Customer Review

363 of 450 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good sound, depending on use., August 30, 2010
This review is from: Bose IE2 Audio Headphones (Electronics)
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I admit it, I am a an earphone snob. I don't know that I have ever tried the earbuds packaged with the many MP3 players I have owned in my life, and currently use a high-end Shure in-the-ear earphones/monitors (SE530), which form my current basis of comparison. The most recent offering from Bose is where I would expect excellent sound, a big upgrade from the included buds with any MP3 player. You DO get very good sound with these earphones for sure, but only when you are using them in a quiet context, otherwise you will be sorely disappointed and not hear much at all, other than the surrounding noise. Go into a crowded subway train, or I would imagine these to be useless on an airplane, and it is nearly impossible to make out music. At this price point, you have several in-ear options that will be a much more pleasant experience in more noisy conditions. Now, not everyone is comfortable with the inner ear phones - and they do require some maintenance, and extra care to monitor your surroundings, but to me the sound and overall experience is worth it.

Now, back to the IE2. With the name "IE2" I would assume that these are inner earphones, yet the packaging clearly states no noise canceling (or isolation) ability with the set. It also includes a case, which looks and feels cheap, and of little real world use. IE2 comes with 2 types of tips (in three sizes), which should allow comfortable fit for any ear. I did however, not get comfortable fit. I always felt like they were going to fall out of my ears. These buds come with a fairly short (not a deal breaker) and flimsy small-gauge cable (compared to some) that flies around and gets caught on things, because, I think it is too lightweight. Overall, I did not find that the build quality inspired confidence.

So overall, I would rate these a 4 for use in a quiet room/context - most people will likely find a good fit and enjoy the sound. However, I would rate these a 1 or a 2 for use in noisy environments (public transit, gyms, airplanes) that I often find myself in.
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Tracked by 16 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 56 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 1, 2010 8:52:34 AM PDT
sandvfan says:
R. Lanthier,

Sorry to tell you this but I think you should consider getting couple of things straight before you review a product based on some misconceptions and make a comparison with a completely different product category.

* In-Ear headphones divide into 2 category. Earphones or earbuds which also can be referred to as in-ear headphones and they are the kind that are placed directly outside of the ear canal, but without fully enveloping it - Like these Bose IE2 headphones. The main selling point of these kind of IE headphones are comfort and general ear ear health.

The second kind is "canalphones" or "in-ear monitors" that are inserted directly into the ear canal - like your expensive Shure SE530. It's often misrepresented as in-ear headphones by almost all "canalphone" manufacturers because calling it "canalphones" is unattractive from Marketing perspective and it also sounds somewhat dangerous since it involves the ear canal.

* Your Shure SE530 retail for 550 bucks. The cheapest I have seen is around 400-450 bucks online. They also have noise canceling feature on them in addition to being an "canalphone" type. On the other hand, BOSE IE2s are 100 bucks and they are not noise canceling canalphones. Therefore, it's in a completely different price range and category. They should not be rated for noise reduction abilities. Just like you cannot rate a Honda Civic for its off-road capabilities.

My conclusion is these headphones are made for different purpose than what you are looking for but it does not make them an underachiever for people whose needs are different than yours.

Posted on Sep 2, 2010 11:49:07 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 2, 2010 11:50:51 PM PDT
fumachu says:
I would write a review but the IE2's are currently "not released" for some reason so I can't post(maybe recalled already? heh). I'm writing just to agree with R. Lanthier about the sound quality for these second generation Bose earphones. I have owned and liked the first generation, but was sadly disappointed with the new ones. In an extremely quiet environment they sound very good for the price range and brand name. In the presence of any ambient noise, however, they become almost unusable at a safe volume. The sound does seem better balanced with the low ends toned down and the highs a little clearer. The new StayHear tips are brilliant giving stability to an already comfortable design.

I'm not sure why they perform so poorly in a (not even) noisy setting, but if I had to guess it is because of the extra mesh openings on the inner part of the earphone. That is the only noticeable difference in design, and since the original IE did not have this problem, I'm guessing this is reason?

Again, this is coming from someone who had and really liked the previous version. I wish I could try the se530, but for now my Klipsch image s4 offers better sound for about the same price.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2010 2:47:23 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 21, 2010 2:51:16 PM PDT
R. Lanthier says:
I believe I contextualized my review appropriately by stating my comparison model. Of course, I would not expect $100 phones to perform as the SE530, but I would expect them to perform better than they do in noisier environments, and also let people know when they do and do not work well. I think people can see that - maybe I'm wrong. Quiet room - fine, otherwise, pretty useless, and I see I am not the only one who sees them this way.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2010 2:48:57 PM PDT
R. Lanthier says:
Thank you for your comment... I am glad to see someone else has a similar experience and I have not lost my mind. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 22, 2010 7:18:22 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 22, 2010 8:21:55 AM PDT
sandvfan says:
R. Lanthier,

Perhaps I should have written my previous comment less technical and more direct. Let me try to summarize what my actual main point was.
It's little long again but bear with me :)

Need vs. Want

It's no coincidence Bose chose to go with in-ear design rather than canalphone design. Bose's primary focus has always been to satisfy consumers' need when they design their product line. In fact, non of their product designs and features are coincidence. That is probably the main reason why Bose is criticized by the audiophile community for selling overpriced products that are not the best, in their opinion. However, for regular consumers it's exactly what they need. Apple is my second favorite example regarding this subject. If you pay attention, Bose and Apple have almost identical focus. Their products are not packed with loads of features and they don't require much knowledge operating them. Yet, their products are easy to use, reliable with exceptional customer care after sale. Both companies are in top 10 list of most successful ones in the world even though they charge premium for much less.

You would be shocked by research findings what most consumers actually desire. By most consumers I am talking about average users - not audiophile crowd who are only fraction of the total percentage - like yourself. Believe or not, it is proven by numbers that the very first requirement of consumers when it comes to earphones is the comfort, second is the simplicity, third is the audio quality. Do you know how many people out there stick with iPod stock buds just because they are trying to avoid the canalphones? You would agree that such design like apple stock buds and IE2, there aren't many in-ear options. Many consumers compromise all the other aspects just for that reason. I know there are many comfortable canalphones out there but is it really good enough? Absolutely not. Most canalphones loose the argument once the consumer finds out he/she has to stick something in their ear canal. Women are much more sensitive regarding this issue than men. You would see many women wearing canalphones in the gym but that's only because they need to use them for short period at a time and they are never happy about they have pretty much no choice. They opt more comfortable sets for their personal use.

As for the Bose IE2, lets just think about it for a second. Are they comfortable? Yes. Are they complicated? No. Is the sound satisfactory? Yes (non-audiophile level) That would be the selling point for "average" consumer. They won't go beyond that. Now that the new design prevents the falls in the gym, it advances another step. If you don't believe me or the research findings go out there and ask 20 random women and 20 random men to name 3 high end earphone brands. If 2 out of 20 women can name just 2 high end brand names (besides Bose) I will delete all my comments here and I will tell everybody you are right! I am THAT confident. I am speaking from a professional stand point since I am a Researcher myself. Non of what I said is opinion. It's all facts.

In conclusion, your purchases are derived by want more than need due to your audiophile nature. Same thing with the person who agreed with your comment. The fact that he knows SE530 is a headphone model and not one of Lexus model and Klipsch makes headphones and speakers and not running shoes excludes him from being an "average" user. You will have few more people agreeing with your review but you will have many more people who will click "NOT helpful" for your review over time. I can give myself an example. I consider my self a videophile. That's why my TV purchase decision is based on what I would want to have. It would be a completely different story for someone who just needs a TV. I can pile a list of factors that I find not good enough with almost all TV sets on Best Buy display. How many people can do that? Only videophiles. Again, fraction of the total population.

As for Bose, I know for sure they are capable of making big and ground shaking speakers with some fancy receivers. I am also quite sure they are capable of making canalphones with noise canceling feature. However, that's not exactly how it works. The best product doesn't mean the biggest success. Consumer behavior is much different than what you would guess it might be. That is why that fact that IE2's leak some ambient noise, which probably most IE2 users won't be exposed to in regular basis, does not cause any inconvenience over the superior comfort and great audio quality they get. Plus, it's even on the packaging that clarifies it is not intended for noise cancelation. Having said that, no, you are not loosing your mind but you are definitely not reviewing this product within its parameters. Given the lack of alternatives in the market for "in-ear design" headphones that provide superior comfort and more than satisfactory audio quality with exceptional customer service you get from Bose, $100 price tag to performance and long term satisfaction ratio is perfectly right. It's the market sets the right price for the product. That is why $800 Bose GS Series II that consist of 2 little speakers with a sub that requires one single cable connection to connect all your sources will sell a lot quicker and easier than $800 speaker sets that are connected to a feature loaded huge receiver. It's hard to understand but it is true.

It will always be hard to find answers for some questions that will make sense to most people?
How come nobody else thought of making some of the most revolutionary products before? Like iPod...
How did Bose become "BOSE"?

Well, they know something nobody else does. Wouldn't you agree?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2010 1:07:15 PM PDT
R. Lanthier says:
I don't understand why feel the need to write nearly 1,000 words on this. Clearly I have struck a nerve for some reason. As I re-read my review, I see no reason for this. The set sounds great in a quiet room and is near useless otherwise. That's it. And now AAAA, you are officially ignored...

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2010 2:36:06 PM PDT
sandvfan says:
It's just amazing to see how selfish we are becoming as a society. This has nothing to do with striking nerves. I was just trying to engage in a civilized discussion but clearly you are not up for it. Supporting opinion with facts are always welcomed in public discussions and comments as well as in real world. Since I have not made any personal attack, you have an option but not the right to ignore me. Just to let you know, it's only places like this that will allow you to "ignore" people. In a real world, where you may find yourself in an intellectual discussions, you can only support your ideas with facts and figures if you want credibility. I suggest you re-read my comments and possibly other reviews as well. Don't limit your self by just re-reading your own review. There are other people in the world which was my whole concept. You could at least benefit from some marketing and research knowledge from people you choose to ignore.

I am only willing to contribute if the person is up for it. Since you are not one of those people, I apologize for even trying. I believe there was no personal attracts but I apologize for that as well if you thought there was.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 18, 2010 11:23:13 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 18, 2010 11:23:50 AM PDT
@ AAAA "Supporting opinion with facts are always welcomed in public discussions and comments as well as in real world." ...sadly, not not all that true. Most people don't like to be confused by the facts. But keep trying; some of us like to know the facts before making decisions.

Posted on Oct 20, 2010 11:22:39 AM PDT
Don't sweat it. He couldn't have said it best...
"I admit it, I am an earphone snob." Yes, you are sir...
End of discussion.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 30, 2010 6:21:04 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 30, 2010 6:41:11 AM PST
The SE530 has no noise cancellation. The SE530 seals your ear canal thus isolating you from ambient noise. Cancellation is a different, and more complicated, beast...

Some valid points have been made, especially about the desires and the product knowledge of the general public. It's true that most people would not recognize Shure as a high-end headphone manufacturer, or Patek Phillipe as a high end watchmaker, or even Orange as a high end mountain-bike manufacturer. Most people just don't care about the quality of products produced by these companies. They're happy with their Timex watches, their Schwinn bikes, and their Bose headphones. And that's fine. I'm the same when it comes to toasters. I'm sure there are some very good high end bread-browners out there, but I'm happy with the cheapest thing I could find at Bed, Bath and Boredom.

R. Lanthier's review has been the most useful I have read. It cuts through the usual Bose claims of "unsurpassed" sound from "the most respected name in audio" to give a fair and balanced review from the point of view of someone who cares about sound quality. I was considering buying a pair of IE2s for my wife, who is not an audiophile and is not fan of in ear monitors. However, she still wants a fair amount of isolation as she mainly listens to music on the NYC subway. After reading R. Lanthier's review I will look elsewhere.
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R. Lanthier

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