Bose offers “noise isolation” in lieu of powerless “noise cancellation”

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There are plenty of reasons why noise cancellation isn’t a technology for everyone. Price, power, comfort, and long term use are all perfectly valid, so if you want a break from noise, Bose is offering up another possibility.

This week, it is adding to its regular “SoundTrue” line-up with a new pair of in-earphones designed for people who want less noise in their life, but don’t necessarily want the high price tag of noise cancellation headphones, or even the power brick that typically goes with them.

These come in the form of the “SoundTrue Ultra”, and these rely less on power and more on seal.


“Noise-isolating headphones have typically come with all kinds of trade-offs. They’ve required you to push an earbud deep in your ear, and that compromises how your music sounds and how you feel when they’re on,” said Bernice Cramer, General Manager of Bose Wireless Headphones.

“So, we designed something better,” she said, adding that “SoundTrue Ultra headphones reduce noise through a soft, proprietary seal and sound great. And they’re so secure, you won’t worry about them falling out, and you won’t want to take them out, either.”

From what we understand, much of this sound proofing from the outside world comes from specialised tips which have been built to rest on the outside of the main aural cavity known as your ear canal to form a seal, with the earphone driver inside aimed at solid audio reproduction.

The cable is a little different again, with a “T-joint” design that you’re less likely to nudge with your arm, which means less chance of it being pulled from your ears and stopping that seal.


We do need to note that noise isolation — which is what Bose is dealing in with the SoundTrue Ultra — isn’t the same as noise cancellation.

One is totally passive — isolation — relying on either seals or internal earphones that lodge in your ear canal and provide audio to your eardrums to block the outside world. The other technology — cancellation — is active, and requires a power source to allow microphones to sample the hums and drones of the outside world, sampling this and reversing it so frequencies are blocked out.

Bose’s SoundTrue Ultra is the first of these technologies, and hinges mostly on seals (not the other passive method of intra-aural earphones, which are inserted directly into the ear canal), and while it might be ideal for stopping some of the noise in transit, it may not be the best bet on an aircraft where the hum of the engines are the main reason you’re running the cancellation in the first place.

That said, we’ll reserve judgement until we try a pair, but right now, that’s what we suspect will be going on.


Those who want to see what the SoundTrue Ultra in-earphones are like will find them available in stores now for a recommended retail price of $199, with options for either Apple iPhones or Android-based phones, each with a different remote for their respective devices.