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Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless: Bluetooth sports headphone with heart-rate monitor

Bose takes a crack at the fitness tracker market by building a heart-rate monitor into its SoundSport Pulse Wireless headphones.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
2 min read

At Bose's launch even for its new 2016 wireless headphones, I got a chance to try its new Bluetooth sports headphone, the SoundSport Wireless, an in-ear model that's fairly affordably priced at $150 (£140, AU $249). It's the wireless sports headphone a lot of people have been waiting for, but in September the company is releasing the step-up SoundSport Pulse Wireless, which costs $200 (£170, AU$300) and has an integrated heart-rate monitor that's compatible with Runkeeper, Endomondo and other fitness apps.

Like SoundSport Wireless, the SoundSport Pulse Wireless has an open design and is very comfortable to wear. By open I mean that you don't jam the earbud into your ear. Thanks to Bose's Stay-Hear+ eartips, which come in three sizes, the bud sits loosely in your ear yet remains securely in place.

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Those new eartips are a special sport version of the Stay-Hear tips that are different from the ones included with Bose's earlier in-ear headphones, so they aren't interchangeable. And I should also point out that because the earpieces extend out from your ears you'll probably have some trouble wearing these under a helmet (I'll see see if I can use them with a ski helmet once a I get a review sample).

The only downside to the floating-fit, open design is that ambient sound does leak in and this isn't a good headphone for noisy environments. (By contrast, Bose's upcoming QuietControl 30 features active noise canceling.) But if you're out running or biking, you'll be able to hear cars coming, which is why a lot of runners and bikers prefer their headphones to have open designs.

As you might expect, the headphone is sweat and water resistant and there's an inline mic and remote that lets you skip songs, adjust the volume, and take and make calls. Bose is touting its quality as headset for making calls, as well as how reliable the Bluetooth connection is.

Battery life for the SoundSport Pulse Wireless is 5 hours, which is decent for this type of design, but an hour less than the non-Pulse version. Both SoundSport wireless headphones come with a simple neoprene carrying case, but Bose will also sell an accessory case that has a built-in battery for on-the-go charging that'll cost $50.

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Bose will sell a separate accessory case that has a built-in rechargeable battery for $50.

Sarah Tew/CNET

In my limited listening test with SoundSport Wireless (the Pulse was behind glass) the sound quality seemed quite good for an in-ear Bluetooth headphone, but the real advantage this has over competing models from Beats, Jaybird and Plantronics is its high comfort level.

SoundSport Pulse Wireless' highlights:

  • Ships in September
  • Price: $200, £170, AU$299
  • 5 hours of battery life
  • Water- and sweat-resistant
  • Accessory charging case costs $50
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The step-up SoundSport Pulse Wireless ($200) arrives in September and has an integrated hear-rate monitor.

Sarah Tew/CNET