Bose SoundLink Mini II - Review

September 18, 2016

The Bose SoundLink Mini II portable speaker (SGD 329 / USD 199) was announced back in late 2015. I wrote a first take and promised to deliver a review. Subsequently, a decision was made to focus more on earphones. Now that a year has past and a ton of headphones and sports audio gear has been reviewed, we now diversify to have a look at some portable speakers. I brought the SoundLink Mini II (Carbon) to the beach in Krabi to check out how it fares.
Bose SoundLink Mini II - Carbon

Pros (+): Excellent bass response; Good battery life; Compact and sturdy frame.
Cons (-): Audio loudness in outdoors could be improved.

Design
The Bose SoundLink Mini II sports a relatively compact profile at 51 x 180 x 58 mm. At 670g, these Bose speakers are relatively lightweight compared to other speakers like the JBL Charge 3 (800g), but feel very sturdily built with its aluminum casing. 
Bose SoundLink Mini II - Carbon

There are 2 color variants (Carbon / Pearl) to choose from and 5 colored soft covers (SGD 39 each) give some color options.
Bose SoundLink Mini II - Carbon / Pearl
Bose SoundLink Mini II - Soft color covers

Features
There are 5 buttons on the top - power, volume controls, Bluetooth pairing and a multi-function button. The SoundLink can pair to up to 2 devices simultaneously eg a tablet and your phone and this is one example where the voice prompts come in useful. Language selection is real easy - just press the multi-function and + buttons together and you can choose from a range of 11 languages.
Bose SoundLink Mini II - Carbon

The connection points are all on the right edge. There's one auxiliary-in and a convenient micro-USB charging point. This is a big massive improvement over the original SoundLink Mini 'cos you don't need to lug a proprietary charger with you. Just use a (non-Apple) phone charger :)
Bose SoundLink Mini II - ports

The charging is not limited to connecting to the unit. You can also link the USB cable to the supplied dock (80g) and then place the speaker on it to initiate charging. This eliminates the inconvenience of unnecessary plugging / unplugging.
Bose SoundLink Mini II - dock

Don't have a soundbar for your TV in your hotel room? Well, the auxiliary-in allows connection from external sources to be plugged in. I used this a lot at the Dusit Thani Krabi resort and it certainly boosted the bass range of the TV sound source. 
Bose SoundLink Mini II - AUX

Performance
The sound quality for its size is quite amazing. For a full size living room, the bass is able to impose itself remarkably well. The only flipside is that the audio reach in the outdoors is somewhat limited.
Bose SoundLink Mini II - Carbon

At a swimming pool or a beach, the sound range was most effective within 2-3 meters, and more so if your ears are on the same level. Putting things in perspective, there was ambient sound such as a cascading water feature and waves crashing. In a more quiet and controlled environment such as your bedroom, the sound envelops the surrounding area very effectively.
Bose SoundLink Mini II - Carbon

Bose states a battery life of 10 hours, an improvement over the 7 hours of its predecessor. During my trips to the beach and swimming pool, I had absolutely no issues with this 'cos I was never prompted to recharge. 
Bose SoundLink Mini II - dock

Overall
This is a really enjoyable pair of speakers to bring with you on a holiday. Perhaps the audio may not be the clearest out there, but they are compact enough to throw in your luggage without taking up too much space and deliver an excellent dose of bass for its size. Highly recommended!
Bose SoundLink Mini II - Carbon

Where To Buy
If you like what you have read, do feel free to support me by buying either the Carbon or Pearl variants from Amazon via this affiliate link. Prices start from USD 199.

Pair with the Amazon Echo Dot
The Bose SoundLink Mini II is a great portable speaker. If complemented with the Amazon Echo Dot, the listening experience is made even better. 

And how so? The Amazon Echo Dot serves as a voice-controlled assistant, named Alexa. Give a command like 'Alexa, play Trance playlist from Spotify' and boom, the music plays on your Bose. You can either link the Echo Dot to the SoundLink Mini II via Bluetooth pairing or through a 3.5mm audio cable. 

The Echo Dot is capable of much more than purely music playback. It can help order pizza, bring up your itinerary, cook your food (ok, i'm joking about this last item)...well you get the idea. It basically creates a smart environment around you without lifting your finger.

You can buy it together with the Bose SoundLink Mini II for USD 213.99, just USD 14 more if you only get the Bose speakers. When the Echo Dot is purchased as a standalone, it goes for USD 49.99

Credit to Bose and Atlas for a review unit.

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