Top positive review
316 people found this helpful
Bose finally hits the jackpot on this one!
on 18 July 2014
I have to say having had this speaker for several months now I am pleasantly surprised at just how good it is. I was, as I'm sure several others will be, quite hesitant at first about purchasing this despite the fairly reasonable price (by Bose standards!). I have purchased many Bose products over the years, as well as a few from other audio companies such as Sennheiser, Bowers and Wilkins, Bang & Olufsen, Audio Technica etc. I have therefore developed a fairly good sense of expectation whenever a new audio product is released regarding just how good it will be. When I ordered this from amazon, I had fairly muted expectations, with the small size and lower price bracket in particular putting me off as I thought to myself, if Bose are still making a good margin on this, then just how much have they invested into the sound quality, build and features?
In general, Bose's home audio systems of past is where I feel the company has been let down. While they have secured a good market for themselves with noise cancelling headphones, commercial speakers and home cinema systems - I feel the home audio systems such as iPod docks, Wave systems etc were vastly overhyped and overpriced. The Wave system in particular was a big disappointment for me, having purchased it a few years back for the steep price of over £500. Since then I have had little use for it beyond a clock radio, with the sound quality and technical features of many of my cheaper speakers outperforming the wave. The SoundLink Mini however is where Bose seem to have completely bucked the trend, and produced a rather exceptional speaker in all the categories I listed above. It seems as if for once, Bose have listened to the criticism of past and rather than releasing another overhyped, expensive system with unnecessarily complex 'technologies' (that they love describing in marketing pitches), they have focused solely on simplicity, quality and affordability. Those are three adjectives I never thought I'd associate with Bose!
When I received the delivery I have to say I was quite surprised at just how small the speaker was. As you open the box you are met with a well packed set of cables and leaflets, as is the Bose norm. Delving deeper, as I picked up the speaker it felt unnaturally small and light compared to my expectations from the preview shots I had seen online. What really surprised me however, was just how good the build quality was for Bose. Gone was the tacky and cheap plastic used on speakers in the past, instead the Soundlink Mini has a sleek aluminium casing with easy to access suppressed rubber dials. Despite being small and light, I felt confident that it was sturdy enough to last being kept on display, something I have been unsure of with previous products. In addition, the number of extras packed in was unusual for Bose and even more so noting this is one of their lower priced products. The speaker itself comes with a mains charging cable, but also a charging stand that you can simply place the system on to charge (which saves you plugging it in every time). Even for expensive wave systems Bose charges for almost everything extra except the product and mains lead, so this was a nice addition.
Onto the rather important issue of sound quality, I must say that the first time I turned the Soundlink Mini on and played some music I was extremely surprised at just how good the audio quality was for a speaker of this size. The entire range of my music could be heard, something I had usually come to expect from much larger and more expensive speakers. Unless you adjust the volume settings unusually high, the audio remains clear and crisp. The sound projection and volume is very good and can easily fill a common location you might use this in such as living rooms and bedrooms. Dare I say all these criteria were just as good if not better than the Bose wave system I had previously and the iPod dock - both of which were more than double the price of this. The small size has its advantages too, the set is incredibly portable and can be carried in a single hand, while the battery length is fantastic for once giving close to the promised 7 hours on full charge. So far I have even been able to enjoy this in the garden without worrying about setting it up or damaging the speakers.
Before ordering this one of the things I was particularly concerned about was just how efficient and easy the bluetooth connectivity would be, as in the past I have had quite a hassle setting up certain systems. I have to say within minutes of using the SoundLink all my worries went away, and so far it has always taken me just a few seconds to connect my device and start playing. The setup with PC's, phones and apple devices in particular is very easy and you can stream pretty much any audio onto the speaker, whether that be from a movie, game or just music. Despite not having any digital dials, the SoundLink has a handy bluetooth memory which automatically recognises past devices with a blinking white light and starts playing straight away. For ease of use alone I would give this 5 stars, I can't see anybody having problems setting it up.
So onto the final verdict, if you're reading this you're either wondering whether or not to make the leap and buy this or you're simply gloating about how good the speaker you've just purchased is by reading all the glowing reviews. For those in the former category, I would say don't let any prior perceptions of Bose hinder you on this one, branding aside this is one of, if not the best portable speaker you can buy for the money. From the build to the audio it just oozes quality and is extremely easy to use and set up. If you're wondering whether or not you will have any use for a small speaker like this , then believe me when I say there are a dozen not to mention the others you'll find when you discover just how good the quality is. In fact, bearing in mind it measures up to many larger speakers I have tested you may find you start using it in place of bigger systems and will start to appreciate it's practicality as a result. Of course, this isn't going to replace any complex audio system or home cinema setup you have so it's wise to be realistic regarding expectations. However, for the size, quality and ease of use this is a real five star product that will be a welcome addition in any home, whether it be for diehard music fans or those who just want better audio when watching movies on the iPad.
Besides, how many other speakers of this quality can you whisk outside at a moments notice on a sunny day to enjoy a summer cocktail while some old school Otis Redding plays in the background?