Cuff-like open earbuds aim for awareness/immersion sweet spot

Bose has launched a pair of wireless earphones that don’t plug into your canal and cut you off from the outside world, but clasp onto the side of your ears like cuffs. The Ultra Open Earbuds promise both all-day immersive listening and awareness of surroundings.

Though isolation from outside noise can be very welcome when listening to your latest hot discovery on Spotify or TiDAL, there are time when the world needs to be allowed through – such as when you’re waiting for announcements at the transport hub, out for a run or crossing a busy street. Many noise-canceling earbuds do have a transparency mode, but some folks just pop out one of the earpieces.

“The one bud phenomenon is real,” said chief product officer at Bose, Raza Haider. “We know people want a way to listen to their music while still being connected to the world around them. We set out to completely reimagine the future of wearable audio and deliver a better, more beautiful, and comfortable solution to provide the best of both worlds. The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds do just that. Now you can enjoy your music and life, all at the same time.”

The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds feature Bluetooth 5.3 with Snapdragon Sound, Bose proprietary Immersion Audio signal processing, and OpenAudio technology for precise sound delivery
The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds feature Bluetooth 5.3 with Snapdragon Sound, Bose proprietary Immersion Audio signal processing, and OpenAudio technology for precise sound delivery

Bose

Unlike regular buds, the new ear candy from Bose doesn’t passively isolate the wearer by blocking the ear canal. The Ultra Open Earbuds attach to the side like a cuff, and are said to play nice with glasses, headwear or jewelry while the brushed metallic edges and polished softened edges afford them a high-fashion vibe.

Despite rocking an open design, Bose says that the combination of “a powerful transducer with a tightly controlled acoustic structure” should ensure an enjoyable listening experience for the wearer, with proprietary digital signal processing and a built-in inertial measurement unit providing a wide soundstage while “virtually seating you right in the acoustic sweet spot.”

Immersion is divided into two modes: one that keeps the audio focused in one place that’s suited to static or seated listening, and another where the soundstage is always positioned to the front, moving with you as you go. Bose also promises little to no sonic leakage, so those around you don’t necessarily have to share your passion for metalcore or acid jazz.

Each Ultra Open Earbud is reckoned good for up to 7.5 hours of use per charge, with 19.5 additional hours available via the charging case
Each Ultra Open Earbud is reckoned good for up to 7.5 hours of use per charge, with 19.5 additional hours available via the charging case

Bose

Rounding out the key specs are playback control via a button to the top of the barrel, Bluetooth 5.3 technology with support for aptX Adaptive decoding, a per-bud battery life of 4.5 hours when Immersive Audio is active or 7.5 hours when not – a supplied charging case offers up to a further 19.5 hours while out and about – and there’s a feature to automatically adjust playback volume based on ambient noise levels that’s available through a companion mobile app. The cuff-buds are also IPX4-rated so you can wear them at the gym or while bolting for shelter during a sudden downpour.

The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds are on sale now for the somewhat premium price of US$299.

Product page: Ultra Open

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