Still better known for compact home cinema systems, Bose (opens in new tab) is making a determined and not unsuccessful push into fresher, more youthful product categories.
The original Bose SoundLink Bluetooth speaker paved the way, coming in a variety of jazzy colours, being relatively affordable and offering neat, portable functionality.
Now it’s the turn of an AirPlay version – the Bose SoundLink Air (opens in new tab). Despite bearing the same name, it’s a departure in styling. Gone is the integrated cover; instead we have a simple wireless speaker design.
As you might expect, the quality of the build and finish is high, and it feels worthy of the price tag. There’s not much to the credit-card sized remote control, but of course your AirPlay streaming device essentially acts as the remote, too.
You can link multiple devices for a basic multiroom system, and there’s also a trusty 3.5mm input for non-AirPlay devices. It’s a mains-only device, though a rechargeable battery is an option.
Set-up is a little more involved than some, requiring you connect the SoundLink Air to a computer via USB. Once that’s done, the speaker functions as per normal for a wireless AirPlay speaker.
Bose SoundLink Air: Sound qualityTonally it’s nicely balanced. Play some bass-heavy dance or rock tracks and the Bose does an admirable job of serving up some grunt, but there’s no danger of the bass sounding over-cooked.
Vocals sound smooth and are given plenty of texture, while there’s decent clarity and separation of notes in the midrange. You won’t get the last word in power or dynamics, but otherwise the SoundLink Air is a tidy little package.