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Excellent sound quality
Monitors heart rate
Sweat- and water-resistant
Carrying case included
Uncomfortable for long periods of time
Navigating tracks requires an extra button click
The Bose Soundsport Pulse are wireless headphones that offer exceptional sound quality and a good amount of comfort and durability for long workouts.
If you’re serious about listening to music while you exercise, you don’t want to deal with excess wires, a poor fit, or subpar sound quality. Bose Soundsport Pulse headphones are wireless and built specifically with your next sweat session in mind. They’re durable, easy to secure and keep in place, and deliver on the sound quality you’d expect from the Bose brand.
We spent a week exercising and commuting with the Bose Soundsport Pulse to test their readiness for extended wear and their performance during our workouts.
These Bose headphones blend form and function in a stylish and very durable package. They’re very lightweight overall at only 0.81 ounces, but the buds themselves aren’t exactly small—each measures 1.1 x 0.9 x 1.2 inches, which is definitely on the large side for an earbud. The good news is that this means they pack a lot of punch when it comes to sound quality.
The right earbud is where you’ll find the power button, battery life, and Bluetooth signal indicators. It’s also where the micro-USB charging port lives. The port cover is well-concealed but not difficult to open and lays flat and out of the way when not in use.
The cord that attaches the two buds features a rectangular panel that houses the buttons for controlling volume, calls, pausing music, and moving back and forth on a playlist. The buttons are responsive and don’t require too much pressure, but we did find the forward/backward action to be a little awkward. We repeatedly pressed the raised volume buttons, which are more intuitively placed on the top and bottom of the panel.
It took us some time to get used to the double-tap action on the left or right side of the middle multi-function button, which is actually inset on the panel. Luckily, this prompt is very responsive and there’s no lag in advancing or moving back a track. But it’s a slightly awkward motion to learn.
The wire also comes with a plastic clip that you can use to attach the headphones to your shirt to keep them in place when exercising.
While these are lightweight enough to throw in your pocket or bag, Bose has you covered with a round carrying case and carabiner for neatly storing and traveling with these headphones. There is even a mesh panel on the inside, which could be a great place to store the other ear tips and wings that come with the product.
Although they don’t look like they would be, the Soundsport Pulse headphones are actually deceptively comfortable. Each bud features a tip and wing that fits in the ear. We found that it took no effort to secure a snug fit. There are small, medium, and large size options, but we didn’t have to fuss over finding a better configuration than what came out of the box. The ear tips felt like they were tightly secured in our ears and not floating or at risk of falling out, which was never an issue for us even during sweaty outdoor workouts.
During our testing, we generally wore these headphones for about two hours at a time. We weren’t desperate to remove them and could imagine they’d be comfortable to wear during a marathon or on a longer hike. Listening to them while commuting and doing normal activities was fine, but we actually found that we preferred smaller earbuds when not exercising. Oddly, the weight and bulk of the earbuds were much more noticeable when weren’t engaged in a workout activity.
Although they don’t look like they would be, the Soundsport Pulse headphones are actually deceptively comfortable.
Credit for the comfortable fit is owed to the soft silicone of the StayHear+Pulse tips featured on these headphones. Bose says they’re different from the tips used on other models, and their shape helps creates a more effective seal in your ear for a stay-put fit and better auditory experience. We definitely noticed what felt like a sealed-in fit every time we wore these headphones.
Bose emphasizes the Soundsport Pulse’s durability to water, sweat, and rain, and we feel comfortable backing up that claim with our testing experience. These are rated at an IPX4 water-resistance rating, which means they should be impervious to splashing water. We tested the sweat-resistance on several 80-degree days runs and never noticed any slipping or a compromised fit due to sweat.
Along with the general sweat that built up over the course of long and strenuous workouts, we also poured water over us to see if they held up to splashing. They did. We experienced no disruption in fit or sound, which makes these headphones a strong contender against even the sweatiest workouts. Unless you’re truly putting these to the test in heavy rain and humidity, you’ll likely be pleased with the durability and no-slip fit.
One of our favorite things about the Soundsport Pulse is the warm, bassy, and rich sound quality they deliver. No matter the genre of music we listened to, whether it was hip hop, folk, or pop, we were always impressed and satisfied with the audio quality.
And while there’s no active noise cancellation at work, we did find that wearing these headphones in noisy areas—and even in the midst of a fireworks display—definitely offered some effective passive noise cancellation. We appreciated that the headphones didn’t completely drown out exterior noise, especially when running on city roads where awareness of traffic is necessary, but the dampening of background noise made for an engaging experience with whatever we were listening to while exercising.
No matter the genre of music we listened to, we were always impressed with the audio quality.
Bose says that these headphones will last five hours on a single charge and we found that to be right on the money. Recharging them from zero usually took about two hours, but like the manufacturer claims, 15 minutes did the trick to gain about an hour of playing time.
Five hours isn’t terrible, but even cheaper models with fewer features and less-impressive audio quality are able to offer around eight hours of battery life. Still, these will get you through an hour or two of listening for most of the week. But if you want to use them for daily commuting and workouts, you may be recharging these headphones every day or two.
You have a couple of options for pairing your mobile device to the Soundsport Pulse. There’s built-in NFC technology for connecting that way, or you can go the mobile app route.
Downloading the Bose Connect app to pair the Soundsport Pulse to your device is a very straightforward and quick process. You can even pair them to a second device if you want. But that’s pretty much the extent of it. You can use the app to view your heart rate, battery charge level, and play music through your Apple Music account if you have one. If you’re streaming music in another app, like Spotify for example, you can also use the Bose Connect app to toggle backward and forward in your playlist. But there are no other health metrics or additional bonus features to enjoy.
One of the biggest reasons to reach for these wireless headphones is the heart-rate monitoring function. The left earbud captures this data and the companion Bose Connect app is where you’ll be able to view it.
We tested the headphones’ heart rate readings against the readings from our Garmin watch with a built-in heart rate monitor and we were impressed to find that the Soundsport Pulse consistently returned data that was almost identical to the Garmin. We also liked using the heart rate monitoring function for running workouts in Strava. By designating these headphones as your primary data source, you can log heart-rate metrics over the course of a workout.
Other supported apps include Map My Run, Runkeeper, and Endomondo. These product integrations are a more useful way to take advantage of the heart-rate monitoring capacity of these headphones. While the Bose Connect will show you this data, that’s really all you can do with it.
Bose Soundsport Pulse wireless headphones retail for $199.95 and, as of the time of this writing, usually sell for between $175 and $200. This is not exactly cheap, especially when you consider the competition.
Similar heart-rate-monitoring headphones like the LifeBEAM Vi Sense wireless headphones retail for a similar price, but they also come with some extra bells and whistles like fitness tracking and coaching features. The Jabra Sport Pulse Special Edition has a list price of $160, but they also level up the experience with VO2 max metrics and a coaching app.
But if you aren’t striving for big training goals, those extra bonuses may not make a difference—the durability and high-quality sound of the Soundsport Pulse may be all you need for regular gym sessions.
Similar headphones with heart-rate monitoring don’t just stop there. They enhance this feature with longer battery life or a slew of metrics and training tools.
The LifeBEAM Vi Sense wireless headphones do both. These headphones boast over eight hours of battery life and a built-in trainer called Vi. When you use the Vi Trainer app, you essentially gain a personal coach for marathon training or general workout motivation. The catch is that while this support is free for a year, you’ll have to pay about $10/month to continue working with Vi once that trial ends.
The Jabra Sport Pulse Special Edition headphones offer similar battery life to the Soundsport Pulse, but you’ll have access to the Jabra Sport app, which you can use as your sole activity-tracking and training app. View real-time data right in the app, like your heart rate zone, pace, and VO2 max. And like Vi, the Jabra app also offers some coaching feedback on training smarter and even recovering faster.
But if you’re not really interested in diving deep with a personal coaching experience, the Soundsport Pulse could serve as the right companion for your runs and routine workouts.
Interested in stacking these up against other exercise headphone options? Browse of our lists of the best waterproof Bluetooth headphones, best workout headphones, and best noise-cancelling earbuds.
Excellent fit, excellent sound, and heart rate tracking features fit for everyday workouts.
The Bose Soundsport Pulse wireless headphones are stylish and rugged, delivering high-quality sound and a stay-put fit. The accurate heart rate tracking is also a nice bonus, but the app lacks robust fitness insights—we’d recommend linking your data to another more full-featured fitness tracking app.