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Sunglasses that play music right into your ears? Sign me up for the product hybrid I never knew I wanted. The Bose Tenor frames are an evolution from their 2018 Alto and Rondo frames, with a few improvements. And while there’s plenty (and I mean plenty) of wireless headphones and Bluetooth speakers on the market to choose from that are probably more practical, none are quite as fun as sunglasses that serenade you.
In Bose’s own terms, these are a ‘breakthrough in mobile audio – immersive sound in eyewear, not earbuds’. They’ve got that futuristic, James Bond gadget vibe. Now all I need is an exploding pen and a well-shaken martini.
Bose Frames (Tenor) price
These bad boys, along with the Bose Soprano (cat eye) Frames retail at $399.95. That said, you can find them slightly cheaper at Amazon.
Bose Frames (Tenor) sound quality
These aren’t technically headphones, not in the sense we’re used to. Which suits this reviewer fine, because there is nothing worse than those headphones that sit deep in your ears, only to pull them out to find they’ve gifted you your own earwax. Should I just clean my ears more? Perhaps.
Rather, the Tenor frames have small 16mm speakers that direct sound towards your ears. While this takes away the sense of intimacy that headphones bring, it is refreshing to be outside, listen to music and also hear your surroundings. That bike coming up behind you? Not a problem. The car coming around the corner? Heard it a mile away. And given the sunglasses are (obviously) designed for outdoor wear, being aware of what’s going on around you is handy. This only becomes a problem in very busy and loud places, like the shops or on a busy highway.
And while others are generally not going to be privy to what you’re listening to (turn up the Nickelback in peace), once you get around the 60-70% volume level, passersby are going to hear you emitting a tinny sound, so be aware the next time you’re next to someone on the train listening to "How You Remind Me".
If you’re anything like Meghan Trainor and you’re all about that bass, then I’m sorry, but the beat drop isn’t going to blow your socks off. But certainly, the range of FKA Twigs, IKSRE and Olafur Arnolds that I listened to on walks was clear, crisp and enjoyable.
The touch controls are also a bit cool - you slide your finger back and forth on the right temple, and turn off with a button, also on your right temple. Plus they turn off when you take them off and place them upside down.
Once I got over the weird feeling of having a phone conversation with my sunglasses, I couldn’t fault the experience. The sound was clear and the mic clearly picked up my voice, because when I told my mum I was talking to her through my new sunglasses, she replied “Oh… really?”. Clearly one of us was more excited than the other.
Bose Frames (Tenor) design and features
As a pair of sunglasses, the Tenor Frames have polarized lenses that block up to 99% of UV rays, so they’re excellent for eye protection while outside. The actual Tenor frames are small and square in shape, made of TR-90 nylon with an IPX2 water-resistance rating, and the lenses can be interchanged with Bose mirrored silver and blue lenses.
They’re also shatter and scratch-proof, which is an added bonus if you’re working out and have a sweaty face.
And if you’re worried about looking like you have a mini boombox attached to your head, at 16mm, the speakers in what Bose calls its Open Ear Audio Technology are the thinnest, smallest Bose speakers.
The glossy, plastic frames might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and while the frames are not gigantic (considering they’re housing speakers) they’re not wafer-thin either, and those who prefer thin bands will notice the difference. But for my medium-sized head, the Tenor frames felt comfortable and sturdy.
Bose Frames (Tenor) battery life
The Bose Tenor Frames boast a 5.5-hour battery life. Even better though is the fact that they don’t drain when not in use. I’ve enjoyed an entire week without having to recharge, just taking the sunglasses out for a walk for about 45 minutes a day.
Unless you wear your sunglasses all day, (or go for 6-hour walks) you should easily get through a few days before needing to recharge.
The Tenor Frames are charged with a Pogo pin charging cable.
Are they worth it?
I think the Bose Tenor Frames are a lot of fun. They’re not going to substitute your regular pair of headphones - especially if you listen to music indoors while you’re working (apparently I look ‘silly’ wearing sunnies inside. Hmmmph). But for listening to some tunes while walking outside on a sunny day, they’re great. I haven’t quite summoned the courage to have a conversation with anyone through them while walking outside in public, but while talking to my mum from the privacy of my balcony, well, I felt very cool. International spy cool.
Just waiting on that shaken martini.