Bose Soundlink Micro Review
The best bluetooth travel speaker you can buy - a travel product review from Always Wander.
I’ll come right out and say it from the beginning: Why should you listen to me? Well, though I’m no professional audiophile I do have a fairly long history of purchasing and researching all sorts of speakers (computer, personal, home stereo, and car stereo). I’ve also got around 10 years of experience traveling with speakers. So, I’ve got a lot to share! This Bose Soundlink Micro has not been provided by the manufacturer, I purchased this with my own money for my own personal, long-term use.
Just considering portable/bluetooth speakers, I’ve owned the following: X Mini Max II Capsule Speakers, Satechi ST-IPOP, Razer Ferox Mobile Gaming Speakers, iSound Twist, JBL Flip, Xoundstar Smart, Cambridge Audio Minx Go, House of Marley Chant Mini, and two JBL Clip 2’s. Holy crap, I’ve had a lot now that I think about it, ha!
I also want to make it clear that I’m no Bose fanatic. I’m pretty much a supporter of meritocracy when it comes to products. I want the one that performs the best for me, at the best perceived value. Perception of value is important and that can mean different things to different people. For me, this speaker won out. Read on for why I think it’s the best portable bluetooth speaker for travel you can buy right now.
This is my Bose Soundlink Micro review.
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The Bose Soundlink Micro is small - hence why it was on my radar for a bluetooth travel speaker. It’s pretty inconspicuous, and if you get the black it’s pretty unremarkable looking. I’d call it fairly utilitarian in design. Typical understated Bose looks, but also still has a quality look to it if that makes sense. Its rounded square shape is also important for packing. The flat design means it can fit almost anywhere and won’t add bulk or interfere with your packing systems (which are generally cube based).
This is an active-lifestyle focused speaker, and the materials reflect that. It’s coated in the typical rubberized material you often see in this class, and that helps make it IPX7 rated for water resistance. What does that mean? It means that it’s basically waterproof for short periods and depths, but that it’s not designed as a swimming accessory. It will be fine if dropped into a puddle, brook, pool, etc. so long as you recover it in time. So it will stand up to mud, dirt, rain, splashes, and the already mentioned drop into some water. I wouldn’t recommend testing it in toilets for obvious reasons if you know what I mean. I’ve tested it in the sink with no issues, and fully submerged it in that test.
Beyond that, it’s got your typical array of buttons - power, BT, volume up and down, and a multi-function button for things like answering calls. There are also LED indicator lights which tell you how much battery you have left (always handy). All covered with that soft touch rubber but still with decent feedback; I like them. The speaker charges via micro-USB, a somewhat dated standard now.
A few final things to note, is that it’s also got a handy rubber strap on the back, which I’ll highlight a bit later. There’s a Bose companion app that comes with it as well. It’s a bit bare-bones when compared to say, the Sony app for their ANC headphones, but it’s something to mention.
There’s a ton to like about this speaker. For one, I really dig the design because it’s useful and high quality. The fact that I can take this thing anywhere really is a huge plus as a traveler. I don’t have just one kind of travel interest. I go from cities to mountain hikes, to beaches. I camp, and I’m even doing a safari next year. So the versatility of a speaker like this (and any speaker in this class) is very important to me. The Bose Soundlink Micro succeeds greatly here. The strap mentioned previously is a good design touch. While at first glance it seems kind of flimsy, I had no issues with it coming unhinged - have to give it to the designers on this one. Maybe there’s a reason they get paid for this. It’s great for attaching to all sorts of things: bikes, metal pipes, backs of the stylish metal chairs you see in hipster coffee shops, car door handles for tailgating, and most importantly backpacks. You get the idea. While I personally would request you do not have this thing going full tilt while hiking the trails of Big Sur out of respect for your fellow hikers, it’s certainly perfect to play some quiet tunes while you’re stopped and enjoying your lunch on that scenic rock outcropping.
Here's the speaker compared to a couple of familiar items for reference.
In terms of performance, I think this is where the speaker shines. One thing you hear a lot in these kinds of reviews is that a speaker “performs bigger than its size”. I can vouch for that in this case. This thing impresses. Set your expectations properly - it’s not a massive audio system that’s going to compete with much bigger speakers and it’s not going to crush the bass at your trap party, that’s just physics. But it’s heavy for its dimensions - which makes me think it’s got a nice sized magnet in there for pushing the sound (something you aren’t able to consider when you see a cheaper priced speaker with seemingly similar qualities online). In comparison with some other small speakers like the House of Marley Chant Mini (decent small speaker, really nice designs, too) and the JBL Clip 2 (another good little speaker for the active crowd) - it’s not even close. Those speakers are definitely cheaper, so keep that in mind. But this blows them away and I would actually put it closer to the JBL Flip line in terms of sound output. I’ve had no issues with volume, and have tested it in open spaces outside as well as in a hockey locker room, apartment, etc. People are universally pretty impressed when they see its size. Also to note, I’ve had no problems with range. 30 feet is usually the standard range on these things, and I’ve seen nothing to make me think otherwise. Even a few walls haven’t presented a problem, though going up a floor in a house might cause some choppiness.
There isn’t much that I don’t like on the Bose Soundlink Micro. There really isn’t. But need to give a full picture here. The app, as mentioned earlier, is a bit light. If you don’t have multiple Bose devices, I don’t really see the point of it. It’s also used to update the speaker’s firmware, which is handy, but wow is it slow. I can’t comment on if that’s something Bose can improve, or if that’s just the issue with BT technology. But needs to be noted.
Another thing that honestly drove me bananas when I first got it, is that it has an auto-connect feature on it that remains synced to the previous device you connected it to. This sounds great and convenient in theory. But most of us are connecting our phones nowadays, and most of us have multiple BT devices (headphones for instance). Well the minute you turn on the BT on your device, the speaker will jump to life and connect if it’s in range. Even if it’s turned off! Or, if you turn the speaker on, it will just jump to the device in the same way. This is brutal if you’re just testing the battery, or plug the speaker in, or are trying to listen on your BT headset. At the time of this writing, I tried this again and it still does this. If you’ve turned the speaker off, and have not turned your BT off on your phone, it won’t jump back to life. But turn off BT on your phone, and turn it back on, and the speaker jumps in! It’s like that little sibling that is always butting into conversations unwanted. Beat it, kiddo.
I actually disconnected it as a device on my phone back then, and just connect it when I need it. This works fine for me because I just use it when I travel anyway. I have plenty of other connected speakers for home use.
A view of the previously mentioned flap for attaching to things.
The Improvement Requests
Give us a real reason to put another app on our phones. It’s just not that useful and app real estate is ever more important. And without a doubt, Bose, GIVE US THE OPTION TO TURN OFF THE AUTO CONNECT FEATURE. If anyone has seen this updated and it’s a setting I’m missing, please let us know in the comments on the Instagram post. Lastly, while I didn’t list this as a negative, I’d love to see the speaker charging updated to USB-C. We’re getting nearer and nearer to that being the most widely used standard, and from a travel standpoint the less cables I have to carry the better. That’s just smarter wandering. It also means MUCH faster charging - a key item when you’re on the go and don’t always have 3 hours for charging your speaker.
Even with that connection workflow gaff I went over above, I can’t recommend this speaker enough if you want a versatile, great sounding bluetooth speaker for your travels that fits most situations. It’s considered standard gear in my travel kit. I always bring it. For music, hotel/Airbnb hanging out, locker room tunes, or to connect to my tablet for movies when my girlfriend and I are rained in - it’s a glorious piece of gear.
Now, if money is not an option and sleek design is your only concern vs. rugged build, I’d recommend checking out the Beoplay A1 from Bang and Olufsen. It’s pricey, and I’ve not tested it’s sound. But they are a legit company when it comes to sound dynamics and this thing is inarguably a beautiful piece of industrial design. This has always piqued my interest from a sheer “bit of tech that I kind of want but can’t justify” standpoint. It’s slightly bigger but not a lot so it would still be good for travel.
The Bose Soundlink Micro gets my pick for the best travel bluetooth speaker you can buy. It checks all the boxes and while there might be other speakers that can beat it in one particular area, at the current low price on Amazon of $79.99 (I paid $99.99), I think it’s a no brainer. At that price, there’s just no real point in buying something of lesser quality (that you’ll need to replace in a couple of years anyway) simply because it’s cheaper. Check out the link to see what the current pricing is. Wandering is better with high quality tunes. Everyone knows this. So put this on your list when you’re researching. And most likely at the top of that list.
Here’s the Amazon link if you want to grab one: