Boston Acoustics SoundWare S review

A dinky, yet substantial sounding package hindered only by a lack of refinement Tested at £510

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

A dinky, yet substantial sounding package hindered only by a lack of refinement


  • +

    Compact speakers

  • +

    cohesive, immersive surround sound

  • +

    excellent integration between satellites and subwoofer


  • -

    Slightly coarse, unrefined treble

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Boston Acoustics has already tasted success with its SoundWare packages. The SoundWare XS won an Award back in 2010, while its most recent incarnation, the 'XS 5.1 SE' earned a five-star review in our January 2012 issue.

Now, hot off the production line, comes the SoundWare S. It's a slightly larger set-up than the SE version, as the mid/bass driver in each satellite is 2cm wider at 9cm, while the tweeter is 6mm wider, at 2cm.

Weighty yet composed sound
This still equates to a petite satellite speaker (available in a high-gloss black or white), which can be tucked away in a living room with minimal fuss.

The ported sub is twice as powerful as the one found with the XS SE package, and it also uses a larger, 10-inch driver.

A couple of things haven't changed, though: wall brackets are still provided in the box and each speaker still has grooves in the casing and spring-loaded terminals to keep set-up speedy and relatively tidy.

And, for such a small package, the SoundWare S gives movie soundtracks plenty of heave-ho. Spin Moulin Rouge on Blu-ray and the package proves it's no shrinking violet.

During the classical version of The Police's Roxanne – a track packed to the gills with emotion and drama – the satellites show great dynamic reach, conveying the scene to great effect.

No soundstage weaknesses
The satellites and subwoofer integrate seamlessly, too, as the soundtrack is spread effectively between all channels.

There's no weak spot in this system's soundstage; low frequencies are nice and weighty, yet the Boston's subwoofer does a great job of keeping calm and composed despite the soundtrack's best efforts.

The only real area of concern relates to what's happening in the treble. The satellite speakers tend to afflict the stringed instruments with a slight edginess, which could prove a little off-putting, especially at higher volume levels.

But if it doesn't – an audition is essential – then the SoundWare could be a great budget solution for those looking for a discreet home cinema solution.

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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.

Read more about how we test