Hands-on Gear Review

Bose SoundTouch 20 Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $350 List | $349.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Excellent sound, great volume, many connection options
Cons:  Expensive, optional app can be problematic
Bottom line:  The best overall speaker we tested
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Smart Home Compatability:  Alexa (Google Home reportedly on the way)
Bluetooth:  Yes
Inputs:  3.5mm Aux, ethernet
Manufacturer:   Bose

Our Verdict

If you're looking for one excellent speaker that can flood your main living space with melodious tunes, the Bose SoundTouch 20 is your best bet. With Bose's signature bass quality, this speaker produced the fullest sound of all the models we tested. It also offers the simplicity of a Bluetooth connection, but gives you the option to stream over you WiFi network if you'd prefer. If you're looking to build a multi-speaker system, we think Sonos offers a better framework, but for single-speaker systems Bose takes the cake.



RELATED REVIEW: Best Home Wireless Speakers of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Max Mutter and Steven Tata

Last Updated:
Tuesday
February 20, 2018

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The Bose SoundTouch 20 was neck and neck with the Sonos PLAY:3 in our testing. Ultimately we think the Bose's slightly more versatile sound profile and the convenience of a simple Bluetooth connection make it a better speaker overall.


Performance Comparison


The Bose SoundTouch 20 was the highest overall scorer in our testing, as shown in the table above. To find the best home wireless speaker we used a number of different tests organized into four different testing metrics. You can read about how well the SoundTouch 20 did in each of those tests below.

Sound Quality


Sharing the top score of 8 out of 10 in our sound quality testing, the Bose SoundTouch 20 was basically neck and neck with the Sonos PLAY:3.


The SoundTouch 20 had the deepest and most powerful bass of any of the speakers in our selection. It backs that up with impressive clarity, creating a well-rounded soundscape that can make almost any genre of music sound great. The Sonos PLAY:3 sounds slightly crisper than the SoundTouch 20, but doesn't have quite as powerful of a low end. This makes things like acoustic numbers, vocals, and talk radio sound better on the PLAY:3. However the better bass on the SoundTouch 20 makes it more flattering to a wider array of music, basically anything with percussion or an instrument that plays music written with a bass clef.


User Friendliness


The Bose models we tested shared the top score of 7 out of 10 in our ease of use testing.


We like the fact that Bose offers a simple and reliable bluetooth connection for all of its speakers. This makes it simple to connect any device to your speaker and to switch between devices. Sonos, the only competitor to Bose in terms of sound quality, does not offer a Bluetooth connection. We also like the Bose remote control, which lets you raise and lower the volume and even give the thumbs up or down to Pandora tracks when your device is charging in the next room. Again, Sonos does not provide a remote control with its speakers, relying solely on its app.

The SoundTouch 20 has an ethernet port and an auxiliary in.
The SoundTouch 20 has an ethernet port and an auxiliary in.

If you'd rather stream your music over WiFi, Bose also offers an app that can accomplish that. This app is also used if you want to connect multiple speakers together. This is the one point where Bose lost some user friendliness points. When using the app to manage multiple speakers it crashed on us many times, making for a frustrating experience. We found the Sonos app to be much more reliable for using multiple speakers together.

Smart Home Compatibility


Bose has an Alexa skill that makes using any bose speaker alongside any Alexa enabled device very easy. Bose also claims it will be adding software support for Google Home in the near future, but has not yet given a specific date.

Bose speakers also include a physical line in, so theoretically you can connect them to any smart home device that way. However, you may need to make sure the speaker is on and woken up before you talk to the device.

Volume


The Bose SoundTouch 20 was one of the loudest speakers we tested, matched in our testing only by the Marshall Stanmore


Bose is known for packing a lot of volume per square inch into their speakers, and the SoundTouch 20 follows that tradition. It is plenty loud enough for a party in a large house with lots of people. Plus, if you want even more power, you can upgrade to the SoundTouch 30. In comparison, the Sonos PLAY:3 is just slightly quieter. It can fill a large space with sound, but might struggle a bit more when that space gets filled up with people.

The Bose SoundTouch 20 was both one of the loudest and one of the best sounding speakers we tested.
The Bose SoundTouch 20 was both one of the loudest and one of the best sounding speakers we tested.

Connectivity


The Bose SoundTouch 20 offers a classic Bluetooth connection, a WiFi connection via an app, an ethernet port, and a 3.5mm audio in jack. This is the most diverse connectivity suite of any of the speakers we tested, earning it a top score.


Value


The Bose SoundTouch 20 was the highest scoring speaker we tested, and is also the most expensive. If you're looking for the best single speaker for your home, we think it's a fair value. If you're looking to eventually expand into a multiple speaker system, starting with a Sonos speaker like the PLAY:3 would be a better value in the long run.

Conclusion


For those seeking a great speaker to power their apartment or main living area with music, the Bose SoundTouch 20 is the absolute best. However, if you want a multiple speaker system, the Sonos ecosystem is much better.

Other Versions


Bose SoundTouch 30
  • Price: $500
  • Very similar speaker, but larger and louder

Max Mutter and Steven Tata

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