Bose SoundLink Mini II: A great portable companion
Two or three years ago I bought the Mark I version of the Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth speaker. It is small, relatively light and very portable. It came with a svelte charging dock but it can also be charged via a standard USB cable when on the road. I love the sound, set up was fuss-free and I have been totally happy. Until this week I had no idea of changing it.
Then my credit card company told me I’d built up sufficient points for a “gift”. All I had to do was fire up the web site and choose something. The gifts ranged from cases of wine through to hotel stays and an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (which I chose last time round and have never really used). What caught my eye, though, was the Bose Soundlink Mini II. There were no obvious improvements but, on balance, this item with a retail price of £170 seemed better value than most of the stuff on offer. I tend to prefer tangible toys to drinkable bottles. I could always “cascade” the old Bose to another member of the family.
So I pressed the button and today UPS delivered the new speaker. I was immediately impressed that the update is far more than cosmetic. For a start, she-who-must-be-obeyed began to nag me as soon as I plugged it in: “For English press the multi-function button once”. Then followed instructions to pair with my iPhone and the encouraging response “Paired with Michael’s iPhone”. I was quite enthralled even before I’d heard a bar of music.
There are a number of detailed changes, although the chassis and appearance is almost identical. Instead of a bulky power brick the new Sound Link offers a USB cable and charger. Although I haven't tried it yet, it should be possible to charge the device from any USB outlet. While the cable normally plugs into the dock, it can also plug in directly to the speaker. So you can leave the dock at home when travelling.
There are also a couple of ports, one for headphones and one for audio input. Less impressive is the new touch control panel. In place of the old model's physical keys, which were reassuringly responsive, we now have a row of membrane-covered buttons. There is absolutely no physical feedback and it makes altering volume, for instance, less precise. The on/off switch is a push button and it is difficult to devine the status. On balance, though, the design and implementation is all you could ask for. It is a solid unit, quite weighty at 660g, but this undoubtedly helps with the sound reproduction. A featherweight speaker is likely to be a featherweight performer.
What about the sound?
But this is a speaker. For music and stuff. What about the sound? Silly me, I left the most important bit to the last. The bad news is that I am totally unqualified to pronounce on sound quality. Yet despite this philistinian audionism, I do know what I like. The first Sound Link impressed me and I am equally enthusiastic about the tone, bass and general room-filling qualities of this little device. For an in-depth sounding you should read reviews in audio publications such as What HiFi?. What more can I say? This is a little speaker you will love.