CanJam at RMAF2017 Showstopper - Bose SoundWear Companion at the Denver Airport Bose Store

So, I'm out of uniform in a t-shirt heading home after the show. I come up the escalator at the airport in Denver and see a Bose kiosk store. Meh, plenty of time 'til boarding, I'll take a look. Noise canceling headphones...check. Bluetooth speakers...check. And then there's this "Bone Fone" looking necklace thing. What the...!? Tom, the salesman, tells me it's the Bose SoundWear Companion Speaker.

Internally, my skeptomometer pegs; externally, I smile and ask if I can give it a go. Pairing is quick; I find my reference tracks; punch play; and HOLY SCHNIKIES! It's like I put on a sound helmet. Even in the noisy airport I get music...real music. Not the tinny experience I was expecting at all. It actually has some bass! What the heck is going on?

Cut to a week later and I'm in Boston at Listen Inc.'s headphone measurement seminar and there's a few Bose engineers in attendance. I immediately start chatting them up about the SoundWear companion. None were on the actual development team, but they were well aware of the product. They were pretty closed mouthed about the technical details but did offer a couple nuggets.


One of the tricks was the waveguides that originate behind the drivers and go around though the back of the neckband to exit a port on the other side adjacent to the opposite driver. They told me that below some low frequency (around 150-300Hz) DSP reverses phase so that the lows exiting the port are in phase with the opposite driver to reinforce bass response. Another interesting thing about the swapped phase is that while it doesn't seem to effect the near-field listening experience much, it cancels in the far-field and dramatically reduces the radiated sound.

Additionally, when I drive just one channel and listen to the opposite port, it does seem to transfer sound over a pretty wide band. That might provide some significant amount of acoustic cross talk, which may do good things for the imaging. Of course it's very difficult to say exactly what's going on as there is DSP inside the unit, so who knows what kind of tricks Bose is trying to play on your mind. All I know is that it's some pretty nifty tricks because the imaging is definitely all around my head and not focussed on my neck at all.

Bose has sent me a review sample...which means the one I bought is slated to go under the knife for what promises to be an interesting dissection. I wanna see what's going on inside this gadget. Review soon!

I've calmed down now, but you'll see I was pretty excited in the video at the airport.

View on YouTube.

Journeyman's picture

XD so that's Tyll very happy face. :-D Now you made me curious and that's a bad thing.

Journeyman's picture

Someone correct that title for me.
You ARE just like me in a candy store.

Tyler Schrank's picture

Wait, you wear regular t-shirts?

tony's picture

It's like a whole new headphone category.

I've seen as many women wearing these things as men.

The functionality is outstanding.

I did my last 4 years of work with the LG Tone, I kept two on hand.

People love these things and they sound darn good.

LG Tone Studio is the same type of device as the Bose SoundWear, the Tone Studio also has two little retractable ear phones and 4 speakers.

These devices provide a 3D surround sound type experience, like loudspeakers, they're wonderful.

Cost is between $200/$300, functionality is in the $1,000 range.

This is a 21st Century, 4th Generation Audio product type, in it's early stages, they'll gets better from here on out.

These devices need a WOF category, even Sennhieser makes em. I can't image an iPhone owning audiophile not owning at least one of these things, yet I don't recall seeing one single RMAF person wearing one.

Tony in Michigan

ps. there shoulda been a Bose Booth at that Show darn-it but the headphone Buzz starts NOW!

Maybe's picture

Is this the Sennheiser Surrounder for cool people?

stalepie's picture

Whoa! that thing is awesome!

neo's picture

Was thinking of getting a portable headphone..this seems perfect to listen to music in bed. Sucks this releases in 2018 for the rest of the world

Jeffery's picture

Today's America. Public noise everywhere. Public environments where radio stations park trucks in shopping parking lots blaring music promoting their brand. Speakers blasting ads at gas pumps, in stores, in restaurants, in bathrooms and on and on. Smart phone conversations and annoying incoming call alerts/messages that intrude everywhere - parks (local, state and national) library, supermarket, school, waiting rooms - name the public space and noise intrusion is increasing. Have worked in cognitive family therapy for eighteen years and never seen more anxiety and symptoms of depression than I do these days. Clinical research suggests public noise intrusion issues are increasing problem. Less refuge from noise in public spaces equates to increased mental health issues from irritability to depression and suicide triggers. So Bose sells noise cancelling headphones for addressing noise in public spaces - that's good, but now Bose selling device that will be used to make unwanted noise in public spaces. Selling both both ends huh Bose? As typical ends justify means, and means is make money.

People get away to peaceful natural settings as much as possible. Consider learning meditation and engage in vigorous exercise more often.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Cooking, house cleaning, gardening, fixing a motorbike in the garage, are all reasonable uses for these cans without going out into public spaces. Once venturing out, you are probably better off with a noise canceler.
Three Toes of Fury's picture

Hrmm...ok....lets do this:

1) New Gadget Category: Im starting with a strong positive. As a Gadget obsessive (Im betting im not the only one here!) there is always an interest in seeing new products or new takes on current products within the electronic gadget world. From this point I give positive marks to Bose. As others have commented, there are other versions of this tech out there, but it seems pretty sparse.
Im going with an A- rating for the concept.

2) Gadget Use: Ok...this will get more critical....I think there's a fit for this product but i think its far more niche than presented. These are small speakers. Therefore they suffer the same fate as medium and large speakers...and open headphones...namely folks near them can hear them. Therefore they are not useful in mixed or public environments. Not without unnecessarily burdening others. That being said, I can see this being utilized for solo activities: home projects, tv/audio/music at lower volumes when others are in adjacent rooms, biking/hiking solo. I'll go with a B-.

3) Gadget Fit: This is tough...and certainly not something i can do fully until i try them..but based on design: i think they look to be a reasonable fit with built in flexibility. They remind me of a larger version of a very common method of bluetooth headphones..the ones that have a collar around your next with buds going up. Unfortunately i dont like those nearly as much as the style with just a basic wire between. Additionally, having the collar style that they do will limit how active a user can be when wearing them...i included that in my "use" analysis as i dont think you can jog, run, or crawl around with these without them shifting/bugging you. Ill go with a C.

4) Perceived value and interest: Again, a tricky thing to rate until i try them, but i think they're priced to high. Yes they are Bose and Bose aint cheap. Im assuming that the sound quality will be higher than alot of other offerings in similar designs from other manufacturers. But still..i think they list at $300...that seems a bit much for a niche product. That cost lowers my interest. If they were closer to $150ish I might be more swayed to do a blind buy.

I did laugh at the thought that Tyll is posting an audio gear review from a product he found at an airport on the way out of a HUGE show. Its cool to know that we can find new opportunities anywhere!

Peace n. Living in Stereo

Three toes of Fury

tony's picture

you realize that these things aren't new, doncha ?

What's new is the Smart Phone and Smart Phone Music streaming & hands free communication from anywhere to anywhere.

Our World has changed.

These devices are the latest designs to interface us and our communication device with our World.

4th Generation Music Format, here we come !

Thing is, this isn't some new & hopeful design, these things are already a staple tool for active people everywhere. Audiophiles seem to be the last ones to discover them.

Tony in Michigan

Jeffery's picture

Many of us hated the chattering masses especially on plane flights back in the 1990's. You remember the culprits - oblivious to the world beyond their noses engaged with digital recorders while concurrently typing away on notebook for their oh so important business. San Francisco International Airport was the very stereotype of this in the nineties. Things have gotten much worse since then. Use any public transportation these days and expect (and you'll seldom be mistaken) that fellow passengers will be making digital noises of some sort when not engaged in the most mind-numbing conversations. Noise-cancelling headphones, ear plugs or drowning out that rudeness with a DAP and earphones is almost a necessity, and yeah we realize Bose Soundwear devices aren't altogether new. Bose making portable speakers is not new either, but what is new is creating a personal space device that's often not going to be used in privacy of ones living space (which if it was would be just fine) is new low for Bose. The same Bose that markets to the hilt noise cancelling headphones to block annoying noise from outside world. What cruel irony courtesy of the big B from Framingham, MA.

tony's picture

they sell the darn noisemakers and plenty of em. Then it's necessary for all of us to own the reciprocal noise cancellers.

They help create the problem and then we all have to buy their solution to the problem. Who better to solve it than the people that understand the very nature of the problem they've created?.

Brilliant Corporate marketplace manipulation.

Now, can they manage a consistent price increase?

Tony in Michigan

ps. a darn conspiracy

Three Toes of Fury's picture

Thanks Tony for your follow-up and thoughts. I always enjoy your postings.

As for these being not new...understood...other commenters such as yourself with the LG Tone Studio..pointed out other options. However i dont think these have captured much market or interest as of yet. I spend a fair amount of time looking into tech and gadget sites and offerings. These havent registered much of a blip yet. Not to say they wont..or that its not a great growing area.

I think the subject comes down to one question. A question that i guarantee you is asked constantly by industry leaders such as Cook @ Apple or Bezos @ Amazon and so on....that question is "whats the next product that we can invent..or more likely evolve from existing products...which will meet a need that people dont know they have (or even, realistically, have at all)." This "wearable speaker" is a perfect example. Others include: smart watches, snapchat spectacles, etc. If something creates enough interest and perceived "need" will drive demand..and expansion.

A perfect example of this process making an impact is the tablet. I vividly remember alot of folks..myself included..laughing at the first Ipad (note: yes, this wasnt the first tablet, but stick with me for the analogy). "Whats this?! Steve Jobs is trying to get me to buy an oversized iphone that doesnt do calls/texts??". Turns out tablets were what a growing tech world needed for specific uses that didnt require a full sized computer..nameley spending alot of time online.

Of course for every tablet there's alot of products that tried and didnt hit the mark..or not glasses for example.

So..back to the giddy at the idea of any new tech, evolving tech, or different approach. My posting above is just some initial thoughts on an evolving tech idea. I definitely wouldnt pass any wholistic judgement without actual hands on time..that would be like reviewing a movie without ever actually seeing it..Im just posting some initial thoughts based on what this product is trying to provide vs what it actually provides (i echo @jeffery's statements that this product should NOT be used in public settings, we must consider others).

Peace .n. Tech Toys

Three Toes of Fury

tony's picture

These things are ideal for all public places except a swimming pool.

It would help to understand that they don't have any wattage power to project into bothering other's space.

The LG has little in ear monitors in addition to the 4 small loudspeakers sooooooo.

You are right about these devices not being promoted like other "NEW" things but once you have one yourself ( for as little as $69 ) you'll notice them 'everywhere'. People love these things.

I'm say'n that they're darn nice music systems. I'm getting the impression that Tyll discovered the device's music abilities.

For now, we have Bose, JBL and Sennhieser in this phone necklace field. I'm thinking that others will follow. It's too darn functional a design not to capture the "Name" Audio folks.

Tony in Michigan

ps. of course, I won't be owning the Shit Branded device when 'they' decide to jump into this ( they're going the other direction into vinyl, for the moment ).

Martin.'s picture

The fact that you bring Schiit into a discussion that has nothing to do with them is a disconcerting. They don't even make headphones or speakers, what in the world do 'they' have to do with this?

tony's picture

I'm just say'n that I won't be buying Schiit versions of these things because: I can't display a product name like that.

These little things are wonderful, people ask about them, even wanting to try them out for themselves ( as Tyll just did ). When these civilians ask who makes em, I can't tell them Shit makes them, can I ?

Civilians would rightly think that I'm being dirty in some way by saying Shit.

I figure that every Audio Manufacturer will be offering their version of these devices, including Schiit ( once they figure everything out ). Sennheiser are already making one of these things, how far behind can Schiit be?

I live a Professional Life, my wife is a Minister, I cannot have shit named stuff where civilians can see it and ask embarrassing questions about it.

That's what 'they' have to do with all this. That Schiit Name has far reaching consequences, like it or not!

Tony in Michigan

ps. Mark Levinson is a mostly unknown in the larger world yet we have Cars with Levinson Sound Systems. Don't expect to see any Car with a Schiit Sound System. Understand?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Tony, Let's try to stay on topic and keep the signal to noise here high.
Martin.'s picture

With respect to Tyll I will not answer this.

Martin.'s picture

There is no such thing as "nothing to do with them is a disconcerting". Obviously "a" was not supposed to be there.

tony's picture

Sure have one of these around the neck systems ( actually two systems ) one for $99 and one for $149. Both feature the standard SE215 in ear transducer, pictures of the SE535 and SE846 are on their Web Page

Tony in Michigan

ps. These things are going "high performance"

donunus's picture

I would be curious to see how these actually measure. I want to buy one already :)

Darin Fong Audio's picture

When I saw this post, I immediately thought of the "Bone Fone" which I owned when I was a kid. I used them all the time while bike riding.