Image Credit: Flows Bandwidth
These new audio sunglasses from Flows Bandwidth are a great entry-level pair at $100 less than Bose’s industry leading Frames.
Bose Frames are premium audio sunglasses with speakers built-in to the arm, allowing you to hear your music while out and about. Bose’s recently updated Frames cost $250, with last generation’s models sitting at $200. We’ve also seen efforts from the likes of JLab, whose JBud Frames were a cheaper clip-on option, that while less elegant, the $50 pricetag made them worth considering. Unfortunately many potential buyers never test Bose Frames due to their high price tag. Flows Bandwidth hopes to fix this issue and perhaps hit a broader demographic from those intrigued by audio sunglasses.
Flows Bandwidth come in two designs: Bruno’s and Taylor’s. Both are roughly the same size, feature the same tech, come in Matte Black and Matte Gray options and retail for $149.95.
Flows Bandwidth project sound down to your ears using “sound directional transmission technology”. This allows you to hear your music, podcast or calls while being aware of your surroundings, great for exercising around traffic. As expected with cheaper sunglasses from the new kid on the block, Flows Bandwidth fall short of the audio quality from Bose. With a significant lack in the low end, Flows Bandwidth are suitable for podcasts, but are largely unpleasant for music. Bleeding is about on par with competitors, where they’re only an issue when you’re sat next to someone with the volume at maximum.
The Flow Bandwidth audio sunglasses feature high quality ultra light frames, with no sharp seams, ensuring a comfortable fit for long session wearing them. IPX4 will protect the glasses from water and dust. The included lenses block 99% of UVA/UVB rays. Lens packs are available for Bruno’s and Taylor’s for an additional $39.95, giving you Sapphire Blue, Gold Rush Gold and Blue Light lenses to replaces the included tinted lenses. Alternatively you can swap them out for prescription lenses from your optician.
Flow Bandwidth connect with your phone or computer via Bluetooth 5.0. A built-in mic enables calls, however there’s no sign of any sort of background noise cancellation, so the recipient may have trouble hearing you in loud environments. A physical button controls power, pairing, calls, music playback and the voice assistant. The 120mAh battery will keep the glasses running for a respectable 5 hours of typical use. They’ll last 6-8 with music playback, 1-2 hours with calls and 8-9 days on standby. These numbers are on par with Bose’s sencond generation $250 Frames and double their first generation $200 Frames, at 3.5 hours of music streaming. When the glasses need a top up, the magnetic charging cable snaps on to the arm. A charging case would be a nice addition on future models.
The potential issues with audio sunglasses still stand whether you’re considering Flows or Bose Frames. These include the need to be wearing sunglasses at all times you want to hear music/podcast/calls, audio quality suffers from the speaker being places further away from your ear than traditional earbuds, zero passive noise isolation and bleeding for those close to you. Audio sunglasses can be good option for those that listen to podcasts while exercising outdoors, where audio quality matters less and being aware of your surroundings helps. These fix the fear of dropping earbuds or wearing bulky headphones.