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Bose OE Headphones
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Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations

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Bose OE Headphones

Ryan enjoys Angry Birds on Dad's iPad with Bose OE headphones. My biggest source of support for this free website is when you use those or any of these links, especially this link directly to it at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep adding to this free website when you get yours through those links — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you buy elsewhere. Thanks for your support! Ken.


September 2013  Bose Reviews  Headphone Reviews  Audio Reviews  All Reviews


Introduction         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio
I use these stores. I can't vouch for ads below.

These Bose OE ("On-Ear") headphones aren't that special — just special enough that with all the fancy headphones I own, I still bought a set for myself. My family has purchased three pairs!

Why is this? Simple: they are very light weight, they are small, have a tiny plug that's safe if you bang it while plugged into an iPad, they fold easily into a very small package in their little case for travel, they sound great, they reduce outside noise, and they are inexpensive enough that I won't cry too loudly if lose or damage a set.

These are small on-the-ear isolating headphones.

I already have the professional ATH-M50 and Hi-Fi Focal Spirit One which both fold flat to fit against my iPad in my backpack for local trips. When I had a week-long airplane trip, I asked to borrow my wife's set of Bose OE. I suggested she not get them back when she did because we already have so many headphones here, but she did what she wanted to, and once she brought them home, I was hooked on the sound and the tiny size and portability.

My wife didn't want to let me have them for the week, so I had to buy my own. Seeing how reasonably priced they are, we got another set for my son because they also fit kids heads just great — and the tiny plug isn't likely to damage my iPad if he drops it while plugged in.

All in all, I had to get a set of these. Nothing else I had could do all this in as small a package to carry around for a week of abuse in the field.



Great sound with strong, solid, deep bass solid down to to 16 cycles per second!

Folds for travel into its small, tough case.

Small plug unlikely to damage an iPad if dropped with it plugged in (larger plugs of pro headphones will break off inside the iPad if banged too hard!)

They reduce outside noise — with no batteries needed, ever.




Made in China — just like headphones three and four times more expensive.



Two detachable cords included: a normal one about 3.6' (43" or 1.1m) long for most use, and one only 16" (40 cm) long if you want to use these running and have your iPod strapped to your arm.



No remote control or mic: these are all about the music!

These are classic closed headphones that muffle noise, also called "passive" noise reduction. They aren't battery-operated "active" noise-canceling headphones, which are even quieter.


What about the newer Bose OE2 headphones

I have no idea, all I know is that the Bose OE2 headphones look the same and cost more. I have not tried them.


Specifications         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations


Plug Size

3.5mm, standard for all iPod, iPad, iPhone and portable players and DSLRs.



7.3 x 5.3 x 2.4 inches HWD.

185 x 135 x 60 millimeters HWD.



Not specified.

Here's the actual measured impedance:

Bose OE Headphones Impedance

Bose OE Headphones Impedance magnitude (Ω), and phase angle versus frequency. (R&S UPL; +90º is capacitive, -90º is inductive.)

What this says is that the Bose OE headphones have about a 22 Ω impedance. As I expected, it's unusual and shows that Bose is probably employing some passive magic between the connector and the driver.



5.05 oz (143.2 g), specified.



No batteries needed.



Bose OE Headphones Case

Bose OE Headphones Case, included. bigger.

Zippered stiff case.


2 detachable cords.



Price, USA

About $140, September 2013.


Performance         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations



The manual advises correctly to turn off any EQ , bass-boost or other foolishness in your player, because the Bose OE headphones are already optimized for optimal sound played "flat."

The Bose OE are warm-sounding headphones, with relaxed midrange and strong deep and middle bass. The midrange is smooth, not harsh or boosted. The Bose OE have bass is the way it should be heard! It's not boomy unless you play it too darn loud. Played at normal levels, it's the way it ought to sound (I'm a bass player). You can play these softly and still hear all the bass, or turn them up and hear even more bass due to the ear's nonlinear bass response versus level.

They are solid for pop music, and smoother than most other headphones in this price range so we can enjoy symphonic music and massed strings without the harshness of headphones like the MDR-V6 and ATH-M50. For real symphonic music where we really want $3,000 headphones, these Bose OE err on the side of having too little presence and midrange. For classical music they are smooth, but more distant and less revealing than more exotic headphones. This all adds up to big sound for every kind of music from a company that's been rewriting audio history since the 1960s.

Used in a very noisy environment like an airplane, I run almost full volume on movies, and these have BIG smooth bass with sound that actually does get a bit out of my head. The funny part is that with these that I have the least expensive headphones on the plane; everyone else had the more expensive active noise-canceling versions.

Bass is boosted, strong and solid to 16 Hz. It's not boomy; you can hear every note up and down the scale.

Outside isolation is great, seeing the tiny size of the on-the-ear earpieces. It has about the same isolation from outside sound as most other isolating around-the-ear headphones.

Spurious radiation (how much sound your neighbors hear) is somewhat stronger than most closed headphones, but much less than open headphones. These are closed headphones, but with a bass vent on the case that also radiates middle and high frequencies. On an airplane, no one will hear anything next to you at any level, but in a silent environment, people next to you will hear you rocking out.



No amplifier is needed with iPads, iPods and iPhones.

It's not quite as sensitive as the ultra-sensitive Sony MDR-V6 or ATh-M50, and still plays more than loud enough for anything right out of an iPod.



These Bose OE headphones have small earpieces that ride on top of my ears. They muffle outside sound by covering the ears.

They stick to my head and are so light that I (or my son) can walk around with them and they don't fall off

The included zippered case is tough and practical.

They fold flat and then the earpieces fold further inside the curve of the headband, and do it very easily — more easily and more completely than other folding headphones. These Bose OE fold both flat, and then inside the curve of the headband, while my ATH-M50 and Focal Spirit One only fold flat, not up into the headband, and my Sony MDR-V6 only fold in to the headband, but don't fold flat — so only these Bose are as portable as I wanted.

The tiny, angled plug is safe for use with iPads. If you bang something into a larger plug drop your iPad, larger plugs have enough leverage to break-off leaving the smaller part inside your iPad, and/or damage the inside of your iPad. With the Bose OE, they have a tiny plug just like Apple's headphones.

The cords unplug from the headphones. The headphones have a male plug on a one-inch cord, thus the included cords are actually extensions. If you needed a longer cord, you can use both at the same time.

Another real-world advantage of these plug-in cords is that if you're walking around and something gets caught on the cord, the cord will unplug instead of ripping the wiring out of your new headphones.


Usage         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations

Clarity depends on head placement. If you don't get the open part of each earpiece right on top of the opening of your ear canal, it will sound muffled.

It may take a few tries to get them on your head perfectly. Stereo balance wont be even if both left and right ears aren't placed the same.

This was weird at first, and I very quickly figured it out.


Recommendations         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations

Buy a set — I've already bought THREE for my family and myself.

The price is right for great-sounding and very portable headphones. These are not for light, airy sound; these are for most of us who love strong, solid sound, durability and portability at a low price. There are less expensive headphones like the Sony MDR-V6 which sound about as good — but don't fold as well or have a case. The ATH-M50 and Focal Spirit One can sound better, but don't fold as well, cost more and also have no case.

When it came time to throw a pair of headphones into my backpack for long trip, these Bose were the only practical choice over my more delicate studio-oriented headphones.

I bought these for an intercontinental trip for their size, sound, durability and low cost. If I only used them on airplanes I'd opt for more expensive noise-canceling versions — but I'd also worry more about them getting lost. I used these on the plane, and also in quiet rooms.

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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


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