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Style Name: SoundTouch 20Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The SoundTouch 20 is clearly Bose's attempt to move into the home music streamer market that is dominated by Sonos. I've been using a Sonos system in my home for many years now, so was interested to see how Bose shapes up in comparison.

First impressions are good - this product is clearly aimed at the Sonos Play:5 - it's pretty much identical in size and styling, down to the bass port on the back that doubles as a carrying handle. Setting it up was reasonably straightforward - you have to download a Mac or PC application from the Bose website, which then walks you through connecting to your wifi network and linking to your music library (either in iTunes or Windows Media Player). I wasn't pleased that you can't actually set the system up without sending Bose your full postal address and email address as well - surely unnecessary? (Edit - a couple of weeks later, you discover why this was needed - so Bose can send you junk mail both by email and post, with no option when you register to opt out from such unsolicited mailings...) Worryingly, the system seems to use data stored on Bose's servers to manage your system in terms of connecting tablets and controllers - again, this ought not to be necessary.

Anyway, I got the system up and running in ten minutes or so - not quite as quick as installing a Sonos zone, but not bad. I then played some music from my iTunes library using the iPad controller app (another free download - a bit sluggish compared to the Sonos equivalent, but usable enough), and it was all reasonably easy and intuitive. The sound quality is very good - Bose do major on producing a lot of bass from small boxes, and this is no exception. The bass is a bit one-note (as you'd expect from a tuned port) and sometimes swamps the treble; it does sound a bit less than lifelike at times, but overall, it makes a very pleasant sound, and I'd rate it as better than the Sonos Play:5 in that respect. It's loud enough to fill a medium size room with no obvious distortion - it's not hi-fi, but is actually quite pleasant to listen to nonetheless. However, unlike Sonos, there are no bass or treble controls to tweak it to your taste - a slightly worrying omission.

So far so good. Unfortunately, it goes downhill from here. First off, as soon as a track finished and the next started, I realised that the SoundTouch doesn't do gapless playback. Forget listening to "The Dark Side Of The Moon" as Pink Floyd intended; you'll get a second's gap between each track. It even fades in the first half-second or so of every track it plays; if a track starts suddenly with a loud note, it's very obvious that the Bose cuts off the start. This is unacceptable on a media player in 2014 - this sort of issue was fixed on every other mainstream player years ago.

As you delve further into the SoundTouch, more evidence of just how behind the current state-of-the-art this product is. No support for lossless formats, for example. If you've got Apple Lossless files in your iTunes library, the Bose won't play them. It does MP3 and AAC - that's it.

And files need to be in iTunes or Windows Media Player, and your PC or Mac needs to be on with the relevant server running. No ability to access a generic UPnP server like Twonky, or to store files on a NAS box - hugely wasteful of electricity in forcing you to run a PC all the time.

The most baffling omission is support for streaming services like Spotify. Sonos offers a huge choice of online services integrated with the system - Bose offers none. If you are paying a Spotify subscription, you'd hope to be able to listen to your music via a box like this - but there's no support for it.

The SoundTouch is a huge disappointment. Bose are clearly gunning for Sonos, and they do beat them on sound quality - however, they fall down badly in every other area. It is possible that all the issues above will be fixed in future firmware releases - but Sonos users get all this (and more) right now. Given this, it is very hard to see why anyone would buy the SoundTouch over the (pretty much identically-priced) Sonos Play:5.

In another year or so, Bose might have improved the software on the SoundTouch to the point where it becomes a credible alternative to Sonos. But for now, this is the equivalent of a music streamer from 10 years ago - an unfinished product that is years behind the market. What a wasted opportunity.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 18 January 2014
Style Name: SoundTouch 20Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I could not be more impressed.

Let me tell you why.

First of all setting it up.

You go to the Bose website (they tell you the address)

Download an app which takes you through the different stages of setting the system up.

The SoundTouch during this set up updated its firmware as well.

You create a Bose account and then tell it to index your iTunes library. (I am a Mac user and all my music is in an iTunes library, some in the cloud, some on the computer)

Then you are away - the whole process took 23 minutes (I timed it)

I then downloaded the app for my iPhone and signed into my new Bose account and took control of the SoundTouch!

Then of course I discovered the fabulous Bose sound, which is superb in depth and clarity. Superb.

Things I love

The sound is wonderful, awesomely wonderful.
The Unit looks good and displays the name of the radio station or song you are listening to
The presets are easy to set, a playlist on one, an internet radio station on the other.

Things I would like to see added... dream list

Only music is indexed, not podcasts.
Only music is indexed not TV shows and films
If it was a battery powered unit you could take it round the house

Otherwise I am delighted with the ease of setup and with the awesome sound quality.

Thoroughly recommended.

- - -

Added a few days later

- - -

I am very impressed that Bose have now sent two emails checking that all is OK and offering a free technical support number of required. Excellent customer service!
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on 2 March 2014
If you only want an AirPlay speaker, it is possible to use this product without using any of the Bose software, without connecting it to your computer and without creating a SoundTouch account. But you would't know that from the documentation provided with the product. If you buy this, go to the Bose website and download the manual from there, which documents the alternate setup method.

I wanted to try out the iOS app and maybe setup some streaming radio stations on the preset buttons, but you can only use it with a SoundTouch account. You can only create a SoundTouch account by installing the Mac or PC software. Ugh.

I can understand why Bose may have chosen to do this as they intend for you to use their software to stream your music, but as someone intending to primarily use AirPlay it would be nice to be able to create an account on the iOS app or their website so that I can make use of the other features (which at the moment is just streaming radio).

I installed the software on a Mac and it is very clear that Bose has no interest in writing Mac software, which looks and feels like it was made under protest by developers who regard the Mac with disdain. In fact it appears they went to significant extra effort to infuriate Mac users by not following any Mac platform conventions at all. Luckily once you have created an account, you can delete it.

The iOS app is ok. Same ugly interface and a bit clunky, but it does the job for setting radio presets. There are lots of features coming soon, but I wouldn’t buy this based on promises of potential features. As it stands, this is a great AirPlay speaker, but that is all it is capable of being at the moment.

Hardware = 5 stars
Mac software = 0 stars
iOS software = 3 stars
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on 31 May 2014
Most of the reviews and the sales pitch for this item - are the internet radio and wifi music streaming.

The reason you should buy this is for the sound. I would have paid £1000 for this. The engineers who designed this must have been geniuses. I've never understood the obsession with stereo - I never liked a piece of music more, for hearing the drums slightly to the left of centre, and the lead guitarist to the right. What this machine does, is delivers the music through mono speakers but in a manner much like the 3d photography used in the matrix films back in 1999. What I mean is - you can hear everything in the sound - with such depth, its like HD or 4K TV, when you've been used to a CRT. You're left feeling that somehow the music was slowed down, because you noticed so much more. I was listening to one song, and I'm sure the chords played were slightly "flatter" than I had hear previously - but strangely as a result - it was more in tune. Some folks mentioned the bass being prominent. My perspective, is that everything becomes more prominent and there is infinitely more definition to the sound - in fact it's like the band is in the room with you. You can almost feel the vocalists breath on the back of your neck. The Bose renders the sound with incredible passion, and a saxophone solo in one song literally felt like I was in the middle of a warm breeze - absolutely spine tingling. With music and sound like this - I have zero interest in commenting on the app (its all ultra simple to setup). This is like the old days, when you put on a record and literally couldn't move till it was finished. For me - this has reminded me to pay attention to a music collection that I'd grown increasingly disinterested in - through the normal listening channels of digitally downloaded / stored music. Absolutely superb
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on 21 September 2014
This is a great sounding unit which I've placed in my kitchen, its more than loud enough to hear when I'm sat in the living room, so that I've got nice clear & loud music/radio playing in the background. Maximum volume would be far too loud for my house (typical 3 bed detached). Its also small enough to move around the house, but it does need to be plugged into the mains.

I use mine mostly for listening to the radio, which its normally set to all through the day. If I want to listen to music then I do so via the free spotify app on my macbook & iPhone via Airplay. To connect via Airplay on a macbook, simply hold down the 'alt' key and click on the speaker icon at the top right of the screen, the MacBooks sound will be shown as via 'internal speakers' but to change this simply click where it says 'Bose' (or whatever you've named your Bose unit when setting it up). When your iPhone detects a suitable Airplay device nearby it will display the 'Airplay' icon when you swipe up from the bottom of the screen, revealing the control panel. The Bose volume can be changed via the volume control buttons on my macbook or iPhone.

My favourite feature of my Bose ST20 is the ability to create upto six presets of either radio stations or albums. Ive placed my ST20 in my kitchen and Ive allocated my favourite radio stations to some of the presets so that when I come downstairs in the morning I press the relevant button and listen to the radio station or album that I want. This negates the need to open the Bose app on the laptop/iPhone and having to select what I want to listen to. Setting/changing the presets is simple, just open the Bose app on my macbook, search for a radio station or album (spotify or iTunes) and drag it to the preset number. Done! For the presets to work it does require you to have your laptop turned on. But this isn't a problem for me as Ive never been one to turn my macbook off, I simply shut the lid which I think puts the macbook into sleep mode, but still allows the Bose to communicate with it, allowing the presets to work. Its really that easy!

Ive installed the spotify app on both my macbook & iPhone and stored my favourite albums & tracks not he app. When I want to listen to music I open the spotify app on my macbook/iphone, ensure Airplay is selected, and select the music/playlist I want to listen to. I'm so pleased with the free spotify app that I no longer use iTunes, infact I've uninstalled my iTunes library from the Bose.

I narrowed my choice down to either the Sonos 5 or the Bose ST20, but chose the Bose due to being able to store radio stations on the unit. I believe the Sonos system requires you to reach for your phone/laptop and open up an app like spotify to operate it? I think the Sonos connects directly to spottily via your router, with your laptop/phone only being used to control it. Whereas the Bose requires your laptop/phone to actually send the spotify music to the unit. Im guessing this affects the battery life of your laptop/phone?

Overall the Bose is a great sounding speaker, with masses of volume which doesn't appear to distort even when cranked up high. But you'd need a massive house to be able to get away with anything close to maximum volume. Perhaps its a little heavy with the base and sadly the base/treble can't be adjusted (whereas with the Sonos it can). Its also worth considering the smaller Bose SoundLink speaker which is bluetooth only, but highly portable. The ST20 is wifi only, not bluetooth. If the ST20 wasn't so expensive id have given it 5 stars.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 26 February 2014
I know some have had difficulties setting it up, but I followed the setup video on the Bose site and was ready to role within 8 minutes. Yes, 8 minutes, I TIMED IT.

It looks lovely. Really nice. But for the price you would expect it to be solidly built. You shouldn't be disappointed. Bose haven't gone for any weird or "designey" type of design. Simply, rectangular, and smooth lines.

This is important. Or how the French may say très important. Bose have made a wonderful sounding machine. Full of warmth, depth with a solid sound. Not too base-y, not too tin-ey. Just right. Given it's size it packs a punch. We have a high ceiling and adjoining dining room and kitchen. So, a rather long and high room. It filled each corner with it's sweet sweet music.
At full volume it was like being in a nightclub. (i.e. difficult to speak over)

I don't subscribe to music services such as Spotify, Deezer or suchlike. So I can't comment on that aspect. Sorry. I did use my tunein app on my iphone and this streamed wonderfully.

18 x 30 x 10cm

Both worked very well. No drop-outs. No garbled noise. And it wasn't at all sluggish responding to the remote or app.

Well, Sonos have been producing wireless speakers for ages (about 8 years), so they have a head start. As Bose are a later entrant they should and could be able to come up with an amazing wireless speaker. Have they? Hmmmn, I prefer the look of the Bose over the Sonos but I couldn't hand on heart say it's any better. Probably a draw.
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on 16 August 2014
Since the beginning of this year I own the Bose SoundTouch 20 ("ST20" below) and use it in conjunction with a Wave SoundTouch ("Wave ST" below). I came to the conclusion that the ST20 lacks the "Bose experience" and do not recommend it.

Over the years I owned several Bose products, most notably a trusty Wave that lasted more than 20 years. I really like Bose, because their products fulfil the purpose they were intended for with elegance and simplicity. With the arrival of the Wave ST I decided to update my Wave. Shortly thereafter, I also purchased the ST20.

As one might expect, in many respects the SoundTouch 20 is the "smaller" version of the Wave SoundTouch: It is smaller in size and it isn't quite as powerful. I love the design and the smaller footprint of the ST20, and as I rarely operate my Wave above 50% the reduced power does not concern me. HOWEVER, the ST20 disappoints in its basic functionality. I am not speaking about audio here, but about a user experience that is not as good as it should be. The following two reasons make me doubt the ST20.

First, the WiFi range seems shorter, or at any rate the reception erratic: I face significant difficulties with the reception of AirPlay on the ST20 -- no such problems with the Wave ST at the same location(!). Firmware upgrades don't seem to address this.

Second, there is substantial lag when using the AUX input. Naively thinking, the AUX jack should perform better than AirPlay. Not so with the ST20: Playing a video on any device connected to the ST20 via cable results in substantial lag between picture and audio. This renders the AUX jack only viable as a workaround for playing music when facing the problem mentioned above. But then you'd ignore the defining SoundTouch feature! Firmware upgrades don't seem to address this. (The Wave ST does not have this problem.)


The Wave SoundTouch performs better when it comes to basic functionality (WiFi, AUX). The ST20 lacks the Bose experience. If at all possible, go for the Wave. If not, look for alternatives or wait for a hardware update.
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on 14 August 2014
Pretty good, though expensive wifi system.

I bought it to replace an old Bose Wave that was becoming unreliable. I was a bit disappointed that the frequency response on this particular SoundTouch model was noticeably a little poorer than the Wave. I am a musician so others may not be worried about this quite so much. It's still very good though and I didn't try the larger SoundTouch models to see if they were better. And in any case, I bought this specifically for use in our kitchen, a room we spend a lot of time in that has lots of background noise, so nothing like ideal listening conditions for the traditional hifi purist.

I have no clue what's going on with stereo separation in these units. Are they now mono? I notice that the word 'stereo' doesn't appear in the literature and if I listen to music that uses extremes of stereo in the mix, it doesn't quite sound as intended. For the money Bose charges I do think they could be a bit more up-front about this and explain properly how this expensive unit deals with stereo separation. I know that many people won't be too bothered but when an artist and producer have gone to the trouble of using the stereo space creatively, it would be nice to be able to hear the result. Yes, I know the speakers are very close together on a unit like this but I had a similarly sized Yamaha unit many years ago that introduced tech to enhance the stereo effect. So it's not impossible.

The unit is very quick and easy to set up and use, using the free SoundTouch app on a mobile or desktop. It's great to be able to choose up to six radio stations - from anywhere on the planet - which can be programmed to the six buttons on the top of the unit. I did think that having only six would be too restrictive but it's really very easy and quick to select a different station using the app.

Beware that if you use a microwave (our SoundTouch is in our kitchen/breakfast room) while listening to the SoundTouch, the microwave will interrupt the sound until you turn the microwave off. You just need to make sure not to site the SoundTouch near anything that might cause interference.

I can stream music from any wifi-enabled device in the house to the SoundTouch. It works with only occasional interruptions, if our router decides to have a sulk for a few seconds.

Overall a very good unit. A bit pricey perhaps but you'll enjoy the ease of use and versatility of the SoundTouch 20.
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on 8 October 2014
Not impressed with this unit and returned it.

I wanted to extend my current sound setup to have an additional speaker connected to have sound for the garden. But this unit is no use as there's a delay from the sound being input to this unit and it being played on the speakers - I phoned Bose about this and it's to do with the built in Active Equalizer and there's no way to disable it.

Also, the unit takes 10+ seconds to load up which seems a bit excessive for a sound unit.

What more, the sound output definitely isn't £600 of sound quality.
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on 20 October 2014
We have had a Soundtouch 20 for almost a year now and decided it has been a waste of money. As my headline says, it is pretty much an overpriced internet radio but, with our 3 MBps internet serving multiple devices in the house it can't compete and we get better digital radio through the TV in the same room.

This is the most I have ever spent on a sound system and felt quite proud and exited to open the box and set it up. However, after 3 hours of trying and failing to play any music from my PC I gave up; it was 1 in the morning. The error messages displayed are codes for which there was no guidance and the Help function suggested the PC is off (no!), the device is on a different network to the PC (no!) or the Soundtouch app is not running (wrong!). The next day I phoned the Bose technical support which is UK based and very helpful but it did take 2 guys talking me through various procedures and firewalls 1 hour to get the system to play my music. Great until about a week later when Bose updated the software and it would not communicate with my PC again.

I believe Bose have acknowledged there are major issues with this system because they now have a dedicated user support web-site but they seem to update the application software every week meaning whenever I use the system I have to wait for it to update.

In summary just buy a Bluetooth speaker system.
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