Bose Soundlink Mini: Is It One of the Best Speakers Today

bose soundlink mini

Are you looking for a speaker you can use for your desktop rig but also use for other things? A Bose Soundlink Mini may be what you’re looking for. It’s a portable wireless speaker that doesn’t give up on performance for a smaller size. Unfortunately, the original model is no longer available. But fortunately, there are other options -- including a much-improved one Bose released.

I remember when I first tried a wireless portable speaker, many years ago, and concluded that it was a poor gimmick. But these days, wireless speakers have matured and become dependable household items, replacing many of their wired predecessors. It’s no longer a gimmick but a viable option. We’ve covered various computers and components in our reviews, and now it’s time to include some speakers. Let’s look at how the Bose Soundlink Mini delivers -- and what other options you have available.

Introducing the Bose Soundlink Mini Wireless Speaker

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The Bose Soundlink Mini is a portable yet rugged Bluetooth speaker. It’s small enough to carry in your backpack or a jacket pocket, but it’s not a flimsy plastic speaker like the typical portable speaker. Nor does it sacrifice all semblance of sound quality, which is the unfortunate norm. Its loudness and clarity are impressive for the small size.

It’s 7.1 inches wide, 2 inches tall, and 2.3 inches front to back and weighs in at 1.5 pounds. While a Bose Soundlink Mini costs more than the average Bluetooth speaker, it’s also a higher-quality product.

Features

It has a sleek, one-piece aluminum casing with sturdy features. This speaker is great for anyone who tends to set things down on their desk, forget about them, and accidentally knock them over. A typical Bluetooth speaker would fly off the desk and possibly break, but the sturdy Bose Soundlink Mini would hardly move.

Inside, there are two small drivers, a radiator in the front, and one in the back. It comes bundled with a charging cradle and an AC adapter. We like this combination because it lets you keep the cradle plugged in on your desk and your charger in your backpack for charging on the go. While it lacks a USB charging option, it does have a micro-USB port for firmware updates and such. There’s also a 3.5-millimeter AUX jack for sound sources without Bluetooth.

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It can pick up a Bluetooth signal from more or less any device up to 33 feet away. It can also remember six devices for automatic pairing, meaning that you’ll only have to sync them once. While there’s no speakerphone feature on the Bose Soundlink Mini, that’s a bit of a gimmick for mini Bluetooth speakers anyway.

Up top, you’ll find six buttons. On the left, you find the main power switch and the mute button. On the right, you toggle Bluetooth and auxiliary inputs. The volume controls sit in between.

Performance

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I’ve come to expect very little of speakers that can fit on your palm. However, the Bose Soundlink Mini packs a considerable punch. It’s loud, and you can actually hear the bass. While true sub-bass is impossible at this size, Bose’s well-renowned psychoacoustic magic makes it sound like it’s there. The overall tone is balanced and textured. It has plenty of presence without being harsh, which helps vocals come through with clarity.

Despite its small size, the Bose Soundlink Mini produces a decent stereo image without notable phase issues. It can serve you for seven to eight hours on a single charge. Altogether, these qualities make it a formidable portable speaker for listening on the go or hanging out with people outside. At the same time, it feels right at home on your computer desk when you’re gaming or working. I find most Bluetooth speakers too harsh and tinny-sounding, but this one is smooth.

Buyers give the Bose Soundlink Mini 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon. They like the sleek yet rugged design, the powerful sound, and the portability. However, some feel like it could be cheaper or louder.

Bose Soundlink I vs. Bose Soundlink II

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With this upgrade, Bose addressed people’s primary complaints and wishes. They swapped the charge plug for a micro-USB so you can use ordinary phone chargers. It also requires less charging, since the battery life is 10 hours. The Bose Soundlink Mini II also has a microphone and doubles as a speakerphone.

Furthermore, the buttons have changed. A central multi-function replaces the mute and AUX toggles. You use it for phone calls and sound source selection. The last new feature is a voice system. When you turn on the Bose Soundlink Mini, a voice tells you the battery level and mentions any connected devices. You can pair two at the same time and switch between them.

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Sound-wise, there are minimal improvements. If you have a musical ear, you’ll notice a slight cut in the lower midrange, which gives you more definition and a less crowded sound. As a result, loud songs get a bit more bass and presence.

Price

Since it’s a discontinued product, you’ll mostly find used speakers, and the price varies widely. You can get a Bose Soundlink Mini for very affordable price.

The Bose Soundlink Mini II sells for the same prices, so it’s a wise choice. You can buy it here.

How It Compares to Competitors

It’s time to compare the Bose Soundlink Mini to some key competitors to get a better idea of its qualities. We’ve chosen the Ultimate Ears BOOM 3, Riva Turbo X, and Sony SRS-XB41.

How We Reviewed

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There’s only so much wisdom in a single person’s experience, and even less to trust in official statements. Therefore, we’ve gathered and compared the experiences and opinions of various real individuals like you and me. Amazon customer reviews are the biggest source of these insights, along with technical details from the manufacturers themselves.

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There’s more to portability than a travel-friendly size. The UE BOOM 3 takes it to new levels with a waterproof and dustproof design. It has an IP67 rating, which means you can submerge it for up to 30 minutes without breaking it. It also floats in water, which makes it great for outdoorsy people. So, we can conclude that it’s a solid choice for rainy days and listening to music in the shower, but let’s see how it stands up to the Bose Soundlink Mini as a desktop speaker.

Features

A durable fabric surrounds the whole speaker, and there’s a hook for more placement options. A flap protects the micro-USB port from dust and water. You can also charge it with a POWER UP dock, but that’s a separate purchase. The UE BOOM is a mere 7.24 inches long with a 2.9-inch diameter and weighs 1.34 pounds. That’s comparable to the Bose Soundlink Mini.

Other than the power switch, there’s only one button. UE calls it the “magic button.” You use it to play, pause, and skip tracks. It lets you operate playlists on Deezer and Apple Music. You need the BOOM & MEGABOOM app to use these functions. The app gives you music controls and an equalizer, so you can get your preferred sonic balance. However, the UE BOOM 3 will compress the sound, so boosting one frequency band will make the rest quieter.

We think you’ll agree that the coolest feature is the PARTYUP mode, which lets you connect up to 150 UE BOOM speakers for surround sound. It’s compatible with older BOOM and MEGABOOM products as well. You could use it for a quick and easy gaming sound system too.

Performance

The UE BOOM can pump out up to 90 decibels and won’t distort much. Sound comes out in all directions for a spacious 3D sound. It has a rich sonic profile with good separation between bass and treble. It has a good amount of bass for its size, but not like the Bose Soundlink Mini, and it doesn’t have as much presence. Vocals aren’t as defined. The tone is still warm and comes through well at low volumes.

You can run it for up to 15 hours on a single charge, which is impressive. What’s more, it can pick up a Bluetooth signal from up to almost 150 feet.

They like the portable, durable, waterproof design. Some have negative remarks about the app and say that the PARTYUP feature causes audio stutter and dropouts.

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Weighing in at three pounds, the Riva Turbo X sacrifices a bit of portability for some extra power. It’s 9.1 inches wide, 4.1 inches tall, and 3.5 inches deep. It’s still portable enough to take off your desk and go downstairs for a movie before going back up for a game. Riva aimed for a more hi-fi speaker, while still keeping it small and convenient. Let’s see how it holds up.

Features

Where the previous two speakers have two drivers and two radiators, the Riva Turbo X has four radiators and a whopping seven drivers. Three are wide-bandwidth, high-output drivers, the other four are passive ones with dual suspensions. This gives you a massive, nuanced sound with a thick low end and a wider stereo image. Next, there’s a proprietary three-channel amplifier for a versatile, powerful sound.

It’s a rugged, splatter-proof design. The top plate has a set of touch-sensitive controls. You find the usual power, Bluetooth, Mute, and volume controls. Then there’s the S button which toggles the Trillium surround mode and the T that engages Turbo mode. You also find two noise-canceling microphones near the top. The Turbo Riva X has speakerphone functionality and a dedicated conference mode that emphasizes the frequency range of human voices and distributes sound through three of its elements for a more natural sound.

On the backside, you find the power jack, an AUX input, an iPod charging port, and a mini-USB socket. There’s also a battery power switch with a battery status indicator.

Performance

This is a 45-watt speaker that can play for 26 hours at 75dB on a single charge. It can go louder or longer depending on your settings. Turbo mode can kick it up to 100dB for around six hours.

Trillium Surround mode is an interesting feature that, according to Riva, creates a 3D sound. Actual surround sound isn’t possible in this format, but this is a formidable stereo-widening effect for a small speaker.

Overall, the sound is detailed and well-balanced, giving each element of a song its own place in the mix. There are no muddled or multiplied frequency bands due to the resonance-reducing design, and no audible phase cancellations.

Like the Bose Soundlink Mini, it has a Bluetooth range of 33 feet. Pairing is quick, and a voice lets you know when it’s ready. I appreciate that you can replace the voice with a sound if it gets annoying. The associated app pops up automatically, or a download link if you don’t have it. You can control the speaker from the app, and navigate your music.

Buyers like the high audio quality, the sturdy design, and the impressive stereo image. Some wish the app was more elaborate and that it there was more bass at high volumes.

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With the Sony SRS-XB41, Sony goes for more than portability and sound. This portable wireless speaker lights up in different colors and pumps up the bass, making it an interesting candidate for both parties and gaming. Depending on your needs, it can be a solid alternative to a Bose Soundlink Mini.

Features

It’s rather big for a mobile speaker. It measures 12.7 by 5.3 by 7.4 inches. It also weighs about 3.5 pounds. On the other hand, it’s a tough, durable design.

It has a woven fabric cover like the UE Boom, and it’s also IP67 waterproof. Both 58-millimeter drivers have lights that pump along with the music. There’s also a flashing light on either side of the drivers. Two LED strips line the top and bottom of the grille, producing a colorful light.

You’ll find the power input, micro-USB port, 3.5mm AUX input, and USB charging socket under a protective flap on the backside. There are also three buttons in there. One tells you the battery level and lets you toggle the light, one lets you sync with other speakers, and the last lets you use two speakers as a stereo set. The main controls sit up top. You can play, pause, adjust the volume, and skip tracks. There’s also a pairing button and a live mode switch. Live mode, according to Sony, makes music sound like it would at a concert. In reality, it seems to ruin the sound.

Performance

If you want as much bass as you can get from a portable wireless speaker, the XB41 is a strong candidate. It has a fat, rich tone in general. However, the midrange can be somewhat muddy and jumbled. The low-end emphasis can make vocals sound muffled and drowned out by the bass. This reinforces its role as a speaker for parties and games, and not so much for regular music listening.

The battery lasts for 24 hours of continuous play at normal volume with the lights off, and it can pick up a signal from up to 100 ft away. Once paired, you can choose playlists, cue songs, and control the speaker via the Sony Music Center App. An additional app called Fiestable lets you play with the lights and use DJ effects and samples.

Positive comments highlight the build quality, fun features, and powerful sound. Negative ones revolve around the somewhat inconvenient software and how the XB41 handles multiple connections.

Pros & Cons

That was a lot of technical details. Let’s summarize the most important things about the Bose Soundlink Mini.

Pros

  • Rugged build
  • Strong bass for its size
  • Loud and clear
  • Detailed sound
  • The Bose Soundlink Mini offers a good balance of the qualities a portable wireless speaker should have. I’d call it a useful all-rounder.

Cons

  • Outdated product
  • No speakerphone
  • It doesn’t have all the features of newer options, and it can be hard to find. It’s not bad, but the newer one is definitely better.

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Should You Buy a Bose Soundlink Mini?

Few speakers can match its balance of size, sound, and ease of use. It may not excel at any one thing, and there are competitors with more features, but it does everything it should. The Bose Soundlink Mini is a worthy choice if you want a versatile speaker with high-quality sound, although you may want to get the newer model. You can read the manual here.

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