Price (RRP): $299.95
Bose Frames are both sunglasses and beautifully concealed speakers – sunspeakers or perhaps soundglasses!
First, I must apologise to Bose for the delayed review of the Bose Frames. You see I put the soundglasses in my backpack to head up to my Central Coast home never even thinking about the special USB-A to magnetic charge cable tucked into a velvet bag. Well, I now have both items together so I can review it.
I must admit that my main aim for these soundglasses was to see if they could replace over/on/in-the-ear headphones – but that is the wrong aim. Bose has made a new category – soundglasses – wrapped in cool Blues Brothers style frames (there is one other style as well).
Review: Bose Frames Alto Black (International model)
Styles: Alto (angular and larger 55mm lenses) and Rondo (rounder with 50mm lenses)
Price: 299.95 with one set of shatter-resistant dark grey sunglass lenses that block up to 99% of UVA/UVB
Specifications for both types are identical.
The matte black nylon frames don’t quite have the premium look of other Bose products. While I kind of like them, my wife says it reminds her of the older 3D glasses you get at the movies.
The arms are solid and thick but again designed for the purpose. There is no Bose branding – odd for Bose.
They come standard with a pair of mid grey, non-polarised lenses. You can buy a set of mirrored rose gold polarised ($49.95) or gradient blue non-polarised ($29.95).
You can, of course, add prescription lenses, but Bose says that voids the warranty. I cannot see why, because it is quite easy to pop them out.
While they are perfectly safe to wear while driving polarised lenses can cut out digital lettering on the dashboard – particularly red letters and numbers, so take that into account.
Bose has two sizes – Alto (148mm wide and 162mm deep) and
They are comfortable to the extent that they do not cause any pressure on the temple or ears. But on my head, they tend to fall off the bridge of my nose with regularity. As you cannot adjust either the ear hooks (length or angle) or the nose bridge, make sure you try them first. If you can slide them forward (as I can), then they will slip down.
Bose has a 30-day money-back guarantee – pick a pair online or in-store and wear them for 30 days in the wild. If you decide they’re not for you, just send them back.
Sunglasses get abused, tossed in bags, dropped on floors etc – it is not possible to test all these things. I think they are reasonably drop resistant. Lenses are plastic (shatter resistant bout not scratch resistant) and should be fine for normal use. Hinges are solid but not spring-loaded.
They are IPX2. X means there is no formal dust/solid ingress protection and 2 means vertically dripping water will have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle of 15° from its normal position (for 10 minutes). This means it is light rain-resistant – these are not for the snow or desert!
These not really designed to slip into your pocket with a folded depth of about 50mm. The ear hooks also touch the inside of the lenses. This should not damage the lens but can transfer ‘grease’ to them.
You cannot use any sprays, solvents, chemicals, or cleaning solutions containing alcohol, ammonia or abrasives. Do not allow liquids to spill into any openings.
Summary: treat with the respect due to a $299 pair of sunnies.
They are BT 4.2 LE and have a range of about 9m maximum. Our tests confirm that in-line-of-sight, but it is closer to three metres if you have a wall or glass in the way. That is not a big issue as you will most likely have your phone close by.
You can connect via the app or just use BT if all you need is sound.
There is one button to rule them all. Press once to power on (and lay on its back to turn off), press once to start play (from a playlist on your phone), double press to skip a song, triple-press to skip back, press once to answer a call, and long press for a voice assistant.
Bose claims up to 3.5 hours and two-hour charge time. I wore them walking for about 45 minutes a day, and they ran out in day four – pass. The app or a voice prompt will tell you remaining battery when you switch them on and tell you when to recharge.
Recharge is via a USB-A, and it seems to make no time difference whether you use a .5A, 1A or 2A port. It uses a magnetic cable – do not lose it. While it may have been nice to have a charging case, it would have added too much to the price.
Suffice to say that these are ‘open-ear’ meaning there is no noise cancelling and you can clearly hear your surrounds. Bose says that 99% of the sound gets to your ears.
The tiny speakers sit in the arms and give a tight left/right sound stage – its not as wide as over/on/in-the-ear phones but nor should you expect it to be. But the sound appears to emanate from within your head, and that is pretty good for the right music.
Nor is it a ‘full’ sound that you would expect from over/on/in-the-ear headphones, but it is surprisingly listenable.
We could not measure frequency response or volume as our test equipment is just not up to that task. So subjectively (using bass tracks, vocals, and symphony):
- Low to mid-bass is non-existent (from 20-100Hz)
- High Bass starts to kick in late (100-200Hz)
- Low mids are building (200-400Hz)
- Mids are strong (400-1Khz)
- High mids (clear voice) are strong (1-2kHz)
- Low treble is there but recessed (2-4kHz)
- Treble starts dropping off (4-6kHz)
- High treble and dog-whistle are non-existent (6-20Khz)
This is a mid-sound signature that is an OK for voice, podcasts and casual music.
When walking in relatively quiet suburban areas, the sound was clear, although louder passing cars did drown out the volume. If you are in quieter surrounds its fine. It works well for hands-free calling.
Distortion creeps in at 60% volume, but you won’t need any more.
Sound Summary: While it is not what you would expect from headphones, it is quite pleasant.
Bose Frames AR – not tested
No, not augmented reality but audio reality. At present, this is more of a concept but in theory allows location (not visual direction) to change the commentary, e.g. walking through an art gallery or a different city.
GadgetGuy’s take – Bose Frames are a new genre
I can see Bose Frames in my life but more as sunglasses when walking. While I tried them in the car, I think they could be a little distracting, and my car has a decent sound system anyway.
So, these are for early adopters and fashionistas that want BT sound wherever they go. I do not think Bose will sit still with this product, so expect more from its AR.