Earphones today come in two flavours. Either little discs that sit awkwardly over your earhole, or in-ear buds that can become uncomfortable after more than a couple of hours use. Bose has approached this design with a pair of earphones that sit somewhere in the middle.
Rather than being completely in-ear, forced deep into the ear canal, the TriPort In-Ear Headphones sit on the outside of the ear, but a soft silicone tube sticks slightly inside. And this makes a big difference to both performance and comfort.
In typical Bose style, the specifications of these earphones are not disclosed, and we weren’t allowed to prise them open to make measurements ourselves. From the size of the unit, and by comparing performance to similar products, we can assume a dynamic range of about 20Hz to 20kHz, and sensitivity around 115dB. The actual figures probably vary, though.
The earphones use Bose’s TriPort technology, which although Bose remains tight-lipped on exactly how this works, is designed to improve the bass response.
The design of each bud is interesting, because when you figure out how they’re supposed to go in your ear, they sit so lightly and daintily that they constantly feel on the verge of falling out. So for the first 15 minutes or so, you’ll be pushing on the earbuds to settle them more firmly.
But they don’t need to be settled more firmly. Even when they feel about to fall out, give your head a shake and you’ll discover the earphones stay in quite firmly. It’s clever design indeed.
Beyond the earphones themselves, you get a 1.24 metre cord and an anti-tangle slider where the two cords from the buds meet. The connector is a standard headphone minijack, but the unit is surprisingly bulky and square.
Oddly enough, these earphones don’t immediately impress. If you’re changing from regular ear-canal buds to these, you might at first feel that the sound is less tight, since the headphones don’t block ambient sound at all.
But after a few minutes you realise there is a depth and dimension so the sound field that other earphones at this price point lack. Extra detail in the high end seems responsible.
While TriPort technology might be designed to enhance bass, at times the bottom end does swamp the midrange, although this problem is less pronounced on uncompressed audio, as from a CD.
Other reviewers seem hung-up on the earphone’s apparent high impendence – they report needing to turn their audio players up extremely high, which of course reduces battery life. But we found the headphones gave excellent volume from our fourth-generation iPod with the volume slightly below 50 percent. It was the same with our other devices, so it may be worth taking your player into the shop and asking for a test-run.
You may not fall in love with these earphones immediately, but it’s worth suffering a few awkward first dates, because you’ll develop a strong relationship if you persevere. The black and white cord might look weird, and the equal lengths of each earbud cord mean you can’t wrap the right bud around the back of your neck for a more discreet look, but the comfort and performance of these earphones easily makes up for it. The rigid black vinyl case is a nice boutique touch, too.