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Bose SoundLink Mini II Review

Price:   $200 List | $268.65 at Amazon
Pros:  Excellent sound quality, great battery life
Cons:  Expensive, relatively heavy
Bottom line:  Great sound, but no water resistance
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Bose

Our Verdict

The Bose SoundLink Mini II was our previous Editors' Choice Award recipient before its successor, the the melodious SoundLink Revolve, usurped that honor. Still, the Mini II provides great sound that would please the vast majority of listeners. On top of that it provides solid battery life and can easily fit into a backpack. If it was just a bit lighter and waterproof it would be the perfect portable speaker. However, the Mini II is not water resistant at all, whereas the Revolve has a splashproof IPX4 rating. All in all the **Revolve is a much better choice, unless you can find the Mini II on sale (and its price is currently dropping at most online retailers).


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers of 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Max Mutter and Steven Tata

Last Updated:
Wednesday
April 5, 2017

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The Bose SoundLink Mini II really blew away our testers, providing a level of sound quality we only would have expected from a much larger speaker. It is also quite loud and lasted nearly 17 hours in our battery life testing, far exceeding the manufacturer's claim. However. It still isn't quite as good as the new Bose SoundLink Revolve.


Performance Comparison


The Bose SoundLink Mini II received the top overall score in our testing, making it the clear Editors' Choice winner.


Below we discuss how the SoundLink Mini II performed in each one of our individual tests.

Sound Quality


The Bose SoundLink Mini II was the first runner up in our sound quality testing, earning a 9 out of 10 in a metric where scores plummeted ranged from 3 to 10.


The SoundLink Mini II really lived up to Bose's reputation in our sound quality testing. It combines deep, resonant bass with crisp, defined treble to create a balanced and full sounding composition. While it certainly can't match the refined, encompassing sound of a good home stereo, it far and away exceeded the kind of quality we expected from a small portable speaker. However, is can't quite match the sound quality of the Revolve, which has noticeably more depth. It also had incredible clarity in our testings, clearly defining notes in fast and complex arrangements that tended to get muddled together in other speakers. If you're even a little bit of an audiophile and want to bring a quality listening experience on the road, this is clearly the speaker for you.

Portability


The SoundLink Mini II is portable, but not throw it in your bag and forget about it kind of portable. Thus it earned a 5 out of 10 in our portability, putting it the middle of a metric where scores ranged from 2 to 10.


The Mini is relatively heavy at 1.5 pounds. While this extra weight certainly won't make your bag or backpack feel unwieldy, you'll definitely notice that it's there. The Mini's aluminum casing oozes a sense of quality, but also feels like it would be susceptible to scratches and dents (this can be somewhat mitigated if you buy a rubber cover, see below). The Mini also has no water resistance rating, so you'll need to keep it safe from rain and splashes. Overall we think the Mini is perfect for moving around the house as you transition from cooking to eating to lounging, and for taking out onto the patio or into the backyard. However, it isn't the speaker we'd choose for travelling or taking further afield into the out of doors. That's not to say it can't do those things, it just wouldn't be our first choice. If you did want to take it out on the road, a sleeve and/or travel case might be helpful (see accessories section below) The UE Roll 2 is our favorite model for travel, but its sound quality is significantly inferior to the the Mini. The Bose SoundLink Color II is a good midpoint between these two models, as it still sounds quite good but is durable enough for carefree days at the beach or next to the pool.

The SoundLink Mini II is relatively heavy  but can still be carried around.
The SoundLink Mini II is relatively heavy, but can still be carried around.

Volume


The SoundLink Mini II can get quite loud and earned a 7 out of 10 in our volume testing. This was a respectable performance in a metric with scores ranging from 4 to 9.


The Mini retains its stellar sound quality even when cranked up to max volume, which is a rarity amongst speakers of this size. That volume is more than enough to handle the vast majority of situations you would likely use the Mini in: hanging out on the patio, relaxed backyard barbeques, and just general music listening around the house. If you've got a party going with 20+ people the Mini might struggle a little bit to completely cut through the ambient noise, but would still provide some background music. If you need enough firepower for a large, loud dance party the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 or the JBL Charge 3 would serve you better, though both of these models represent a sacrifice in sound quality.

Battery Life


In our testing the SoundLink Mini II far exceeded its manufacturer stated battery life, lasting a full 17 hours. This is plenty to get you through a full day of listening and most likely won't feel limiting. We did log some impressive battery lives in our testing, so though the SoundLink Mini II performed admirably, it only garnered a score of 7 out of 10.


Other Features


The Soundlink Mini II includes a docking station that makes charging at home fast and easy. It can also be charged via a port on the actual speaker when you're on the go.

The SoundLink Mini II has a convenient charging base.
The SoundLink Mini II has a convenient charging base.

Value


With a list price of $200 the SoundLink Mini II is one of the most expensive speakers we tested. If you're not too fussy about sound quality you can likely spend much less and still be satisfied (the JBL Charge 3 and UE Roll 2 come to mind). However, the SoundLink Revolve sounds better and costs the same. Therefore, the Mini II is only a good value if you find it on sale.

Conclusion


The Bose SoundLink Mini II was the best sounding bluetooth speaker around until Bose replaced it with the Revolve. If you don't care about water resistance

Accessories


HopCentury Soundlink Mini Cover
  • Cost: $9
  • Available in a variety of colors


Caseling SoundLink Mini Travel Case
  • Cost: $14
Max Mutter and Steven Tata

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