What We Like
- A truly great design: simple, stylish, lightweight, and high quality.
- The microphone works better than most competing products.
- Audio quality that surpasses a lot of the competition.
What We Don’t Like
- 15 hours isn’t amazing, but lightweight form factor makes this understandable.
2015 was a good year for Bose. It saw them releasing two SoundLink models which took the market by storm. Known for their commitment to products with a focus on all-round performance, let’s see how the SoundLinks hold up today.
When you are shelling out a decent amount of money for a pair of headphones, build quality is an important factor. For many consumers, it’s vital that their device must feel premium as well as deliver a premium performance. It’s no surprise, then, that many competing offerings have opted for a bulky form factor which makes them feel like substantial devices.
Bose has gone a different route. The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up a pair of SoundLinks is that they’re surprisingly, unusually lightweight. This lack of weight often accompanies flimsy feeling plastics, easily broken hinges, and otherwise shoddy design, but Bose has done really well in managing to create a design that is light but still feels premium.
Available in black or white (each with some tasteful accenting), the SoundLinks feature plush, comfortable ear pads and a secure but comfortable headband which combine to create a really good fit. They also fold down significantly which should make transporting them both safer and easier.
As ever, the core functionality lies in the controls that Bose has placed conveniently on the right ear cup. With the standard three button system, you can answer calls, play and pause tracks, skip through them, and adjust the playback volume on the go.
An integrated microphone is also included and, while it doesn’t look like it’s in a great position to pick up your voice, it actually works really well. This could be in no small part down to what Bose calls Adaptive Audio Adjustment technology; dual microphones work together to monitor your audio environment and adjust both your voice and the voice you’re listening to in order to make sure that your call is audible.
Also included is a carrying case, as well as a male to male aux cable which you can plug into the headphones to save on battery or if you’ve forgotten to charge them. This just turns them into standard, wired headphones, and it’s a great feature to have for whenever you run out of charge.
The advertised range on the SoundLinks is a sizeable 30 feet, and this pretty much held up in our tests. In actuality, you can probably get a little further away depending on the environment, although there aren’t a huge amount of use cases for which this is an especially necessary consideration. Connectivity is great, and after the extremely quick pairing process, we did not experience any kind of drops, skipping, or lag.
As far as sound goes, this is an across the board, powerful audio experience that you might not expect from a wireless headphone in this price range. Audio purists are often wary of Bose because they tend to favor a particular (often bass heavy) sound signature rather than accuracy and clarity, but this is really the best of both worlds. One thing worth mentioning is that in the passive/wired listening mode you’re going to notice less in the way of power behind the listening experience. That’s because the battery is no longer helping to push the drivers.
At 15 hours, battery life is solid though not exceptional. A 15 minute charge nets you about 2 hours of use, which is nice, but if battery duration is your main concern you may want to look elsewhere.
Featuring a rare combination of portable and premium, Bose has created a fantastic design that shines in both form and function. The listening experience is extremely solid across the board, and 15 hours of battery life is a decent proposal.