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Bose SoundTrue On-Ear Headphones review: Ultracomfortable on-ear headphone gets a slight makeover

The Bose SoundTrue On-Ear is a very comfortable everyday-use headphone that sounds good and collapses into a very compact carrying case.

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, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
2 min read

Bose's SoundTrue On-ear headphone is new for 2014 -- it's just not really new. Rather, it's the rebranded version of the company's popular OE2i headphone, which I consider one of the most -- if not the most -- comfortable on-ear headphone you can buy.


Bose SoundTrue On-Ear Headphones

The Good

The Bose SoundTrue On-Ear headphones are lightweight, very comfortable, sound good, and fold up to fit into a very compact carrying case (included), which makes them very travel-friendly. You also get a detachable headphone cord and an Apple-friendly inline remote and microphone.

The Bad

The fidelity comes up short on bass resonance.

The Bottom Line

The Bose SoundTrue On-Ear is a very comfortable everyday-use headphone that sounds good and collapses into a very compact carrying case.

I'd like to tell you that Bose has improved the sound of the headphone, but alas, the changes are really just cosmetic, with this updated model ($179.95, £149.95 UK, AU$229 Australian) coming in new, more eye-catching colors that are perhaps designed to appeal to younger headphone shoppers.

Aside from being very comfortable for an on-ear model, what I've always liked about this model is how light it is and how it folds up into a very small case that fits easily in your bag when traveling. It's a great travel headphone, though it does let some sound in (more than the SoundTrue Around-Ear ) and doesn't feature any sort of noise-cancelling circuitry like the Bose QuietComfort 25. Nor is it wireless like the SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth headphone , which retails for $250 (£219.95 UK, AU$329 Australian).

Bose SoundTrue On-Ear headphones product photos

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As for features, the headphone cord is detachable and that cord has an integrated 3-button remote and microphone for making cell-phone calls (call quality is good). This is an Apple-friendly model, so not all the remote features will work with Android and Windows phones, but you can use the microphone to make calls with any phone.

While this headphone has never truly wowed us with its sound quality, it does sound very good and delivers smooth, generally well-balanced, fairly open sound. This is a pleasant headphone to listen to (it's on the warmer end of the listening spectrum) but not necessarily an exciting one and doesn't offer the refinement, transparency, and bass resonance that a more expensive model like the Beyerdynamic T51p offers.

The SoundTrue On-Ear comes in four different color options. Bose

Nor is it as forward or aggressive as the the Beats Solo 2 , which pushes the bass and treble more. All that said, it's what I like to call a safe headphone in that it makes most music -- and music sources -- sound good. And that should make most people happy -- just not audiophiles.


I can't call this a bargain, but like its predecessor, the OE2i, the almost identical SoundTrue On-Ear offers an excellent combination of comfort and decent sound in a lightweight, foldable design that travels quite well.


Bose SoundTrue On-Ear Headphones

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Sound 7Value 7