The Bose SoundTouch 10 is the Bose equivalent to the Sonos Play:1, a little speaker that has proved incredibly popular.
It’s a similar size, the same price and is far more flexible, with a much more ‘open’ approach than any Sonos speaker. It seems likely to be a great success.
However, with sound quality and software not quite on-par with the Sonos Play:1, the SoundTouch 10 doesn’t do quite enough to become my go-to recommendation.
Related: Best portable speakers
The Bose SoundTouch 10 is a speaker designed for multi-room audio. It’s small, it’s not too expensive but it’s still big and capable enough to offer better sound quality than most TVs and radios.
Multi-room systems used to be expensive and intimidating, but boxes like the SoundTouch 10 can almost be bought as an experiment. They work just fine on their own, but could be made into a multi-room setup in the future if you fancy it.
The Bose SoundTouch 10 has similar Wi-Fi multi-room chops to a Sonos speaker. It has an app that integrates Spotify and so on, and will control multiple SoundTouch boxes, but it also has Bluetooth. This means that, unlike a Sonos set, you can pipe app and game audio from your phone or tablet to the speaker.
What the Bose SoundTouch 10 doesn’t have, though, is a particularly slick look or feel. It’s relatively light, not particularly good-looking and doesn’t have the tough metal speaker grille you get with a lot of similarly-priced alternatives.
These speakers often advertise themselves as something you’ll want to put somewhere discreet in your lounge but I’ve actually had impressed-sounding feedback from visitors about the look of the Ministry of Sound Audio M and Sonos Play:1. I’m not expecting that with the Bose, other than from those simply impressed by the brand.
Its key dimension is depth. The Bose SoundTouch 10 really isn’t very deep, meaning you can cram onto a fairly packed shelf or bedside table without too much effort. It may not have impressed me with its design, but it makes sense.
Many will also appreciate the ‘best of both worlds’ approach Bose takes here. The Bose SoundTouch 10 is a multi-room speaker that’s part of an ‘ecosystem’ that has a decent amount of developments pumped into it, but doesn’t lock you off from using wired sources (via a 3.5mm input) and Bluetooth ones.
While smaller, lower-cost Bluetooth/Wi-Fi speakers are becoming more common, the issue is that to get multi-room right you have to have a decent companion app otherwise the whole thing becomes an almighty headache.
The Bose app is reasonable. It works, lets you control your speaker fairly reliably and integrates Spotify, Deezer and internet radio. However, it’s not close to the Sonos app in terms of UI design. This is no great surprise. While the SoundTouch series has been around for a little while, it’s a sapling compared with Sonos.
And yes, I’m banging on about Sonos quite a bit in this review. But if you’re not after a Sonos-a-like I’d seriously recommend considering a battery-packing alternative. They may not sound better, but they could prove much more useful. The SoundTouch is tethered to the mains.
Points in the SoundTouch 10’s favour other than that it’s more flexible include that it has a remote, and preset buttons on the top that let you quick-link to, say, an album or a radio station. I find that the top-level integration of these in the app clutters things up a bit. However, it does make the SoundTouch 10 way easier for any less tech-savvy members of your household to use.
“Just press ‘1’ for Bublé, Dave,” and so on.
Bose SoundTouch 10 – Sound Quality
The Bose SoundTouch 10 has a good driver array for such a small speaker. It has a passive radiator system with two opposing drivers to avoid distortion, and four active drivers.
Tonally the Bose SoundTouch 10 is solid and offers a volume boost over battery-powered favourite the Bose SoundLink Mini II. However, where that small speaker does quite amazing things for its size, this one’s performance is a little more ordinary.
You get a reasonable amount of bass for such a shallow box and fair good treble clarity, but it’s not among the top-performing speakers at the price as there’s a certain homogeneity to its delivery, owing to lacking dynamics. To explain this best, it’s easiest to compare the SoundTouch 10 to the Sonos Play:1, whose sound feels as carefully-engineered as the SoundLink Mini’s is.
From a very quick listen, you might hear that the SoundTouch 10 has better treble extension than the Play:1. However, keep on listening and you appreciate that the Sonos has far better mid-range definition, making, for example, vocals appear much more three-dimensional than they are coming from the SoundTouch 10.
The Bose also lacks bass impact. Its sound isn’t bass-light as such, but the low end doesn’t enter with much force.
What you end up with a speaker that sounds perfectly fine, perfectly inoffensive. But you can do better for your money. The SoundTouch 10 lacks energy, and its presentation is rudimentary.
I have been reviewing Bose products for years now, and it’s becoming clear you can often split them into one of two categories. There are products that really push their category forward with clever use of technology, setting new standards. The QuietComfort 20i and SoundLink Mini are good examples of this.
Then there are less ambitious products that are out to be easy to use, but don’t really match up to, or beat the very best at the price. The SoundTouch 10 is of this breed.
If you think its preset/remote system will be a massive bonus for your household, it could prove a good buy. However, in sound terms it's easily beaten by the Sonos Play:1, and without a battery something like the Ministry of Sound M Plus offers greater flexibility.
A good multi-room speaker for mixed tech ability families, but not a class-leader.