Bose SoundLink Mini II review

Still one of the best sounding wireless speakers

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

The Bose SoundLink Mini II is showing its age with its average battery life and lack of features like NFC and waterproofing. However, it remains one of the best sounding wireless speakers on the market.

For

  • Stellar sound
  • Built like a tank
  • Compact form factor

Against

  • No NFC or multipoint Bluetooth
  • Not water resistant
  • Average battery life

The Bose SoundLink Mini II is relatively ancient, having been released in June 2015. Fans of the original SoundLink Mini loved the upgraded features and audio of the second generation speaker. But how does the SoundLink Mini II fare against more modern competition? 

From the spec sheet, you may be disappointed to find all the things the Bose SoundLink Mini Ii lacks. There’s no NFC for easy pairing, no multipoint Bluetooth for pairing to multiple devices simultaneously and it's not water resistant. Its battery life is also rated for an average 10 hours where speakers like the JBL Charge 3 can last up to 20 hours and charges your phone in a pinch. 

While the lack of features may turn off some buyers, it would be a mistake to write off the SoundLink Mini II entirely because it remains one of the best sounding wireless speakers on the market.

Design

The Bose SoundLink Mini II is built like a tank. The speaker exudes quality the moment you pick it up with its hefty 1.5 lb ( 0.7 kg) weight and aluminum casing. That’s quite heavy considering the speaker’s small 2 x 7.1 x 2.3 inch (51 x 180 x 58 mm; H x W x D) dimensions. 

On top of the speaker you’ll find all of the speakers controls including power, volume pairing and multi-function button. The multi-function can be used to change tracks or for activating voice assistants like Siri. The speaker also contains a mic so you can take calls. 

On the left side of the speaker you’ll find the microUSB charging port and a 3.5mm headphone jack for using legacy devices. Last but not least, there are pins at the bottom of the speaker for using the included dock. The dock isn’t necessary as you can simply plug in a microUSB cable to charge, but it’s nice to be able to set the speaker down to charge in one motion. 

Overall, the Bose SoundLink Mini II is a handsome looking speaker that exudes quality thanks to its aluminum case and weight. It’s small enough to easily place in a bag but think twice before taking the SoundLink Mini II to the beach as it’s not water resistant. 

Performance

Although light on features, the Bose SoundLink MIni II remains one of the best-sounding wireless speakers we’ve ever heard. The speaker wowed us by punching way above what its diminutive size would suggest. 

While most compact wireless speakers struggle to output bass, the SoundLink Mini II has it in spades while still maintaining a lovely balanced sound. We were impressed by the quality and impact of the bass as the speaker played bass heavy songs with authority and without distortion, even at high volume. 

Compared to the competition, the Bose SoundLink Mini II just sounds better. The JBL Charge 3 may produce more bass, but it is less controlled and overwhelms the high frequency at times. The similarly sized Razer Leviathan Mini sounded wooden compared to the Bose and failed to retrieve as many micro details.

Bose didn’t neglect other parts of the audio spectrum either. Highs were energetic and helped made violins and cymbals sound spacious. The SoundLink Mini II is one of the few speakers that has the ability to produce a sense of space around instruments where most other wireless speakers of this size sound dull. 

Likewise, mids are lush and warm, helping make vocal heavy tracks shine. Norah Jones sounded particularly good with tons of detail and texture around her voice. We're also impressed by the speaker’s ability to retrieve details like a musician’s breath and the clinking of glasses from the audience in live jazz tracks. 

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the SoundLink Mini II’s performance is its ability to sound great at any volume. The speaker manages to produce the same bass impact and depth at low listening volume, which we can’t say for most wireless speakers of its size. 

Speaking of volume, the SoundLink Mini II has seemingly unlimited levels of volume adjustment so you can dial in exactly how loud you want your music. There’s also no speaker hiss at low listening volumes either, which is great new for classical music lovers. 

Final verdict

Wireless speakers have changed rapidly since the Bose SoundLink Mini II was introduced in 2015. Consumers expecting NFC pairing, multi speaker pairing, multipoint Bluetooth, waterproofing and multi-day battery life will be disappointed by the SoundLink Mini II. 

However, writing off the SoundLink Mini II would be a mistake, as it remains one of the best sounding wireless speakers. This diminutive speaker punches way above what its size would suggest, producing deep bass, sparkling highs and a lush midrange. While most wireless speakers sound OK, the Bose SoundLink Mini II proves that small speakers don’t need to compromise on sound.

At $199 (£170, AU$300), the SoundLink Mini II is expensive for what you get. But if you want one of the best sounding wireless speakers for under $200, it’s hard to do better than the Bose SoundLink Mini II. If you want more features and are willing to trade off some sound quality, the water resistant Bose SoundLink Color II is a great choice.