Bose Soundlink Re­volve

FOR Great 360º sound; big, punchy sound; por­ta­ble de­sign AGAINST Ri­vals more de­tailed; not very rugged; a bit pricey

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There’s no short­age of por­ta­ble Blue­tooth speak­ers on the mar­ket, but the £200 Bose Soundlink Re­volve stands out from the rest. The speaker’s cylin­dri­cal de­sign is key to de­liv­er­ing its 360-de­gree sound.

Un­der that sturdy alu­minium cas­ing, there’s a full-range driver fir­ing down­wards into a patented dif­fuser plate, which aims to spread the sound evenly in all di­rec­tions. There are also two pas­sive ra­di­a­tors to re­in­force the lower fre­quen­cies, placed op­po­site each other to re­duce vibrations.

The Re­volve is a strik­ingly pe­tite speaker, which should fit into just about any space in your home. It's more sub­stan­tial than the sim­i­larly sized Google Home, but can still be held in the palm of your hand, and it's com­pact enough to be car­ried in a back­pack. You get 12 hours of bat­tery life – that’s a good chunk of lis­ten­ing, though ri­vals such as the UE Boom 2 and Me­ga­boom give you 15 and 20 hours re­spec­tively.

Un­like many of its ri­vals, this Bose isn't de­signed for rugged, muddy ter­rain. It is wa­ter-re­sis­tant, not wa­ter­proof – its IPX4 rat­ing mean­ing it will survive splashes of wa­ter, not sub­mer­sion. The rub­ber top can get a bit grubby, es­pe­cially in this ‘lux grey’ fin­ish. While it’s de­signed to with­stand knocks, our sam­ple model had already picked up some scratches on the fin­ish.

The Re­volve is a straight­for­ward Blue­tooth speaker – pair­ing is swift, and it au­to­mat­i­cally re­con­nects to your smart­phone the next time you fire it up. There’s also a 3.5mm in­put to hard­wire the speaker to other mu­sic sources.

The six buttons on the rub­ber top of the speaker al­low you to switch be­tween in­puts (an LED lights up to in­di­cate con­nec­tion), ad­just vol­ume and turn the power on and off. Hold the power but­ton and a voice tells you how much bat­tery charge is left.

A neat touch is that you can pause, play and skip through your mu­sic us­ing the mul­ti­func­tion but­ton (the one with the three dots). You can also use it to speak to your smart­phone’s voice as­sis­tant – even if your phone is in an­other room. The buttons are re­spon­sive, although it’s more likely you’ll be us­ing your tablet or smart­phone to con­trol and se­lect mu­sic any­way.

En­ergy and drive

The free Bose Con­nect app is worth down­load­ing for up­dates, as well as check­ing the speaker’s bat­tery level and en­abling Party Mode – which lets you con­nect two Re­volve speak­ers to play in tan­dem or as a stereo pair.

For such a small speaker, the Bose Re­volve de­liv­ers a sur­pris­ingly big and bold sound. It has no prob­lem fill­ing up our medium-sized test room – even at two-thirds of its full vol­ume.

It spreads sound around evenly and with aplomb. Even as we move around the speaker, there is lit­tle vari­ance in the pre­sen­ta­tion. The mu­sic re­mains solid and ro­bust, re­gard­less of our po­si­tion.

We play Linkin Park’s One Step Closer, and the drums hit with a sat­is­fy­ing thump, basslines are deep and full bod­ied, and the rhythm is punchy and grip­ping. There’s a warmth to the sound that makes the Re­volve en­joy­able to lis­ten to, it de­liv­ers plenty of de­tail along­side the punch and the bass doesn't go too boomy.

But we wish the Bose sounded clearer, and that edges of notes were more crisply de­fined. The Me­ga­boom is more ar­tic­u­late and han­dles dy­namic shifts and rhythm

“For such a small speaker, the Re­volve de­liv­ers a sur­pris­ingly big and bold sound. It has no prob­lem fill­ing our medium-sized test room”

changes with more con­fi­dence – and it de­liv­ers a big­ger scale of sound, too. The Re­volve is less in­sight­ful, but it’s still fun to lis­ten to. The sense of en­ergy and drive is ap­par­ent, and when it goes loud, it’s pretty im­pres­sively loud.

Com­pared with its main ri­vals in the Blue­tooth speaker mar­ket, the Re­volve is rather pricey – £200 is a lot to pay for a speaker, es­pe­cially when the UE Me­ga­boom is clearer, more ruggedly built and now avail­able for around £50 less.

How­ever, it’s hard not to ad­mire the Bose Soundlink Re­volve for its range of tal­ents and, de­spite it not get­ting the full five stars, we can imag­ine this tiny, tal­ented speaker will still turn plenty of heads.

The buttons on the top of the Re­volve are for power, vol­ume and for switch­ing in­puts

Pair­ing with your smart­phone is swiŽ, and there is a 3.5mm in­put for other sources

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