Bose recently updated its SoundLink type of lightweight Bluetooth speakers, like the $129.95 SoundLink Color II, the least expensive of the bunch. Just like the original, it offers surprisingly strong music performance because of its size and price. And its own water-resistant design helps it be a solid prospect for poolside parties and camping trips. It’s a fairly easy pick for Bose fans, and worth consideration for everybody else.

Design
Measuring 5.3 by 5.0 by 2.3 inches (HWD), the 1.2-pound SoundLink Color II comes in black, coral red, light blue, and gray. Its slender design has rounded ends and a rubberized contour that’s resistant to water-it comes with an IPX4 rating, so that it can withstand splashes and rain, but isn’t submersible for greater than a very brief period. Leading face of the speaker is emblazoned with the Bose logo and covered in grille perforations. The left side houses the bond for the micro USB charging cable and a 3.5mm aux input.

There are controls over the top panel for power, pairing, input (this switches to the aux input), and volume. The quantity buttons work together with your mobile device’s master volume levels, and a multifunction button controls playback, call management, and track navigation according to just how many times you tap it. The most notable panel also houses a central NFC pairing zone for compatible cellular devices.

There are no accessories apart from the included micro USB cable. It would’ve been nice to start to see the inclusion of a 3.5mm music cable for the aux input, but you will need to supply that yourself.

The Bose Connect iphone app is free and simple to use. Within the app, you can access an individual manual, disable voice prompts, control playback and volume, and manage your link with the speaker-as well as any other wireless Bose speakers that use the application and so are in range. The iphone app is not essential for controlling the speaker, but we liked using it.

The built-in speakerphone mic offers decent intelligibility. Much like most Bluetooth mics, there are a few music artifacts introduced into recordings, so things can sound just a little fuzzy, but whoever is on the other line will be able to understand every word.

Bose estimates battery life to be roughly eight hours, however your results will vary together with your volume levels, as well as your mixture of wired and wireless playback. To save lots of battery life, the speaker perseverence down automatically after 20 minutes of inactivity, nevertheless, you can modify or disable this function completely in the app.

Performance
On tracks with powerful sub-bass content, just like the Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the SoundLink Color II gives solid low frequency response. At top volumes on tracks such as this, it appears like it’s near distortion but never actually gets there, whereas at only slightly lower, still-loud music levels, the bass sounds fuller and richer. That is likely because of digital signal processing controlling the deep low frequencies at top volumes to avoid distortion. The highs upon this track are well-represented in order that things feel balanced.

Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with much less deep bass in the mix, gives us a feeling of the SoundLink Color II’s overall sound signature. The drums upon this track can sound thunderous on bass-forward systems, but aren’t overpowering at all here-in fact, they feel almost relegated to the backdrop. It’s Callahan’s baritone vocals that sound boosted and rich. There’s a good amount of low and low-mid boosting, there’s not much sub-bass presence, nor would we expect there to maintain a speaker this size. The vocals and guitar strums reap the benefits of a solid high-mid and high frequency presence, however-things are sculpted in this range, and the effect is some added clarity and brightness to keep carefully the rich low-mids from upsetting the entire balance.

On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the open,” the kick drum loop gets a good amount of high-mid presence, allowing its attack to retain its sharp edge and slice through the layers of the mix. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with a decent semblance of power, but we hear their raspy top notes a lot more than we hear their deep low frequency fury. The vocals upon this track are delivered evidently and cleanly, without added harshness and only the slightest hint of sibilance.

Orchestral tracks, just like the opening scene in John Adams’ The Gospel In line with the Other Mary, get some good added occurrence in the lows and low-mids that pushes the low register instrumentation forward in the mix slightly. The spotlight, however, still is one of the higher register brass, strings, and vocals-they have a bright, crisp delivery this is the most prominent facet of the mix, despite having the slightly increased bass presence.

Conclusions
Because of its size, the Bose SoundLink Color II gives a very solid audio tracks experience, with rich lows matched with crisp highs. Anyone seeking an enormous subwoofer-like sound, or a super-accurate sound signature, should spend additional money on a more substantial, more powerful speaker. So far as smaller lightweight Bluetooth speakers go, there’s little to complain about here-even the purchase price appears fair. In this general cost range, however, there are a few solid options also worth your consideration. We’re fans of the JBL Charge 3, the Sony SRS-XB3, and the JLab Block Party. The SoundLink Color II is a sure gamble for Bose fans, however, and worth your attention.