At CES 2024 earlier this month, Bose was rumoured to launch earbuds that clip onto your ear to keep you aware of your surroundings. Marketing materials for these 'open-ear' headphones – an increasingly prevalent design that sees the earbud sit near the ear canal and fire sound into it from the outside – leaked during the show, but only now has Bose confirmed their existence. And they aren't what we were expecting.
The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds are sensibly named to fall into the company's new Ultra headphones lineup and do indeed appear to feature the anticipated clip-on design. They are, however, launching as a limited-edition product, in collaboration with US fashion and lifestyle company Kith – and even branded as such. Presumably a 'standard', Bose-branded model will follow, but Bose has only revealed details of this 'Kith for Bose Ultra Open Earbuds' pair for now.
Seemingly the spiritual successor to Bose's 2021-released Sport Open Earbuds, the new open-ear headphones offer not only a less intrusive fit compared to traditional earbuds, for those who don't like tips burying into their ears, but also an awareness of the environment during music listening. To that end, they are viable alternatives to bone conduction headphones
The Ultra Open Earbuds are more compact than Bose's previous open effort, which had a hook design that gripped onto the ear. Instead, they attach to the side of your ear and, according to the brand's press release, appear 'more like a fashion accessory than a traditional audio wearable'.
'You can wear glasses, hats, or jewellery and they won’t interfere with your style,' the launch statement reads. OK, so now the collaboration makes more sense...
Available in black with a uniquely altered Kith logo in Bose’s iconic block lettering, the 'Kith for Bose Ultra Open Earbuds' cost $300 and will be available from Monday 22nd January "in extremely limited quantities" exclusively on Kith.com and in select Kith stores. Hopefully, a full specification detailing battery life, Bluetooth support and the like will drop then too.