First On TechTree: Review — Bose SIE2i
An excellent companion for your workout routine.
Comfortable fit; Great sound; Sweat-resistant; iPhone-compatible; Reebok armband.
Expensive; Armband pouch too small for the iPhone 5.
Street Price (As On 01-Oct-2012): Rs 8700
Bose is well-known for its lifestyle entertainment products, especially speakers and headphones. The company recently entered the sport audio segment with the SIE2 and SIE2i earphones. The difference between the two models is that the latter has hands-free functionality compatible with Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPod touch. This review is about the Bose SEI2i.
Design And Features
The SIE2i earphones have an unconventional StayHear design patented by the company: Each earpiece has a soft silicone rubber hook that gently fits into the depression towards the front of the ear. This prevents it from falling off when there is vigorous head movement. The cable has a clothing clip, which you attach to your shirt for extra protection. The earphones come with two extra sets of the soft eartips, so you can choose based on the size of your ears.
The SIE2i comes with a Reebok and Bose branded armband, which can house an iPhone or iPod touch — but it is not big enough for the new iPhone 5. The iDevice fits snugly inside the pouch, and the transparent window on the outside allows you to control the touchscreen. The armband wraps around the upper arm; you adjust it with Velcro fasteners, which house the earphones when not in use.
The cable length is deliberately short at 33" (83 cm), so you can use the earphones with the device in the armband. A 22" (55 cm) extension cable is provided, so you can use it without the armband too. The cable seems to be of good quality material — neither too stiff nor too soft, and resistant to tangling.
There is an in-line remote controller on the cable, which also serves as a hands-free with a microphone. The control buttons include two buttons to increase and decrease volume, and one button to pause playback or answer \ end a call. They support functionality not present on most hands-free models: Switch to an incoming \ on-hold call, or putting a call on hold (press and release middle button when on a call, press and release again to go back to the first call), switch to an incoming \ on-hold call and end current call (press middle button for about two seconds and release), skip to next song (press and release middle button twice quickly), go to previous song (press and release middle button thrice quickly), fast-forward (quickly press the middle button twice and hold the second press), and rewind (quickly press the middle button thrice and hold the third press).
I must mention that the microphone and remote functionality of this controller is supported by the iPhone (3GS, 4, and 4S), iPod touch (2nd generation and later), iPod nano (4th generation and later), iPad (original and 2), iPod classic (120 GB and 160 GB), and models of MacBook and Macbook Pro made from 2009. Only the remote playback control functionality is supported by the iPod shuffle (3rd generation and later), while the volume control is supported by all iPod models.
The earpiece design falls somewhere between in-ear and on-ear types. The eartips enter the ear canal but don't touch them, so after a while, you don't feel that you are wearing these lightweight (18 grammes) earphones at all. They cannot give provide physical isolation from ambient sound, unlike in-ear earphones, which block the ear canal. The open design causes some amount of audio leakage; the person next to you will probably know what you are listening to, although it won't be loud enough for someone to overhear an entire phone conversation.
As someone who is prone to excessive perspiration, I can vouch for the fact that these won't fall off (as in-ear earphones do) when they get wet. The SIE2i earphones allow the ear to breathe by not blocking it off, and are therefore healthier to wear for extended periods. You might think these earphones won't be able to produce as much bass as in-ear variants, but my experience tells me that Bose has taken care of that.
Sound is not channelled via the eartips into the ear canal, but via an outlet towards the back. This allows the SIE2i to produce a better soundstage. Sound does not distort even at the highest volume. Audio purists may not like these earphones because of the emphasis on vocals and bass; the majority of people will like the sound, I'm sure.
Calling functionality is as good as that on any other wired hands-free.
The Bose SIE2i is an excellent performer. Although not audiophile-grade, it does sound very good. The open design makes it comfortable to wear even when it's hot, and the design ensures that sweat never enters the speaker section. The silicone rubber eartips fit securely and inconspicuously, and won't fall off during your exercise routine. The Reebok-branded armband looks cool and has great utility. All this, unsurprisingly, comes at a price — a hefty Rs 8700. If you don't want the in-line remote and hands-free functionality, I'd suggest you opt for the SIE2, priced at Rs 6400.
There are lower-priced models in India in the sport earphones category, such as the Philips ActionFit and the Sennheiser PMX 680i. The audio quality is only just good enough for me to mention them as alternatives. Even though it's higher priced, I can definitely recommend the Bose SIE2i for those of you who need music at the gym.
The SIE2 and the SIE2i are both available in orange and green colour schemes; I would have preferred more colour choices. Refer to the gallery below for more product images.
Design And Build Quality: 4.5/5
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5