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Bose Frames Alto

Audio sunglasses

Item # 018ALTOFRM

How did it feel to throw on shades and have my music follow me down the street? It certainly added bounce to my step.

How did it feel to throw on shades and have my music follow me down the street? It certainly added bounce to my step.

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Item # 018ALTOFRM

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About the Bose Frames Alto

Classic-styled sunglasses enhanced with Bose sound

Okay, I'll admit it: the first song I played while wearing the Bose Frames was the "Theme from Shaft." The familiar opening, with its energetic hi-hat and wah-wah guitar, swarmed my head, adding some extra pep as I strolled to the Uber lot of LaGuardia airport. But more on that later. First off, what exactly are these special shades from Bose?
Exploded view of the Bose Frames

The Bose Frames audio sunglasses feature a special acoustic chamber with tiny drivers directed toward your ears to deliver spacious sound. It keeps your ears free while you're on the move.

Classic-styled sunglasses enhanced with Bose sound

Okay, I'll admit it: the first song I played while wearing the Bose Frames was the "Theme from Shaft." The familiar opening, with its energetic hi-hat and wah-wah guitar, swarmed my head, adding some extra pep as I strolled to the Uber lot of LaGuardia airport. But more on that later. First off, what exactly are these special shades from Bose?

The lightweight Bose Frames are bona fide sunglasses with tinted, scratch-resistant lenses that can block harmful UVA/UVB rays. But they also play music, podcasts, and other audio content wirelessly from your phone via Bluetooth®. Bose packed them with super-tiny, yet powerful drivers and special processing to deliver engaging sound from an open-ear design — without playing at a volume that disturbs others.

Man wearing Bose Frames

Crutchfield's headphone merchant Tommy models the "Alto" version of the Bose Frames, with its larger fit and classic, angular look.

Timeless look and lightweight design

Bose has been on a great run lately, creating some truly innovative "wearables" like their noise-masking sleepbuds and SoundWear™ Companion® speaker. And they've designed these sunglasses to fit in better with your everyday style than the average tech product. This "Alto" version of the Bose Frames sports a timeless angular look with larger frames. Bose also has a retro-styled "Rondo" version with smaller, rounded frames.    

We brought them along on a recent trip to New York City, and I found them incredibly easy to wear. Even with the built-in acoustic chamber, the weight was nicely distributed — they felt lighter than my prescription glasses.

"Wow, that sounded way better than I expected."  

The reason we visited New York? To attend a major headphone convention, where several top personal audio companies showed off their latest and greatest wares. And while Bose wasn't officially part of the convention, these sunglasses still made a huge splash. We had a sample pair of the Bose Frames, and gave impromptu demos to other headphone experts, hotel staff, and people we ran into on the streets.

Almost all of them had the same reaction: these sunglasses deliver a bigger, fuller sound than you'd expect from their lightweight frames. Vocals, synths, guitars, and other mid-to-high range sounds fair best, so acoustic tracks really impressed. But there is some actual bass presence — enough to give your music some nuance and detail. (You just obviously shouldn't expect the deep bass you get from real-deal Bose headphones.)

These sunglasses create a small "bubble" of sound around your head, rather than the between-the-ears experience you get from most earbuds. I found that the extra distance gave podcasts a refreshingly conversational feel. And for music, the imaging and instrument separation is quite good. Almost everyone who briefly tried out the Bose Frames guessed that they cost considerably more than their actual price tag.

Phone calls sound surprisingly clear — on both ends

Back home in our Central Virginia headquarters, we have U.S. Route 29 running north and south nearby. So I figured what better place to test out call quality than next to eight lanes of traffic? I parked in an adjacent lot, and called my wife. Inside my car, her voice came through the Bose Frames crystal clear and sounded more natural than some in-ear headphones I've used for calls.  

Woman wearing Bose Frames

Features a built-in microphone and one-button control for answering phone calls.

When I stepped out of the car, I expected the traffic noise to completely drown out the call — this is an open-ear design, after all. But not only could I hear her voice just fine, she said that mine sounded just as clear. All the car horns and engine noise stayed in the background, and she had no trouble following what I was saying.     

Augmented Reality for your ears

These sunglasses also feature motion detectors that can be employed when you download the Bose Connect app to your phone. This free app includes an augmented reality platform known as Bose AR. The GPS in your mobile device works together with the Bose Frames to serve up audio cues and content based on your location and head movement. In certain places, you can play augmented reality games, get walking directions, or even learn facts and information about the buildings and landmarks you see.

Bose AR is currently in its infancy, but Bose has opened the platform up to third-party app developers. I expect the audio experiences to get better and better. We've already seen it enhance some special events. At this year's Coachella, concert-goers received real-time audio notifications and updates through the Bose Frames — like alerts when their favorite band was about to take the stage.

(Bose AR is currently available for iPhone® and iPad® users only; Android™ apps in development. Bose AR availability and functionality varies.)


Product highlights:

  • lightweight, classic-styled sunglasses with discreet built-in speakers
    • 52mm lens width, 18mm bridge width, 162mm temple length
    • nylon frames with durable steel hinges
  • also available in "Rondo" style (rounded lenses with a smaller fit)
  • scratch-resistant lenses block up to 99% of UVA/UVB rays
  • built-in Bluetooth for wireless music listening and phone calls
  • open-ear design helps keep you aware of your surroundings
    • miniature drivers aimed toward your ears to deliver a personal bubble of sound
    • proprietary digital sound processing limits what others can hear
  • voice prompts provide information on battery life, device connection, and caller ID
  • one-button control for playing/pausing music and accepting phone calls
    • also gives access to your phone's Siri® or Google Assistant voice control
  • built-in microphone for hands-free phone calls
  • IPX2-rated moisture-resistant (not meant to be submerged under water)
  • built-in rechargeable battery offers up to 3-1/2 hours of wireless music listening
    • frames automatically power off when removed to conserve battery
  • free, optional Bose® Connect app
    • Bose AR offers audio-based augmented reality games, navigation cues, and more
    • works with motion sensors inside the Bose Frames to detect your head and body movement
    • Bose AR currently available for iPhone and iPad users only; Android apps in development
    • Bose AR availability and functionality varies
  • proprietary charging cable included
  • cloth bag and carrying case included
  • Bose and Bose Frames are trademarks of Bose Corporation. 832029-0010B
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
  • MFR # 833416-0100

What's in the box:

  • Audio sunglasses (Alto - larger fit)
  • 22" USB charging cable (Type A USB on one end and magnetic 4-pin connector on other end)
  • Cloth storage bag
  • Hard plastic case
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Important Safety Instructions

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Crutchfield response

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More details on the Bose Frames Alto

Stacey B.

Product Research


Overview: Bose Frames audio sunglasses feature built-in micro speakers that let you discreetly listen to music while you go about your day. Since there are no ear cups or ear buds to cover or insert into your ears, you can hear and interact with your environment. The sunglasses feature lightweight nylon frames that resist scratches with stainless steel hinges finished in gold. The Frames connect to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, so there are no dangling wires. There are two sizes: Alto (this pair) with its classic angular-shaped lenses, and the slightly smaller Rondo with rounded lenses. Optional interchangeable lenses are available for each model if you wish to change your look. Bose Frames come with a USB charging cable with a soft cloth storage bag, and a hard-shell storage case.

Fit: The Alto model is the largest model in the Bose Frames lineup with the following dimensions:

  • Overall Dimensions: Width 5.878", Height 2.019", Depth 6.377"
  • Lens Width: 2.047" (52mm)
  • Distance Between Lenses: 0.71" (18mm)
  • Temple Length: 6.377" (162mm)
  • Weight: 1.7 ounces

Lenses: The Bose Frames lenses are uniformly tinted to block 99% of UVA and UVB rays. They are mad of premium materials to prevent scratches and breakage. Optional replacement lenses are available in Mirrored Rose Gold (polarized) and Gradient Blue (non-polarized).

Bluetooth: Bose Frames connect to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, with A2DP and HFP profiles. The wireless connection has a range of up to approximately 30 feet. The Frames work with most any app that is on your mobile device, including music services, voice communication, and navigation apps. The sunglasses keep track of the last eight devices that were paired and connected. When in Bluetooth mode, Bose Frames search for the most recently connected, active Bluetooth enabled device. If that device is unavailable, it will search for the next most recently connected device. To switch from one device to another, you must power off the glasses by flipping them upside down for at least two seconds, then press and hold the control button until you hear the voice prompt "Ready to Connect."

Controls: The audio sunglasses have a single multi-function button, located on the bottom of the right temple. You can control additional functions through the Bose Connect app, available for iOS (10.0 or later) and Android devices (version varies with device). The button has the following functions:

  • Music Playback: Play (single press), Pause (single press), Track Forward (double press), Track Backward (triple press), Volume (controlled on connected device or Bose Connect app)
  • Phone Calls: Answer (single press), Reject (single press and hold), End (single press), Answer 2nd incoming call (single press while on a call), Switch between two calls (double press while on two active calls), Conference call (single press and hold for 1 second while on two active calls)
  • Voice Assistant: Siri (iOS) or Google Assistant (Android): single press and hold
  • Power: On (single press), Off (double press and hold)

Voice Prompts: Voice prompts provide guidance and status updates through the speakers. When you power on the Frames, a voice prompt gives you the current battery level as a percentage, and identifies the connected device. It will remind you to charge the battery when the reserve power is low. When a call comes in, the voice prompt will announce the incoming caller and the call status. Voice prompts can be enabled or disabled in the Bose Connect app.

Battery: Bose Frames are powered by a built-in Lithium-ion rechargeable battery. The battery charges in approximately 2 hours using the included charging cable. The audio sunglasses have a magnetic 4-pin connector on the left temple for charging the battery. On a full charge, Bose Frames provide up to 3.5 hours of music playback or up to 12 hours on standby.

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Customer Q&A

Crutchfield asked: Why did you buy this?
tried them at a Bose store and liked them! [ Fernando  Aug 13, 2019 ]
Sound quality overall on them is totally awesome! Very stylish and comfortable to wear. Gives you a charge of venue from wearing earbuds or headphones. I loved them so much a got my cousin the Rondo type for her birthday. [ Timothy  Jun 06, 2019 ]
I have to wear sunglasses due to eye problems so with these I can listen and see at the same time!! [ RICHARD K  May 20, 2019 ]

1 question already asked

It this available with prescription lenses?
[ Nickname  May 26, 2019 ]
1 answer
Hi Michael! Unfortunately these are not available for purchase with a prescription. It would be pretty cool if they were, though!
[ Jess  Jun 03, 2019 ]  Staff

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