Bose Soundlink Micro review: This very tiny Bluetooth speaker delivers great big sound

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The speakers inside smartphones improve with every new
generation of handset. But they all sound like garbage when it
comes to playing music without the benefit of headphones.
That’s where the Bose Soundlink Micro comes in. This
practically pocketable Bluetooth speaker isn’t cheap at $110,
but it punches far above its weight class.

Design

Unlike the other speakers in Bose’s portable lineup, the
Soundlink Micro is designed to be carried and routinely abused.
With an IPX7 rating, it’ll survive a trip into the shower or a
dunk into the pool to a depth of one meter for up to an hour.
The X in that spec doesn’t necessarily mean its not protected
from dust incursion, just that it’s not rated for such
protection.

Part of this resilience in the face of the elements is due to
the speaker’s silicon rubber exterior, which not only reduces
the number of seams and other access points for water to seep
into, but also protects its internal components from being
banged around, dented, or cracked. The only port you’ll find on
the speaker is a micro-USB port for charging its battery. A
single charge will yield approximately six hours of audio.

bose soundlink micro size
Séamus Bellamy

While smaller than some cups of coffee, the Soundlink Micro
can still produce a respectable amount of noise.

As with other Bose devices, the controls on the Micro are
minimal, but adequate. You’ll find power and Bluetooth pairing
buttons on the side of the Micro, flanking the speaker’s LED
power level indicator. On the top are the volume controls and a
button that can be used to play/pause or to move back and forth
between the track list on your mobile device or computer. The
button also provides access for Android and iOS users to access
Google Assistant or Siri through the speaker (not on the
speaker itself).

The Micro has two speaker grills: One on top to blast out the
mid- and high-frequency sound through a single mono transducer
and a passive radiator. A second passive radiator fires out of
the Micro’s bottom-facing grill to provide a little bit of
additional thump. Even if the enclosure could have accommodated
a second transducer, it’s too small to allow the separation
needed to produce true stereo. Buy two Micros, however, and you
can put them in what Bose calls Party Mode to get true stereo.

While designed to provide its best sound when set up on a hard
surface, like a table or desk, a built-in silicone strap makes
it possible to mount it on a set of handlebars, strap it to a
backpack, or locate it in any number of other places your life
could be improved by the presence of a wee speaker.

bose soundlink micro bottom
Séamus Bellamy

The Soundlink Micro’s bottom-firing passive radiator adds a
significant amount of low frequency thump to whatever
you’re listening to.

All of this fits into a package that weighs just over 10 ounces
and measures roughly 4 x 4 x 1.5 inches. Currently the
Soundlink Micro is available in three colors: orange, midnight
blue, or black.

Connectivity and performance

The Soundlink Micro is stupid easy to connect to smartphones
and tablets thanks to the company’s Bose Connect App. When
pairing a new device, the speaker will provide you with audio
prompts, walking you through the process. Switching connected
devices via the app is a cinch, too. Should you want to connect
to a device that doesn’t have access to the app, you can still
kick it old school and pair using traditional Bluetooth pairing
protocols.

There are a lot of portable Bluetooth speakers out
there, at a similar price point, that play louder, deliver
stereo sound, and significantly longer runtime than the
Soundlink Micro. But on the whole, those competitors are
larger, heavier, and not as well made as the Soundlink Micro
is.

For its size, the sound produced by the Micro is
exceptional—provided you’re not an audio purist. To keep the
diminutive speaker’s transducer and passive-radiators from
producing distorted audio at high volumes, Bose baked digital
signal processing (DSP) into the speaker. Listen to the speaker
at around 50 percent of its maximum volume or lower, and you
get more bass. As the volume inches higher, you’ll get less
thump. Employing the technology in the Micro is largely a
success—but there are limits.

While streaming music from my iPhone 7 Plus at around 70
percent of the speaker’s maximum volume, the audio sounded
crisp. There was a surprising amount of separation, and I could
feel the bass vibrating into my forearm through my desk. But at
higher levels, despite the speaker’s DSP reducing the amount of
low-frequency sound, distortion started to creep in.

bose soundlink micro front
Séamus Bellamy

The Soundlink Micro’s physical controls are few and easy to
use.

The tuba in Hazmat Modine’s and Huun-Huur-Tu’s “Man Trouble”
(from Bahamut) vibrated enough to ruin the track’s
smooth blues groove. The same thing happened while I was
listening to Colter Wall’s “Sleeping on the Blacktop” (from
Imaginary Appalachia). Wall’s deep tremolo sounded
present and true at lower levels, but once the speaker’s volume
was jacked up all the way, I noted that his singing sounded
muddier, with some of the detail of his voice becoming lost.
That said, I seldom listen to anything at such high volumes; so
the problem, for me at least, isn’t much of an issue.

It’s also worth noting that the Soundlink Micro makes a
fabulous speakerphone. While engaging in voice calls, it
provided excellent audio from the party I was yapping with. The
person on the other end of the phone said I was clear and easy
to understand as well.

Is it worthy of your cash?

The Bose Soundlink Micro is a pricey but capable Bluetooth
speaker. Provided the limitations caused by its diminutive size
are understood, it’ll be a rugged, highly-portable audio device
that will serve users well.

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