Bose adds Bluetooth and a more affordable speaker to its SoundTouch multi-room range

The SoundTouch 10 speaker (£170) joins the family alongside a hoard of new soundbars and home cinema systems, while the existing SoundTouch 20 and 30 Series models enter their third generation, priced at £350 and £500 respectively.

The SoundTouch 10 brings the range’s entry-level price more in-line with rival multi-room lines from Sonos, LG and Samsung, which should please those on a budget. While the lunchbox-sized speaker doesn’t boast its bigger siblings’ OLED display, it comes in their choice of black or white finishes, and is just as well equipped.

The updated SoundTouch range is out with AirPlay and in with Bluetooth for more universal (and Android-friendly) connectivity.

The six presets are accessible on the unit, remote and app

The six presets are accessible on the unit, remote and app

Some things haven’t changed. Backwards compatible with previous-gen SoundTouch products, the SoundTouch 10, 20 III and 30 III can still stream music directly over wi-fi from any computer, NAS drive, tablet or smartphone connected to the same network.

You can group multiple SoundTouch products together for a multiroom system, playing the same music across all speakers or different music in a zone. A simple tap of the 'Play Everywhere' button in Bose's SoundTouch app has every SoundTouch speaker in your home playing in harmony. A single auxiliary input still provides a wired option too.

The speakers keep the six ‘preset’ buttons, which let users allocate – essentially ‘favourite’ – an artist, album, playlist or internet radio channel to each one for one-touch access. It’s a neat shortcut and in our time with the SoundTouch 20 found it was one of its biggest assets. We’re glad it stays.

Bose says through 802.11n dual-band wi-fi the connection is stronger and more reliable, with less interference and drop-outs, while the addition of 5GHz compatibility offers ‘a better streaming option in crowded environments, like apartment buildings in the city’.

The future of SoundTouch

A recent interview with multiroom market leader Sonos didn’t leave us holding our breath for high-res support for Sonos products, but a Bose representative told us it is being ‘considered’ in the SoundTouch range. How far into the future that will be, we don’t know.

When we reviewed the SoundTouch 20, we were more disappointed by the lack of WAV and FLAC support. In this respect, things are looking up: we’re told WAV files are now supported and that FLAC compatibility is 'coming soon'.

In the new year, the SoundTouch app will also integrate Spotify control alongside Spotify Connect, so users won’t have to keep jumping between the two apps.

Another concept to roll out in 2016 is ‘ReadySet’. Targeted at streaming novices, it will prompt buyers of any SoundTouch speaker from to sign up or log into Spotify upon checkout and preload the speaker's presets with Spotfy playlists so it will arrive customised and ready to go.

Will Bose’s latest-gen SoundTouch range cause concern for Sonos? By gradually adding features and developing app software, the brand is certainly heading in the right direction to compete for a demanding, streaming-savvy crowd in an ever-evolving and growing market. Future FLAC support will no doubt be a key upgrade and hopefully high-res is somewhere on the horizon.

Of course, sound quality is what separates the wheat from the chaff. The SoundTouch 20’s bottom-heavy balance left a lot to be desired, so we’re hoping the new products deliver a necessary jump in performance. Watch this space.

MORE: Best multi-room systems 2015

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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.