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The design of Bose’s Ultra Open Earbuds sets them apart, and people are intrigued, but do they live up to their ultra-modern appearance? 

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

Open earbuds, like the Bose Ultra, may look more like a fashion accessory than headphones, but they are designed and optimised for spatial awareness.

If you currently wear any ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) headphones you will know they are great at drowning out background noise and provide an immersive audio experience. However, they are sometimes too good at drowning out other noise and I constantly find myself removing them when on the train to listen for an announcement or paying for my shopping.

That is why more audio companies focus on bringing innovation to this market. 

The team at Bose uses a proprietary technology called OpenAudio that allows rich sound to reach the ears without relying on bone conduction technology (where headphones actively touch and vibrate the ear bone). The end product becomes their latest cuff-style earbuds, which hook to the outer edge of the ear and sit comfortably around the lobe, and the barrel sits behind the ear.

At first glance, they seem fragile. Taking them out of their case may seem like you can pull them apart, but the silicone is sturdy yet flexible for repeat usage. Left and Right is visible behind each barrel, alongside the understated branding. 

From my experience, open earbuds pair with spaces with minimal noise background, specifically designed for those who work from home, office, or in their studios: people who need to be aware of their surroundings. You may have children or family and are required to multitask. You may find noise-cancelling headphones slightly suffocating and unwearable for long periods, in which case these earbuds are a game changer. I wore them all day because they were incredibly comfortable, and we forgot I had them on at one point. 

These earbuds will not do anything for those who intend to use them for flying or other high-noise activities, as you do not get the same depth and clarity as a quieter environment gives you. 

The Pros

Key features include seamless connection, as setting up took under a minute to connect, which included downloading the Bose Music App. 

The earbuds have a simple-to-use button control for media, phone calls, and volume: press the button on the side of the barrel once, you can pause your sound, double-click and skip to the next track, and press thrice to go back a track. They have better button control than any other headphones we have used.

The earbuds have an immersive audio setting to amplify and bring dimension to sound, which you can control on the Bose Music App.  

They are easily transferable between indoor and outdoor spaces because you do not need to take them off, so the ‘Wear All Day’ concept lives up to its hype as they remain the most comfortable earbuds we have tried. Hands down. 

If you wear them during a brisk walk or run, they will stay put, and their water-resistant material means they do not slide if you sweat or when it is raining. 

The bass is good, but once you play with the EQ on the app, it goes from a 4 to an 8. From our experience, +5, -1, +4 was a good setup on the bass. Bose does have the option to set it automatically, but we like a manual set. It is worth noting that open earbuds will not deliver bass or ambiance better than active noise cancellation. However, we tested them alongside our old Samsung Buds Live and the clarity and sharpness of sound on the Bose Open Ultra came out on top. 

Ten minutes of charge gives you 2 hours of play time. 1 hour will give you full charge. Bose states that if used in ‘Immersive’ mode, it cuts the play time by around 40%. 

I used the earbuds for 7 hours straight in standard mode. 

Call and voice quality is good. The people on the other end said they could hear us clear, and there were no cut offs. Police car sirens and the sound of ambulance vans were heard over the calls, but all other traffic noise was fairly minimal. 

The Cons 

They retail at $299, which is steep for the average consumer. 

I can say that the all-day comfort alone makes them sustainable for the long term. 

If you prefer to invest in one or two key pieces of tech, you may want to ponder them and use them alongside a good noise activation pair.  

In windy conditions or when you walk past a construction/noisy site, the sound drowns out a fair bit, and if you live or work in a large city, chances are you may pass through noise often. My volume was up to 70%, and an audiobook was not easy to listen to with such noise.

The first few times you wear them, you have to adjust which part of the ear lobe you place the buds on. Sometimes, one earbud appeared louder than the other. I found the sweet spot in the middle of the ear lobe. Bose says on their website to angle the earbuds for the best placement. That is what I found to work best, too.  

They only pair with Bluetooth. However, the range is 30 feet. 

There is no wireless charging. If you want this feature, you may have to purchase an additional case from Bose, which means spending even more money.

Where I tested them 


Everyone hates doing it, but it is a necessity. We all want to drown out the outside world, at least for an hour or two. The problem is it is far too busy to be successful at it daily. Chances are you will miss announcements on the train or at the station, or someone will talk to you, and people are far too polite to dismiss this from happening. 

I had to adjust the volume when travelling outside of public transport. On quieter streets, I successfully drowned out the noise when I focused on the audio, but I was able to place our attention when it needed to be elsewhere. It provided balance. 


There is no need to lip-read or nod along to anyone. Manners will stay intact, and you never need to remove your headphones. 

Community Gardening

I got to enjoy the earbuds at this point. Albeit, it was an urban garden with a fair bit of traffic noise. However, it did not take away from the quality of sound we got. It was mindful, but I also interacted with people when needed, and no one knew I was multitasking. 

Indoor meditation

They come into their element here. I set the mode to ‘Relax’ and played with the bass settings again. A dark room made the sound pop as one sense outdid another. At this point, the quality matched up to 85% of that of noise-cancelling headphones we have used in the past without the ear pain. But you do not need to rely on meditation to enjoy these earbuds. Use them in a quiet room, set your mode to immersive, and if you listen to 8D audio, you will feel like you are in a theatre with the artist playing in the room with you. 

Pair them with Netflix or any other streaming service, and you will create a decent cinema-style ambiance. 

The music I tested 

I chose music with high bass to test the quality. That is when I found trial testing the EQ comes in handy. If you listen to tracks such as Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust, Metric by Black Sheep, or Micheal Jackson’s Billie Jean, you clearly hear the difference when playing with the bass composition. 

I listened to LoFi and Hans Zimmer (indoors). With the latter, we set the sound to immersive, and the dimensions of sound provided a cinematic edge.

Although we may argue the current price point, I enjoyed the Bose Open Ultra Earbuds more than I thought, thanks to their comfort and ease. 

Technical Details 

Earbuds:1.9 cm H x 1.7 cm W x 2.7 cm D

Charging case:4.2 cm H x 6.5 cm W x 2.6 cm D

USB cable:30.5 cm 


Earbuds: Flexible silicone, plastic, metallic finish, gold plating, sweat and water resistant (IPX4)

Case: Plastic (Hard)


Battery life: Up to 7.5 hours

Earbud charge time: Up to 1 hour

Charging case charge time: Up to 3 hours

Quick-charge time: 10 minutes for up to 2 hours

Battery charge method: USB-C

Battery type (earbud): Lithium-ion

Battery type (case): Lithium-ion 


Four mics (two on each bud)


Up to 9 metres

Bluetooth version: 5.3