Bose’s SoundLink series has arguably some of the most iconic portable wireless speakers around. The SoundLink Mini and SoundLink Mobile were two of the best selling portable speakers for Bose and there were several minor updates to the series with the SoundLink Color and SoundLink Color Speaker II. Therefore, the new Revolve and Revolve+ marks the first major update for the company’s SoundLink series in years.
Bose SoundLink Revolve
Unlike the traditional front-facing driver design that we are used to seeing from Bose, the SoundLink Revolve and Revolve+ has adopted a one-driver, dual-passive radiators design that provides a 360 degree, omnidirectional audio in a small cylindrical form factor. Together with an acoustic deflector, the downwards facing driver is able to produce uniform coverage by spreading the sound evenly.
The SoundLink Revolve weighs a good 662 grams and can be held easily in the palm of your hand. The speaker has a solid metal grill that should be able to withstand the accidental knocks and dents. The top and the bottom of the speaker are made of rubberized bumpers which are shock resistant. Being a tall, vertically challenged speaker, the rubberized base also gives the speaker enough grip to not vibrate even when playing at high volume.
While it is IPX4 water resistant, the Revolve and Revolve+ are not meant for the wilderness in my opinion. Slight scratches can be seen easily especially on the black model so do be careful not to mix the speaker with the keys or metallic objects in your bag if you intend to keep the speaker looking this pretty in the long run. But then again, Bose knows its target audience well. Families or older and more affluent customers that gather over BBQ and pool party would find the Revolve series very fitting to their lifestyles (as you can see from its website).
At the top of the SoundLink Evolve are a series of controls you can use to control your music, voice calls and commands without using your connected smart devices. The power button comes with a battery indicator which gives you a visual cue on how much battery the SoundLink Revolve has left (Green – full to medium charge, yellow – medium charge, red – need to charge).
The Bluetooth button lets you put the SoundLink Revolve into pairing mode or to toggle between connected connected devices. There’s also an Input button on the right to change the input source from Bluetooth to Aux-in to USB audio. The -/+ volume buttons let you control the volume of your music source and also to choose the language of the voice prompts (13 languages to choose from!). Lastly, the multi-function button at the bottom allows you to play/pause your music, take calls, skip and rewind your tracks and also calls on Siri and Google Assistant when long pressed.
The top panel controls are the same for both the SoundLink Revolve and Revolve+ and as you can see, it provides a comprehensive range of controls for the users which really helps to lessen the reliance of a smart device.
Both the SoundLink Revolve and Revolve+ can only be charged by a micro USB adapter which is located at the back of the speaker, together with a 3.5mm audio jack. At the bottom of both speakers, you will find a docking connector and a tripod mount. An optional charging cradle (US$29.95 or ~S$42) is available for purchase to make use of the docking connector and the tripod mount probably gives you more flexibility to mount the speaker onto the wall or tripod.
The first thing you would notice when listening to the SoundLink Revolve is how it sounds much louder than you expect from something this size. It’s powered by a very capable 3″ full ranger driver with low power Bluetooth 4.2. What really interests me was how Bose chose to place the driver downwards and flanked them with dual-passive radiator. This creates an acoustic chamber that allows more movement for the driver (as compared to horizontally placed, front facing drivers) resulting in really loud volume with little distortion.
Like any classic Bose speaker, the lows are boosted to create deep bass that most people love in their portable speakers. Having tested the speakers at various volumes, the SoundLink Revolve speakers really shine when playing at low to moderate volume. You get really deep bass, very detailed highs and a good amount of spaciousness.
That’s pretty smart considering that most people would only listen to their speakers at a moderate volume most of the time and it’s unlikely for people to max out the volume unless perhaps for review purposes. At almost max volume, the SoundLink Revolve gets really loud – the kind of loud that will take people by surprise that it’s coming from such a small speaker. But distortion is evident at some high frequencies with muddy bass.
With its omni-directional, 360 audio design, Bose wants the SoundLink Revolve series to be at the center stage of every gathering and party. But after trying a variety of placements for the speaker, I felt that the best place to position is against a wall or at a corner where the lows and highs can be deflected – creating a more immersive audio experience. Placing the speaker at a distance away from you also makes it less harsh when playing at a higher volume.
Even with a comprehensive set of controls on the speaker, the SoundLink Revolve and Revolve+ comes with a very useful mobile app to further maximize the speakers’ potential. The Bose Connect is a free app that is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Instead of having you to connect the speaker to a computer and update the speakers’ firmware, the Bose Connect is able to download the update and install directly onto your speaker. The downside of this is that my update took over 3 hours to complete the download even while on Wi-Fi. Although it wasn’t a deal breaker as you can still run the app in the background, I did feel that the download speed could be faster.
Some other functions of the Bose Connect App is the ability to rename your speaker, manage multiple bluetooth connections, customize your voice prompts / shut down time and to pair your Bose SoundLink speakers in Party Mode.
One small issue I have with the voice prompts is that it sounds really … robotic. In this time and age where Siri and Goggle Assistant can sound like the best friend you never had, I thought it was a missed opportunity to make the speakers sound more human and friendly. Perhaps it was because of the 13 languages that the speakers had to cater to that the onboard memory probably couldn’t manage the larger voice files.
There’s also a built-in music player in the Bose Connect App to let you control the music that you’re playing from the Spotify or Apple Music App. It doesn’t really do much more than that but I guess it’s a nice touch.
One of the new features that we are seeing in the Bose SoundLink Revolve series is the Party Mode. Party mode allows you to connect two SoundLink Revolve speakers wirelessly to playback the same audio. There is also the ability to change the party mode into stereo mode.
Setting up the Party Mode was really simple using the Bose Connect App. Do remember to update your speaker with the latest firmware as I had a lot of difficulties connecting both speakers when one of it wasn’t updated to the latest firmware.
Simply tap the dual-speaker icon (or select Party Mode under the Settings menu) and the app will proceed to search for the other speaker. For this to work, at least one of the speaker has to be connected to the smartphone. Once found, simply drag the image of the SoundLink Revolve onto the master speaker (the one that your smartphone is connected to) and viola. The speakers are linked. It’s interesting that Bose allows the Revolve+ to pair to the Revolve as both speakers have different power output. When in stereo mode, the Revolve+ tends to be slightly louder with a wider sound stage than the Revolve but I think it’s unlikely that customers will mind given that this is a bonus feature.
If you do not have the Bose Connect App on your phone, Bose also allow you to manually connect the two speakers together. Simply press both “Bluetooth” + “Volume Up” buttons on the master speaker and “Bluetooth” + “Volume Down” buttons on the slave unit for it to pair.
Overall, the Party Mode is pretty fuss-free and works as advertised, giving customers more reasons to buy another SoundLink Revolve speaker as the usage scenarios increases.
Besides the SoundLink Revolve, Bose also released a larger and more powerful SoundLink Revolve+. The Revolve+ is capable of producing higher-volume and more room-filling sound than its smaller counterpart with a larger 3.6″ full range driver as compared to the 3″ one in the Revolve. To add to its portability, the Revolve+ comes with a non-removable, flexible fabric carrying handle.
The SoundLink Revolve+ gets really loud. I would say it is almost 25% – 30% louder than the Revolve when played at maximum volume. Even at low and moderate volume, the Revolve+ has a larger soundstage than the Revolve, giving you a sense of spaciousness that makes the audio seem to be playing from a larger speaker.
Battery wise, the Revolve+ comes with a 16-hour battery life versus the 12-hour battery life on the smaller Revolve. I have tested both speakers on moderate volume and both speakers actually exceeded the advertised battery life. The Revolve came in at 14.5 hours while the Revolve+ clocked an almost 17 hours battery life all on a single charge via Bluetooth streaming.
Of course the battery life will vary with the volume and usage scenarios but it’s safe to say that the Bose SoundLink Revolve series let you spend more time enjoying your music and less time charging them.
The Revolve+ also shares almost identical ports and buttons placement with the Revolve making it hard to tell the both apart besides from the size and the carry handle.
|Bose SoundLink Revolve||Bose SoundLink Revolve+|
|Battery Life||12 Hours||16 Hours|
|Weight||662 grams||907 grams|
|Dimension||15.2cm x 8.2cm||18.4cm x 10.5cm|
The SoundLink Revolve series continues Bose’s tradition of producing speakers that pleases the masses at a slightly higher price tag. The Revolve and Revolve+ looks great and sounds good. I also liked the direction that Bose is heading with its mobile app and the addition of water resistance and USB audio in its speakers. But I would have wished Bose have included a charging dock for that price and maybe an equalizer in its Connect App to adjust the lows and highs.
If I really had to choose, I would say that the smaller SoundLink Revolve is hard to beat as the all-in-one speaker that excels both in its audio quality, portability and price. The silver looks really good at home or at the work desk and the size and weight is perfect for it to be carried around.
Special thanks to Bose Singapore for the review units.