Bose. It’s a household name with brand power, and for good reason: much like Apple, Bose understands how to manufacture user-friendly products and has developed an ecosystem to further streamline usability. While the company has some excellent consumer headphones out there, today we’re talking about the best Bose speakers on the market. Home theater enthusiasts and outdoorsy folk alike are bound to find something to suit their needs.
Editor’s note: this best Bose speakers list was updated on September 4, 2020, to address an FAQ about Bose as a brand.
The Bose Portable Home Speaker is the best Bose speaker
Bose’s portable smart speaker is a worthy adversary of the Sonos One. Unlike Sonos’ One (gen 1 and gen 2), Bose’s speaker doesn’t require constant power to function. There are similarities: both include Wi-Fi integration for 24bit/96kHz audio streaming.
Bose Portable Home Speaker
The Bose Portable Home Speaker sets itself apart from the Bose Home Speaker 300 and Home Speaker 500 because of its wireless functionality, water-resistance, and excellent audio reproduction. Bluetooth functionality is also an option, something we’ve seen with the Bose SoundLink Revolve+, but the Revolve+ lacks integrated virtual assistants.
As with other smart speakers, you can stream from your favorite music services like Amazon Music and Spotify, so long as Wi-Fi is available. Apple users can even take advantage of AirPlay 2 support for easy streaming. And the Bose Portable Home Speaker is compatible with both Google Assistant and Alexa.
If you want to use the Bose Portable Home Speaker with other speakers, they must be within the Bose Smart Home family. Alternatively, you can go through the extra steps via Bose SimpleSync to pair it with a Bose SoundLink speaker to sync up music playback.
Related: What makes a great smart speaker?
What you should know about the best Bose speakers
When it comes to Bose speakers, and consumer speakers at large, there are a few key features to be aware of when shopping around. Each subsection has its own dedicated article, but if you just need the gist of it, read on.
IP ratings indicate dust and water-resistance
If you’ve ever wondered what the “IPX” means, we have a full rundown here. The long and the short of it is this: “IP” stands for ingress protection and the X is a placeholder for a dust-resistance certification. Oftentimes following the X there’s a number (1-8), denoting water-resistance. IPX4 is sufficient for most products and is commonly assigned to workout earbuds. If you want to be able to submerge any of the best Bose speakers, though, keep an eye out for IPX7 or higher.
Wireless streaming and Bluetooth quality
More and more speakers support Wi-Fi integration, which allows for high-quality streaming over an 802.11b/g, 2.4GHz connection, which is likely what your Wi-Fi has. Wi-Fi integration is useful as it lets you stream over an array of music services for more reliable connectivity and high quality 24bit/96kHz audio. This is great news for Amazon Music HD, Tidal, and Deezer subscribers who want to stream high-resolution FLAC files and the like.
Although Bluetooth audio can’t outperform wired listening, it can be improved with certain codecs, the technology that transmits Bluetooth from the source to the speaker. AAC and aptX codecs are commonly supported by higher-end headphones and speakers. The former works best with iOS devices while the latter is great for Android users; both facilitate perceptibly lag-free streaming. If you’re using a speaker that supports AAC, be aware that audio quality varies greatly with Android devices.
Google Assistant support is different than assistant integration
The difference between integration and basic Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa support is that the former allows the speaker to communicate with the assistant directly over Wi-Fi to draw information, rather than using your smartphone as a conduit. Oftentimes in headphones, the main, practical difference is having incoming text messages verbally relayed to you in live time. However, basic support still affords abilities like setting routines, tasks, and commands.
Related: Google Assistant headphones guide
The Bose SoundLink Color II is portable without sacrificing audio quality
A splash of color can brighten anyone’s day, and Bose seems to agree given how its SoundLink Color II comes in four vivid colorways: aquatic blue, coral red, polar white, and soft black. The speaker operates via the older Bluetooth 4.2 firmware and includes a 3.5mm input, an artifact of days gone by.
Bose SoundLink Color IIFull Review
The speaker can easily be held in one hand and pairs quickly via NFC or standard Bluetooth methods. It’s IPX4 water-resistant certification means you can splash and spill water on it without issue so long as it’s not completely submerged.
Even though this is a portable speaker, it pumps out loud, clear sound with excellent midrange and treble reproduction. When you’re on the go, you can alternate between your phone and a friend’s thanks to multipoint connectivity, meaning anyone can play DJ.
As with everything, there are a few drawbacks to the Color II: the battery life lasts just over seven hours at 50-percent volume, which isn’t great seeing how it takes three hours to complete a charge cycle. What’s more, connectivity stutters do occur when outside but again, the 3.5mm input remedies any potential streaming issues.
If you want a solid portable speaker that emits clear audio, the SoundLink Color is a stylish, compact choice.
Home audio enthusiasts should get the Bose Solo 5 soundbar
When it comes to home audio, it seems you can never spend enough. Soundbars and multi-channel systems can be astronomically priced, which can quickly burn a hole through anyone’s pockets. Fortunately among the best Bose speakers is the Solo 5 soundbar. It’s an entry-level home audio solution that’s easy to install and markedly improves audio quality compared to generic TV speakers.
Bose Solo 5 soundbar
The front of the Bose Solo 5 is pretty vanilla, adorned with just the Bose logo. On the back, you’ll find a few goodies including the HDMI ARC and optical inputs. The HDMI ARC input is great as it reduces the number of cables required to connect your TV to your soundbar, so long as your TV also has a compatible input. Additionally, the Solo 5 is wall mountable, so if you’re low on TV stand space or just enjoy the look of a floating soundbar, the option is available.
When buying a cheap soundbar there are a few downfalls, even when said soundbar is among the best Bose speakers. For one, users have reported issues with the dialogue listening mode, stating that it’s unreliable. Also, sound quality varies depending on where you’re seated relative to the soundbar. This is something we personally experienced with a similarly designed product, the Fluance AB40.
Ultimately, though, if you need a good quality soundbar without spending a fortune, the Bose Solo 5 deserves a spot above the mantle. That said, if you want a product with full Amazon Alexa integration, pick up the Bose Soundbar 500 or Soundbar 700.
The Bose SoundLink Revolve+ has stellar battery life
The Bose SoundLink Revolve+ is larger than the standard Revolve. With its larger footprint comes longer battery life—16 hours instead of 12. The tapered cylindrical housing allows for evenly distributed 360-degree audio. Although the bass response is a bit lacking, the mid and treble response is solid, making this a great option for those who enjoy vocal-centric genres.
Bose SoundLink Revolve+
Additionally, the SoundLink Revolve+ is IPX4 water-resistant. It can be taken poolside without worry or can be carried to the beach thanks to the rotating handle. It supports AAC, which is good news for iPhone users. Unfortunately, aptX isn’t supported with the speaker, but if you’re listening with it on the patio or from the pool, you’re unlikely to hear a difference.
The Revolve+ may be paired to another Revolve or Revolve+ speaker to enable either party mode or stereo listening. Party mode uniformly relays music through both speakers, while stereo listening designates one speaker as the left channel and the other as the right for a two-channel system. To pair two devices hold the Bluetooth and volume up buttons simultaneously.
Although the speaker is heavy and lacks oomph in its low-end response, the Bose SoundLink Revolve+ lasts all day, meaning you can keep the party going without concerning yourself with battery life. If you want a speaker that works just as well in the home as it does out of it, the Revolve+ is of the best Bose speakers for you.
Get the most for your money with the Bose SoundLink Micro
The Bose SoundLink Micro directly competes against the likes of the JBL Clip 3 and UE Wonderboom 2. Its squared-off build is compact and easy to stowaway into a bag. Worst-case scenario, you can loop it to the exterior of your backpack via the rubberized strap that partially detaches from the back.
Bose SoundLink MicroFull Review
While it doesn’t include complete Google Assistant integration, you can access Google Assistant by holding the multifunction button to set reminders, alarms, and other basic functions. There aren’t any high-quality codecs supported by the SoundLink Micro, but it does support multipoint connectivity, allowing you to alternate between devices without disconnecting from one and connecting to another.
Despite the small form factor, the Micro gets loud and has a more emphasized bass response than one may expect. Sound quality and clarity degrade at higher volumes, but seeing how this is billed as an on-the-go speaker, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
For around $80, this IPX7 pick is of the best Bose speakers for outdoor day trips, small gatherings, and drawn out showers.
If you didn’t find what you were looking for from this list, there are a few other standout Bose speakers available. Alternatively, you may want to consider stepping outside of the Bose family in favor of something by JBL. This company has a tight grasp on the consumer speaker market, especially as it pertains to portable, durable options. Sure, you could get the Bose SoundLink Micro, but for something truly versatile, consider the JBL Flip 5.
- Bose Home Speaker 500: If you want a true smart speaker with Amazon Alexa integration, this is the among the best Bose speakers to get. It’s a bit pricey (~$400) but includes Apple AirPlay 2 support, Wi-Fi, an eight-microphone array, and color LCD display.
- Bose SoundLink Mini II: This little speaker has a directional sound and is great for portable and personal listening. It is an older model, so it doesn’t feature app compatibility and you can’t pair multiple for stereo sound, but for under $200 it’s not bad.
- Bose SoundTouch 20: This is essentially the SoundTouch 10 with a louder, more immersive sound and higher price tag. It also has a black and white LCD screen.
- Bose Soundbar 700: Just like the Home Speaker 500, this includes, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, integrated Amazon Alexa, and Apple AirPlay 2 support. ADAPTiQ audio calibration compensates for the layout of your room to optimize audio quality. You can also buy an optional subwoofer and surround speakers for a comprehensive setup.
- Bose Companion 2 Series III: This set of computer speakers may not look flashy but it performs well and connects via a standard aux input. There’s a single 3.5mm headphone input too.
Related: What makes a great smart speaker
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Frequently Asked Questions
Not necessarily. Depending on what you're looking for, you may want to look for a more affordable brand, such as Anker, or maybe you just prefer the line-up of Sonos' available home speakers. Maybe you need a fully waterproof Bluetooth speaker, in which case you should go for JBL. Bose speakers offer a lot, including excellent audio quality and smart assistant integration, but they are only one of many great speaker brands.
Bose produces "consoles" which replace the stereo receiver in their home theater sound systems. This console/receiver receives signals from various inputs, such as your DVD player, then outputs signals to your home theater - the television and speakers. It is not easy to replace the Bose console with a third party A/V receiver, but it can be done. You need to make sure that the inputs and outputs of the receiver are compatible with those of the speakers. Because Bose wants to keep you within their brand, you will have to research for yourself if a third party receiver is compatible. Keep in mind that many Bose home theater speakers come with wireless receivers. This is a different type of receiver which allows you to wirelessly add a set of speakers onto a Bose soundbar or sound system. These wireless receivers also cannot be easily replaced by a different brand. If you are not buying a speaker for home theater, you don't need to worry about either type of receiver.