Bluetooth speakers come in many shapes, but Bose’s SoundLink Micro wants to make a splash with a tiny square design that comes in bright orange.
At $99/Rs.6700 , it’s pretty affordable as Bose products go, but for an ultraportable wireless speaker — the kind you might see strapped to bike — it’s on the pricey side. That tiny square has impressive sound, though, thanks to drivers inside that were designed specifically for this model.
Still, is it worth it when there are a plethora of cheaper alternatives?
A tiny footprint
The SoundLink Micro is small, measuring 3.9 x 3.9 x 1.4 inches and weighing under a pound. It has a rounded square design and can be easily held in your hand. It is about the size of two credit cards placed one above the other.
A rubberized silicone layer wraps around the device, and there’s a metal grille on the back. There are four silicone legs on the bottom as well, which give it a small boost. The perforations in front and in back show where the drivers are, but there’s no stereo sound on a speaker this small (linking two together allows for this effect). Rather, sound gets pumped out from the front and back.
Bose offers the SoundLink Micro in Black, Midnight Navy, and Bright Orange. I tested the orange one, and the color really does pop. The front of the speaker features a Bose logo, playback controls, and a microphone. The top has the power and Bluetooth buttons, a battery indicator, and a microUSB port.
On the back there’s a silicone band which will let you strap the SoundLink Micro to an object, which is a nice bonus. It can hang from a strap on a backpack, a chair arm or leg, or even an umbrella.
While the band is stretchy, it had some trouble getting around a standard-size beach umbrella — this is clearly meant for bike handlebars or something smaller. Of course, the speaker can also be used when sitting on a flat surface or being held in hand.
Bose makes good use of the limited surface area on such a small speaker. The SoundLink Micro gives you easy access to controls but keeps its footprint tiny.
Don’t be afraid of getting it wet
The rubber shell of the Bose SoundLink Micro is the first barrier against water. In fact, the entire speaker is IPX7-rated, meaning it can handle immersion in water up to 3 feet deep for 30 minutes. This outer shell protects water from getting inside, but the internal hardware is sealed as well.
This means the SoundLink Micro can take a dip in the pool or get caught in a rainstorm. I tested it out with direct water contact, and it still pumped out sound. If it does fall in, you’ll want to dry it off and shake the water out. Since the micro USB charging is exposed (though still water resistant), you will want to let it dry before charging again.
If you stream some loud music to the speaker while it’s wet, it is neat to see the speaker remove the water itself during songs with heavy bass, as you can see the water shoot out in line with the music.
Bass exceeds expectations
Bose designed the internal specifically for the SoundLink Micro, so none of the main parts are re-used from other speaker designs.
And you can really feel it. The bass is solid, and it doesn’t distort at full volume. Streaming “More Than You Know” by Axwell & Ingrosso via Apple Music resulted in a powerful punch of sound. The bass comes out of the front and back of the speaker, and on a flat surface, this results in the sound traveling out the bottom. But it’s not muffled: the four tiny legs allow the sound to bounce off the surface and up the sides of the speaker for a richer sound. It packs a punch with bass that doesn’t distort and is equally balanced.
When strapped onto something via the silicone band, the speaker pumps out 360-degree sound but loses the stronger bass it gets when playing on a surface.
High tones and low tones sound properly balanced. Bose’s mixing puts a slight emphasis on the bass, but not an overwhelming amount. If you want an overpowering bass experience that lowers other tones, I’d suggest looking elsewhere.
With all of this, the most impressive thing about this speaker is the bass. It’s most noticeable when it is on a flat surface since you get those reflections. You won’t notice the bass as much when it’s strapped onto something, losing the room-filling effect.
A microUSB port and Bluetooth connectivity
Unlike the larger SoundLink speakers from Bose, the Micro variant goes all-in on Bluetooth; there isn’t even a headphone jack. You can connect it to your source just like you would any Bluetooth speaker, but it also works with the Bose Connect App. This allows you to perform software updates and you can even give your speaker a nickname. Bose has added a cute feature that will even suggest names for the speaker like Moon Boots, The Possum, and Heavy Metal Poet to name a few.
If you have another Bose SoundLink speaker, you can pair the two together for true stereo sound. Pairing more than two allows for surround sound. The connection and pairing is done through the Bose Connect app.
One thing I’m not thrilled about: The SoundLink Micro has a microUSB port for charging at a time when USB-C is picking up speed.
If Bose opted for USB-C, the speaker would probably be capable of faster charging, plus it would mean compatibility with future gear. It seems that Bose wasn’t ready to make the USB-C transition, as the current QuietComfort 35 II headphones opt for this for charging as well. Hopefully in a future variant of this speaker, it’ll get a USB-C upgrade, but for now, you can expect longer charging times.
Bose also states you should get up to six hours of battery life, which is what I got. Depending on the volume levels and if you take a few phone calls, it can knock this closer to five hours. Either way, I’d recommend bringing the charger with you.
Going the distance for the Bose name
Ninety-nine bucks for a Bluetooth speaker isn’t cheap, but Bose has done a really nice job with the SoundLink Micro. At the end of the day, you’re paying a premium when you consider that a comparable speaker like the UE Wonderboom is $69. For that price, you get 10 hours of battery life and just as rugged build quality.
You do, however, get a smaller build with Bose, and if portability is important, you should know you’re not sacrificing sound quality or connectivity. If you’re a fan of Bose and know their audio mixing, the SoundLink Micro gives you a well-balanced mix with a surprising amount of bass.
Just be realistic: The Bose SoundLink Micro packs a considerable punch for such a small speaker, but you’re also paying a premium for the Bose name.