Bose Companion 20 review

Solid sound, smart looks and simple set-up make the Bose easy to recommend Tested at £200

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Solid sound, smart looks and simple set-up make the Bose easy to recommend


  • +

    Easy to accommodate

  • +

    Simple set-up

  • +

    Clear vocals, good detail, and plenty of bass


  • -

    Bass can at times be over-egged

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    Not last word in excitement

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While smaller brands battle to get their voices heard in an increasingly crowded market for desktop speakers, the Bose Companion 20 speakers have the advantage of a Bose brand name that has plenty of resonance and pedigree.

Speakers such as the portable and wireless Bose Soundlink have seen the company try to appeal to a younger, mass market audience, so the Bose Companion 20 desktop speakers are very much on home turf.

Bose Companion 20 review: Design

Alongside inevitably dinky and wall-mountable home cinema speaker systems and noise-cancelling headphones, desktop speakers are where Bose has earned its stripes. And we’d suggest the Companion 20 speakers are a perfect example.

They look smart and functional. Reliable. The silver finish is typical ‘executive office’ Bose, while the wired ‘control pod’ adds a touch of flair –and function, thanks to integrated headphone and 3.5mm inputs – and a premium feel to an affordable product.

The speakers look much more affordable up close and personal, but they do look the part either side of a computer screen.

Bose Companion 20

Bose Companion 20

Bose Companion 20 review: Set-up

The ‘master’ speaker connects to mains power, the pod remote control and to the other, ‘slave’, speaker. There’s a 3.5mm input on the back of the main speaker as well as on the remote control unit.

The remote feels great in the hand, though being hard-wired means there’s an extra cable and only so much extra flexibility in terms of placement.

A dial on top of the unit allows you to adjust the volume (it’s quite sensitive) and the top of the remote itself is a touch control for turning the speakers on and off (again, it’s sensitive – and it’s quite easy to press it accidentally when adjusting the volume).

There’s no wireless connectivity or hidden features, just a simple desktop speaker system.

Bose Companion 20

Bose Companion 20

Bose Companion 20 review: Performance

Wild Nothing’s brand of dreamy pop music seems to suit the Bose Companion 20 speakers down to the ground.

Ethereal vocals are given an open, spacious presentation with plenty of detail revealed. Turn up the volume and they will fill a room no problem, sounding more powerful and dynamic than we might have guessed.

There’s certainly no shortage of bass. Listening to The xx, the sparse vocals and guitar sounds have plenty of room to breathe – but introduce some deep bass and we have issues with both the quantity – a little too much – and quality – a little loose around the edges. Still, we’d certainly take that over a thin, unassuming presentation.

Calvin Harris’s Feel So Close requires a little more energy, and while the bass and scale gets you half the way there, the Companion 20 speakers don’t quite have the timing prowess required to make the track really hit home. They are at the affordable end of this price group, though, so this is no disgrace.

Bose Companion 20

Bose Companion 20

Bose Companion 20 review: Verdict

Low on frills but high on reliable, solid sound, the Bose Companion 20 speakers are, in a way, exactly what we expected from Bose, a company with so much heritage.

If you’re on a tight budget and want to keep things simple, this set of desktop speakers could be the answer.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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