We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Hardware Reviews
15,491 Reviews

Bose SoundLink II review: a portable Bluetooth speaker with big sound

£249 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Bose

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

Most portable speakers trade off sound quality for size and weight. Not the SoundLink II. It may be on the expensive side, but if you want big-speaker sound, make sure you read our Bose SoundLink II review.

Portable wireless speakers are understandably popular. They're convenient as they can be used anywhere and, since they're wireless, you can keep hold of your smartphone or tablet and control the playlist using its screen.

A lot of portable Bluetooth speakers get plenty right, but most can't compete with mains-powered speakers for sound quality or volume. See also: Soundmatters foxL v2 review

Enter the Bose SoundLink II. At 1.4kg, it isn't the lightest or smallest but what it lacks in portability, it more than makes up for in audio finesse. Plus, thanks to its built-in cover which doubles as a stand, it's quite practical, too. (You can buy additional covers, nylon or leather as accessories).

Bose SoundLink II side

Bose SoundLink II review: features and design

It's a relatively minor update to the original SoundLink: new drivers and an updated signal processor for a cleaner sound. The cover has an updated design, too and folds in half to form a stand. Magnets both hold it closed and serve to turn the SoundLink II on and off - a handy feature.

The top edge is full of big buttons, and lights on the front show whether you're using Bluetooth or the aux input (there's a minijack on the back). It's very easy to pair a Bluetooth device, and another new feature is a memory that can store up to six paired devices.

Bose SoundLink II top buttons

What you don't get is a remote control or microphone. Only the latter is a bit of an issue as plenty of other Bluetooth speakers act as a speakerphone - the SoundLink II doesn't. Plus, despite the price, there's no apt-X support, but even standard Bluetooth sounds very good. See also: i-box Twist review.

Bose SoundLink II rear

Bose doesn't give too many facts or figures about the amps and drivers, but there are four neodymium tweeters, and two opposing passive bass radiators. Bose says the fact that the two radiators face each other, they cancel out unwanted vibrations and keep your music distortion-free.

Bose SoundLink II review: sound quality

Regardless of the marketing hype, the SoundLink II impressed us with its big sound. Vocals had excellent clarity and, although there wasn't much stereo separation, music of all types remained distortion-free up to maximum volume, which was surprisingly loud.

Those bass radiators do a great job, delivering low frequencies you wouldn't expect to hear from a speaker this small. As they emit sound forwards and backwards, you get the best sound if the SoundLink II is placed on a shelf, or simply near a wall.

Battery life varies between three and eight hours depending on volume: hardly surprising given the power on offer.

Bose SoundLink II colours

The SoundLink II is available in a variety of colours, with the leather version commanding a £50 premium over the nylon version.

Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile speaker II Expert Verdict »
Bose SoundLink II Scores 9.2 out of 10 based on 174 reviews
4x neodymium tweeters and 2x passive bass radiators
Bluetooth (A2DP)
3.5mm minijack input
Battery life: 3-8 hours
244x48x130mm
1.4kg
  • Build Quality: We give this item 9 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 7 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 7 of 10 for value for money
  • Performance: We give this item 8 of 10 for performance
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

The SoundLink II isn't cheap, but it delivers well above average quality. We like the built-in cover and stand, but it's a shame it there's no speakerphone capabilities.

Price comparison powered by Reevoo

£220
£230

IDG UK Sites

Nokia replaces budget Lumia 520 with 530: Release date, price and specs

IDG UK Sites

Everything you need to know about Apple's iPhone Camera in iOS 8

IDG UK Sites

Why you shouldn't trust password managers

IDG UK Sites

How to make an 'Apple iWatch' using an iPod nano and a 3D printer