Best audio glasses and sunglasses for 2021

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Audio glasses, which have integrated micro speakers and a Bluetooth connection, are proliferating. Bose is leading the way with its Frames audio sunglasses. Amazon is also in the game with its Echo Frames, now on their second generation. A host of other companies, many of which are no-name Chinese manufacturers, have released audio glasses in recent months. Some are geared toward everyday use, allowing you to forego headphones and stealthily listen to audio on the go, while others are designed for runners and bikers who want to leave their ears open to the world for safety reasons.

The truth is, most audio sunglasses don’t sound good and many sound downright bad, including and especially those that use bone-conduction technology instead of traditional audio drivers. The glasses’ tiny embedded speakers fire audio into your ears and that audio tends to be lacking in the bass and clarity department. The sound is typically on par with what a pair of free earbuds you’d get on a plane would produce — and sometimes it’s worse. They also tend to leak some sound at higher volumes, which means people who are standing nearby can hear your audio. 

Read more: Best places to buy replacement prescription lenses online in 2021

That said, if you listen to more spoken-word audio, whether that’s podcasts, audiobooks or talk radio, audio glasses are just fine for that because they’re strongest in the midrange where vocals live. And most of the audio glasses on this list work well for making cell-phone calls (some feature beam-forming microphones). 

Aside from audio quality, the other important factor is obviously the glasses’ design. There’s a lot of variation there as well, with some models fitting better and looking more stylish than others.


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Bose Frames 2.0 audio sunglasses review



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It should be noted that you can add prescription lenses to most audio sunglasses, and it’s easy enough to send your glasses in to an online replacement lens site (check out our list of best places to buy replacement prescription lenses online in 2021). However, that adds to the overall cost, with replacement lenses generally costing around $100 to $200, depending on the type of lens you choose. 

While I’m only recommending a few models at this point, I’ll update this list as new ones are released. Plenty more are on the way and hopefully they’ll improve. 

David Carnoy/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splashproof).

If you’re looking for the best-sounding pair of audio glasses with the best overall performance — that includes call quality and battery life — the Bose Frames Tempo are the one to get. It’s ostensibly a sports model designed for runners and bikers, and while it’s a little bulky, it stays on your head securely. 

The Tempo offers slightly better sound and battery life than the more traditional-looking Tenor and Soprano (see below). The Tempo has better specs all-around, with USB-C charging and larger 22mm drivers. It also delivers up to 8 hours of battery life.

Their sound is definitely improved from the original Frames. Bose says the Tempo plays “deeper and louder — loud enough for cycling at 25 mph — while still able to hear traffic and your training partners.” They’re sweat-, weather-, scratch- and shatter-resistant, according to Bose and fit under most protective helmets. (I had no problem using them with a couple of bike helmets.) They also work well for making calls, thanks to a new dual-microphone system. Optional lenses are available for $39 and you can order prescription lenses through Lensabl. Read our Bose Tempo Frames review.

Read more: The best open wireless earbuds that aren’t AirPods

David Carnoy/CNET

Water-resistantNo (no IPX rating).

Like the Tempo, the Tenor and Soprano are part of Bose’s line of second-generation audio sunglasses, but while the Tempo is more sport-oriented, these models are designed to look like standard sunglasses. (You can still run or bike with them but they’re not rated for water- or sweat-resistance.) They’re slicker-looking than the original Bose Alto and Rondo Frames, and they have a glossy finish. The Tenor fits my face better than the Soprano, which — as its name implies — Bose is aiming at women who like oversized sunglasses. Anecdotally, my daughter likes it.

Bose improved the sound in the Tenor and Soprano and the battery life is better. It’s up to 5.5 hours instead of around 3.5 hours, charging with a pogo-pin cable rather than USB-C. Both pairs of sunglasses play a little louder than the original Frames and the bass response is better, so music sounds fuller and richer. Don’t expect the big bass you get from a standard set of headphones, though, and they can distort at higher volumes. Still, the sound is significantly better than what you get from even the best bone-conduction headphones like those from AfterShokz, which developed a pair of audio sunglasses but never shipped it.

Like the Tempo, Bose has also upgraded the voice-calling capabilities in these models, adding dual beam-forming microphones. Bose offers optional lenses for $39. Since these sunglasses have a more traditional design, more online replacement lens sites, including replacerxlenses.com, Lensabl, and overnightglasses.com, can fit them with RX lenses. Read our full review of the Bose Frames Tenor and Soprano.

James Martin/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splashproof).

Needless to say, Amazon’s Echo Frames have Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant built into them so you can ask what the weather is, get news and sports scores, skip your music tracks forward and control your Alexa smart home products without touching your glasses. I like their design — they’re lightweight and fit my face comfortably and securely (they fit me better than all the Bose audio glasses). They also work well for making calls, with decent noise reduction outdoors. 

Really, the only strike against them is that they sound pretty middle-of-the-road for audio glasses. They’re OK sound-wise but are lacking in the bass department and fall well short of the Bose Frames in terms of sound. That said, they’re currently a decent option for audio glasses and if you try them and don’t like them, they’re easy enough to return to Amazon. It is worth noting that the included lenses are clear and not tinted, so they are not sunglasses.

They come in a few different color options (the Horizon Blue version is pictured) and battery life is rated at a modest 4 hours for music playback. Like the Bose Frames (except for the Tempo), they charge with a proprietary pogo-pin cable. A nice carrying case is included.

Online replacement lens sites such as replacerxlenses.com, Lensabl and overnightglasses.com can fit Echo Frames with RX lenses. 

David Carnoy/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splashproof).

Germany-based Fauna just released its audio glasses, which are available in a few different style options. They have a premium feel to them and are among the most stylish audio glasses out there — I tried the Spiro Transparent Brown (pictured), which fit my face well and has Carl Zeiss tinted lenses. 

I had a little trouble initially pairing the glasses with my iPhone 12 Pro — I had to reset the glasses — but once I got everything linked up they automatically paired whenever I took them out of the case. These glasses charge in their case, which has a USB-C port integrated into it. 

The Fauna glasses I tried sounded fuller than the Amazon Echo Frames, but they weren’t as good as any of the Bose Frames. They also worked decently for making calls.

Fauna audio glasses are on the expensive side at $300, but they do have a more premium look and feel to them — and that goes for their case as well. The sound quality is better than what you get from most audio glasses, but it’s still a little underwhelming even compared to what you get from a pair of budget headphones. 

Online replacement lens sites such as replacerxlenses.com, Lensabl, and overnightglasses.com can fit Fauna audio glasses with RX lenses. 



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