Bose SoundTrue In-Ear review: A very comfortable in-ear headphone becomes a better value as it's phased out

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The Good The Bose SoundTrue In-Ear headphones are secure and very comfortable and their "open" design is appealing. They also offer pleasantly full bass and include an integrated remote and microphone and a nice carrying case.

The Bad They let sound in, so they're not good for noisier environments, and they're not sweat-resistant.

The Bottom Line As the very comfortable Bose SoundTrue In-Ear nears retirement, it's become a better value with some nice price chops on certain colors.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 7
  • Sound 7
  • Value 8

Over the years, Bose has had a few different variations of its in-ear headphones -- and a few too many model names to choose from -- but now it's condensed the line to include only the "open" ear-bud style SoundSport In-Ear and SoundTrue Ultra , its first noise-isolating in-ear headphone. You can still find the SoundTrue In-Ear reviewed here and the special-edition Freestyle -- essentially the SoundSport with a different paint job -- kicking around at a good discount. But both of these models are on the way out.

With the new changes to the line, we thought it a good time to update our reviews of Bose's in-ear models. All the "open" in-ear models sound the same with the exception of the powered, active noise-canceling QuietComfort 20 , which costs considerably more.

The SoundTrue In-Ear in Cranberry (Red).

Sarah Tew/CNET

The SoundTrue In-Ear is priced at $130 (£115 or AU$180) with an inline remote/microphone and $100 without it. But now that it's being phased out, you can get both versions for up to 30 percent off online, depending on the color (black, red, or white), which makes them good values.

Floating 'buds

As with all of Bose's earbud-style headphones, this is the in-ear headphone for people who don't like to have eartips jammed into their ears. The buds are designed to sit loosely in your ears, but they're held in place by Bose's StayHear tips, which feature a soft silicon wing-like design and come in three different sizes.

I really like the fit -- the medium-size Stay-Hear tips worked well with my ears and kept the buds locked in, even when I was running. I think most people will find these earphones very comfortable, but because of their open design, they do let a lot of ambient sound in, so they're not good for noisy environments (The QuietComfort 20 cancels out incoming sound but costs $300).

The SoundTrue In-Ear reviewed here has a 45.2-inch (115 cm) cable. It's a medium-length cable that feels long enough without being too long. In contrast, the SoundSport's cable is 42 inches, or about 3 inches shorter. It's designed to be a little shorter because you don't want to have too much cord dangling down when you're doing most forms of athletic activity.

The headphones' StayHear tips create a secure, comfortable fit.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose's SoundTrue In-Ear isn't sweat-resistant but the SoundSport is. Bose says: "The SoundSport in-ear headphones feature a weather- and sweat-resistant design, which provides improved durability and splash-resistance - but they should not be submerged in water or used for swimming."

The SoundSport In-Ear comes with a round neoprene carrying case (plus a carabiner) while the SoundTrue In-Ear and Freestyle ship with a larger, rectangular case.

It's also worth pointing out that inline remote's design is well done, with the tactile buttons easy to operate by feel. Call quality was also good, and this headphone works well as a headset, though the Ultra works even better thanks to its noise-isolating design.

The headphones, like all of Bose's current in-ear headphones, have a straight plug rather than an L-shaped plug that, in theory, should be more sturdy. The straight plug is compact, so it's designed to work with most cell-phone cases.