The seasons are changing, it’s time to start hiking, and you’re thinking to yourself, “Man, I should really upgrade my portable speaker.” Well, the IPX7-rated Bose SoundLink Micro could be the answer to your consumer desires. The Micro uses a semi-elastic silicone strap that can loop around almost anything (so long as its diameter doesn’t exceed ~2.5 inches).
With more affordable, comparable models available on the waterproof, Bluetooth speaker market, is the Bose SoundLink Micro an idea worth floating or does it just sink?
Who’s it for?
- Hikers. The SoundLink Micro latches on perfectly to a backpack strap. It’s just asking to be taken on your next big adventure, whether it’s up the alps or through the marsh. The IPX7 certification means that listeners don’t have to be worried about impending downpours; well, at least not for the SoundLink Micro’s sake.
- Bikers. You may be able to ride your bike without handlebars, but the SoundLink Micro can make good use of those same bars by looping onto them. If you’re not one for playing music via speaker in public, you can always attach it to your bike for transport if a bag is too full.
- Students. From dorm parties to apartment parties, there’s bound to be a time and a place that needs music. The Micro hardly takes up room in a bag and can even be worn on the outside of one. Also, despite its size, the Micro actually gets quite loud, certainly enough to fill a college dorm.
The Micro is versatile, portable, and durable enough to keep up with nearly every pace of life.
What is the Bose SoundLink Micro like?
The SoundLink Micro is available in black, midnight blue, and orange. A soft-touch rubberized finish, identical to the SoundLink Color II, makes it easy to grip while protecting it from the environment, namely water.
Not only is the Micro speaker impervious to spills, it can also endure full submersion for up to 30 minutes thanks to its IPX7 rating. Unlike the UE Roll 2, the Micro doesn’t float, not even a little. But when it does emerge from the depths, drying is quick due to the rubber exterior. Like most humans, I enjoy singing in the shower and the SoundLink Micro has no trouble playing music as skin-scalding water pours down.
For the curious, the speaker continues to play music while submerged. Quite frankly, however, the audio quality is drowned out… to say the least. Just for kicks, I tried to use Google Assistant while it was submerged and couldn’t get it to work. When out of the water, the Micro’s microphone effectively registers voices for the respective virtual assistant.
|IPX1||✓||Dripping water (1 mm/min)
Limit: vertical drips only
|IPX2||✓||Dripping water (3 mm/min)
Limit: Device max tilt of 15° from drips
Limit: Device max tilt of 60° from sprays
|IPX5||✓||Water jets (12.5 L/min)
Example: Squirt guns
|IPX6||✓||Strong water jets (100 L/min)
Example: Powerful water guns
Limit: 1 m. for 30 min
Limit: 3 m. for 30 min
Sure, sure, water-proofing is great and proper implementation is impressive, but the SoundLink Micro is also a generally durable speaker. The silicone strap? Yeah, it’s tear-resistant. Try as you may, that strap knows resilience. Additionally, the external silicone rubber material—though not officially shock-proof—minimizes vulnerabilities of the speaker and holds up to drops quite nicely.
What’s more, the SoundLink Micro can enter speakerphone mode which lets a user take calls while her phone is in another room. Mic quality, well, it’s fine. People said that I sounded echo-y, but they could hear me well enough. That’s what matters in a mobile speaker like the Micro.
It may be portable but there isn’t an auxiliary port to be found
That’s right, listeners with a death grip on the 3.5mm aux cable won’t be in love with the Bluetooth-only SoundLink Micro. Though the official Bluetooth codecs aren’t stated in the bundled paperwork that Bose provides, there are noticeable latency issues with the SoundLink Micro.
Audio lags behind video with a one-second delay. The same goes for commands, like skipping tracks. This isn’t a deal breaker but can be annoying at times, especially when you don’t know if it’s just a latency issue or if Google Assistant didn’t hear you.
The Bose Connect app
Yep, it still hasn’t improved since our review of the SoundLink Color II or SoundSport Free. While the ability to update a device’s firmware via the app is an invaluable feature for product longevity, it crashes far too often to be of any real-world use. Once it’s stable the ability to control speaker volume and alternate between/pair to devices is great.
This is disappointing. The speaker is listed at 6 hours of playback time, but with volume at 50 percent, listeners will be lucky to get five hours of enjoyment. According to Bose, a 1A power source will take 4 hours to complete a full charge cycle while a 1.5A source will take closer to 3 hours. That ratio of charge time to playback time—not great.
On the flip side, users can simultaneously play music while charging if at home or using a portable power pack. Granted, this isn’t ideal but it’s a nice option to have. Naturally, doing so will make the already time-consuming charging process that much longer.
Battery life falls just under an hour short of Bose's claimed 6 hours of playback.
“Why should I buy this over the SoundLink Color II?”
For plenty of reasons. For starts, portability. The SoundLink Micro is less than half the size of the Color II and half the weight at 10.2 ounces. If travel is your main concern, the SoundLink Micro is going to be the better pick. Not only does it take up less space, but it can also be hooked onto almost anything, really.
As one may predict, the Bose-branded SoundLink Micro and Color II share nearly all of the same features. Both can connect to an Amazon Echo Dot and both are able to access virtual assistants like Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. Both feature multipoint connectivity, allowing for each speaker to simultaneously connect to two devices. The main difference, regarding features, is that the SoundLink Color II includes a 3.5mm input.
It may be called “Mirco” but the sound is macro
Yeah, this gets plenty loud. Volume output rivals the larger SoundLink Color II but can’t quite match it. Still, users won’t away with blasting the volume a modestly sized apartment complex. As a matter of fact, the most defining aspect of this speaker may very well be its volume. Though it won’t be able to entertain a large party, the Micro can certainly handle intimate gatherings.
Its minuscule size is misleading since the SoundLink Micro is able to pump out unexpectedly strong bass. With volume maxed out while playing Stupid Rose by Kweku Collins, air movement was felt by my hand that hovered four inches above the speaker. Sure, the low-end is overemphasized, but it’s not as clear or strong as something like the JBL Link 300.
The Bose SoundLink Micro can easily fill a dorm room or medium-sized living space with music.
Collins’ vocals are reproduced clearly and aren’t masked by the low-end until the volume reaches 75 percent. Again, bumping the volume beyond 60 percent diminishes sound quality. In Stupid Rose, treble clarity drops off during the synth-solo that begins at 2:45. In all fairness, with a speaker like the Micro, volume likely takes precedence over clarity allowing for difficult-to-differentiate notes to be forgiven.
Inside the speaker sounds best. There are plenty of walls for the sound to reverberate, making the perception of sound seem louder and more full. Since there’s less environmental noise to mask the Micro’s audio, treble sounds best when indoors. On the other hand, when taking the SoundLink Micro outside, one of the first aspects of the sound signature to go is the treble. This is easily degraded by interrupting ambient noise as common as the wind. Users can just increase the volume, so long as passersby don’t give hard side-eye.
While biking, wind becomes increasingly loud and all detail is, well, gone with the wind. The volume helps a lot here, and users need to significantly increase it to hear over passing cars. Though the Micro can be wrapped around handlebars, there’s no way to get it to sound good while cycling. That said, if all you want is to hear something without fumbling with headphones, the Micro is great.
Should you buy it?
If you’re big on traveling and want a speaker that you can take anywhere, yes, but mainly if you’re already invested in the Bose ecosystem and have the money to spend. If you don’t fall into either of those camps, save some dough and go with the JBL Clip 2 for $40 less.
This carabiner with a speaker attached sounds good and is even more compact than the SoundLink Micro. Considering that The SoundLink Micro is mainly for on-the-go use, the difference in sound quality comes out in the wash. That said, the SoundLink Micro gets much louder than the Clip 2 and allows for virtual assistant access, which the latter does not.
For those on the fence, know this: You won’t be disappointed by the SoundLink Micro. For a compact, durable, portable speaker, this is one of the best available. Our only hesitation when it comes to recommending it to any and all consumers is the price.
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