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Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile speaker review

Gordon Kelly



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Our Score:



  • Excellent Build Quality
  • Classic design
  • Good sound quality for the size


  • Too large to travel, too weak for the home
  • Premium pricing

Key Features

  • Entry Level Bose Sound System
  • Bluetooth with A2DP Connectivity
  • Integrated Lithium Ion Battery
  • Built in cover doubles as a stand
  • Manufacturer: Bose
  • Review Price: £259.99

Search Google for the term 'mobile speaker' and more than three million results will be returned. There are few more competitive sectors and, for the potential buyer, few more chaotic. Almost every manufacturer has had a go by now offering a plethora of products in different sizes, form factors and price points. Bose is late on the scene, but – being Bose – has added yet another new twist on the sector…


The 'SoundLink Wireless Mobile speaker' was announced earlier this month to a great deal of fanfare. The SoundDock Portable has been the company's long serving iPhone dock for those who like their music on the move, but the SoundLink is significantly smaller, lighter and cheaper. For those lusting after a Bose system it presents a new low entry point.

How much smaller, lighter and cheaper? The SoundLink measures 244 x 130 x 48mm and weighs 1.3Kg verses the SoundDock's 307 x 175 x 103mm and 2.37Kg. It is also £90 less expensive. It's a positive start and seems to fill a hole in Bose's product range. So what do you get? Bose is typically hush hush about the technology inside the SoundLink giving no performance specs whatsoever. To quote the company:

"It combines four low-profile neodymium transducers for clear high- and mid-frequencies, with new dual-opposing passive radiators - designed with a patented waffle-shaped surround - for rich, deep, low notes. With the radiators placed in an opposing fashion, vibration is eliminated, turning the energy into acoustic power. The speaker's audio package is complemented with sophisticated electronics, including Bose digital signal processing algorithms, to reproduce instrument definition and detail at any volume."


That's your lot.

Less ambiguous are the SoundLink's other attributes. It uses Bluetooth and A2DP to pair to devices, holds up to six devices in memory, but only connects to one at a time. Bose quotes a pairing distance of up to 10 metres, a battery life reaching eight hours with a three hour charge time and the obligatory 3.5mm auxiliary jack to connect to any device lacking Bluetooth.


Styling is retro and angular with Bose's distinct silver grill and build quality is typically excellent. The large controls (power, auxiliary source, Bluetooth source [hold to pair], mute and volume up and down) eschew the trend for touch sensitive buttons and feel substantial and durable when pressed. A built in cover automatically switches off the SoundLink when closed and folds underneath creating a stable base when open. The standard version of the SoundLink has a nylon cover, a 'premium' edition upgrades this to leather for £40 more - bringing the price to a hefty £299. Our review unit was the leather edition, which does add a luxury feel, but your bank balance and feelings about animal products will determine whether you have the slightest interest in this.

More to the point, your interest will be far more reliant on how the SoundLink performs and that is far from straightforward…


September 28, 2011, 3:17 pm

too large for travel? so please show me a better alternative! the jambox? it sounds like a toy compared to the soundlink and the jambox distorts at levels where the soundlink sounds best.
a logitech wireless boombox? it is even larger than the soundlink and sounds worse, especially when run from batteries.
i would have also liked the soundlink to be even smaller, but for what it is, it sounds pretty perfect and blows away most larger "portable" speakers i have tried.


September 28, 2011, 11:08 pm

I'd have to agree with oluv's take on this.

I bought the SoundLink precisely because, at the size of a typical hardback book, it's perfect for travel. I used to take my SoundDock Portable with me on vacation, but now I can simply slip the SoundLink into my satchel and free up some valuable room in my carry-on bag by leaving the SDP at home.

As far as what audiophiles think of the SoundLink's audio performance, let's remember we're talking about a bluetooth portable speaker, not a Bowers & Wilkins home theater system. Apples and oranges.

For its size and weight, the SL sounds great. As noted in the review, the build quality is excellent and the unit is simple to setup and operate. Bose hit a home run with this one.


September 29, 2011, 3:24 pm

Size is a matter of opinion. For my money a portable speaker which ways more than a portable laptop is a significant size and a large part of luggage allowance. It also costs within £50 of the best premium iPod dock currently on the market (the Arcam rCube).

I'd suggest it is too large and too expensive for it is, but what it is IS a good product. Make it 30% smaller and 30% cheaper and it would be superb. We'll keep our fingers crossed for version 2.0.


September 29, 2011, 3:28 pm

Please see my reply above. Of course the Jambox doesn't compare, it is 1/4 of the weight, 1/4 of the size. But it is not 1/4 of the sound quality and it is almost half the price. For a hotel room it is more than adequate for most unless you are planning a room party... at which point the SoundLink isn't loud enough.

The SoundLink is a good product, I do say that but it falls between too stools: it is 80% of the cost of a high quality home dock like the rCube and 4x the weight and twice the cost of many travel speakers.


September 29, 2011, 6:45 pm

@Gordon: I appreciate your comment, but I still beg to differ.
The Jambox costs 199,-€ officially here in Austria, the Soundlink 299,- So the Jambox is rather 1/3 cheaper instead of 1/2.
Also sizewise I would never manage to fit 4 Jamboxes inside the Soundlink, maybe 3.14159... ;-) have a look here: http://img828.imageshack.us/img828/7964/jamboxundsoundlink10890.jpg

And i don't know if there is sample variation, but my Jambox sounds horrible at higher levels. I had to exchange it twice, but mine still does resonate inside the body, and although I opened it and tried some dampening I was not able to fix it. There are particular frequencies from guitar and piano sounds that make the Jambox sound like a trumpet. Soundwise it is no comparison to the Soundlink. I would definitely say, that the Soundlink sounds 3-4 times better and louder than the Jambox (at least mine).
The Jambox would sound nice near maximum volume, but you already have to fight with distortion at these levels and you have to apply some tricks and place it near a corner or at the ground in order to improve bass-response. At low levels it has no bass, no power, it sounds just like my notebook-speakers. Therefore in my case the Jambox is not an option (even with the new Liveaudio update, which makes the Jambox sound better at low volume but starts to distort at medium levels)

And because you mention a room party: I had the Soundlink in the garden at the pool with some friends and I didn't even need to turn it up to the max to have lots of fun to some Miguel Migs housetrax. This thing can really pump out some serious bass and annoy your nearby neighbours.

The rCube is definitely a compelling speaker, now with the announced discount, although I haven't heard it yet. But here in Austria it still costs 600€. For that price I'll rather take 3 Altec Lansing MIX and spread them around in my garden for maximum sound ;-)


April 1, 2013, 10:37 am

that is great! really, i mean it! thanks for sharing!


September 2, 2013, 2:09 pm

Went to isten to the SL never heard a better portable ever


October 14, 2013, 3:30 pm

the new soundlink mini is the best portable speaker, period!
it even beats the bigger soundlink, which was no slouch either. of course it cannot reach that high levels, but at comfortable volume it is hard to beat at this size. jambox, jbl charge, beats pill etc become toys soundwise when directly compared.


October 14, 2013, 3:31 pm

so why haven't you already tried or reviewed the soundlink mini then?
it is 1/4 the size, but soundwise even better than the bigger version.

Andrew Corris

January 12, 2015, 4:37 pm

I tried out every bluetooth speaker I could find and very nearly went down the Bose route. However, at the last moment I discovered the recently announced Denon Envaya Mini DSB100 (smaller brother to the larger Envaya DSB200).

It has literally unbelievable sound for £99 and really sets an incredible standard for a speaker that size. TR should definitely try to get hold of one for testing.

Genuinely, if you are looking to buy the Soundlink Mini or similar, then do all you can to try the Envaya Mini first. I cannot recommend it enough.

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