STEREO GUIDE test verdict
+ full-bodied bass, quite mature sound
+ nice in-app features
+ Sophisticated, versatile concept
+ very flat, perfect for travelers
- Treble might show a tendency towards harshness
Sound: tonal balance / transparency7.4
Sound: Bass / Dynamics6.8
Ease-of-use / Connectivity8.9
Bose´s Soundlink Flex is an alltime classic in the segment of mobile, stylish bluetooth speakers. Some might wonder what it sets apart from the Bose Soundlink Color 2, which we have already reviewed some time ago. Pricing, depth, weight, features – both seem to aim at very similar buyers. And both cut a fine figure in the living room in various colours and pleasant design. Who would reject some nice pastel shades of blue and red plus matte metallic lacquer and steel grille?
The Soundlink Flex is significantly wider than its internal rival somehow reminding us of mobile radios from the 1980s. A hard-to-beat IP67 ingress protection making it waterproof and dust-proof. Very nice idea: The Soundlink Flex is lighter than water and therefore does sway in the pool! The sturdy strap with carabiner hook might hint to campers and hikers to prefer it. But we are inclined to highlight its versatility: while competitors either need to be placed in upright position OR lie flat, the Soundlink Flex can do both as well as hanging on the strap.
A lot of tech inside
Surprisingly, we found one slim passive compound driver not only in the baffle, but also a rear one behind a grille. As some rubber feet give it a few millimetres of respectful distance to the desk, it might be placed on a table with wandering around or causing distortions. A position sensor detects how the Soundlink Flex is positioned and adjusts the bass accordingly.
The whole thing is driven by a single 1.75″ fullrange driver on the front. The Bose Soundlink Flex is thus a purely monaural speaker. A reasonable choice given the small dimensions and advantagous in terms of sound especially for outdoor use. At a width of just 20 centimetres, a true stereo sound image is only possible to a very limited extent anyway, or at the expense of other aspects of sound quality.
Minimalism plus app
The Bose Soundlink Flex is minimalistic when it comes to music playback and connectivity. Bluetooth 4.2. That’s it. Battery lasts up to 12 hours, which is practical but not record-breaking.
Main functions are controlled by touch sensitive buttons on the top, which are labeled quite inconspicuously: Besides volume control, there is on/off, Bluetooth pairing, and a multifunctional key with cryptic dots. The usual play/pause/skip functions are hidden behind this one using either single, double or triple click. Holding it longer is said to activate voice assistants (either Siri or Google Assistant). Useful little tricks like automatic standby timer can be accessed by several key combinations. But you really have to read the manual prior to trying it.
Additional features include a party (daisy-chain) mode and stereo pairing for two Soundlink Flex. However, the latter requires the compatible Bose Connect app. It is available free of charge for iOS and Android and offers the option to register via a Bose account. It can be used, for example, to set the time span for automatic standby, the language of announcements.
Unfortunately, playback can only be controlled from the Bose Connect app if you have previously started it with another app like Spotify or the music player of the mobile device. However, Bose is not alone in this and the lack of an EQ is not really a problem.
Bose Soundlink Flex in terms of sound quality
In the listening test, a somewhat spacious ambience being well detached from the speaker, was particularly noticeable and surprising. Of course it would not offer stereo imaging for obvious reasons but he sounded a lot bigger than it actually is. The bass offered quite decent volume and punch, which also suits electronic music well. The Soundlink Flex presented mids with decent amount of clarity and differentiation. It even delivered extraordinarily lively treble given the fact it solely holds a single fullrange driver. However, from time to time we might have felt it offered a bit too much of treble. Depending on the recording, this in some cases could become a bit annoying showing even a little tendency towards hissing.
The comparably flat speaker did very well in terms of level and dynamics on the other hand.
Alternatives to the Bose Soundlink Flex
If you are in the market for maximum dynamics, bass and powerful sound per buck, the comparably cheaper JBL Flip 6 might be a better choice. It is not only offering more of full-bodied bass but more clarity and impulsiveness. But its tube-shaped enclosure and depth might make it a no-go for putting in into backpacks, suitcases and alike.
If you want a multi-purpose, flat but nevertheless mature-sounding speaker for travelling, there is simply no rival to the Bose and its full-bodied sound.
Specifications: Bose Soundlink Flex
- Retail price: 170 euros
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 9 x 20 x 5.7 cm
- Weight: 600 g
- Features: IPX7 waterproof, mic (for phone calls, Siri or Google Assistant), automatic bass compensation, stereo pairing, app control
- More at www.bose.com
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