however.  This review covers their smaller, more affordable In-Ear Headphones.

While not quite on par with their bigger noise-canceling siblings QuietComfort 2 and 3, the lightweight Bose In-Ear Headphones offer excellent sound in a less costly alternative.  Being ear-bud style headphones they cannot come close to the noise canceling ability of the QuietComfort models, but they were not designed to do so.  They do deliver clear crisp sound as long as background noise is not too loud.  As almost all of my listening involves music, I tested these headphones listening to a variety of types of music.  From the violins (and fiddles) in symphonic music (and bluegrass) to the cymbals in jazz, all sounded clear and true.  The bass is not overpowering as I have found with cheaper ear-bud style headphones.  Since I don’t have the ability to change the bass setting on my player this was important to me.

Ear-buds with adapter removed on one earbud

These are by far the most comfortable ear-buds I have ever worn.  They come with soft rubber adapters that fit right over the ear-bud so they fit more precisely in your ear.  Bose offers (and includes) three different sized sets of adapters for different sized ears.  These provide an excellent seal in your ear, but also are the source of my major complaint about these ear-buds.  Even minor movement like walking quickly broke this seal and I found myself constantly pushing them back in my ear.  I finally switched back to my old buds for walking or running.

closeup of ear-bud adapters
Closeup of ear-bud adapters

Bose sends along a very nice leather case in the $90 kit as well.  Unfortunately, it is just a case, and you must jam your iPod and the headphones into it and attempt to close the case without catching the cord in the zipper. If you use a smaller player such as a nano you hardly need a case this large.  I already had a nice case for my iPod and would prefer a case made just for the headphones, such as the one that came with an old pair of Sennheiser ear-buds I used to use.  With that case the headphones wound up into a small hard plastic case which also kept the cords from getting tangled.

If you are looking for comfortable ear-buds with great sound these are a winner.  Unfortunately, it you plan to use them while working out or walking, you may experience the frustration I did with the headphones coming loose and end up switching back to your old ones!


Product Information

Manufacturer:Bose Corporation
  • Comfortable and great sounding
  • Sized ear adapters make for a better fit (while stationary)
  • Ear-bud adapters come loose even with minimal movement
  • Carrying case large and inconvenient

28 thoughts on “Bose In-Ear Headphones Review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. After 6 months (of continually pushing them back in my ear) one of the cables broke (strands inside the insulation) and rendered the pair useless. A common fault I’m told. Not impressed, I’m now on the Etymotics hf5 and much better fit and quality…

  3. I agree with this review: the Bose Ear Buds sound great, but suffer from some ergonomic problems. In addition to the case issues mentioned, the rubbery cord seems to seek out objects with which to get entangled, and the ear-bud adapters also come off the ear buds too easily. For the money, Bose should have included more than one spare pair in each size, although you can order more from the company online. Finally the black-and-white cords look sort of doofy and draw a little more attention to themselves than one would like…

  4. I tried these earbuds shortly after they came out. They just don’t stay firmly inserted in the ear.

    I’ve tried many other in-the-ear products and the Etymotics hf5 are defintely the best. They insert well into the ear and with a bit of moisture (saliva) around the flange, they cut out extreme amounts of noise. They are good enough to wear on the NYC subway and still listen to music without having to crank up of the volume.

    The Etymotics do have a design problem that causes a short where the wire connects to the audio plug. This happens after about 1 year of use.

    But even though my Etymotics fail, I always go back and buy another.

  5. Thanks for the review of these Don. I have been contemplating switching to some ear bud style headphones for awhile now but am wary of getting a set that keep falling out. Could you tell me what type you usually wear? (the ones that you switched back to after testing these?)

  6. I have never really been able to wear in-ear phones before… they’ve always been just a bit too big or something – never stayed in. I’ve been using these for a year and not only am I very impressed with the sound quality, but they’re so comfortable I can wear them all day with no problems. And compared to most Bose products they aren’t ridiculously expensive.

  7. I just change 3 ipod, but I don’t change my bose In-Ear Headphones. When I do sport activity I prefer my Bang & Olufsen Earphones, This is very stable in every position (I use in downHill) but the sound is not the same of bose.

  8. The Bose earphones I purchased come with both good and bad. First, the good. The sound is quite lovely compared to Shure headphones I had recently purchased. It’s full, bright, has a good base, and generally an overall nice level of sound reproduction. However, every time one of my friends wants to listen, they look at the ear pieces strangely and wonder how it fits in their ear. Their concern is only a microcosm of the flawed design of the ear pieces. They are loose, uncomfortable at times, prone to quick dirtying, and the silicon buds come off too easily. However, the real reason I’m writing this review is because of durability. Originally, I had the headsets for about 4 months before one of the headphones completely stopped making sound. Politely, Bose offered to replace them with a new set for me. However, after using the new set for about 5 months, the SAME problem has arisen. Bose will not replace them a second time. Some might say this comes with poor care, but I assure you that I LOVE music and am quite frugal; I can’t spend money on expensive headphones every half of a year. I never wrap them in a coil, smashed them, left them in high or low temperature for any amount of time, twisted them, bite them, pinched them, or ANYTHING. Sure, choose Bose if you like good sound. But be warned: it won’t last nearly as long as other brands (my Shure set lasted me 9 years…).

  9. Hi,

    I have also had many problems with other brand name in ear headphones falling out however i have just got a pair of the bose in ear headphones and they are so good a fit on all the buds provided they sit tight and dont move even when walking.
    I have just one problem though to get the true bose base we all love end enjoy i have to put pressure on them and i shouldnt have to do that really but other than that these are brilliant headphones i would really recomend them. My thoughts are if they made the little canal part that goes in your ear canal just a few mill longerthey would be just fine. Overall though i would recomend these to any audiofile.

  10. Hi
    I had QC2 headphones for about 2 years before it got burgled.
    The performance was amazing for an year and 2nd year of usage was not great. Speaker is gone and it started dying.

    After i lost my QC2, i scaled down myself to Bose in-ear headphones and now it has been about more than a year. I have no compaints about fit. But I am seeing the problem with speaker and performance is not great after an year.

    I cant keep paying huge royalty to Bose. My next head phone will not be bose.

  11. Same issues as the above in general.
    Great sound. For me they are actually very comfortable but the build quality is shocking for such a renowned company.
    Sent back to Dixons twice now after a wire breakdown and loss of sound in one ear. Only ever treated very carefully…they just don’t last for daily use. Cord is a silly colour scheme and a sticky rubbery material. Buds com off all the time!
    What a shame…..had hoped that this present to myself would have lasted a lot longer.
    If you want durability rule these out. Sorry.

  12. I have purchased these Bose Earbuds about 3 years ago for about $90. So far, I have called Bose customer service for about 4 times to replace about 1 earbuds per year due its malfunctions. The first one was replaced after 4months of its purchased date due to plastic part of one earbuds came apart and I couldn’t fix it myself with super glue and I have called and they have kindly replaced them with new ones. Second one failed about 8 months later its replacement. One side of earbud stopped playing music. Third one i can’t really remember why I had to called in to replace but at this point, I was pretty upset and felt this product did not deserve to have be one of Bose product. I have spoken with a customer service about 40 min of how I really don’t need another replacement but I want a full explanation to why my earphones are keep failing to perform. They couldn’t provide this information from my last 3 different purchases and I also challenged them that whether or not my replacement were really brand new or refurbished products. The customer service representative kindly informed me that Bose R&D have currently improved its product of Bose Earbuds, and assured me how these will be different.

    Believe or not, before this customer service representative, I did have a bad customer service experience with Bose when I called. All of my calls were made within the time frame of their product warranty (1year) . Previously, one of customer representative accused me of stepping on my earbuds or smashing them because I have keep sending back their product. All of those products I have sent back were for different malfunction, not a single time they were for same reason which could lead to my fault of mishandling the product. If that was the case, I would have to re-evaluate how I handle this product. I felt very insulted by this and wrote a two pg long letter to the corporate office. If I am paying for $90 for an earbuds, I want them to serve me at least 2 years or so.

  13. Indeed.. Mine only lasted me barely over a year! For such bad quality product, it definitely did not justify the price tag.

    First you need to be extra careful with the buds – before you realize it you’ll be left with just 3 buds – one of each size.

    Next, if you intend to bring these for jogs – don’t even bother. I got more worked up constantly putting them back into my ear every few steps.

    And more recently, just a few weeks past the 1 year warranty, the cables pretty much started disintegrating. Small cuts started appearing on the rubber for no apparent reason (weather?? humidity??), leaving various little parts of the wires exposed throughout the entire cable.

    To think that I paid AUD$149 for these!

  14. Like Chirin the rubber on my pair of headphones began to come off. This left a lot of the wire exposed. I am greatly disappointed with this product. It is a shame because Bose is usually known for pretty good quality.

  15. I agree with GABRIEL ON HIS REVIEW. Bose In eaphones provide good sound but the problem is the earplugs just won’t fit well. It falls off for every move. and After using it for 3 months the right earplug just won’t produce a sound. Sad 🙁 I’m thinking of switching brands but i don’t know what to buy. I’m not a fan of those bulky headphones since i usually use it on sport activities and in while on mobile. I really don’t know what to buy.

  16. I made a review when i got my earphones on December 25, 2009 at 12:09 pm in here and i’d like to update on that.

    When i first got the earphones i was very happy at the sound and comfort. However now im not happy at all. i constantly have to hold both buds in to get a nice sound. Because i have had to hold them in the canals on the buds have wore out so theres barly anything to go in my ear bud now.

    I was also told by Bose that if i regestered the serail number with bose then they would ship out a full spare set of buds free!! But i never got anything! For what i payed for them im not happy at all considdering my old samsung mobile phone headphones which was BOSE was far better. such a shame i sold them after getting my new ones.
    Overall i would not recommend these to anybody as the sounds now very bad and they have been used for about half hour a day and put back in the pack they came in.

  17. I was given a set of these a few months ago, and I’ve had none of the typical complaints. They fit well in my ear, don’t fall out or come loose when I’m running and although I’m no audiophile, the sound quality and bass is very good.

    Only real complaint I have is that the silicone earbuds tend to pick up lint when the headphones are jammed in a pocket. Other than that, I reckon they’re pretty decent headphones.

  18. Well, ive been using mine about 4 years now…dont have any complaint about the sound-of course, buds fits in my ear perfectly. I have 2 pairs at work and for outdoor/home use. I got problem 6 months ago because of mishandling but they replaced new one:D all sound system at home also are Bose from PC to Home Theatre:D…i just love my Bose.

  19. wow i’m very suprised the first time i heard bose i thought i was in heaven!!!I have never heard anything so good!!!i had these earphones for a long time and they work perfectly they are top of the line best! they are very comfortable have amazing sound and are very sturdy i can’t believe all the other ones broke!!! i listen to mine everyday and nothing has ever happend to them! Honestly i recomend everybody to buy these the price isnt even bad for the quality that you are getting! BOSE is the best!!!!!!!

  20. Great sound, horrible materials. I should have realized after I replaced the first pair from a cracked cable that the problem was not how I used them but poorly a poorly made product. The cable WILL disintegrate after one years regular use.

    BE FORWARNED!!!! DO NOT BUY!!!!!!!

  21. Even I agree with Chirin, Adam and Doug here. Though the sound is pretty good, the product is made from horrible materials. I was very careful in handling the product, however, recently, the cables pretty much started disintegrating. Small cuts started appearing on the rubber for no apparent reason. The customer care representative said it is a known issue, and asked me to wait till it completely breaks down, and they will give me a 30% discount on my next purchase.

    This is like paying royalty to Bose, for no mistake of mine. My next head phone will surely not be a bose.

  22. I have used Bose IE2 Inear Head Phones atleast a year.. Its really amazing with its bass quality. But the problem is with the wire. The internal copper gets cut and the music will go on one side. Bose services will not repair it.. They dont have services for IE 2. This is very bad.

  23. So pleased to find this review site as I need to explain how unhappy I am with Bose for their terrible, disinterested, unexpectedly bad customer service. I have a pair of Bose IE phones which have more or less fallen completely apart. The inline mic stopped working. The silicon tips fall off so regularly its hard to keep up with ordering new ones. The cable is like a wild snake intent on wrapping itself around anything it can cling to never wanting to just lie straight. The tiny grills inside the in ear “trumpet” have fallen out (one into my ear) There is a small oval disk which sits decoratively over the outer visible grill which has also fallen off and last but not least the cables have frayed badly where they connect to the earpieces revealing the bare wires and rendering them unusable. All this has occurred inside one year of gentle daily use. I use them every night to listen to music in bed before going to sleep. Lucky I don’t take them jogging! In europe Bose offer a comforting 2 year warrantee which sadly they are not happy to honour in my case. They clearly believe that I am trying it on which I find very insulting and not at all what I had expected from a company with such a good name. I would praise them for their sound production quality over a range of products but their customer service is appalling both here in UK and in the states where I followed things up. My advise would be to avoid this product like the plague. Even the original apple phone which came with my Iphone have outlasted these with all the abuse thrown at them by my teenage son. Piss poor Bose. Disappointing indeed. 2 out of 10 at the over expensive price of nearly 100GBP.

  24. These are still one of my go to headphones, even as new technology emerges I keep coming back to them. Somehow they manage to stay snug in my ears no matter what and I use them when I go out for my runs! The only thing I didn’t like was the price tag but since they have been around for almost a year, I can’t complain!

  25. Like a lot of folks, I liked these but at some point the coating of the cables cracked, split off, and exposed the wires. This is the second Bose product where it is clear that they are designed to last a year or so (the other was the noise cancelling head phones where the foam basically rotted away). I am done with Bose.

  26. I have had these for about four years, other than cleaning the silicone inserts, I have no problems at all. They sound great for the price and maybe it is me but these have never annoyed my ears like others.
    When the silicone is not clean they tend to come out of the ear, but that is the nature of the silicone, it gets dry or dusty and starts to slip…

  27. I bought the bose ie2. I only use them on airplanes, which is 2 or 3 times a year. After two years the wire coating cracked very badly. This is very common. They are two years old, used 5 times and are now garbage! Bose will not stand behind the product as they are over a year old. Bose is well aware they sold garbage.

  28. Jerry Jeff Westchester

    I’ve had these for 12 years and they still sound as good as the day I bought them; no issues as mentioned in the previous comments.

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