If we can label any brand a veteran in a wireless speaker market that hasn’t even reached adulthood yet, Bose would be the one.
It has been in the game for over ten years and, following its SoundDock and SoundLink ranges, is still knuckling down on its two-year-old SoundTouch multiroom speakers.
While the desktop-suitable SoundTouch 20 and 30 models are now in their third generation, it’s only now that a speaker of more modest proportions has joined the family.
The SoundTouch 10 is the new baby, bringing the range’s entry-level price more in-line with rival speakers from the likes of Sonos, Libratone et al.
Bose has kept to playing it safe in the design department – ironically refreshing in a diverse market where traditional boxes sit alongside beach ball, dragon egg and Zeppelin-shaped structures – even if the word ‘unadventurous’ is on the tip of the tongue.
Still, top marks for consistency: it looks every bit a Bose speaker. Classic-looking, juice-carton-sized and available in black or white, the SoundTouch 10 is clothed from the shoulders down and resembles a mini radio.
It’s too small to feature its siblings’ OLED display (instead white lights across the top indicate source selection) and omits an Ethernet port for wi-fi connection only, though is just as well-equipped elsewhere.
You can stream music (whether it’s MP3, WAV or, thanks to a recent software update, FLAC files) directly from a laptop, NAS drive, smartphone or tablet over wi-fi or access a world of internet radio. Bluetooth lets you take playback offline, while a handy 3.5mm input is onboard for direct plug-in.
Completing the connection list is Spotify Connect, which lets Spotify Premium subscribers control streaming directly from the Spotify app.
Bose realises the struggle of hopping between two apps (Spotify’s and its own), so has integrated the streaming service (as well as Deezer) into its SoundTouch controller app – and impressively too.
It resembles the service’s friendly, intuitive interface and we like how it brings all your music into one place.
More after the break
The app is one of the most comprehensive we’ve seen, seamlessly performing general controls, and accessing internet radio channel and music on our network – it picked up our NAS drive without needing prompting.
All music available to you can be found on a pull-out bar on the right-hand side, which is where you can access recently played songs too.
One of its biggest assets, though, is its shortcut system: six presets – not only down the left-hand side of the app, but on the unit and supplied remote too – can be allocated an artist, song, playlist or internet radio station for one-button access.
Want to favourite BBC Radio 2? Play the channel, press and hold the preset and hey presto.
So is there any room for improvement? Hardly, although a quick way of scrolling through music libraries would be welcome. Thumbing through from A to Z in our thousand-song library is a bit of a chore.
The app also takes care of multi-room tasks so several SoundTouch products can be controlled individually in one place, or grouped together to play music in harmony; tap ‘Play Everywhere’ and, well, you can guess what happens.
Grouping (and ungrouping) speakers is intuitive and prompt; juggling different songs on different speakers is a piece of cake; and because each speaker opens up its own full-page window, the interface never feels cramped.
Set-up couldn’t be easier either – simply download the app, select ‘add system’ and follow the clear on-screen instructions – and only asks for two minutes of your time, so any multi-room newbies out there shouldn’t be put off.
As the app really is the nucleus, the beating heart, of any multi-room system we’re glad Bose has put so much thought into its reliability and layout. After all, nothing’s worse than lag during pairing and unpairing, or apps that kick you out when asked to multitask.
Small speaker, small sound? Not on Bose’s watch. It may not fill your largest room with music, but perched on a bedside table or kitchen worktop it’ll belt out a surprisingly big sound.
It has enough about it for a small box too: weighty enough to be deemed a comfortable listen, capable of going pretty loud (even if midrange hardens up a little in higher volumes), and not shy of making its low-end presence known.
The thick bassline driven Broken Bells’ Holding on for Life has depth and substance, even if the Bose’s low-end tips the tonal scales slightly in its favour.
Synth lines and keyboard harmonies are clear and perky too, and the Bee-Gee-esque vocals are wrapped in character. You get a hint of their dynamic flavour, the SoundTouch 10 lifting them in the right places, although the Audio Pro Addon T3 (our 2015 Award winner, no less) shows its truer colours, and asserts its superiority with more detail and spaciousness.
There’s a bit of coarseness to the treble that the song’s cymbals can’t shake off too.
Bose has seen a (price and size) gap in its long-standing range and filled it with the SoundTouch 10: a small and talented package in its own right.
It’s a sensible move by the company, making all-you-can-stream features and great in-app control even more accessible, and one that sees the new SoundTouch range off to a solid start.