Bose Sound Solutions for All Occasions
When I think of the Bose® brand, two things come to mind: their passionate and loyal customer base and their unique approach to building speaker systems. There are plenty of consumers around the world who swear by their systems and consider them to be some of the highest-quality audio products available. This loyalty is reflected in their sales numbers, which have made Bose one of the industry leaders in the consumer audio market. The company relies on innovative and closely guarded technology patents to deliver speaker systems that, miraculously, pack powerful, room-filling sound into slender, compact systems. And with more than 40 years of speaker-design experience, Bose continues to impress their faithful fans and entice new enthusiasts while staying true to their company slogan, "Better Sound Through Research.
I remember the first Bose speaker system I ever saw. The unique design and innovative port speaker technology was intriguing because, at that time, a typical home stereo system was usually about 4 feet tall and relied on similarly sized floor speakers to produce room-filling, full-range sound. That first Bose system I saw could fit on a bookshelf and appeared to be almost as loud as those traditional home stereos. Today, Bose offers a variety of speaker solutions that range from home theater surround sound systems and Wi-Fi-equipped home speaker units, to active noise-canceling headphones and handheld portable Bluetooth speakers.
Bose Headphones and Portable Bluetooth Speakers
To keep things organized, I’m going to start small with headphones and portable Bluetooth speakers, and then work up to compact home speakers, larger single-speaker units, and Bose home theater solutions. One of the best-selling portable wireless speaker models available at B&H is the SoundLink Mini™ Bluetooth Speaker. It’s also one of the clearest-sounding, best-projecting, and most popular portable Bluetooth speakers on the market today.
Even though it fits in the palm of your hand, the SoundLink Mini uses proprietary speaker technology and an innovative stereo driver configuration to ensure the listener hears full-range sound. Plus, the unit’s exterior shell is crafted from a single piece of lightweight aluminum, which adds style and durability. Bose also wanted to make this speaker as simple as possible to operate, so they designed it with a basic control panel that features large buttons for power, volume, mute, Bluetooth connection, and auxiliary connection.
The speaker’s Bluetooth connectivity allows you to stream audio wirelessly from your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, tablet, MP3 player, or laptop. It also has an auxiliary input in case you want to connect and play music from a portable CD player, MP3 player, or other portable non-Bluetooth music device. The SoundLink Mini’s other highlights include a USB port for software updates, a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to seven hours, and a convenient charging cradle that doubles as a home base station for your speaker.
The SoundLink Mini is compatible with several different-colored covers, so you can personalize your SoundLink with a color cover that matches your own sense of style. The covers are available in orange, blue, or green.
Over the past 20 years, Bose has revolutionized headphone design by implementing their active noise-canceling technology, making their headphones extremely popular. Even astronauts on the space shuttle launches were wearing Bose noise-canceling headphones to protect their ears from the severe hearing damage a shuttle launch can cause. Today, this technology can be found in their QuietComfort 20™ Acoustic Noise-Canceling Headphones.
If you rack up hundreds of frequent flyer miles for work every year, the QC20 headphones should definitely have a home in your carry-on bag. However, they are also perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy music, movies, or podcasts without having to be disturbed by distracting ambient background noise. Subway or train commuters, I’m talking to you.
The QC20 headphones feature proprietary active noise-canceling technology and a comfortable in-ear form factor that’s ultra portable as well. They also provide advanced noise reduction that can rival any over-ear headphone and they come with three pairs of proprietary StayHear+ ear tips to ensure all-day comfort—no matter how your ear is shaped. The headphones even feature a very useful Aware mode that allows you to listen to your music while still being able to hear what’s going on around you. The Aware mode should be standard on all headphones, as it may prevent you from getting hit by a car while walking around the city or missing a flight because you can’t hear the announcements.
The QC20 headphones are equipped with an in-line microphone and remote as well. The in-line mic/remote is designed to work with Android, BlackBerry, and Windows smartphones and tablets. However, there’s also a QuietComfort 20i™ model available that’s designed for Apple iOS mobile devices, including the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Both models also have a built-in Lithium-ion battery that provides up to 16 hours of active noise cancellation per charge.
Another option with Bose proprietary active noise-canceling technology is the over-ear QuietComfort 15™ Acoustic Noise-Canceling Headphones. The QC15 headphones are powered by a single AAA battery, which affords up to 35 hours of active noise cancellation. The headphones are available in either standard silver or limited edition brown, and they also feature legendary Bose sound reproduction. They have soft, padded ear cushions and include two audio cables—a standard audio cable and an advanced audio cable with an in-line microphone and remote control for your iPhone or iPod. The advanced cable supports hands-free calling from your iPhone as well.
Bose also makes one of the industry’s most desired sport-specific headphones. The SIE2 and SIE2i sport headphones blend proprietary speaker technology with an innovative earphone design that is as functional as it is great sounding. The highlights shared by the SIE2 and SIE2i include a matching Reebok Fitness Armband to hold your iPhone 5 or similarly sized smartphone, and three pairs of StayHear+ ear tips that keep the headphones in place—even during rigorous workouts.
Both models are equipped with proprietary Bose TriPort™ headphone audio technology, which yields authentic audio playback with rich, deep bass and clear, natural highs. They also feature sweat-resistant and weather-resistant hydrophobic acoustic coatings. The only difference between the SIE2 and the SIE2i is that the SIE2i headphones feature an in-line microphone and remote control designed specifically for use with the Apple iPhone and iPod, while the SIE2 has a standard cable with no in-line remote or microphone. The standard SIE2 sport headphones are available in green, while the SIE2i sport headphones with the iPhone/iPod in-line microphone and controls are available in green, blue, orange, and purple.
Bose SoundTouch™ with Wi-Fi
With a fall 2013 release date, the new SoundTouch line of compact speaker units will be available from B&H in time for the upcoming holiday season. The smallest of the three SoundTouch speakers is the SoundTouch Portable. The line also includes the SoundTouch 20™ and SoundTouch 30™. All three models are designed for streaming music via Wi-Fi from in and around your home. And although each model is unique and has its own strengths, they all work together seamlessly in case you’re looking for a multi-room audio solution that can be completely controlled from your iOS or Android mobile device, thanks to the free Bose SoundTouch app.
Although the SoundLink has been Bose’s flagship portable speaker for a while now, the SoundTouch Portable Wi-Fi Music System features a completely novel design. For one, it uses Wi-Fi technology instead of Bluetooth. This means that you have to be near your home wireless network or a Wi-Fi hotspot to enjoy the SoundTouch Portable, which makes it more of a home speaker that you can carry from room to room—and not a speaker designed to go anywhere your smartphone can go. It’s definitely one of the most unique home/portable hybrid speaker solutions I’ve seen this year.
The SoundTouch speakers are designed around a simple concept: one-touch simplicity. With the touch of a single button, you can use the SoundTouch Portable to stream Internet radio, Pandora, Spotify, your digital music library, and other online music source via Wi-Fi. If you have a Wi-Fi network currently set up at your home, any SoundTouch speaker model can integrate quickly and seamlessly with your home wireless network. Plus, the compact SoundTouch Portable can fit in your hand, while still being able to produce clear, room-filling sound. It’s also powered by a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery that lasts for up to 2.5 hours on a single charge.
Before we get into the other SoundTouch models, I'd like to cover the main highlights that the entire SoundTouch line supports. First, all three SoundTouch speakers are designed with Internet radio and other online music services built right into the speaker, which means that as long as your SoundTouch speaker is connected to a Wi-Fi source, you don’t need an actual audio source like a smartphone or tablet to play music through it. This innovative feature is what makes these Bose speakers really exciting. Basically, you don’t need to rely on any other audio device to stream music from your favorite online or home network sources. All you need besides the SoundTouch speaker and a Wi-Fi network is to have the Bose SoundTouch app installed on one of your mobile devices. However, you don’t have to access the app when you want to stream music; you just need to have it installed.
The free SoundTouch Controller app for iOS/Android mobile devices is highlighted by six personal preset slots that are mirrored by six preset buttons on the physical SoundTouch speaker unit and the included remote control. After you’ve used the SoundTouch app on your mobile device to set the six preset slots with your favorite music choices, you can use the preset buttons on the speaker or included remote control to select those saved presets from the app.
The app is also incredibly easy to use. All you have to do is slide the audio source you’re listening to into one of the preset slots and it’ll be saved for you. For instance, you can fill the first preset slot with your favorite band or artist in your personal digital music library. Maybe for the second preset you would choose your favorite online radio. All six presets can be filled in this simple and intuitive way.
Once you’ve set all your favorite Internet stations or online/personal sources, you can enjoy them through any of the SoundTouch models without using an audio source. All it takes is one touch. Just use the SoundTouch remote or walk up to your SoundTouch speaker, select one of the six presets and start enjoying your favorite music. All three models feature Waveguide speaker technology, so your favorite music will be reproduced with well-defined, room-filling bass and clear highs.
The other SoundTouch models include the mid-sized SoundTouch 20™ and the SoundTouch 30™, which is the largest of three Wi-Fi-enabled SoundTouch speaker options. Like the portable model, the 20 and 30 both support six presets via the SoundTouch app and they’re AirPlay compatible. They also have a wired Ethernet connection, if necessary, and an auxiliary audio input for connecting music devices that aren’t capable of streaming music over Wi-Fi. Devices like portable CD players, tape players, or even record players for vinyl aficionados can all be connected to the two larger SoundTouch models using their auxiliary audio input.
The 20 and 30 models also feature 1.6-inch OLED display panels that show the current station, preset, or song title of the track to which you’re listening. One major difference between the SoundTouch Portable and the 20 and 30 is the power source. The 20 and 30 don’t have built-in rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries, since they’re not meant to move with you from room to room. Instead, these larger SoundTouch models are equipped with AC adapters that support 100-240VAC universal power requirements for worldwide compatibility when paired with the proper plug adapter.
Using the app, you can also enjoy greater control. For instance, you can use the SoundTouch app when you want to stream a song or station that you haven’t added as a preset yet. You can also switch between presets on the app, remove old presets and set new ones with the ease of a finger swipe. And, since all three SoundTouch models are AirPlay-enabled, you can also stream music wirelessly from your compatible Apple devices. You can add more SoundTouch models in other rooms around your home as well. This is an excellent way to install a completely seamless multi-room music experience throughout your home.
In total, you can control up to seven different SoundTouch devices via Wi-Fi. After you wirelessly connect the seventh, you can continue to add unlimited SoundTouch speakers as long as you connect them via an Ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi. If you do it that way, you can connect an infinite number of SoundTouch speaker models. Once you have all your additional SoundTouch units connected, you can either play the same music through all the speakers in your home simultaneously or you can listen to a different music source, station or preset in each room. As your home and music desires expand, the SoundTouch line can grow with you at your pace, so you and your family will be able to stream and enjoy all the music you all love wherever you want in your home—together or independently—at the touch of button.
Bose SoundDock™ Series III Digital Music System
Another personal music system that was released this fall is the SoundDock™ Series III. This new SoundDock model is a compact speaker system that features an iPod/iPhone dock with a Lightning connector and a proprietary acoustic design that creates room-filling sound in a compact form factor. Bose uses their digital signal-processing circuitry in the system as well, which provides finer control over the sound of your music for more consistent and lifelike audio reproduction—even at low volume levels.
The SoundDock’s dock is compatible with iPhone 5/5s/5c, 5th-generation iPod touch, and 7th-generation iPod nano. It will also charge your Apple device while it's playing. If you want to play music from any other mobile device, the speaker is equipped with an auxiliary audio input. The unit ships with a compact remote control as well, which you’ll be able to use to navigate your docked iPod or iPhone playlists. If you’re interested in the SoundDock Series III, but the standard black model seems a little ordinary for you, check out all the other color choices. The system is also available in blue, green, orange, or purple.
Bose Lifestyle™ Series II Systems
The larger, more powerful Bose home audio and entertainment solutions combine modern, discreet aesthetics with Bose’s renowned sound. If you’re looking to add that legendary room-filling Bose audio performance to your television, movie, and gaming experience, then definitely take a closer look at the Lifestyle™ Series II speaker system line, which includes premium surround sound home theater options. The most basic of these models is the Lifestyle™ 135 Series II, which provides virtual surround sound through an innovative Bose soundbar-style speaker and a hideaway Acoustimass™ wireless bass module. The soundbar can be mounted below or on the wall near your TV, while the subwoofer can go just about anywhere in the room, since it connects wirelessly to the system’s control console.
The Lifestyle™ 135 Series II system’s main control console acts like a receiver would in a more traditional home theater sound system. The 135’s control console features the same flexible connectivity options common to other more traditional, high-end multi-channel amp/receiver units. It has room for connecting up to six HD video and audio sources, including four via HDMI. The soundbar supports convenient FlexMount technology as well, which automatically optimizes the speaker’s sound whether you opt for a wall mounting or tabletop installation.
The other two Lifestyle choices that were just released in time for the 2013 holiday season are the premium Lifestyle™ 525 Series II and flagship Lifestyle™ 535 Series II. All three of these systems include the ADAPTIQ Audio Calibration System so you can calibrate your Bose speaker system for optimized performance—regardless of your room’s shape or size. ADAPTIQ™ also adjusts settings depending on speaker placement. All three units are SoundTouch upgradable as well. This means that the when the optional Bose SoundTouch Wireless Adapter comes out, you can use it with any of these Lifestyle™ Series II systems. Once the adapter is connected, you’ll be able stream music wirelessly from the Internet, and your digital music library through the Lifestyle™ speaker system using your home Wi-Fi network.
The Lifestyle™ 525 and 535 Series II systems both offer dramatic 5.1-channel surround sound for lifelike gaming, movie, and TV enjoyment. They include four premium Direct/Reflecting speaker arrays, a central channel speaker and a wireless Acoustimass™ bass module that you can hide away almost anywhere in the room where you install the system. Although there may be louder 5.1-channel home theater systems available, the 525 and 535 offer lifelike sound reproduction, rich bass response, and sound-improving Videostage 5 decoding that ensures theatrical multi-channel surround excitement even when you’re viewing or listening to older sources like DVDs, stereo CDs, VHS tapes, or old television programming.
Like the 135, both the 525 and 535 include a control console with support for a total of six HD video and audio connections—four of which can be via HDMI. Plus, they each support Full HD 1080p automatic video upscaling and 3D viewing if you have a 3D TV and 3D content. All three of the Lifestyle consoles support Unify intelligent integration as well. Unify provides step-by-step onscreen setup instructions and the technology will also identify each connected device—like a Blu-ray player or set-top box and then program the included Bose remote control to operate that device. Once everything is connected and all devices are identified, you’ll be able to use one remote. Plus, the included remote’s LCD screen can be used to view important system information as well.
If you'd like to fill the rooms of your home with sound, but not large audio components, check out some of these Bose systems today.