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Bose’s wild-looking Ultra Open Earbuds are here — kind of

Bose’s wild-looking Ultra Open Earbuds are here — kind of

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The recently leaked clip-on buds are coming to market in a unique way: you’ll only be able to get them from Kith. But it’s likely a proper release will follow soon.

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An image of the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds.
Image: Bose / Kith

Well, this is certainly an unconventional way to introduce what looks like a very unconventional product. Bose just announced the Ultra Open Earbuds, an open-style pair of buds with a very unique design that leaked earlier this month. They’re meant to clip onto your outer ear to preserve total environmental awareness whenever you’re listening to them. And they’re priced at a hefty $300.

But here’s the catch: this initial offering is an exclusive set designed in collaboration with fashion / lifestyle brand Kith. Kith’s brand is etched onto the earbuds and case in Bose’s signature typeface. You’ll only be able to get the “Kith for Bose Ultra Open Earbuds” from Kith’s online and physical stores beginning January 22nd. And they’ll supposedly only be available in “extremely limited quantities.” Are hypebeasts willing to line up for Bose earbuds? We’re about to find out.

An image of the Kith for Bose Ultra Open Earbuds.
The Ultra Open Earbuds clip onto your ears instead of resting in them.
Image: Bose / Kith

Here’s how Bose describes the design:

The all-new Bose Ultra Open Earbuds feature an innovative cuff-shaped design with polished, soft edges and a stunning finish. They don’t block your ears but rather attach to the side, making them appear more like a fashion accessory than a traditional audio wearable. You can wear glasses, hats, or jewelry and they won’t interfere with your style. The earbuds provide comfort for all-day wear, without making you choose between immersive audio and awareness. The Kith for Bose Ultra Open Earbuds come in a sleek matte black colorway co-designed by the two brands, with each earbud showcasing a uniquely altered Kith logo in Bose’s iconic block lettering.

The closest thing to this idea I can come up with are Huawei’s FreeClip earbuds.

Aside from their price and Kith-exclusive release date, Bose isn’t sharing many other details about the Ultra Open Earbuds at this time. Thankfully Kith’s website includes a few more specifics. Just like the now-discontinued Bose Frames, these feature Bose’s OpenAudio technology to direct music towards you ears without disturbing others. Battery life is rated at 7.5 hours of continuous listening. And as with Bose’s other “Ultra” products, these include the company’s proprietary spatial audio processing.

But as for water resistance, driver design, and other technical specs, all of that’s to come later. Like I said, it’s a strange way to go about things. At least some information is certain to trickle out once people start getting their hands on the Kith edition.

An image of the Kith for Bose Ultra Open Earbuds.
Kith’s brand replaces Bose’s on these earbuds, but they stick with the tech brand’s typeface.
Image: Bose / Kith

Clearly, Bose is trying something a little different with this launch and wants to build some hype for its first wholly new product in a long time. I say “wholly new” because last year’s QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds were quite similar in design (and sound) to the QuietComfort Earbuds II. The QuietComfort Headphones look just like the QuietComfort 45, albeit with some minor software upgrades. The QuietComfort Ultra Headphones had a fresh design, but many of the company’s other recent products have felt like rehashes with a few new tricks tossed in, so it’s nice to see something totally new come along.

A photo of Bose’s Ultra Open Earbuds.
Design-wise, the Ultra Open Earbuds are Bose’s boldest product in a long time.
Image: Bose / Kith

Bose has released open-style earbuds before: the Sport Open Earbuds were quietly discontinued in 2022 after failing to find much of an audience. But apparently, the company sees such a promising potential market that it’s taking another swing with a much different design. A lot of people dislike how in-canal earbuds feel, so I can understand the reasoning.

This isn’t the first time Kith has sold earbuds: it’s been a retailer for both the Nothing Ear 2 and Ear 1 in recent years. Bose is obviously a much larger player in the space, but it’s not above seeking out some cultural cachet before a normal version of the Ultra Open Earbuds inevitably comes to other retailers.