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Bose SoundLink Color II Review

Best Buy Award
Price:   $130 List | $129.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Great Sound quality, water resistant, good battery life
Cons:  Rubber coating sometimes hangs onto dust
Bottom line:  An almost perfect blend of sound quality, portability, and reasonable price
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Bose

Our Verdict

The Bose SoundLink Color II is a slightly less symphonious but slightly more rugged version of Bose's other Bluetooth speaker offering, the SoundLink Revlolve. While the dropoff in sound quality is noticeable, the Color II was still one of the top performers in our sound quality testing and still sounds rich and full. It also has an IPX4 rating, meaning that it can handle healthy splashes of water. This combination of high end sound and good portability at a reasonable $130 list price earned the Color II our Best Buy Award. If you want good sound but a bit more waterproofing check out the UE Boom 2. It doesn't sound quite as good as the Color II, but can survive a complete dunking.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers of 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Max Mutter

Last Updated:
Wednesday
April 5, 2017

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The Bose SoundLink Color II provides top notch sound quality, splash proofness, and lasted 13 hours in our battery testing. It is a near perfect balance of sound quality and ruggedness for those that want something that sounds great but can handle some rain and splashes.


Performance Comparison


The Bose SoundLink Color II was one of the best overall performers in our testing. This combined with an average list price of $130, earned it out Best Overall Value Award.


The sections that follow discuss how the SoundLink Color II performed in all of our testing metrics.

Sound Quality


The SoundLink Color II was a solid performer in our sound quality testing, earning an 8 out of 10. This put it close to the top models as scores ranged from 3 to 10.


This speaker has enough power and clarity to impress the vast majority of users. Even those who spend inordinate amounts of time adjusting the EQ on their home stereo will probably be relatively happy with this model's sound. It does represent a noticeable step down from the top performers (namely the Bose SoundLink Revolve) with a bit less powerful bass and just a tad less clarity. However, these slight shortcomings are really only noticeable in a direct side-by-side comparison. Listening to the Color II in isolation we doubt anyone would be able to point out any glaring deficiencies.

The SoundLink Color II is great for both indoor and outdoor listening.
The SoundLink Color II is great for both indoor and outdoor listening.

Portability


The SoundLink Color II does a good job of balancing top notch sound with good portability. It earned a respectable score of 7 out of 10 in this metric, which had scores ranging from 2 to 10.


With a weight of 19.8 ounces the Color II probably isn't going to make it on any extended treks, but it is light enough that it won't burden your pool or beach bag. It also has an IPX4 rating, making it splash proof. We know 'splash proof' can be a bit of an ambiguous term, so in our testing we ran the Color II under a standard sink faucet, tipping it to and fro so the water ran all over the speaker. After this dowsing the Color II sounded just fine, so we're confident it will take on even the most torrential of downpours. The rubber coating makes it quite scratch resistant, but we did find that dust and lint can sometimes stick to it. Good thing you can run it under the faucet to clean it. The UE Boom 2 is a good option if you want something lighter and fully waterproof, but it doesn't sound quite as good as the Color II.

The SoundLink Color II about an average size and weight  but is much more portable than the other tops scorers in our sound quality test.
The SoundLink Color II about an average size and weight, but is much more portable than the other tops scorers in our sound quality test.

Volume


The Color II earned an 8 out of 10 in our volume testing, putting towarsd the top of a metric where scores ranged from 4 to 9.


In our testing the Color II retained its sound quality at higher volumes, only starting to sound a teensy bit shrill when we reached the absolute highest volume setting (so just be sure not to turn it up to 11). It was able to easily fill a small apartment with sound when set at a volume that didn't deteriorate sound quality. It most likely wouldn't be able to power a crowded dance party in that apartment, but it's plenty loud enough for large groups of people hanging out, or a board game night (even if your friends get loud and angry when you steal the longest road card from them).

Battery Life


Based on our testing Bose like to underestimate the battery life of its products. The SoundLink Color II lasted a full 13 hours in our test, well besting its claimed life of 8 hours. This is plenty of juice for days at the beach or by the lake We did have some very impressive performers in this test, so though we were pleased with the Color II's battery life it only earned a score of 5 out of 10.


Value


When you consider the full range of portable Bluetooth speakers available, the Bose SoundLink Color II's list price of $130 is about average. However, its sound quality is decidedly above average, and all of its other performance attributes are at or above average. This makes the Color II a phenomenal value. If your Bluetooth speaker budget is small check out the Anker SoundCore. It won our Best Buy on a Tight Budget Award.

The SoundLink Color II charges with a simple USB cable.
The SoundLink Color II charges with a simple USB cable.

Conclusion


The Bose SoundLink Color II strikes a near perfect balance of sound quality, portability, and price. Sure, you can get slightly better sounding or more portable speakers, but the Color II is such a great blend that we doubt anyone will be disappointed with it.
Max Mutter

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