No Alexa, No Problem

Bose’s Rugged Bluetooth Speaker Sounds Better Wherever You Put It


May 17, 2018 Reviews By Photo by Hunter D. Kelley
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The Bose SoundLink Revolve Plus ($299) was released in spring 2017, along with its smaller sibling, the Bose SoundLink Revolve ($199), and the two are the company’s newest portable Bluetooth speakers. They are also Bose’s first cylindrical-shaped Bluetooth speakers, meaning that they play true 360-degree, room-filling sound, similar to an Amazon Echo or UE Megablast. The two speakers are specially engineered, with dual-opposing passive-radiators and an efficient transducer, to eliminate distortion and sound spacious and accurate. They’re both splash-resistant, too.

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The Good: The SoundLink Revolve Plus sounds superb. Strong bass, which you’d expect from a Bose speaker, but the speaker pushes impressive midrange and treble as well. At low to mid volumes, it gives you room-filling sound with negligible distortion. The speaker sounds great whether placed in the middle of the room or against a wall. It’s a surprisingly compact Bluetooth speaker, too, noticeably smaller than other speakers in the $300 price range, such as the UE Megablast. It can be grouped with other SoundLink speakers, if you have them, through the Bose Connect app. It’s simple to use, with a few straightforward buttons, and carry. It’s splash resistant. The handle is useful. And it has a built-in mic so you can answer calls without having to pick up your phone.

Who It’s For: The Bose SoundLink Revolve Plus is a good standalone Bluetooth speaker for anybody, especially those who love Bose’s signature sound. If they have other SoundLink speakers and want to pair them with the SoundLink Revolve Plus, in either “party” or “stereo” mode, even better. Also, this is Bose’s loudest Bluetooth speaker; if you plan on playing music at lower volumes, the smaller and more affordable SoundLink Revolve might be a better option.

Watch Out For: No built-in voice assistant like Alexa or Siri. It’s not as pretty as Bose’s previous Bluetooth speakers, specifically the SoundLink and SoundLink Mini II, as it looks like a lantern. At high volumes, high frequencies can lose a bit of their bite. Fairly expensive. It charges via micro-USB.

Alternatives: The UE Megablast and Blast are omnidirectional speakers that can be paired in a group set up through the UE’s companion app, just like SoudLink Revolve Plus. The other difference is that both UE speakers respond to Alexa commands (with Spotify support). The Sony SRS-XB41 is a larger and front-facing speaker with more, albeit quirky, features. Both are slightly more water-resistant than the Bose SoundLink Revolve Plus.

Review: Given the omnidirectional design of the SoundLink Revolve Plus, you’d expect it to sound best in the center of a room — and it does. Its sound is loud, immersive, warm and punchy, especially when listening to R&B and electronic music, like Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” and Avicii’s “Levels.” However, the speaker sounds good when placed against a wall, too; it actually makes the bass more intense.

If there’s a fault with the sound of this speaker, it has to do with higher volume playback. Treble can lose its crispness; I noticed this in songs like Lana Del Rey’s “Lust for Love” and London Grammer’s “Hell to the Liars,” where the vocals of the Haley and Lana kind of blend in with the upper-midrange — however this is grasping at straws for a flaw.

Even though the speaker comes with a companion app, you don’t have to download or even use it. Without the app, the speaker is still simple and intuitive to use; there are just a few well-marked buttons on the top of the speaker to control play/pause, volume and pairing. The app is really only imperative if you plan on pairing the speaker with other SoundLink speakers.

Verdict: The Bose SoundLink Revolve Plus is a terrific-sounding Bluetooth speaker that comes in a small package. You can’t submerge it like you can with other portable speakers, nor can you talk to it in quite the same capacity as you would with UE’s MegaBlast or an Amazon Echo, but the Bose SoundLink Revolve Plus has its own charm. Its easy-to-use controls, built-in mic for calls, and even its weird handle make using this speaker effortless, whether you’ve used it for months or are picking it up for the first time. Yes, it’s slightly on the expensive side, but for those who’ve loved Bose’s previous SoundLink speakers, the SoundLink Revolve Plus is an easy next buy.

What Others Are Saying:

• “The Bose SoundLink Revolve+ is a great speaker, albeit expensive and a bit dated compared to the competition. It may not have a smart assistant built in for voice controls, but for those who don’t care about that, the Revolve+ is a pleasure to use, especially if you pair it with the dock … which, unfortunately, is sold separately.” — Lewis Leong, TechRadar

• “$300 is a big outlay for a Bluetooth speaker. The Soundlink Revolve Plus has this premium pricing for several reasons: The tough chassis, water-resistance and 360-degree sound. If those things are important to you, then it’s worth the outlay. But if you don’t require those features, you could get tighter audio for the same price, for example with the V-Moda Remix.” — Stephen Charlton, SoundReview

• “The sound from the Revolve+ speakers is certainly detailed and also expansive, with a sweet treble and upper mid-range. The top end is maybe a little on the harsh side at times, though. The bass is healthily full – and can be reinforced a little by sitting the Revolve+ closer to a wall. The 360-degree sound is really impressive, without any very noticeable dead spots as you walk around the room – certainly not to the extent that you get with most 360 speakers. The SoundLink Revolve+ definitely sounds bigger and goes louder than the smaller Revolve, as you’d expect, but these are two peas from the same pod and have very similar sonic signatures.” — Simon Osborne-Walker, Trusted Reviews

Key Specs

Sound: 360-degree
Water Resistance: IPX4 (splash-proof)
Battery: up to 16 hours
Charge: micro-USB
Modes: stereo and party mode
App: Bose Connect app

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