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Bose SoundTrue Around-Ear review: A classic headphone gets a cosmetic upgrade

It's worth noting that the headphone cord is detachable, and that cord has an integrated three-button remote and microphone for making cell-phone calls. This is an Apple-friendly model, so not all of the remote's features will work with Android and Windows phones, though you can use the microphone to make calls just fine with any phone.

Performance

As noted, this headphone doesn't offer active noise-cancellation, but it does offer a tight seal and filters out a lot of noise from the outside world.

Overall, the headphones are accurate, deliver good, well-defined bass, and are fairly open sounding for a closed-back headphone. They sound quite good, but if we had a gripe with the earlier AE2 and AE2i, it was that the treble was a tad brash, overemphasizing instruments such as cymbals (it's a matter of taste whether you like that "extra sizzle" or not). They also make poorly recorded music sound worse because they accentuate the flaws in the recordings. The flip side is they make good recordings sound very good.

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The headphones fold flat, and the cord (with inline remote/microphone) is detachable and replaceable. Sarah Tew/CNET

With an assist from Steve Guttenberg, who writes CNET's Audiophiliac blog, we compared the SoundTrue Around-Ear to the older AE2i and came to the conclusion that this new model still exhibits a bit of brashness, but the treble is ever so slightly smoother. We're not sure why that was the case, because Bose apparently didn't change the design of the drivers. But it's possible that it used slightly different materials on the inside of the earcups or on the earpieces themselves. Even tiny changes can affect the sound.

Conclusion

Bose's non-noise canceling around-ear headphones have always been a more affordable alternative to its QuietComfort line, which starts at $300. With the SoundTrue Around-Ear, Bose has made some minor changes to an already good-sounding headphone that excels in the comfort department. It's nice to see the company experimenting with new color choices, but the sound essentially remains the same.

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