Bose is incredibly secretive about its audio technology (a strategy which wins as many enemies as fans) so no raw specs are provided. In fairness wattage is often as misleading as it is informative, but we are told the 20s do use a brand new driver along with proprietary electronics and amplification. Bose's long standing 'TrueSpace' digital signal processing tech is also thrown in to expand the acoustic range and widen the perceived soundstage. Marketing buzzwords aside, does it work?
In short yes, and then some. Bose typically describes its sound as 'rich'. Detractors say this equates to indistinct and muddy and there are certainly products where this is true, but the Companion 20s are a delight oozing drive and detail. Most surprising is the volume. Despite their small size and 2.0 arrangement the 20s will not just fill a room, but an entire floor before hitting maximum volume. They will also vibrate your windows.
Purists will miss the ability to tweak bass and treble settings as Bose retains an Apple-esque vice control over its products, but the sound signature is very well balanced. If anything the 20s are slightly bass heavy, a remarkable achievement given they obviously have no dedicated bass unit. That said they don't lack detail and classical music aficionados will be just as satisfied as bass heads. As mentioned at the beginning of this review, we have no idea how regularly Bose will refresh the Companion 20 to fend off rival products in future, but right now they are outstanding.
Of course this wouldn't be a TrustedReviews Bose test if we didn't have a few caveats. As mentioned, some treble and bass control would be welcome, particularly for those that may want to peg back the bass a little. In addition, while we are big fans of the pod control, a separate remote control, such as on the Teufel C 300 Wireless, would have been a welcome alternative and – for the price – an inbuilt wireless audio solution would've been nice. But, with the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 costing around £400, these are hardly overpriced for a basic 2.0 speaker set.
Of course, there is no doubt £200 is a lot to pay for a 2.0 setup with some 4.1 and even 5.1 systems available for less. But that said the Companion 20 isn't so much about price comparison as product comparison. Not everyone desires or has the space for 4.1/5.1 or even 2.1 setups, but they crave high quality audio. In this respect Bose has come up with a real winner and the standard two year warranty offers some compensation against the initial outlay.
While Bose products have fallen foul of us in the past, the Companion 20 has knocked our socks off. The sheer volume and drive produced by these 2.0 speakers is astonishing and bass, if anything, is fractionally more prominent than it would be in a typical 2.1 arrangement. As always Bose has slapped on a premium price, but the Companion 20 can go head to head with iPod docks twice the price and connect to your phone/MP3 player and computer simultaneously. If your wallet is deep and your space limited you can't go wrong.