Bose SoundLink Mini review
I love audio devices. I own several dozen headphones, amps, speakers and audio players. I have a music collection in tones of formats from MP3 128-bit all the way to lossless ALAC and FLAC.
I love testing speakers and particularly Bluetooth speakers I can take on business trips.
I recently had a chance to test he Bose soundLink mini and was pleasantly surprised. It fast became my favorite mid-level Bluetooth speaker (more than the UE Boom or Jawbone Jambox).
A review of any Bose design has to start with the way it is built. Bose has the ability to modernize "older" looks and the SoundLink mini is no exception. It evoques images of old school 1950 style radios but is clearly a modern and stylish device. Like car manufacturers, Bose has a beautiful front metal grill that makes this device look oh so modern.
You can protect and uglify the device by using an option rubber skin.
It is smaller than most of its competitors weights in at a nice 1.5 pounds. It is an aluminium body that feels well built and solid. Definitely something that will last.
Look as you may, you won't find where the microphone is hidden. Wait.. where is it... oh it doesn't offer speakerphone capabilities.
The device is controlled with soft touch rubber buttons on the top (volume, input, mute, etc). LED lights above each button show which function is on.
On the side you'll find a power input connector and a 3.5mm standard audio input (for non Bluetooth devices). The next con on this one is that it doesn't charge via standard USB like most other devices in this space. The negative is that you have one more charger to travel with but it does charge faster than other devices using USB charging. It also comes with a charging cradle which means home based charging is as simple as dropping it into the cradle.
There is a USB port on the device but that is used for firmware updates.
Bose says the battery lasts 7 hours and they are almost on the mark with standard use.
Going from empty to full takes 3-4 hours.
Unlike other reviewers, I am not enamored with the Bose name and love some of their products sound quality and hate others.
When compared to other mid-sized competitors, the Bose SoundLink mini produces a decent amount of room filling sound. It actually is louder than most of its similarly sized competitors. It fills a standard room with loud enough sound for a get together but doesn't match the loudness of its bigger SoundLink or the bigger competitors. Also the smaller you get, the flatter the bass. The bass is respectable but not "club quality".
I thew a slew of different types of songs at it and it performed very well for a Bluetooth speaker (Bluetooth having a narrower less bit intensive capability). Where possible, I always prefer a straight digital out signal or a wires connection but sometimes Bluetooth is the only option and this device provides good sound reproduction. Only a handful of aggressive soundtracks played at maximum volume showed some distortion. Most of the time music played without any distortion even at maximum volume.
Bass is medium quality but overall separate and sound-stage was fairly good. High were particularly clean and vivid. It definitely merits the Bose badge for sound quality.
The device was easy to pair (and paired reliably) to an iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy S4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10.
If you need a mid-level portable Bluetooth speaker than this is my current best pick at round $199.
The device comes with the AC adapter and the charging base. The protection skin can be purchased separately in various colors.