Bose SoundLink Color II Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Mar 02, 2021 at 08:58 am
Bose SoundLink Color II Picture
6.0
Music
5.6
Videos/Movies
7.1
Podcasts
5.6
Voice Assistant
6.8
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Speakerphone
Yes
Voice Assistant
Yes
Battery Powered
Yes

The Bose SoundLink Color II is a portable Bluetooth speaker with a square-shaped design. It can reproduce vocals and lead instruments clearly thanks to its well-balanced mid-range. However, its treble range is underemphasized, so the higher frequencies of these instruments may sound dull or veiled. It has an IPX4 rating for water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. Although it doesn't have any voice assistants built-in, it can understand you easily when using the voice assistant from your paired smartphone.

Our Verdict

6.0 Music

The Bose SoundLink Color II is passable for music. Its mid-range is well-balanced, so vocals and lead instruments sound clear. However, it really struggles to produce low-bass, and higher frequencies like cymbals might sound veiled due to its underemphasized treble. It also doesn't have an EQ to let you tweak its sound. Thankfully, it can play stereo content without downmixing it into mono.

Pros
  • Can play stereo content without downmixing it into mono.
  • Well-balanced mid-range.
  • Small and portable.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • No EQ.
  • Veiled treble range.
5.6 Videos/Movies

The Bose SoundLink Color II is middling for videos and movies. It really struggles to produce low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump and rumble in action-packed movie scenes. It also can't get very loud. Fortunately, its Bluetooth latency with iOS and Android devices is low, so it's suitable for watching videos. That said, some apps compensate differently for latency, so your experience may differ.

Pros
  • Can play stereo content without downmixing it into mono.
  • Low Bluetooth latency with iOS and Android devices.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Veiled treble range.
7.1 Podcasts

The Bose SoundLink Color II is decent for podcasts. It has a well-balanced mid-range, so dialogue is reproduced clearly and accurately. It's also very portable and lasts for almost ten hours on a single charge, so you can listen to podcasts on-the-go. That said, sibilants like S and T sounds may be perceived as dull or veiled due to the speaker's underemphasized treble range.

Pros
  • Well-balanced mid-range.
  • Small and portable.
Cons
  • No EQ.
  • Veiled treble range.
5.6 Voice Assistant

The Bose SoundLink Color II is sub-par for voice assistants. It doesn't have any voice assistants built-in, so it relies on the voice assistant from your paired smartphone. It's compatible with Siri and Google Assistant, but not Alexa. Fortunately, it can understand you even if you're far away or in a noisy environment.

Pros
  • Can understand you from a distance or in a noisy room.
Cons
  • No built-in voice assistants.
6.8 Outdoors

The Bose SoundLink Color II is adequate for outdoor use. It's lightweight and portable, and its battery lasts for just under ten hours, which should be enough for most listening sessions. It's also rated IPX4 for water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. Unfortunately, it doesn't get very loud, and it really struggles to produce low-bass.

Pros
  • Small and portable.
  • Good battery performance.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • No EQ.
  • 6.0 Music
  • 5.6 Videos/Movies
  • 7.1 Podcasts
  • 5.6 Voice Assistant
  • 6.8 Outdoors

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Bose SoundLink Color II is a small, square-shaped speaker that's meant to sit vertically. It's fairly flat and has a silicone design. It comes in five colors: 'Soft Black', 'Aqua Blue', 'Citron', 'Polar White', and 'Coral Red', so you can find a look that fits your style.

9.3
Design
Portability
Volume
56 in³ (917 cm³)
Weight
1.1 lbs (0.5 kg)
Power Source
Battery & USB
One-Hand Carry
Yes

The Bose SoundLink Color II Bluetooth speaker is incredibly portable. It's small and lightweight, and you can carry it with one hand. Since it has a battery, you can use it outside without having to plug it into an outlet.

7.0
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
Water-resistant (IPx4)
Dust Resistance
Unspecified
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The Bose SoundLink Color II is decently built. The speaker is covered in a thick layer of silicone, but there's no covering for the AUX and micro-USB ports. It has an IPX4 rating for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this. It doesn't have an advertised rating for dust or impact resistance. There are three lights on top that indicate when it's on, connected to Bluetooth, and receiving audio input.

8.0
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Great
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
Yes (Physical)
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
Yes (Physical)
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

The Bose SoundLink Color II Bluetooth speaker has very good controls. It has six buttons located on the top. There's a power button, buttons for adjusting the volume, and a Bluetooth button, which lights up once a device is connected. The play/pause button can be pressed twice to skip a track or three times to go to the previous track. The input button lets you connect a device through the AUX port to play audio, and lights up when in use. If you press the power button, it'fll give you an audio indicator for the battery level. If you press the Bluetooth button, it will audibly indicate its connection status. There's also a light that indicates the battery level, as well as a light that flashes twice when it reaches min/max volume.

Design
In The Box

  • Bose SoundLink Color speaker
  • Micro-USB charge cable
  • User Manual

Sound
5.9
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
0.15
Std. Err.
3.11 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
88.5 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
7.1 kHz

The Bose SoundLink Color II has sub-par frequency response accuracy. It really struggles to produce low-bass, which may disappoint fans of bass-heavy music genres like EDM. The mid-range is well-balanced, so vocals and lead instruments are reproduced clearly. However, the higher frequencies of those same instruments may be a bit dark or dull due to the underemphasized treble range. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any sound customization features for tweaking its sound profile.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
6.8
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
5.94 dB
Stereo
Yes

The Bose SoundLink Color has a fair soundstage. It can play stereo content without downmixing it into mono, but its directivity is poor, resulting in a narrow soundstage. There's also an overemphasis in the treble range, so the soundstage may seem uneven from certain angles.

6.3
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
84.4 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
2.41 dB

The Bose SoundLink Color has passable dynamics. It doesn't get especially loud, and there are some compression artifacts present at max volume. Because of this, it's not well-suited for use at parties or in large rooms.

Active Features
7.5
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
9.7 hrs
Charge Time
4.2 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
Micro-USB

This speaker has a good battery performance. Though its battery is advertised to last for eight hours, in our tests it lasted for close to ten hours. That said, battery life can vary according to usage, so user experience may differ. It takes around four hours to charge, and it saves power by shutting off automatically after eighteen minutes without audio input. Using its companion app, you can also set it to shut off after five minutes, 20 minutes, 40 minutes, or one or three hours. You can also turn on/off this power-saving feature by pressing the volume-up and input buttons together.

5.1
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
Yes (Requires Smartphone)
Siri
Yes (Requires Smartphone)
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No
Far-Field Performance
Excellent
Ambient Noise Performance
Great

The Bose SoundLink Color has poor voice assistant performance. It doesn't have any voice assistants built-in, so it uses the voice assistant of the device it's connected to. It's compatible with Google Assistant and Siri, but not with Alexa. Fortunately, it can understand you well even if you're far away or in a noisy room. However, you can't activate it with your voice, and there's no mic mute button to stop the speaker from listening to you.

6.6
Active Features
App
App Name
Bose Connect
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
No
Stereo Pair Mode
Yes
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
No

The Bose Connect app is okay. It's compatible with iOS and Android devices, and you can pair two speakers together to create a stereo pair or amplify your audio content in a large room. However, there's no EQ, so you can't adjust its sound profile.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
Yes
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
No

The Bose SoundLink Color has a 3.5mm AUX port that you can use to connect a device to play audio.

8.8
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
Unspecified
Bluetooth iOS Latency
43 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
118 ms
Bluetooth Range
334.6 ft (102.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices

The Bose SoundLink Color II has an excellent Bluetooth performance. You can connect up to two devices at a time, and it has an outstanding range, so it will still receive audio input if you're far away. It has low Bluetooth latency with iOS and Android devices, making it suitable for watching videos. That said, some apps compensate for latency differently, so your experience may differ.

0
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
No Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
No Wi-Fi
Apple AirPlay
No
AirPlay Latency
N/A
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

This speaker isn't Wi-Fi compatible.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Bose SoundLink Color II comes in five color variants: 'Soft Black', 'Aqua Blue', 'Citron', 'Polar White', and 'Coral Red'. We tested the 'Soft Black' variant, and you can see the label for the model we tested here. We expect all variants to perform similarly in tests.

If you come across a variant not listed here, let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Bose SoundLink Color II is a small, portable Bluetooth speaker that comes in many color variants. Like many Bose speakers we've tested, it doesn't get very loud, and it struggles to produce low-bass. However, unlike many others we've tested, it can play stereo content without downmixing it into mono, which is nice. This speaker doesn't come with any voice assistants built-in, although it's compatible with Google Assistant and Siri through your paired smartphone.

See also our recommendations for the best Bluetooth speakers, the best Bluetooth speakers under $100, and the best waterproof Bluetooth speakers.

JBL FLIP 5

The JBL FLIP 5 is a better speaker than the Bose SoundLink Color II for most uses. The JBL has a more balanced sound profile and its soundstage has better directivity. It also has an IPX7 rating for water resistance, while the Bose has an IPX4 rating, though we don't currently test for this. That said, only the Bose has voice assistant support, and it can play stereo content without downmixing it into mono.

Ultimate Ears BOOM 3

The Ultimate Ears BOOM 3 is a better speaker than the Bose SoundLink Color II. The Ultimate Ears has a more spacious soundstage, and it can get slightly louder with less compression present at max volume. You can also customize its sound profile using the graphic EQ and presets in its companion app. However, only the Bose has voice assistant capabilities.

JBL Charge 4

The Bose SoundLink Color II is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4. Only the Bose has voice assistant capabilities, and it can play stereo content without downmixing it into mono. That said, the JBL has a longer battery life, and it's rated IPX7 for water resistance, while the Bose is rated IPX4, though we don't currently test for this.

Bose SoundLink Micro

The Bose SoundLink Micro and the Bose SoundLink Color II are similarly performing speakers with a few different features. Although both are incredibly portable, the SoundLink Micro is even smaller, and it comes with a strap that lets you attach it to your bag or backpack. Its soundstage also has better directivity. However, only the SoundLink Color II can play stereo content without downmixing it into mono, and it can get quite a bit louder.

Sony SRS-XB23

The Sony SRS-XB23 is a better speaker than the Bose SoundLink Color II. The Sony has a somewhat more balanced sound profile, and its companion app has a full graphic EQ that lets you customize its sound to your liking. Although we don't test for this, it also has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, while the Bose is rated IPX4. That said, the Bose has less compression at max volume, and it understands you more easily when using the voice assistant from your paired smartphone.

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