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Bose SoundLink Revolve+ review: This pricey Bluetooth speaker sounds great in every direction

The Revolve Plus sounded the same whether plugged in or running via battery, although Bose says output is limited slightly to conserve power when the battery dips below 30 percent. It was hard for me to tell the difference, but some people might.

The smaller Revolve next to the Revolve Plus.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Revolve Plus has an integrated microphone so it can be used as speakerphone, a feature that worked well in my tests. There's NFC tap-to-pair technology for devices that support it, and more importantly you can wirelessly pair two of these speakers (or other recent Bose Bluetooth speakers starting with the SoundLink Color II) using the Bose Connect app, configuring them as a set of stereo speakers or doubling them up to augment the sound.

To test stereo pairing I threw on some tracks from the '60s and '70s (The Rolling Stones, The Doors and The Beatles) that feature a lot of stereo separation. They sounded good for compact, battery-powered wireless speakers, but don't expect a pair of Revolve Plus to beat a decent set of wireless powered speakers such as Bose's own SoundTouch 10 or Sonos Play:1 speakers, both of which can be set up as a stereo pair.

Yes, it's easy to carry.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Louder, meet smaller

When I say this Bose sounds excellent, what I really means is that it sounds excellent compared to other small Bluetooth speakers. The fact is you could hit a patch where you say to yourself that sounds a little rough -- or a little weird. The Revolve Plus is only capable of so much, and can't quite escape the boundaries inherent in streaming audio over Bluetooth to a small speaker.

What separates the Bose from its competitors is the ability play a little louder, put out more bass without distorting and sound a little more natural with decent detail. For example, UE's Wonderboom, which retails for a third of the price and is an excellent mini Bluetooth speaker, stumbled over parts of the bass line in the Shaun Frank remix of The Chainsmokers' "Closer." The Revolve Plus handled those sections without a problem and put out significantly more sound overall.

Is it worth three times more? Maybe not, but it's clearly a better-sounding speaker.

Audiophiles could well find fault with the Revolve Plus' sound, particularly compared to wired $300 speakers. But the vast majority of people will think it's a great sounding little speaker that can be easily moved from room to room or carried outside, where it can fill a patio area with sound -- maybe not quite at dance party-level, but certainly at background music volumes.

I also like the smaller SoundLink Revolve -- it, too, is an excellent speaker for its size -- but if I personally was deciding between the two, there is enough of difference in sound quality (and that integrated handle is nice) that I'd spend the extra dough on the Revolve Plus. That said, it's a shame that neither speaker includes the optional charging cradle.

Key specs:

  • Dimensions: 7.25 inches high, 4 inches deep, 2 pounds
  • IPX4 water-resistant
  • Shock resistant
  • Threaded tripod mount on bottom of speaker
  • Battery life: 16 hours
  • NFC tap-to-pair technology (with devices that support NFC)
  • Bose Connect app connects two SoundLink speakers starting with Bose SoundLink Color II ( $129 at Amazon) (stereo pairing or double-up party mode).
  • Integrated microphone to use as speakerphone or with Siri and Google Assistant
  • Colors: triple black, gray lux
  • $299, £280, AU$439

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