Best Portable MP3 Speaker: Bose SoundLink
There are times when you want everyone to hear your favorite tracks, unleashing the musical genie from your smartphone, MP3 player or tablet.
An excellent solution is the $300 Bose SoundLink, which keeps the party going from the kitchen, dorm room, patio — or anywhere you want quality sound.
Why we like it
Mention Bose to audiophiles, and they’ll grimace like oenophiles sipping box wine. But when we gave the SoundLink a good sonic workout — ranging from tenor Enrico Caruso to screeching guitars by the Red Hot Chili Peppers — the sound was rich, full and loud, and didn't have a lot of distortion. The bass was a bit too booming for a picky music aficionado, but the vast majority of music listeners will be quite pleased with the sound pumped out by this incredibly small package.
Looking like an oversized paperback, the SoundLink has a very cool design with several color options. To set it up, you pull a small tab on the front to release the protective panel and swing it under the speaker, where it becomes the stand. You can plug the speaker into a wall outlet, or charge its built-in lithium-ion battery for eight hours of untethered play.
Pairing the SoundLink to an iPad or other mobile device is simple. Once done, just turn the speaker on: The Bluetooth logo flashes on the SoundLink, and you’re good to go. It remembers connections for up to six devices. If you a have player without Bluetooth (say, an iPod Shuffle), you can use the included cable to connect the player’s headphone jack to a port on the back of the SoundLink.
Keep in mind
Bluetooth has a distance limitation of 25 to 30 feet, so the speaker and player can’t be too far apart. The SoundLink does not have any audio adjustments (such as bass or treble) so you’ll do your tweaking on your player. I set my iPad on “Flat” under settings and was generally happy with the results. But that’s a matter of taste.
The Bose SoundLink is on the expensive side for a wireless speaker. But the surprisingly high-quality sound, easy setup and portability of this handsome, small device are well worth it.
Bose SoundLink key specs
- Approximately 5 x 10 x 2 inches, 2.8 pounds
- Rear input for devices without Bluetooth (mini cable included)
- Available in six color covers: black, red or purple nylon; burgundy, tan or dark brown leather.