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Through the years, Sonos, once a fledgling startup, is continuing to grow up to dominate the DIY multiroom wireless audio tracks space. Now it has a lot of competition.
Bose has launched a type of Wi-Fi speakers under its new SoundTouch brand, that your company touts as having a straightforward setup and operation, in fact it is aimed squarely at Sonos’ audience. Here You can find one of the best deals of black friday&Cyber monday
Like Sonos, Bose is serving up a few different standalone speakers, like the SoundTouch 30 ($699), a more substantial speaker suitable for larger living spaces, and small smaller SoundTouch Portable ($399) and SoundTouch 20 ($399), which are suitable for somewhat smaller rooms.
You can join those speakers up, renaming them for the rooms they reside in, and like Sonos, you can stream music to an individual room or have the same music play on your speakers simultaneously.
Signaling that it is going all in on wireless audio, Bose says that continue all its new speakers and music systems will be SoundTouch enabled, which means you should have a whole lot of choices so far as the types of speakers you can include to a multiroom setup.
The $399 Bose SoundTouch 20 reviewed here competes with Sonos’ Play:5 speaker, which is roughly the same size and costs the same. The Bose arguably sounds much better than the Play:5, with a warm, focused sound that flatters most material. In addition, it measures up well in the style department — it’s a fairly sharp-looking speaker with a sleek, minimalist professional design.
It has few features that the Sonos doesn’t offer, such as for example Apple AirPlay support, and Bose has generated its user experience around the idea of six preset buttons that can get you to your chosen music quickly.
That’s good, but Bose still has some work do with making the setup even easier, bettering its mobile apps, and integrating popular music services such as for example Spotify, Rdio, Beats, and others.
Sonos is well ahead on those fronts, but we expect that Bose will close the gap and increase the SoundTouch system with a reliable blast of software upgrades during the period of 2014 and beyond. As well, of course, Sonos will not be standing still — it too is attempting to improve its already excellent system and can without doubt release new speaker options.
Design and features
The SoundTouch 20 is a comparatively compact speaker measuring 7.4 inches high by 12.4 inches wide by 4.1 deep. In typical Bose fashion, the speaker’s design is rather minimalist, though it can have some more buttons than Bose’s popular SoundLink Bluetooth speakers (no, this speaker doesn’t have Bluetooth).
The top of the machine features these six preset buttons, plus volume up/down, an auxiliary input, and a power button. A five-line OLED display in the heart of the console shows track data. It’s worth noting that the six preset theme is quite like the scheme on the now-defunct UE Smart Radio. Unlike the Smart Radio, however, (and the Squeezebox by extension) the Bose doesn’t support on-the-fly playlists.
Having less a Mute or Play/Pause button on the machine is just a little frustrating, nevertheless, you do get yourself a remote — and almost all of these kind of systems don’t include one — and it features the same functions on the unit, plus playback controls. However, it still lacks a Mute button.
The SoundTouch 20 shares most of the same traits with the Sonos system, but among the variations is that it is designed to use your existing Wi-Fi network and doesn’t need a special “bridge” as Sonos does. That Sonos Bridge, which connects to the Ethernet port on your own router, sets up another “mesh” wireless network that’s focused on streaming your audio tracks and helps take away the hiccups typically connected with a Wi-Fi network, which aren’t incredibly reliable.
The SoundTouch 20 also includes a “wired” Ethernet connection for many who prefer it, but Bose is pushing the simplicity of its system and how easy it really is to create “making use of your existing home Wi-Fi network” and nothing else.
We found the setup relatively straightforward if just a little awkward. With mesh network systems like this of Sonos and the Samsung Shape, you create one unit (or the bridge) with a wired Ethernet connection (the bridge plugs into your router) and the machine automatically recognizes additional speakers, which are easy to add.
Regarding the Bose, you must hook up each unit to your personal computer via USB and place the speaker where you want to buy. We had just a little trouble with a corporate firewall (no other wireless system we’ve setup encountered this), nevertheless, you shouldn’t run into this issue at home.
One thing that could help is if you could create everything through your mobile device instead of your personal computer. Bose is focusing on supplying a setup through its iOS and Android software (an attribute Sonos offers), but currently that feature isn’t available.
As noted, Bose’s simplicity theme revolves around the application of “presets”; all of the new speakers and programs (Android and iOS devices, together with Macs and Windows PCs are supported at launch) include buttons numbered 1 through 6. Each number corresponds to a preset in the app.
The Bose includes a generally warm and tight sound that’s particularly proficient at hiding the sins of poorly recorded (or ripped) music. That isn’t to say it isn’t a detailed speaker, nonetheless it is able to choose the important bits and omit the fluff.
Vocals in particular are incredibly well-served and, for example, on “Alviverde” by Jun Miyake, singer Arto Lindsay’s voice had the breathy intimacy that the Samsung Shape M7 lacked. While there’s nearly no stereo image (the drivers on each one of these tabletop speakers are spaced too closely together), voices are bold and well-formed.
For a comparatively small speaker, the SoundTouch’s bass response also were able to impress. The Bose includes a punchy warm sound that’s especially pleasing with rock music and doesn’t hurt with gentler styles like folk, either.
One of the main areas of a streaming speaker is its capability to resist music dropouts, which is something private mesh networks like those applied to Samsung and Sonos speakers are capable of doing quite nicely. Despite being on a typical WiFi network, the Bose exhibited an identical degree of reliability, and thoroughly trounced the drop-out prone Phorus PS1.
Whether it had been Internet radio or DLNA, wired or wireless, the Bose could pull content from multiple sources without issue. It had been also in a position to eke out a feed from our test router from about 100 feet away. (In comparison, from the same spot, the Android smartphone we were utilizing in our tests didn’t register the same router).
These observations do feature a caveat: We only tested one speaker and can’t comment how a multiroom system will perform (we’ll update our review shortly since Bose is sending additional review samples soon).
On a far more critical note, as the volume control seemingly offers you plenty of headroom, it’s essentially unusable after 70 percent. At that level, the speaker plays loud enough to fill a tiny room. But on anything above that level the bass drops out and the treble hardens. Sure, you can pay attention to it cranked at full volume, nonetheless it just doesn’t sound good, at least to your ears.
Bose has gotten a whole lot right with the Bose SoundTouch 20 and from a pure hardware and performance standpoint, it’s arguably a lttle bit much better than the similarly priced Sonos Play:5. (Another option for the same money is a set of $199 Sonos Play:1 speakers, which provide better stereo separation).
However, from a software and services standpoint, Bose still has some work to accomplish. To place it another way, the building blocks and framework are set up for a stylish, user-friendly system, however the house isn’t quite finished yet. You can simply stay in that house, nonetheless it doesn’t feel as cozy and comfortable since it should; it’s missing a few amenities.
Bose feels that multiroom audio tracks may be the future and is investing heavily to make its SoundTouch system better. So, while it can be a time before it truly catches up to Sonos on the software/services end of things, at least you might have some confidence that Bose is in the multiroom wireless game to remain, and could be among the significant players for the reason that arena in the coming years.