The Bose SoundTouch 30 is back for round three, and while in the movie world threequels rarely get a good rep, Bose is hoping its third-gen SoundTouch 30 will be to its product line what Bourne Ultimatum is to the Bourne series: the best yet.
Going by the specs, it could be. The second-gen 30 stuck to the original’s guns on the hardware side, focusing instead on improving app software and adding more streaming services, and the third-gen presses forward even more.
So it’s out with Airplay and in with Bluetooth, which should please the Android faithful. When we reviewed the first-gen SoundTouch 20 back in 2014, we balked at the lack of WAV and FLAC support.
Criminally, the second-gen SoundTouch 30 didn’t address this, but finally things are looking up. WAVs and FLACs are now supported, although hi-res will have to top the wishlist for a fourth-generation model.
Bose says that through 802.11n dual-band wi-fi the connection is now stronger and more reliable, with the addition of 5GHz compatibility catering for more stable streaming.
Subtle refashioning doesn’t go unnoticed, either. Glossy, patterned panels up its beauty pageant points too, although the Bose is essentially still a rather bland-looking yet sturdy box, which dwarfs the Sonos Play:5 and Bluesound Pulse.
Around the back there’s a 3.5mm input and an Ethernet port for connecting to your network (and wi-fi too), so you can stream music from a laptop, PC or NAS drive.
Bose hasn’t rested on its laurels with its SoundTouch controller app. ‘Why juggle two apps when you don’t have to?’ asks Bose. Spotify is now integrated into the app; the streaming service’s intuitive interface and playlist functions intact.
More after the break
A sonic stalwart, the SoundTouch 30 is every bit the powerhouse that it looks, throwing out a weighty, full-bodied sound that’s solid, room-filling and goes louder than you’d probably ever want.
It feels right at home with Rush’s Spirit of Radio, chomping down on the track’s dense, muscular rock-heavy sound. It’s not weighed down by its rich characteristic: there’s decent drive and agility to the pyrotechnic guitar work, and the rhythmic drumming is tight.
And while the Bose isn’t the last word in layered detail or texture as the dizzying riffs rip through the soundstage - the B&W Zeppelin Wireless is - clarity and detail levels are satisfying.
Vocals find their way through the rich instrumentals with focus and reasonable insight too. Feed it Duke Dumont’s Ocean Drive and the vocalist’s delivery is complete with its breathy, soulful quality.
The Bose gobbles up the synth-heavy grooves, divvying up plenty of punch and clout. As with the SoundTouch 10, tonal balance leans a little towards the low-end, but it’s more noticeable than particularly detrimental.
What we would like is more control at higher volumes; push it to 11 and the song’s chorus gets a little muddled. Thanks to greater space and precision, the B&W and Bluesound Pulse Mini sound more organised by comparison.
Third time lucky? Bose has taken its flagship SoundTouch to new heights with Spotify app integration, improved file support and more comprehensive connectivity.
The SoundTouch 30 is a solid all-rounder, but hi-res support and more space and insight in the sound department are high on our wishlist for a fourth-gen unit. Over to you, Bose…
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