Bose's New (Sort of) and Improved In-Ear Headphones

Bose recently invited us by their Columbus Circle store in Manhattan to give a listen to their in-ear headphones. While not a new product per se, they wanted to discuss some new and upcoming enhancements that I'll touch on in a moment, but this was my first chance to really evaluate the 'phones and, as someone whose been using earbuds extensively for a decade now, I was genuinely impressed by the sound. While not noise-canceling or sound-isolating, they incorporate the same Bose Tri-Port technology as in their QuietComfort line: small ports in the earpieces that help in bass reproduction without adding great size, so they're a handy accessory to iPods et. al.

The silicone earpieces rest on the outer bowl of the ear (the "concha," my new vocabulary word of the day), versus most other earbuds that are typically wedged into the ear canal. This approach, utilizing more of the ear itself to soak up the vibrations, helps to create a more natural, realistic sound, with excellent dynamic range more akin to traditional over-the-ear headphones.

Gluttons for punishment, Bose aggressively encourages customer feedback, and while comfort and sound quality apparently earned high marks from early adopters, the stability left something to be desired. Bose's answer was given in three parts: redesigned, color-coded earpieces in three sizes, easily swapped; a lanyard to help alleviate the weight on the head; and a clip to attach to a shirt or jacket, to combat the tugging of the cord during jogging and the like. The replacement earpieces are available now, the new lanyard and clip at the end of June, all of which can be retrofitted to the existing headphones and will be provided to previous customers at no charge.

Still $99.95, the in-ear headphones are available from Bose at (800) 444-BOSE or www.bose.com/in-ear.

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