Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless Headphones Review & Comparison

Last updated: August 17, 2021

Running Headphones / Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless Headphones Review & Comparison

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Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless Headphones

Nothing beats a good song while on a run. In fact, if you want to perform at your peak, science says that you can always rely on your favorite playlist to get you in the zone. 

As a runner, choosing a good pair of wireless headphones for your running sessions is important. Bose’s SoundSport Pulse Wireless Headphones claims to be just that.

In this review, we’re going to take a look at all its features and see whether it checks all the right boxes as a pair of wireless headphones for running.

Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless Headphones Overview

Key Features

  • Heart sensor makes it easy to track your cardiovascular performance
  • StayHear and Pulse tips provides you with a stable fit for even the most intense of workouts.
  • Bose Connect App gives you real time heart readings and updates are continually added to the headphones
  • Works with popular fitness apps such as MapMyRun, RunKeeper, Runtastic and more.

Specifications

  • Weight: 0.8 ounces (22.6g)
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Pairing: NPC
  • Form Factor: In-ear Wireless
  • Waterproof Rating: IPX4

Factors That Were Considered For This Review

Before starting the actual review, here are the factors that we used to review the Bose SoundSport Pulse.

Features

If you want to pick the best wireless headphones for your running use, then you have to consider every bit of functionality that it offers. While reviewing the Bose SoundSport Pulse, features that are especially relevant to runners were considered.

Performance

No amount of features can make up for bad performance. People buy wireless headphones because they want to listen to their favorite music while they run, so we assessed the SoundSport Pulse in how well it can deliver on that promise.

Battery Life

Runners may not need their headphones to last them the whole day, but decent battery life is still the bare minimum for wireless headphones. Nobody wants their headphones to suddenly lose power while they’re running, nor does anyone want to spend a lot of time charging their devices. 

Price

With all the wireless headphones on the market right now, price is an important consideration when deciding which one to buy. Bose, in particular, is known for its relatively high-priced products, and the SoundSport Pulse is no exception. In this review, we’ll examine whether that price tag is worth it or not.

Design and Fit

In terms of appearance, the SoundSport Pulse exudes a very sports-tech vibe. It has a black and red color scheme that fits the sporty stereotype without standing out too much. The earbuds also have a heavy frame with thick, rubberized shells that give it a futuristic yet somewhat hard-wearing vibe.

Since it’s not a truly wireless pair, the SoundSport Pulse still has a cable that connects its two earpieces. In any other scenario, this can be a huge downside. After all, many runners find non-true wireless headphones with subpar cables a hassle to use since they can bounce around and rub uncomfortably on the skin during running sessions, making the whole experience less enjoyable.

Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless Headphones

But the SoundSport Pulse doesn’t have this issue. In fact, the cable is far from subpar. It’s thick and sturdy yet still light and flexible. It’s also durable enough to withstand intensive activities like running and jogging.

In addition to this, the cable actually enhances the SoundSport Pulse’s features. Inline controls work much better, and the microphone also picks up voices much clearer than any true wireless earbud.

Lastly, the SoundSport Pulse offers three different tip options, making it suitable for runners of all ear sizes. Bose calls them the StayHere + Pulse ear tips, and they were designed specifically to stay secure in one’s ears, no matter how vigorous their activities.

It even features a clip that will prevent it from falling to the ground if it ever slips out of your ears–which, thanks to the secure tips, is not likely to happen, anyway.

Controls

One added bonus of the clip is that it makes the control buttons much more accessible.

These buttons are located on the cable itself, and they’re lightweight and barely noticeable. However, although the cables are sturdy, the build quality of the plastic buttons themselves is subpar. This was perhaps done to reduce the weight of the unit.

Obviously, this can lead to issues down the road, such as the plastic buttons failing before their time. One alternative is to download the Bose Connect app to control the SoundSport Pulse’s functions through your phone. Firmware updates can be done through the app, as well.

Sound Quality

The sound quality on the SoundSport Pulse is one of the best around. The audio is clear, rich, and smooth. It also has a powerful bass that can drown out sounds, as well as a fun profile that one can listen to for hours.

The enhanced bass can sometimes be annoying, especially for passive listening. But for running, this sound profile is perfect, especially in noisy streets or gyms. In situations like these, the enhanced, noise-drowning bass is a great feature.

That said, do keep in mind that the sound quality is a bit less stellar than Bose’s other wired headphones. That’s to be expected when it comes to wireless headphones in general, though, so considering its purpose, the SoundSport Pulse still has above-average sound quality.

In other words, with its slightly enhanced sound profile and bass, the SoundSport Pulse is not made to be used in a studio–instead, it’s designed to get you in the zone and allow you to focus 100% of your attention on your run.

Microphone

It’s important to be able to take calls even while running with wireless headphones. Luckily, the SoundSport Pulse comes with a high-quality built-in microphone that can pick up voices really well.

The microphone is located in the same area where the button controls are. It’s designed to automatically adjust your voice’s audio level so that you can still be heard from the other side, even if there’s plenty of background noise on your end.

The SoundSport Pulse also allows users to mute and unmute the microphone during calls–a feature that’s especially handy if you’re taking a call while running through a noisy area.

On the downside, the inline microphone suffers from the same durability issues as the controls. Since they’re housed in the same plastic casing, the microphone could fail just as quickly fail as the inline control buttons.

Battery Life

SoundSport Pulse boasts an above-average battery life of around 5 hours. It’s not going to last you the entire day, but chances are it’s more than enough for any running session that you have planned.

Charging time can still be better, though. It takes around two hours for a full charge, while 15 minutes can give you an hour’s worth of battery life.If you’d like to extend this further, you can also purchase Bose’s charging case, which will provide you with two additional full charges.

Additional Features

Waterproof Rating

The SoundSport Pulse is rated IPX4, which means that resistant to splashes of water, including sweat.

Obviously, sweating is completely normal when you’re running, so it’s nice to know that the SoundSport Pulse can tolerate it.

That said, getting caught in the rain while doing laps outside is also another issue. The SoundSport Pulse can withstand light rain for about 5 minutes tops, but it can’t handle anything more than that. Make sure to find shelter or at least put it back in your bag before it gets soaked.

Noise Isolation

The SoundSport Pulse doesn’t offer active noise cancellation, and while the earbuds do fit snugly, some background noise can still filter through.

However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you’re running outside or on rough trails instead of on a treadmill, noise cancellation can be rather dangerous. Although listening to music can help you focus, you’d still want to be able to hear ambient sounds in case there’s an immediate danger in your surroundings.

The good thing with the SoundSport Pulse is that it doesn’t need active noise cancellation to drown out most sounds. As long as you choose the right tips, these headphones can isolate noise decently enough to let you enjoy your music without fully disconnecting from your surroundings.

Heart Rate Tracking

Now we come to the star of the show: the Heart Rate Tracking feature, which gives the SoundSport Pulse its name. The earbuds have an intelligent pulse tracker that stays in contact with your skin and measures how hard your heart is pumping at all times.

In that respect, it works very well. As mentioned, the earbuds fit nicely in the ears and are adequately secured, which means the tracker has no problem accurately detecting the pulse. In addition to that, it syncs well with whatever heart rate monitor app you may have on your phone.

The real question, however, is whether it’s even necessary in the first place. If you’re a frequent runner, you probably already own a smartwatch with this function. This means that you probably won’t need to buy a pair of headphones for this specific feature. Even Bose offers the exact same product without the heart rate monitor, and the price difference is significant.

In other words, the SoundSport Pulse’s Heart Rate Tracking works very well, but unless you don’t own a smartwatch, this is a redundant and perhaps even overpriced feature that you can do without.

What We Liked

  • Well-designed hardware and aesthetics. The Bose SoundSport Pulse exudes a sporty, techy vibe paired with functional hardware.
  • Superb sound quality. With Bose’s trademark sound quality, these headphones feature a clear, fun, and bassy audio profile perfect for enhancing your focus when you run.
  • Clear microphone. The sound is clear enough to allow you to take calls even when you’re outside.
  • Convenient Bose Connect app. You can perform essential functions on your headphones and get access to firmware updates through the app.

What We Didn’t Like

  • Questionable durability. The button controls and the inline mic are housed in a fragile plastic casing that can get damaged pretty easily.
  • Unnecessary heart rate monitor. This feature did not feel like it should belong on a headphone set, especially for the additional price. For runners who wear smartwatches, this is also a redundant feature. Although if this is what you’re gunning for then it’s a pro.

Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless Headphones Comparisons

Bose SoundSport Pulse vs Bose SoundSport

As mentioned above, the Bose SoundSport Wireless is almost exactly the same as the SoundSport Pulse, except for the heart rate tracker and the significant price difference.

For runners who have other means of tracking their heart rate, such as a smartwatch, then the SoundSport is honestly all you need.

Bose SoundSport Pulse vs. Beats Studio Buds

The Beats Studio Buds is a much newer piece of technology, having been released earlier this year. Unlike the SoundSport Pulse, it’s a truly wireless pair, which means it doesn’t have a cable. Also, its price upon release is also a bit less than the SoundSport Pulse.

It features an 8-hour battery life, active noise cancellation, and a bassy sound profile. If you mainly do your workouts at home or in the gym, these features might work for you.

Bose SoundSport Pulse vs Sony WF-SP800N

As mentioned above, the Bose SoundSport Wireless is almost exactly the same as the SoundSport Pulse, except for the heart rate tracker and the significant price difference.

For runners who have other means of tracking their heart rate, such as a smartwatch, then the SoundSport is honestly all you need.

FAQ on the Bose SoundSport Pulse

Is Bose SoundSport Pulse worth it?

If you don’t own a heart rate monitor or a smart device that has a heart rate tracker, the SoundSport Pulse could be worth the money. After all, it does offer an excellent design, premium sound quality, and convenience.

How do you turn off heart rate on Bose headphones?

If you don’t want to use the heart rate tracker, simply don’t connect it to the app. You can also just buy the cheaper SoundSport since the main difference between that and the SoundSport Pulse is just the tracker.

Can you talk with Bose SoundSport Pulse?

You can talk on the SoundSport Pulse thanks to its inline mic, with excellent audio delivery and even mute/unmute function.

Final Thoughts

The Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless Headphones are not a perfect product. The heart rate monitor, although functional, is somewhat unnecessary for many serious runners. There are also some durability issues that need to be addressed.

That said, with its premium bass-heavy audio, beautiful aesthetics, and incredibly convenient design, the SoundSport Pulse is still a solid pair of headphones to have on a run.

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