Bose Around-Ear Headphones

Bose Around-Ear Headphones
Company: Bose

Price: $140

Bose is well-known for the company’s QuietComfort Acoustic Noise Canceling Headphones, costing $300-350. Most smart, thrifty music listeners will be satisfied with the affordable Around-Ear Headphones, at less than half the price of their highly-promoted siblings.

How is this possible? Because Bose’s Around-Ear (or A-E) model has the same TriPort audio components, for “lifelike sound, including deep, low notes” (the company’s words, that agrees with). Even better, A-E are ultra-light, well-constructed, extremely comfortable, and a very snug fit, for natural noise reduction without any fancy technology enhancements.

Bose provides three important accessories in the package: an extension cable for extra distance between audio device and listener, a 1/4″ stereo plug adapter, and a nice black drawstring bag to keep everything clean and in one place. A simple folding instruction sheet written in almost every European language gives basic info on the A-E phones, which is all you need, because they are so straightforward to use.

Here is Bose’s web site with full specs and PR info, plus links to every model in their lineup:

How do the Around-Ear Headphones sound? Good, but not spectacular. In many days of direct comparisons to three other over-ear headphones I have available, one each from Panasonic, Sony, and Grado (in ascending order of price and quality), results are consistent. The Bose units are the most comfortable and ambient noise-free (sharing honors with Sony), lightest in weight, and second-best in quality of music delivery (Grado is tops — see our review of those phones here.)

Bass response is rich and consistent, and Bose really did their homework on low end audio presence. Lacking are brilliant high frequencies and a feeling of transparency, both of which are evident in the Grados, which are not meant to have any noise reduction features whatsoever, and are therefore not really comparable to A-E.

For a reality check, I compared A-E with the $250 SuperFi 5Pro in-ear phones from Ultimate Ears, reviewed here by My hunch was correct: bass-to-midrange are fine on Bose A-E, but upper registers and the feeling of transparent audio are less so.

Good news! None of this mumbo jumbo matters, if you are satisfied that what Bose promises is what you want to hear. The company offers a full 30-day refund, and a 90-day exchange period, that applauds. I spent several long days and nights listening exclusively to my favorite iTunes using A-E, and they are so comfortable and light in weight that I gradually accepted their sound to be fine for the casual music lover.

We’ll rate Bose’s Around-Ear Headphones at 3.5 out of 5 here at We hope to have future reviews of their more expensive On-Ear Headphones, with expectations that a little extra money buys a premium audio experience. But for under $150, A-E is good value for money in a well-constructed headphone.


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