Bose SoundTrue Ultra review: Bose's best-sounding in-ear headphone yet

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The Good The Bose SoundTrue is one of the most comfortable in-ear headphones available and also delivers clean, well-balanced sound. The headphones stay securely in your ears, and an integrated inline remote works well for making cell-phone calls. The headphones also come with a nice, compact carrying case.

The Bad They're a little expensive.

The Bottom Line If you're looking for a pair of clean-sounding, really comfortable in-ear noise-isolating headphones that stay in your ears, the Bose SoundTrue Ultra should be on your short list.

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

One of the big reasons Bose's in-ear headphones are so popular is they're designed for people who don't like to have eartips jammed into their ears. The secret is the comfy StayHear tips that attach to the 'buds and conform to your ear to create a secure, almost floating fit. The SoundTrue In-Ear and SoundSport In-Ear are among the most comfortable in-ear headphones available.

But those models have one drawback: They have an open design, which lets sound in. That creates problems when you're in noisy environments.

Enter the the SoundTrue Ultra, Bose's first noise-isolating in-ear headphone. It comes in Apple and Android versions, each of which is available in two colors -- black or white -- for $150, £130 or AU$200.

The headphones come in black or white and in versions for Android and iOS devices.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Noise isolation shouldn't be confused with the active noise-canceling found in Bose's QC20 in-ear headphones. The big changes to the Ultra are to the design of the bud and tips, which Bose calls StayHear Ultra tips.

The buds have the traditional mini canister design of a lot in-ear noise-isolating earphones. But the post attached to the bud is pretty long and nicely angled. After you attach the appropriate StayHear Ultra tip --small, medium and large tips are included -- the inner rim of the plastic bud stays away from the opening of your ear canal. The result is a similar floating effect to the SoundTrue In-Ear but the Ultra tips comfortably extend into your ear canal without having to push the tip deep into it to seal out a lot of ambient noise.

It's a great fit for a noise-isolating earphone and you can wear these headphones comfortably for along stretches. It also helps that the 'buds themselves are lightweight. They are plastic, which may leave you wondering why they cost so much. But they are made of high-tech plastic if that's any consolation.

The headphones come with a compact carrying case.

Sarah Tew/CNET

As for the three-button inline remote/microphone, it looks identical to the one found Bose on other in-ear headphones. As I said, the headphone comes in two flavors: one with a remote that's designed to be used with Android phones and another that's compatible with Apple iOS devices. The headphone works well for making calls -- you can hear people better in noisier environments thanks to the noise isolation -- and come with a nicely designed compact carrying case.

About the headphone's plug: It's a straight plug and not a sturdier L-shaped plug. But Bose knows its audience; the plug is slim enough to fit into any smartphone case, including a Mophie battery case. It's not quite as compact as the plug on Apple's EarPod headphones, but it's close.

It's also worth mentioning that while the headphone cords don't seem particularly thick, they feel fairly durable and are tangle-resistant. The headphone rolls up easily to fit in the compact case.