Bose Tenor vs. Tempo vs. Alto: Comparing Bose Frames
While sunglasses equipped with Bluetooth audio might have been around for a while, a large section of the consumer base might still consider them novelty products. However, with popular mainstream brands such as Bose going all out to put their versions on the map, this product segment has seen a new wave of interest.
Bose has achieved a balanced blend of fashion and function with Bose Frames, a series of sunglasses with audio capabilities. While the glasses will satisfy those with a discerning sense of style, they also come with the trademark Bose audio quality and sound signature that so many have come to know and love.
The Bose Frames series has several models across different price points. If you are unsure while choosing between the Tenor. Tempo. and Alto models, it is good to remember that, apart from the price difference, there are also other differences in features and audio quality that you should be aware of.
Check your budget and consider the audio listening experience you are looking for before zeroing in on one of these three very capable audio sunglasses.
At the very outset, it is important to note that the Alto is a model from the previous generation of Bose Frames products, while the Tenor and the Tempo come from the newer, more recent iteration of models. There are significant differences between these generations and these can play into your decision.
The Bose Frames Alto boasts of good sound quality but lacks some of the advanced features of the newer models. At an MSRP of just under 150, it is also the cheapest of the three — an important consideration if you are on a tight budget.
The Alto is designed more to look like a standard pair of glasses with a sleek frame and sturdy design and materials. It is also the only pair of audio sunglasses in this roundup with Bose AR support.
The Bose Frames Tenor, on the other hand, sports a design much more reminiscent of classic sunglasses, scoring higher on the fashion quotient. At an MSRP just under 250, you are looking at a hundred-dollar premium over the Alto. While it loses out on Bose AR, it gets a slew of other features, better audio quality, a higher capacity and faster-charging battery, and other nice-to-have features.
The Bose Frame Tempo is focused more on sports use, with a sleeker half-frame design. In terms of features and price, it is quite similar to the Tenor. Choosing between these two will come down to a preference for the design and the intended use case.
With their audio capabilities, it is easy to overlook the fact that the Bose Frames products are, in essence, sunglasses and that is their main intended use. So, how good are they as pure sunglasses?
The Alto package contains a basic carrying case, along with a cloth bag and a micro-USB charging cable. The lenses are non-polarized but offer good UV protection. It is also available in two size options, allowing you to choose a fit that suits your facial features. The product comes with IPX2 water resistance, which makes it resistant to splashes at an angle of 15 degrees or less.
The Tenor features a more contemporary sunglass design and comes in a package that also contains a charging cable, a sturdy carrying case, and a cleaning cloth. It uses polarized lenses that offer a sharper, glare-free vision, and better eye protection in bright surroundings. The product provides full UV protection and also comes with IPX2 water resistance.
The Tempo is built with sports use in mind and the entire package is a testament to this. Out of the box, you get the rugged glasses along with a cleaning cloth, a USB type-C charging cable, and a tough and durable carrying case made from ballistic nylon. The Tempo also uses polarized lenses. In addition, it comes with three different nose pad options to ensure a comfortable and snug fit. over, the Tempo is IPX4 water resistant, which makes it splash resistant from every angle.
For all three models, you can replace the included lenses with prescription lenses.
All three models in the shootout come with Bose Open Air Audio technology, which enables users to enjoy high-quality music while also being able to listen to external sounds, a great safety feature for regular use. While the Alto has the first iteration of this feature, the Tenor and the Tempo get a much-improved version of this. In these two models, Bose makes use of a wafer-thin acoustic package.
This makes the sound fuller, richer, and more rounded out in the extreme ends of the audible spectrum. While all three feature the patented smiley EQ curve that is characteristic of consumer earphones, the Tenor and Tempo have punchier bass, clearer midrange, and a lush, exciting top-end.
This difference in audio quality is also down to the fact that the Alto uses smaller drivers while the Tenor makes use of 16mm drivers. The Tempo has even better sound with 22mm drivers. If it is high-fidelity audio that you are after, the Tenor and Tempo deliver much better results consistently.
Another feature that sets the Tenor and Tempo apart is the volume-optimized EQ. EQ curves, if applied in a generic fashion, can sound different depending on the volume of the audio. With volume-optimized EQ, the curves are applied uniformly and proportionally across different volume levels. This means that you can still enjoy a healthy low-end when you are listening quietly and can steer clear of distortion when listening at a high volume.
However, when it comes to controlling your music, the Alto has a killer feature that is absent in the other two models – Bose AR.
This pair of glasses has integrated motion sensors that can accurately track the orientation and movement of the head and the body. It can then use this motion data input to control the playback of the audio. This is an excellent feature that affords hands-free control of the music.
If this is something you must have, you will find this only in the Alto. However, Bose announced in 2020 that it is discontinuing its AR program — so there is no guarantee that these features will be supported moving forward.
Calling and Connectivity
When using audio sunglasses, calling is one of the most convenient use cases.
All three Bose Frames models support audio calling with a few important differences. When it comes to call quality, you are more likely to get better results with the Tenor and the Tempo. Not only do these two models offer clearer audio, they also come with a dual beam-forming microphone array. These sensitive microphones do a better job of picking up audio and the advanced digital signal processing in these products results in a much clearer voice quality during calls.
All three models connect via Bluetooth with support for A2DP and HPF. The Alto works with the older Bose Connect app while you will need the newer Bose Music app to interface with the Tenor and the Tempo.
Battery and Other Important Features
Another big difference in these three Bose Frames models comes in the form of the battery capacity and characteristics.
The Alto model has the smallest battery of the lot, with up to 3.5 hours of music playback. It can also take up to two hours to charge completely.
In contrast, the Tenor has a larger battery that can give you up to 5.5 hours of music playback while being able to charge completely in just one hour.
The Tempo has the best battery of the lot, taking only one hour to achieve full charge. However, it can provide up to 8 hours of music playback.
Another convenient feature that you will find in the Tenor and Tempo but not in the Alto is the ability to access your voice assistant of choice. You can use these to invoke either Google Assistant or Siri, depending on whether you are using an Android phone or an iPhone.
The nose pad options that come in the Tempo can also be a game-changer if you are looking for a rugged pair of audio sunglasses that fit perfectly.
The Technology Behind Audio Sunglasses
Now that we have taken a look at the specifics of Bose Frames models, it’s worth taking a brief detour to explore the fascinating technology that makes audio sunglasses possible. After all, combining two such different functionalities into a single, stylish, and wearable product is no small feat.
The magic behind these ingenious devices lies in technologies like inverse audio and bone conduction. These technologies allow sound waves and vibrations to be perceived while bypassing your eardrums altogether. This allows you to hear high-quality audio without obstructing your natural hearing, making it a safer option if you’re out and about.
There are many differences between the three Bose Frames models under comparison. Ultimately, for the discerning buyer, the choice boils down to some very simple priorities.
If you are looking for a pair of audio sunglasses on a tight budget, the Alto is your to-go option. Likewise, the Alto is a salient option if you are looking for glasses that come in multiple size options. And finally, if you are someone who considers Bose AR to be an essential feature you cannot do without, go for the Alto.
The Tenor and Tempo are miles ahead of the Alto in terms of audio quality, features, and battery capabilities. Of the two, the Tempo emerges as the more sensible option, especially if you have sports use in mind. Even if you do not, the larger battery capacity, the better audio quality thanks to the larger drivers, and the IPX4 splash resistance can be extremely meaningful features. Since the two models sell at the same MSRP, our recommendation is to go for the Tempo unless you have a specific liking for the aesthetics of the Tenor.
Can I replace the lenses in my Bose Frames with prescription lenses?
Yes, all three models of the Bose Frames allow for lens replacement with prescription lenses. However, it’s recommended that this process is carried out by a professional optician to avoid damaging the frame or the electronics.
Are the Bose Frames sunglasses water-resistant?
Yes, all models have some degree of water resistance. The Alto and Tenor models are rated IPX2, meaning they are resistant to water droplets from up to a 15-degree angle. The Tempo, designed for sports use, boasts an IPX4 rating, offering resistance from splashes from any direction.
Can I connect the Bose Frames to my phone or other devices?
Yes, all Bose Frames models can be connected to your smartphone or any other Bluetooth-enabled device. They also support Siri and Google Assistant, but this functionality is only available in the Tenor and Tempo models.
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These shades deserve their own soundtrack. So we gave ‘em one.
The only thing as impressive as the style of the Bose Audio Sunglasses is the sound. The Exclusive Bose Open Ear Audio™ technology produces the quality you’d expect from a high-end speaker – not a stunning pair of cat eye frames or high-performance sport glasses. Choose from the Tempo, Soprano or Tenor and you’re sure to enjoy high fidelity. in high fashion. And right now, VSP, Cigna and Metlife members save 20% when you link your benefits!
So, which Bose are best for you?
You don’t want to be slowed down. You need the Bose Tempo.
Lose the headphones: Bose Tempo’s sport sunglasses free you for a better workout. The Tempo’s design is sweat and weather resistant, thanks to a lightweight, aerodynamic nylon frame and silicone nose pads – all thoughtfully made to optimize your comfort and performance.
You’re refined, but still want to engage. The Bose Tenor is for you.
Yes please to a classic square frame with a keyhole bridge. But then toss in a full, deep sound and a rechargeable battery that delivers up to five hours of tunes while you work or play? That’s the win-win Bose Tenor delivers daily.
You like a good dose of glamour, with just a splash of drama. Indulge in the Bose Soprano.
Large lenses, retro style and an elegant update to the classic cat eye paired with Bose’s signature quality sound is a combo that can’t be missed. The Bose Soprano will be music to your ears and eye candy for your Insta.
Why shop on Eyeconic? It’s easy and VSP members save 20%, get free shipping and returns.
Want to see all our most coveted holiday gifts?
Earbuds are great but sometimes their ANC feature works a little too well. Be part of the world and still listen to music with these audio sunglasses.
Listen to music and take calls seamlessly while you’re out and about with the Bose Frames Tenor. These Bluetooth audio sunglasses use Bose Open Ear Audio tech and have an advanced microphone system.
If your ANC earbuds and headphones leave you feeling disconnected, try the Bose Frames Tenor. They let you hear the outside world while listening to music and taking calls. You can even get them with prescription lenses.
Get Bose’s Open Ear Audio technology
By now, you’ve probably seen a lot of Smart sunglasses, each with their own tech. What makes this pair different is Bose Open Ear Audio.
It’s engineered by sound experts to provide high-quality sound in a paper-thin system that’s hidden right at the temples. It sends premium audio to your ears without any headphones.
According to Bose, this technology provides full-range sound while reducing what people around you can hear. It also doesn’t need to fit tightly in your ears, keeping audiophiles comfortable.
Protect your eyes with polarized lenses
But these sunglasses aren’t just about audio. They also keep your eye health in mind thanks to their polarized 99% UVA/B lenses. That’s right, they block out 99% of the UVA/B that could harm your eyes.
It’s a helpful feature for any potential wearer, especially if you live in a sunny area or play outdoor sports.
Enjoy calls with the advanced mics
Meanwhile, you can expect high-quality calls with the advanced microphone system. It focuses on your voice while you talk, ignoring background sound.
That way, the person you’re talking to can hear you clearly, without any road or ambient noise getting in the way. It’s an ideal way to make and take calls while you’re out.
Swipe, tap, or touch to manage these audio frames
While these Bluetooth audio sunglasses boasts cutting-edge tech, they’re pretty easy to control and use. They have a capacitive touch and built-in motion sensor for modern yet straightforward controls.
When you want to change the volume, simply slide your finger along the right temple. Then, just double tap to bring up your phone’s voice assistant.
And, when you’re done wearing them, place them upside down. They’ll recognize this movement and turn off automatically.
Fill these Smart sunglasses with your RX
You can fill these Bluetooth audio sunglasses with your lens prescription. That way, you can get sound and call benefits while having lenses customized to your sight.
Wear Smart shades that look cool
Style is a huge influencer when buying a pair of shades. Luckily, these innovative sunglasses have plenty of it.
Sporting a modern square frame with an eye-catching keyhole bridge, the Bose Frames Tenor adds style to your look. Meanwhile, the glossy black material and stainless steel hinge ensure they feel luxurious during wear.
Redefine audio comfort
Earbuds are great, but they aren’t always comfortable. With the Bose Frames Tenor, listing to music and taking calls is never painful or irritating.
That’s because you don’t have to put anything in your ears. These Bluetooth audio sunglasses feel just like a normal pair of shades and fit lightly on your nose and behind your ears.
Listen to your favorite audio discreetly
Another problem with earbuds is how obvious they are. Because, when you’re out running errands or heading to work, you might not want everyone around to know that you’re listening to something else.
With the Bose Frames Tenor, that’s not a problem. Since these frames look like regular sunglasses, people around you will have no idea you’re jamming to your favorite tunes or making a call.
Be part of the world around you
Even better, these shades allow you to hear and interact with what’s going on around you. That way, you can hear what the barista is asking you while still listening to your music or taking a call.
The Bose Frames Tenor Sunglasses play your audio discreetly while keeping you part of the real world. They also protect your eyes from UV rays and can be fitted with your prescription lenses.
And, when it comes to style, they’re just the right amount of sleek and modern. Upgrade your listening and productivity experience in a big way when you go for these Bluetooth audio sunglasses.
The Bose Frames Tenor Bluetooth audio sunglasses cost 259, and you can get them on Eyeconic. Do you own a pair of Smart glasses? Tell us about your experience in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев.
Why I Like Sunglasses With Speakers (Even Though the Audio Experts at Wirecutter Don’t)
When I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, there’s nothing I love more than slipping on my noise-cancelling headphones and tuning out the world. But I realize that’s not always the safest option, especially when I’m navigating a traffic-heavy city or hiking through the woods on my favorite trail. So even though I’d prefer to lose myself in a riveting podcast or bop around to my favorite playlist, I often nix the headphones entirely so I can stay aware of my surroundings.
But I realized while testing Bluetooth audio sunglasses—as in, sunglasses that double as open-ear headphones—that they could be a solution to this problem. I can take them on a variety of outdoor adventures without worrying that my music is leaving me unaware of what’s happening around me. Even though they’re far from perfect, they work for my specific needs—and depending on what you’re looking for, they could work for you, too.
What are Bluetooth audio sunglasses, and how do they work?
Bluetooth sunglasses have speakers and microphones built into the frames, so they play sound in your personal space without fitting into or covering your ears. This design allows you to simultaneously enjoy an audiobook while also keeping an ear out for approaching cars, for example. Because these shades are connected to your phone via Bluetooth, you can also make calls and access voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa.
Walking around in a pair of these sunglasses is surreal at first. Even though I was still able to hear everything going on around me, no one else could hear what I was listening to. Senior staff writer Lauren Dragan, an audio expert who has tested more than 1,500 pairs of headphones, said the sensation produced by open-ear headphones made her feel as though she were living in a TV show with her own theme song. Similarly, it’s hard not to feel like the main character when you have these sunglasses on.
The drawbacks of Bluetooth shades
Bluetooth sunglasses are not without their flaws. Among the glasses our audio team and I tried, we found that the best-sounding glasses weren’t the most attractive, while the more fashionable options offered subpar speaker quality. Some of the glasses felt heavy and clunky, and while the controls were somewhat intuitive, they didn’t always work effortlessly. And even though most of the companies making these glasses claim that no one else can hear what you’re listening to, we found that was true only if we kept the volume on the lower end. These glasses aggravated our on-staff audiophiles—but anyone who values the functionality of audio sunglasses might be able to forgive their imperfect audio quality.
The audio sunglasses we tested
We focused on frames from Bose and from Anker’s Soundcore line, two brands that make some of our favorite headphone picks (the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and the Anker Soundcore Life Q20). The newer Bose Frames, which are available in three styles, start at 250; the original Bose sunglasses, which the company says don’t offer as full or deep a sound, start at 200. Meanwhile, the Soundcore Frames start at 200 and come in a larger range of styles. The frames are also interchangeable, so you can remove the audio temples and reattach them to any of several different Soundcore frames. Additional frames are 50 each.
The first time I slipped on the Bose Frames Tenor, I felt like I’d just left the eye doctor’s office in a pair of protective post-dilation glasses.
The breakdown on Bose: Great sound in clunky frames
The Bose Frames sound fantastic, thanks to the sizable dynamic drivers encased within the temples. Drivers are the components within headphones responsible for creating sound. The typical driver you’d find in a pair of earphones is about the size of a pea, senior staff writer Brent Butterworth says—and the drivers in the Bose Frames look to be roughly four times as large. The temples of the Bose Frames have to be thick enough to accommodate those drivers, which translates into a clunky, heavy piece of eyewear.
They’re not the most attractive glasses, either. The first time I slipped on the Bose Frames Tenor, I felt like I’d just left the eye doctor’s office in a pair of protective post-dilation glasses. The Bose sunglasses may turn my Daily Mix playlist into an immersive symphony, but I’d still be reluctant to wear them—in fact, I felt self-conscious when I tested them in public. Bose also offers cat-eye frames and sports frames, both of which look to be as bulky as the Tenor.
When I set the Bose Frames to a comfortable volume, the sound seemed confined mostly to my ears, as my partner wasn’t able to detect my music until I bumped the volume up a few notches. But spoken-word audio seemed to leak out more: He was able to hear the podcast I was playing almost word for word, even when I was listening at a fairly conservative volume.
The frame’s built-in controls, which allow you to pause your music or change the song, are a nice touch, but they aren’t intuitive. The Bose Frames turn off when you turn them upside down, but otherwise you control them with a small button on one temple. That same button serves to play, pause, skip, or restart a song—and it controls the call functions, as well. This can get confusing quickly if you haven’t memorized the amount of pushes necessary for each function.
The breakdown on Soundcore: Fashionable frames with less-than-optimal sound
The Soundcore Frames look and feel like a pair of stylish sunglasses that I’d want to wear. They’re fully customizable, with slim temples that you can pop onto the frame of your choice. With 10 interchangeable frames of different shapes and sizes to choose from, you’re more likely to find a pair suited to your style. And you’re not beholden to the original pair you chose, so if your preferences change over time, so can your sunnies.
Although the Soundcore Frames look good, they don’t sound nearly as nice as the Bose Frames. In our experience, music sounded distant and tinny coming from the Soundcore design’s tiny drivers. Spoken-word material played through these sunglasses sounded much better to us, so we think podcast and audiobook listeners, or folks who want to rely on these glasses for in-ear navigation, might be able to forgive the less-than-optimal audio quality.
Like the Bose Frames, these audio sunglasses have touch controls, so you can change the song or raise the volume without pulling out your phone. They also have always-listening voice control for eight basic commands, including volume up/down and stop/start playback. The Soundcore Frames automatically pause audio when you remove them and resume when you slip them back on, a very convenient perk.
Most notably, however, these audio sunglasses seem to leak more sound over a certain volume, just like the Bose Frames. Whether I was listening to music or podcasts, my partner was able to hear when I raised the volume to a moderately loud level. Similarly, when Lauren took a call on the Soundcore Frames, she noted that her spouse could hear every word. This could be a dealbreaker if you want to rock out, but similar to when I wore the Bose glasses, with the Soundcore pair I found that my partner couldn’t detect the sound when I had my volume set at a comfortable listening level.
Should you buy a pair of Bluetooth audio sunglasses?
For many people, the answer is “probably not.” Both Lauren and Brent think that Bluetooth sunglasses technology will only see more advancements as time goes on. Currently you might be intrigued by the concept of sunglasses that double as headphones, but if you know you won’t fully enjoy the experience unless the audio is high-quality, you should wait to see what the next few iterations of these sunglasses look and sound like.
For now, you can easily cobble together a more budget-friendly hack with a pair of cheap sunglasses and a solid set of wireless earbuds like the Jabra Elite Active 75t pair, which has a hear-through mode that allows street sounds to filter through.
If it’s the open-ear sensation you’re after, Lauren says you’re better off investing in the Bose Sport Open Earbuds, which deliver good sound without obstructing your ears. At 200, they’re a bit pricey—but they’re cheaper than most of the Bose Frames styles, and they’re a lot more versatile since you can pair them with different sunglasses over the years.
All that said, I found myself partial to the idea of Bluetooth audio sunglasses for the camouflage they grant me. Personal-safety experts warn against wearing headphones that isolate you from your surroundings—and even though hear-through earbuds allow you to stay in tune with the world, you still look distracted, which could be enough to paint you as a target. As a woman who often spends time alone in the mountains, I don’t want to take any chances, and Bluetooth sunglasses allow me to be entertained more safely. They’re not for everyone—but if you’re interested in the subtle subterfuge they allow, they might be just what you’re looking for.
This article was edited by Treye Green and Annemarie Conte.