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Bose Frames get a 2020 makeover: New and improved $250 audio sunglasses out now

The Tempo, Tenor and Soprano join the Bose's existing Alto and Rondo Frames. The new models all cost $250 or $50 more than the original Frames.

The new Frames Tempo is designed for bikers and runners and has the best sound and battery life of the new models.

In 2018, Bose introduced a couple of pairs of audio sunglasses with tiny speakers embedded in each temple that sounded surprisingly decent given that they're sunglasses and not headphones. Now the company has refined the concept, adding three new Frames to its eyewear line, including a new sport model, the Tempo, that features larger drivers in a lighter chassis that Bose says is highly durable. All the new Frames are available now for $250 (£240). That's $50 more than the original Alto and Rondo Frames. (We're still awaiting word on Australian pricing.)

The new Tenor and Soprano are more in the same vein as the original styles, but Bose says its engineers increased the bass response, and they're more evenly weighted with an improved design, making them more comfortable to wear. The Tenor and Soprano have 16mm drivers and deliver 5.5 hours of battery life on a single charge via the same pogo-pin charger that came with the original Frames.

The Tempo has 22mm drivers and delivers up to 8 hours of battery life. Bose says the Tempo plays "deeper and louder -- loud enough for cycling at 25 mph -- while still able to hear traffic, warnings, training partners and teammates." They're sweat-, weather-, scratch- and shatter-resistant, charge with a standard USB-C cable and include three different-shaped nose pads. Also, they fit under most protective helmets, Bose says. 

Price being equal, I don't see why you wouldn't just get the Tempo: It's got the best sound, best battery life, USB-C charging. Why not? But I suppose there are people who choose style over performance. 

Bose says all the new models offer improved headset performance for making calls. The one-microphone system has been replaced by a dual-beaming-forming mic array that "shields what you're saying from wind, noise and other nearby conversations." The hardware and software upgrades are also supposed to help virtual assistants like Siri and Google Assistant understand you better.

The Soprano (left) and Tenor (right) with their stock polarized lenses. Both cost $250.


You control the volume by sliding your finger forward and backward on the right temple and there's a new volume-optimized EQ that Bose says reduces distortion at higher volumes while adding texture to your music at lower volumes. 

All three new Frames will have additional lens options available (at an added cost) beyond the stock polarized lenses included with the eyewear. Optional Tempo lenses include road orange, trail blue and twilight yellow. Mirror blue and silver are options for the Tenor, and you can choose from rode-gold and purple-fade for the Soprano. You can also get prescription lenses from third-party retailers.

Read more: Best wireless headphones for 2020

The original Frames were a little big for my face -- even the smaller Rondo model -- but otherwise I thought they were a great concept and have often worn them on runs in lieu of true-wireless earbuds. I was surprised by their respectable sound and the fact that they didn't leak much sound, so people couldn't hear what you were listening to unless they were standing a foot or two away. And since your ears are exposed, you can hear what people are saying and easily have conversations even as, say, you had a sports event stealthily piping into your ears.  

I'll have full reviews of the new Frames once I get my hands on the various models, but after having listened to various competing audio sunglasses, many of which incorporate bone-conduction technology, it's safe to assume the new Frames will be the best-sounding audio sunglasses out there. The bigger question is: Just how much better are they than the previous models?  

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