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Bose SoundTouch 10 review: This compact wireless speaker works with everything and packs some surprising punch

The SoundTouch 10 is Bose's most affordable wireless multi-room audio speaker -- and it sounds excellent for its size.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy

Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

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Bose's SoundTouch 10 is the smallest and least expensive Wi-Fi speaker in the company's line of DIY wireless multiroom audio systems, all of which added Bluetooth to their features list in late 2015.

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Bose SoundTouch 10

The Good

The Bose SoundTouch 10 is a very compact Wi-Fi speaker that plays much bigger than its size would indicate, and it offers convenience features like Bluetooth and shortcut buttons. The app is pleasant to use and most functions are straightforward. The sound is impressive with surprisingly punchy bass (for a small speaker) and an articulate, exciting midrange.

The Bad

The revealing nature of the speaker means some genres of music can sound a little harsh at higher volumes. There's no mute button and no integrated battery for on-the-go use. The competing Sonos offers more services over Wi-Fi, more sound-tailoring features and a superior app.

The Bottom Line

The affordable Bose SoundTouch 10 is an impressive sounding compact Wi-Fi wireless speaker that also offers Bluetooth connectivity.

At $200, £160 or AU$299, the SoundTouch 10 competes with Sonos' Play:1 speaker. It's similar in size, though the Bose is taller and thinner, measuring 8.34 by 5.56 by 3.43 inches (21.2 cm by 14.1 by 8.7 cm). It's lighter, too, weighing 2.9 pounds (1.3 kg) compared to the Play:1's 4.3 pounds (2 kg). Despite being compact, however, neither speaker has an integrated battery for on-the-go use; they must be plugged into an outlet. (Note that you can step up to SoundTouch 20 and SoundTouch 30 models -- they're bigger and pricier, but with identical features.)

Like Sonos, you connect SoundTouch speakers to your Wi-Fi network and control operation via a free app that's available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android devices. While your phone or tablet acts as remote Bose also includes a small remote control that mimics the six preset buttons on top of the speaker. Those presets can be mapped to playlists from various music sources, including Spotify, Pandora and Deezer, as well as Internet radio stations, though currently not the Apple Music service.

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The Bose SoundTouch 10 has six 'shortcut' preset buttons on top of the speaker.

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Early in 2016, Bose integrated the Spotify music streaming service into its SoundTouch app (you can also use Spotify Connect to stream music to a SoundTouch system directly from the Spotify app). Like Sonos, Bose keeps updating its app, adding new features, and improving the interface. It's come a long way since its launch a few years ago and setting up the system is now significantly easier than it once was.

While Sonos remains a step ahead -- we still prefer its app, and it has a wider selection of integrated streaming services -- Bose has closed the gap and is now Sonos' most serious competitor, with a wide range of speakers and home-theater systems that bear the SoundTouch name, all of which are able to interconnect as part of a whole-home multiroom audio system.

You can wirelessly link speakers to play the same music in separate rooms or have different music playing in different rooms. However, unlike Sonos, you currently can't link two speakers and turn them into a true stereo pair, designating one speaker as left, the other as right. That may change in the future.

In terms of file compatibility, the speaker will stream music from your network and supports playback of MP3, WMA, AAC, Apple Lossless and FLAC. Audiophiles should be aware that like Sonos and Denon's HEOS system it will only support CD-quality files and not 24-bit high-res files.

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The Bose SoundTouch app works with several streaming music services, though not as many as Sonos.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Sound comparisons

Bose says its new Unidome transducer is a 2.5-inch "powerhouse" that produces the "highest excursion for any transducer of its size in Bose history." In plain English, that means it moves the most air for its size. That's a good thing when it comes to speakers.

So how does this compare to the Sonos Play:1? Well, like that speaker, it plays very big for its size -- it can fill a small room with sound -- and sounds quite impressive, relatively speaking anyway.

The Bose is very strong in the midrange -- it's great with vocals and acoustical material -- and its bass sounds surprisingly punchy. The SoundTouch 10 is a little more forward sounding than the Sonos, with a little treble push that adds some clarity but sometimes leads to a touch of harshness when playing certain tracks at higher volumes.

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The SoundTouch 10 comes in white or black and includes a remote that mirrors the preset buttons on the top of the speaker.

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Fortunately, it doesn't have the SoundTouch 30's small issue with bass performance. That larger, more expensive speaker gets a little boomy and distorted when playing bass-heavy music at higher volumes. True, the SoundTouch 10 can't produce as much bass as the SoundTouch 30, but the bass held together better at higher volumes.

Overall, the Sonos Play:1 is a little more forgiving and slightly warmer speaker, and is arguably the more pleasant to listen to over longer listening sessions. But both are excellent Wi-Fi speakers for their size, as is the Raumfeld One S ($250). CNET Editor Ty Pendlebury liked the Raumfeld, but we both agreed that the SoundTouch sounded a little more open (the Bose has a wider sound stage) and offered slightly better clarity with slightly punchier bass.

In the final analysis, the Sonos Play:1 scores slightly higher in our ratings, but the SoundTouch 10 certainly gives the Sonos a run for its money and adds a separate remote and Bluetooth for those who want the convenience of a direct Bluetooth connection. It isn't a portable speaker like the SoundLink Mini II, but it's relatively modestly priced for a Wi-Fi speaker and sounds better than the Mini II for the same amount of money. It's currently one of the best sounding compact Wi-Fi speakers we've tested.

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