Bose SoundLink I (Older Model) Review

When looking for a Bluetooth speaker, a few speakers are obvious candidates. Bose products are definitely one of those, being synonymous with high price and fairly high quality (for the most part). I myself enjoy Bose products, so I thought I’d try one of these out. Just remember that this is the original SoundLink I, not the review for the current SoundLink II. I thought I’d review both, and the SoundLink II review will be up soon. So here we go!

Details
Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile Speaker
Price: $269.99
Buy: Best Buy
Battery Life: 8 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth and 3.5mm jack
External device charging: No
What’s in the box: SoundLink Speaker, charging cable, 3.5mm aux cable

Overview

The front is fairly simple, with a big speaker grille and a row of indicator lights. It’s a great looking device. It also has a nylon cover that turns it off when put on. It holds to the front with a magnet. When folded back, it acts as a stand. I quite like this feature.

There are four indicator lights at the top. The battery one I could not capture, but the three others are visible here. The first is an AUX icon, showing when the speaker is playing an auxiliary source from the 3.5mm jack. The second is the Bluetooth icon. It flashes when disconnected, stays lit when connected, and pulses when it’s in pairing mode. The third is a mute light, which activates when the mute button is pressed.

The back is where the cover meets the body of the speaker. It also houses the ports. As you can see, the speaker sits at an angle. It’s not much of an angle, but it helps.

There are three ports on the back. The first is a 3.5mm auxiliary port for devices that do not have Bluetooth. The second is a micro USB port for updating the firmware. It does not come with a cable for it, strangely. The third is the power plug.

The buttons are fairly self explanatory. There is power, aux to switch to the 3.5mm port, Bluetooth (hold a few seconds to pair), mute, volume down, and volume up. The buttons have a pretty nice click, but there is no beep or flashing light to signify that they have been pressed. While the Jambox beeps (a little annoyingly), and the Sound Kick blinks its LED strip, this speaker does nothing. Not a deal breaker, but it can be a little confusing when playing with volume.

Build Quality

This thing is built like a tank, and that’s both good and bad. It’s good because it will last a long time. The materials feel really high end, it has no creaks, no bends, and no problems. The nylon cover is sturdy and holds the speaker up well. It’s just really well built.

The downside is that it is very heavy. It’s the least portable speaker of any that I have used. It is big, heavy, and due to the cover, fairly uncomfortable to hold. Reserve this for places where you can put it down. But with 8 hours of battery life, at least it’ll last when you’re out of the house.

Audio Quality

Now this is where it gets interesting. Thus far, I have praised this speaker. So let me get out this out of the way: the audio quality was a bit of a disappointment. Now, it isn’t at all bad. The mids and highs are very clear, even at full volume. There is no distortion. That part impressed me. It’s also a bit louder than the Sound Kick, which is good, but it’s not a big difference. However, it’s like someone cut out all the lows of every song I listened to. Bass is strangely absent.

Not only that, but just like the Sound Kick, you can’t really blast music really loud in a medium/large room. It’s not quite that loud. And while that was ok for a $100 speaker, it’s not quite as acceptable on a $270 one. For that price tag, I expected a lot more. So to recap, the audio is not bad. It’s decently loud, it’s clear, but it lacks bass and is very quiet for a speaker of its big size and high price.

Conclusion

Is it a good speaker? Yes. It has very clear audio, good battery life, great build quality and aesthetics, and a nice stand. Can you do better for the price? Very much so. For example, I’ll give a little spoiler of a review that will be posted fairly soon: The Bose SoundLink II is much better, so stay tuned for my review of that! I don’t think I’d recommend this speaker at all, it just isn’t worth the price you pay.

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