Bose Soundlink On-Ear Headphones: Battle Gear for the Cube Farm

Electronics Geek Culture Music Reviews

Headphones are a very personal choice. But once you have a listen and determine they sound good to you, what then? Are they comfortable for long periods of time? Will they stand up to heavy use? Do they have the features you need? Can they survive the hostile environment of a cube farm? I’ll try to answer these questions and more about the Bose Soundlink On-Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones.

Photo by Skip Owens
Photo by Skip Owens

First, a little background about these headphones and my listening habits. I bought these Bose Soundlink headphones specifically for use at work, which is in an environment not much different than most… a cube farm. So when I need to concentrate on a task it helps to immerse myself in music so the surrounding noises don’t distract me. But I also have a lot of visitors in and out of my cube every day. So I needed a pair of headphones that I could quickly turn on and start using and then quickly slip off and slip back on again as people come in and out.

On-ear headphones are a really great option for this type of environment. If designed well, the on-ear headphones can block out almost as much ambient noise as in-ear or over-the-ear, but then can be removed and replaced very quickly. I also use my headphones a lot at home. I have 3 kids and I do a lot of writing, hence the need to block out distractions from time to time. The features built into the Bose Soundlink headphones allow you to pair multiple devices and then automatically re-connect with those devices, making it really easy to switch from using them at home on one device to using them at work on another device. They will even connect to two devices at the same time.

Bose Bits & Bobs (Photo by Skip Owens)
Bose Bits & Bobs (Photo by Skip Owens)

In the box:

  • 1 pair of Bose Bluetooth Soundlink headphones (just one pair, no 2-for-1 here)
  • 1 padded zippered carrying case
  • 1 USB to micro USB charging cable (no power brick included)
  • 1 3.5mm audio cable (in case you want or need to listen old school style)


  • 15-hour battery life (with a quick 15-minute charge giving you 2 hours)
  • Can connect to two devices at the same time
  • Foldable design so ideal for travel
  • Wireless range of 30 ft (typical Bluetooth range)
  • Microphone for taking phone calls and for use with phone that take voice commands (i.e. they work with Siri)
  • Dual microphones for use with background noise reduction during phone calls
  • Battery status of the headphones shown on your connected device (if your device supports it)
  • Spoken headphone status
    • “Ready to pair”
    • “Connected to ‘device name’ “
    • “Battery xx%”
Folded & Ready for Travel (Photo by Skip Owens)
Folded & Ready for Travel (Photo by Skip Owens)


This is the second pair of Bose headphones I have ever owned. The first pair was a wired over-the-ear set (no noise cancellation) and I owned that pair of headphones for at least 5 or 6 years. After years of almost constant use (*cough* abuse) I finally decided it was time to put them out of their misery. You see, after literally thousands of hours of use the materials on the headphones (both the head band and the ear pads) were falling apart. I had gotten more than my money’s worth out of them so I didn’t think twice about throwing them out and getting a new pair of headphones. It wasn’t until last year that I decided to go with another set of on-ear headphones and I wanted to go wireless so I bought these Soundlink on-ear headphones. I wasn’t initially impressed with the quality of the material on my old pair of Bose headphones but they ended up holding up incredibly well. But these new Soundlinks have materials that seem really rugged, so if my last pair is any indication I will get quite a few years out these new Soundlinks. The outer headband material on these Soundlinks is a canvas-like material and the ear pads are a soft padded leather (or leather-like) material. The main frame of the headphones are plastic, lightweight and portable but not flimsy.


I am no audiophile, but do play digital stage pianos and keyboards and hence own a really nice set of over-the-ear monitors. Bose is not known for giving you an absolutely “pure” sound: the EQ is tweaked. When I compare the Bose to my high-end monitors there is difference in clarity but it’s not much. The bass is very pronounced with the Bose (check out the track “Why So Serious?” From The Dark Knight Collector’s Edition soundtrack and it sounds like an earthquake going off in your ears), but not overwhelming to the rest of the sound spectrum like it tends to be with something like a pair of Beats. I like quite a bit of bass so the settings on the Bose sound really good to my ears. The Bose also delivers when it comes to the high end, like with the relentless strings in the track “Adagio for TRON” by Daft Punk. And you can literally hear the piano hammers fall in “Stars” by George Winston.

All that being said, try them before you buy because everyone’s ears are different.  I listen to a pretty wide variety of music with these headphones (as you have probably figured out by now) and I’ve found that it handles the range really well. It’s not unusual for me to spend 5 or 6 hours a day with these headphones on and they don’t hurt my ears or make them sweat (and I live in Florida so it doesn’t take much). I also do a lot of traveling and I don’t hesitate for a second to take them on the plane or toss them in my carry-on luggage. So far they don’t even have a scratch. The physical compression of the headphones against the outside of your ears is just enough to block out a significant amount of the ambient noise (my co-workers have no issues sneaking up on me) but they don’t press hard enough to be uncomfortable. In fact, I have a really nice set of in-ear headphones for use on a plane and I find that the Bose headphones block out almost as much noise, which is quite impressive. I’ve had this pair of Bose Soundlink headphones for over a year now and I can safely say they are my favorite pair of headphones. If you live in a cube farm like I do I would say they are essential battle gear, so suit up!

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