Boston Acoustics Soundware XS review

Best style speaker package up to £500, Awards 2010. It's small, sturdy and well priced too Tested at £350

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Now replaced with the Soundware XS5.1SE. Best style speaker package up to £500, Awards 2010. It’s been a while since we’ve enjoyed a budget 5.1 package that sounds this good. Now replaced with the Soundware XS5.1SE


  • +

    Small but sturdy

  • +

    included wall brackets offer versatility

  • +

    cohesive, balanced, full-bodied sound


  • -

    Very little, considering the price and form

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

There's been a dearth of budget style speaker systems adorning our pages over the last year or so, which is a real shame.

Good-quality home cinema electronics are now more affordable than ever, meaning that alongside a set of speakers such as these you can have a home cinema system for relative peanuts.

So, to this Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS 5.1 package. The price box is ticked – we've seen it even cheaper online – and in terms of practicality these speakers are a definite score, too.

Not only are they tiny units that, despite their multi-sided design, sit happily on stands, they also come complete with articulating brackets for simple wall-mounting.

Looks smart, solidly constructed
Available in white or black along with a bog-standard subwoofer they certainly look pretty smart and feel fairly solidly constructed. The speakers use smaller spring-clip terminals, which work well and grip the cable solidly – which is handy if you're planning on sticking them halfway up the wall.

Listening to the soundtrack on the excellent Blu-ray transfer of The Lord Of The Rings we're first taken by the cohesive, enveloping quality of the package.

For such miniature speakers they do a staggering job of filling a good-sized room as sound swings fluidly around the satellites.

Highs and lows to raise a smile
Diminutive in stature but not sound, the satellites deliver big but balanced audio, with a treble that's assured, clear and never bright.

The subwoofer beds in well, too, delivering the necessary bottom-end power and weight without sticking its head too far above the parapet.

There's subtlety, too, with the tense atmospherics of Moon conveyed confidently alongside decent dynamics when required.

It's been a long time coming but finally we have a new budget style system worth shouting about. It may be XS in size but it's an XL for performance.

See all our style speaker package Best Buys

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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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