Monday, 16 September 2013

The Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker Today – Bose Soundlink Mini


Let me start by saying – never judge a product by its brand. Just because it’s an unknown brand does not mean it’s products will be bad, likewise just because a speaker is from Bose does not mean it’s going to be good (but in this case it is).  A quick background - I tend to listen to music on my phone when I’m getting ready for work in the morning as it’s a bit inconvenient powering on the living room speakers. Recently there have been a number of portable Bluetooth speakers entering the market so I was intrigued however they all were rather disappointing for the reasons mentioned below. I soon abandoned the thought of buying one since they were (IMHO) toys. The Soundlink Mini is one that I can, with all confidence say, is not a toy. 

What makes it a ‘great’ speaker, specifically when talking about a portable Bluetooth
speaker segment? Before I answer that let’s talk about the main challenge faced by this segment – Poor sound quality and low volume levels due to small sized speakers. There’s no getting away from this. If you want pocket-sized speakers you have to sacrifice on sound quality. You see most good portable Bluetooth speakers can go loud enough to fill a room however they cannot reproduce base notes and typically sound tinny like a mobile phone speaker, albeit louder. This is because base notes can only be produced by larger woofers/sub-woofers which move a lot more air. You can never truly get reasonable base reproduction on a set of speakers that fit in the palm of your hand … or can you?

Enter the Bose Soundlink Mini – this is one of those rare combinations of great tech, beautiful packaging and stunning performance. Not only can this almost pocket-able speaker easily fill a room with clear, crisp music but it can also hit those low notes. If you are in the market for a portable speaker to take with you on your travels, or friends parties or even take around the house – you owe it to yourself to check-out this device. I’ll be honest, it’s expensive at 200 USD. In India it retails for a bit more at 252 USD (Rs. 16,000). This is twice as much as many Bluetooth speakers in the market however I do feel it’s easily twice as good.

 
A couple of tips with the Soundlink Mini – it has base port at both front and back of the device so I get the best performance if I keep it on the floor near a corner of the room or wall. Keep about 5 inches to a foot of space from the wall for best base performance – depending on the type of music you listen to. Also play with the equalizer settings of your phone to get the best performance out of the Soundlink Mini. I use PowerAmp and I keep tweaking if for different genres. 

Limitations – 

  • The Bose Soundlink cannot be used as a speaker phone
  • It has a rather limited battery life of 5 hours continuous usage 
  • It uses a proprietary charger (no Micro-USB)
  • It cannot charge your smartphone (like some other units)
  • It has limited controls on the device and no remote
  • It’s rather heavy for it’s size because of its powerful magnets (for me this was a good thing but others may disagree) 

Another great alternative is the UE Boom which has none of the above limitations but cannot match the base frequencies of the Bose. 

This is a guest post by Prithvi Raj. To be more precise, all the gadget reviews in future will be done by him. :)

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