Angular boxes used to rule the roost at Bose but now it seems they’ve had a change of heart. Reacting to popular brands Libratone, JBL and Ultimate Ears, the Bose SoundLink Revolve + is their first portable speaker engineered for 360-degree audio dispersion, water-resistance and more! But let’s find out if it stands any chance of winning me over.
Build Quality and Design
Smooth to the touch and easy to grab, I am taken by its seamless case that tapers to the top. The shell is machined out of a single piece of aluminium for structural strength and eye-catching looks. The neck and base is rubberised so that the Revolve + can endure its share of rough n’ tumbles.
You’ll get separate volume clickers, a source toggle, Bluetooth pairing button and a Multi-Function button that works with Siri or Google Now. The buttons are spaciously spread and recessed so that so that it’s actually possible operate the Revolve + in the dark; although it might have been better if all the buttons are backlit instead of those tiny LEDs next to the Power, Bluetooth and source buttons.
Encased under the hood is a down-firing driver with passive radiators for that extra low-frequency kick. An omnidirectional acoustic deflector methodically spreads the audio to disperse it 360-degrees. With no need for sweet spots and splash-resistance (IPX4) makes the Revolve + a formidable outdoors speaker. But remember to keep water out of its micro-USB and AUX ports!
There’s a big emphasis here on portability. The Revolve + comes with a thick carrying handle and a screw thread so that you could mount it on a tripod. We’ve seen this useful feature in Ultimate Ears canisters but never before from Bose!
My only complaint about the design is that you cannot set the speaker flat on its side should you ever need to. Despite its wider base, the speaker will not sit very well should you ever need to chuck it in your e-Scooter basket or in your car.
Performance and Features
The Bose Connect App is clean, zippy and functional. With it, you can view the battery life, change the name of your speaker, manage your previously paired devices and perform OTA software updates. The App felt essential enough, though there aren’t as feature-rich as competitor Apps.
To get music to flow throughout your house, you could activate ‘Party Mode’ and pair another Revolve + to cater for a larger space. You could even set them to Stereo mode for a more spacious sound stage.
Without an actual woofer cone, the Revolve + cannot slam your bass drops but it has managed to avoid sounding flimsy in the lower registers. With no sonic black holes, the Revolve + easily covered my living room with no sacrifice of juicy details. If you place it in a corner (like I did) the Revolve + morphed into a beast with thumping tracks like Work from Home by Ty Dolla $ign, without sounding too bloated. Treble and mids weren’t dumbed down either and projected well in all directions with confidence and air.
Despite the Revolve’s inherent constraints, Bose’s pioneering DSP techniques worked well to manage my music’s tracks remained distinct. However it did lack any sort of stereo or sound-staging so it’s debatable whether audiophiles will be fond of this bold new design. For casual listeners, the Revolve + sounds great and will not disappoint with most genres of music including Indie Pop, Jazz and Evergreens.
Videos definitely sounded a mighty lot cleaner and more powerful on my laptop than what I’m used to ‘enjoying’ on the Macbook’s internal speakers.
Bose is seriously understating when the Revolve Plus’s battery life was listed as 16-hours. Maybe they were just being modest, because I actually got out a cool 26 hours 30 mins of use! This is current above the industry standard in this price bracket.
To extend the battery life further, it’s possible to connect your audio source to the 3.5mm or micro-USB inputs (if compatible).
The SoundLink Revolve + is pretty idiot-proof since it’s got voice prompts that takes you through the pairing process. I enjoyed reliable wireless connection with the SoundLink Revolve+. Even when using a much older source device (i.e. my iPhone 5!) I managed to stay connected with no signal drops up 2 concrete walls away. In an open setting, the link was stable even beyond the usual 10m range!
When enjoying videos there was a very slight sync delay but that was almost imperceptible.
For S$499 the SoundLink Revolve + is priced a little on the high side. Competitors at the same price point (or lower) are usually bigger, more feature-rich, and even boasts full water-proofing. They also tend to be more established – some of them already in their third iteration like the JBL Charge 3. That being said, the sexy Bose SoundLink Revolve + packs great sound, reliable performance, great battery life and pristine sound. It is definitely a safe splurge of your hard-earned dough.
Bose also offers a smaller option called the SoundLink Revolve, a smaller speaker that does away with some bells and whistles. For S$329 it lacks a carrying handle and has a wee shorter battery life of 12 hours (average). It’s also pretty loud but just slightly less than the Revolve + in volume and sound quality. Here are pictures for comparison.
Build Quality and Design (Portable Bluetooth Speaker)
- Pros: Smooth and seamless casing built for structural strength and beauty. Rubberised rim and base ensures that accidental knocks and drops won’t hurt. All control buttons are well spaced out and easy to operate even in the dark. Includes a multi-function button for pause/play controls and smartphone voice assistants. Built-in carrying handle for portability. IPX4 water-resistance makes it a great outdoors speaker too.
- Cons: It is only designed to sit upright.
Score: 6/7 (28.54%)
Performance and Features
- Pros: The Bose Connect App is functional, clean and easy to navigate. Features ‘Party Mode’ that lets you pair another Revolve speaker for bigger sound. Spreads audio well from all angles with no acoustic dark spots and no loss in detail. Has rich, clean and powerful sound, can sound much fuller when you place it in a corner. Good track separation and mid-high range clarity. Fantastic battery life that surpassed printed reading. Reliable Bluetooth connection. Voice prompts guide you through set up and pairing process.
- Cons: Bass is not as punchy as I would prefer. No stereo separation or sound staging. ‘Party Mode’ does not let you set the speakers in Stereo output. Very slight audio delay when watching videos.
Score: 9/13 (23.05%)
Score: 3/5 (19.98%)
Final Score: 7.2/10