With the Soundlink Mini, Bose have produced something special. The diminutive little speaker produces sound quality, clarity and volume levels that just leaves you wondering how once you’ve listened to it. It’s not the best speaker I’ve had the pleasure of listening to, not by any means, but for it’s size and the portability it offers, it’s mind blowing.
While the speaker is portable, the sharp clean edges of the device make it appear more suitable to sitting on a shelf or bedside locker rather than being something that is ready for the rough and tumble of the outdoors. That’s not to say the speaker couldn’t take some knocks, I just don’t think other items in your bag could stand up to impacts from the Soundlink Mini! The aluminium frame of the speaker makes it almost seem like it is Apple designed but the device’s heft make it feel more industrial.
The speaker has a rubber base that also acts as a locator for the charging dock. It serves its purpose to stop the speaker vibrating while in use but isn’t pronounced enough for seamless location in the dock. It is a fiddly affair getting the pogo pins to positively engage in the dock. More fiddly than it should be.
The Soundlink Mini uses Bluetooth to connect to devices wirelessly and also comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack. Controlling power, volume and switching between wired or Bluetooth connections is via a set of rubberised buttons at the top of the device. A connection for charging without the included dock is located alongside the 3.5mm jack on the right side of the device. Bose claim the battery will last seven hours from full and take about three to charge. From our use so far we were able to get about eight hours using Bluetooth to connect and closer to twelve if you use a wired connection.
I initially set the speaker up using Bluetooth on a MacBook Pro. The MacBook I was using only has Bluetooth 2.1 and the sound quality from the speakers was pretty dreadful. Quickly swapping to a wired connection or using an iPad to wirelessly stream produced much better results. Volume levels are insane for such as small speaker but it is not just noise. There is a depth and clarity from the output that is usually reserved for much more expensive speakers. While the speaker does a good job of producing bass tones with its dual passive radiators, heavy beats will still distort. If you are after heavy bass the Beats Pill may be a better option, but also a much uglier one!
The initial setup of the speaker to work with all my devices required some fine tuning. Aggressive equaliser settings I had in place to help improve the sound quality of weak internal speakers now distorted the output from the Soundlink Mini. Where possible I had to create new equaliser profiles and where not, I had to reduce the level of adjustment back to a very low level.
Once that initial setup is completed the Soundlink Mini produces a listening experience that is close to unrivaled at this size and price point. There are some weak points though. First off there is no Bose App for controlling the speaker. Everything is controlled manually which some people will find annoying in this day and age. Next, as I mentioned above, while it is portable it is more suited to just being moved around your home or office. It has been designed to be stylish first, portable second. While Bose do offer carry cases and covers for the unit, it seems more of an after thought where as speakers such as the UE Boom have been designed from the ground up to be used outdoors and on the go. It’s also expensive at just short of €200. Its competitors are also priced similarly but it is pushing it to a point where most people will have to put some serious thought into parting with their cash for a small speaker.
If you are reading this and trying to decide whether to buy this speaker or not I’ll break it down for you as follows. If you are looking for a speaker that will mostly stay in the one house or office you can stop reading and go and buy the Soundlink Mini. It will look great in any house and sounds fantastic.
If on the other hand you after something that will constantly be on the go, used outside and has a longer battery life I’d suggest going for the UE Boom.
While it won’t be for everyone, If you do go for the Soundlink Mini I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.