I’ve never met a Bose headphone I didn’t like, and sure enough, the SoundTrue Ultra is brilliant. It had a huge uphill climb to win me over, and it accomplished that in about 5 minutes.
See, I don’t usually like IEM’s. “IEM” is short for In-Ear Monitor, a type of headphone that’s like the Ear Pods that every Apple product comes with…only it inserts down into your ear canal, sealing tight with a removable tip. They’re often used by musicians for on-stage monitoring. Consumers love IEM’s for their combination of portability, isolation, and performance.
The ear canal seal allows IEM’s to provide exceptional sound with a tiny driver, delivering crisp sound straight into your eardrum. The better the seal, the better the audio, so they often come with different sized tips.
I don’t like them for 2 reasons. 1)I find them uncomfortable and strange. I hear myself breathing and swallowing in my own head. The tips cause my ears pain after a short wearing time, as they press into the walls of my ear canal. 2)On occasion I produce too much earwax, and that can exacerbate the comfort problems I already experience. Even if I do get a good seal, I don’t usually find the sound to be worth the discomfort.
The Bose SoundTrue Ultra solves the comfort problem completely. This is so awesome! Using the latest generation of Bose’s patented “StayHear” tip system, the eartips are easy to insert, stay put, and most importantly, have a shape that’s so comfy that they practically disappear. No pain! No major wax buildup! And a u-shaped cord that minimizes microphonic cable sounds!
That little wing tip helps the SoundTrue Ultra to stay in place, and also distributes the weight. The SoundTrue Ultra comes with three different sizes of StayHear tip, and the ends are shaped properly to fit nice and comfortably into your ears. I’ve seen other IEM makers attempt ergonomic ear tip shapes, but aside from getting your ear canal mapped and getting custom tips (yes, you can do that) you won’t find anything more comfy than what Bose has done with their tips.
How about the sound? They sound exceptional! The SoundTrue Ultras produce a rich, balanced, detailed sound, with all frequencies well-represented. They aren’t fatiguing over long sessions, and they do just fine with poorly-recorded material. They sound as good as a nice pair of over-ear headphones. If you’re a bass-head you probably won’t like them, but the bass is adequate for all genres of music as long as you don’t expect it to explode your ears.
The SoundTrue Ultra also isolates well, and if you want even more isolation you can pay double the price ($300 vs $149) and get the noise-cancelling QuietComfort 20, essentially the big brother to these headphones. Bose also makes the SoundSport ear bud, which is not sealed but still has a nice sound to it (I own an older model).
This is a cool headphone. The comfy ear tips and wonderful sound mean I can finally enjoy all the things that people like about IEMs, without having to suffer pain in my ear canals. I have no idea why so many other models use circular ear tips, or nightmarish shapes that push down so far it feels like you’ll hit your brain. Thanks to their combination of StayHear tips and great sound, Bose makes the best IEM. Simple as that!