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Bluetooth speakers are everywhere you turn. They can cost as little as $20, or as much as $1000. If that isn’t evidence enough that the Bluetooth speaker market is saturated, consider the fact that Amazon now makes not one, but two (Echo and Tap) Bluetooth speakers, though they’re much more than that. So the question becomes: can Bose deliver with their Sound Link III and justify its spot in our best Bluetooth speakers for 2016? And does it make the top-rated Bluetooth speakers list?
Continue reading my Bose Soundlink III review to find out.
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Top-tier sound with just a little compromise.
Price: $299 on Amazon
Model: Soundlink III
What We Liked:
What We Didn’t:
At 3 pounds and measuring 1.9 x 10.1 x 5.2 inches, the Soundlink III doesn’t exactly fall into the ultra-portable category. But alas, it is slim enough to be tucked into a backpack, though probably not a purse. That in mind, there are other Bluetooth speakers on the market that are smaller and cheaper. But, none will offer such a wide spectrum of sound, as you’ll find in our Bose Companion 2 Series III multimedia review and our Bose Soundlink Color Bluetooth speaker review. You may also want to check our Bass Egg Speaker review for a much more portable Bluetooth speaker.
Bose’s approach to design seems to be rooted in retro styling. And while it may not appeal to some, if you spend some time with the Soundlink III (or other Bose equipment, such as their home theater systems) you realize that it has a timeless quality, not following trends and eventually being discarded due to its cliche nature. With that in mind, the Soundlink III is very unassuming and anyone glancing at the speaker won’t think twice that is an extremely good Bluetooth speaker when it comes to sound reproduction. For another great Bluetooth speaker, you’ll want to check out our Altec Lansing inMotion Air IMW725 review.
Along the top of the speaker are a set of silicon rubber-like buttons. They’ve got a good amount of give when you push them, which not only reaffirms that it has been pressed, but provides a strangely satisfying sensation. Odd, I know. Nevertheless, the silicon buttons are a nice touch, since it makes wiping down the top of the speaker easy, provided you’re willing to get it in harm’s way of dirt. Nevertheless, dust is always afoot and sure to build upon anything you don’t use with regularity. Alternatively, you can read through our Braven BRV-1 Bluetooth Speaker review for a rugged Bluetooth speaker that you can use even in the wild.
With that in mind, the Soundlink III is not IP-X rated, which is to say it isn’t waterproof or even water-resistant. So if you’re looking for a speaker for that class, I suggest you check out the Fugoo, which we gave top marks to in our best Bluetooth speaker comparison.
While the Soundlink 3 is of the wireless ilk, there is an AUX input on the back of the speaker for those who prefer to go wired or perhaps rocking something that isn’t Bluetooth compatible.
Adjacent to that is what appears to be a micro-USB port for “service” (providing software updates), which is followed by the Soundlink 3’s power port. Now, this is where things fall short. The power port, or AC plug, isn’t MicroUSB. This means you’ll need to keep a very specific plug on hand to charge the Soundlink III’s battery, which mind you lasts for 14 hours. It would seem that this is the power plug of choice for Bose and its other products. So in the event you own other Bose speakers of a portable nature, you’ll probably already have one of these. But my point is that if you’re somewhere beyond the confines of your home, you’ll likely be SOL. But perhaps it’s fair to say the Soundlink III isn’t designed to be taken into the wild.
Of note, there are optional silicon colors for the Soundlink III if you want to add a “splash of color”.
The Soundlink III is spec’d for 14 hours of playback, though that is likely at 50% amplitude. Nevertheless, and despite the Soundlink 3 not providing a battery indicator level via my iPhone, the battery life seems about right. Though I would suggest erring on the side of caution, and recharging every 10 hours.
Sorry, there isn’t one. But why would you need one is perhaps the better question. Volume and everything else can be controlled via your smartphone.
It’s been some time since I’ve used my Big Jambox. But regardless of specs, the Sounlink 3 is far, far more portable. And although that might lead one to assume the Big Jambox can produce what many call “better sound quality”, I’d have to disagree. The Soundlink 3 holds its own against the Big Jambox. And more importantly, it’s far more portable. If anything, the Big Jambox has a “one-up” on the Soundlink 3; it can charge via MicroUSB.
So yes, the Soundlink III is on the larger size when it comes to what is typically called a portable Bluetooth speaker. And while I know this Bluetooth speaker isn’t necessarily marketed that way, it fringes on that class. So with that in mind, I was very impressed with the Soundlink III’s range. There are notable and varied lows, complemented by reasonable high, at least for a speaker of this “capacity”.
Unlike the Fugoo or the UE Boom, the Soundlink III is more uni-directional in terms of sound distribution. But with that caveat seems to come greater amplitude than the aforementioned, along with a higher amplitude that could easily serve as one’s full-time and only speaker. Though I can’t recommend you do that, it could be a reasonable move, especially for those living in a studio apartment.
With top-quality sound and an almost portable quality, the Soundlink III ranks fairly high in my book. I like that it’s not so on trend concerning the design that it will feel dated in 12 months. Which is to say I appreciate its retro-like look, enabling it to blend in where ever it’s placed. $299 is towards the top end of Bluetooth speakers. But with that, you get a Bluetooth speaker that can be used in a wider variety of scenarios thanks to its amplitude and spectrum of sound.