There is a new type of speaker out on the market, one that fits around your neck that you wear like a collar. It’s an interesting experience and both Bose and JBL are banking on it taking off so each have introduced their iteration of one. But is one companies better than the others? The Bose SoundWear Companion Vs. JBL SoundGear Review!
Both JBL and Bose are known for making some of the best products in the market, so quality is rarely an issue when discussing and comparing these two brands. The price to feature ratios are another story however, but we’ll dive into that later in this article.
The Bose SoundWear comes with a zippered cover which fits over the entire unit. It has a leather bottom and a cloth top. It’s comfortable and you can even buy different covers for it. The JBL Soundgear has a plastic bottom along the bottom, with a fabric cover along the top.
The main distinguishing characteristic that differentiates the Bose SoundWear from the JBL Soundgear is the fact that it is flexible along the collar. The JBL piece is a fixed plastic shape.
This is a really nice feature. Bose wins this round.
The sound quality from both units are acceptable. Neither have the depth or tonality you would expect from a desktop unit, or even a very good pair of headphones. The form factor is limiting in this regard, you just can’t get the types of drivers you would need in these form factors for high-end sound.
However, that’s not really the main selling point of these units. Yes, it’s important but the use-cases we list below are more important.
I found them to have slightly different tuning but to be close enough in sound quality and volume that I give this category a tie.
Both units feature telephony options. Both function very well. The JBL utilizes a dual-mic system, whereas the Bose has a large mic on the left hand side. Dual mics tend to work better since they can cancel echoing and but in our testing both sounded just as good.
However the Bose SoundWear comes with haptic vibration alerts to let you know calls are coming in silently. Point: Bose.
The TV Transmitter
The JBL Soundgear comes in two flavors, one with and one without a Bluetooth Wireless Audio Transmitter. The BTA Transmitter is meant to be connected to a television set using either input optical or auxiliary input. There a synchronized audio experience as a result of AptX low latency protocol baked in.
Bose? No TV box.
Bose SoundWear has 5 total buttons. On the right is the volume up / down and a Multi-function button. That multi-function button controls pause / play, skip forward / back, and fast forward / rewind along with a whole host of telephony functions. A Bluetooth Pairing button and power button sit on the left hand side.
JBL has decided to mirror the layout of the SoundWear but putting the volume and Play buttons on the left side, with the power and Bluetooth on the right.
The buttons are basically all the same, but since I am right handed I’m gonna give this round to Bose.
JBL Soundgear runs for 6 hours and takes 2 hours to charge. The Bose SoundWear Companion 12 hours and takes 3 hours to charge.
Bose clearly wins this round.
True to form for both companies, the JBL is way cheaper than the Bose. The JBL Soundgear is $200. If you get the TV unit it will set you back $250.
The Bose SoundWear Companion retails for $300. If you want to change the covers that will set you back $30 per.
JBL wins this point, although that’s not particularly fair since the Bose unit is nicer overall.
Where to get them
$299.99 direct from Bose.com: Free shipping & 30-day returns
$299.99 from BestBuy.com: Free shipping or pick-up in store
$299.95 from Amazon.com: Prime shipping
$199.95 / $249.95 direct from JBL.com: Free shipping & returns
Given the disparity of feature sets between these two units, it really is going to come down to what you are looking for. The price difference would probably mean the JBL Soundgear would sell more units but the Bose SoundWave is a more premium experience overall.