I'm looking forward to trying out Bose's new SoundLink Flex Bluetooth speaker, which is available starting today for $149 in three color options: black, white smoke and stone blue. Not only does the Flex look slick for a supposedly ruggedized Bluetooth speaker, but Bose is making some bold claims about its sound, particularly its bass performance.
"The Flex delivers the best audio performance for a portable speaker its size," Bose said Wednesday, adding that it delivers "deep, clear sound that's powerful enough to fill your living room while entertaining, and loud enough for any outdoor adventure." It's also equipped with Bose's PositionIQ technology to automatically detect the speaker's orientation and deliver optimized sound based on whether upright, hanging or flat on its back. The speaker is IP67 dust- and waterproof, and rated for 12 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels.
I was previously impressed by the sound quality ofportable speaker, which features Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless streaming (the Flex is a Bluetooth-only speaker), and Bose is touting the Flex's audio with such superlatives as "astonishing" and "bass you can fell in your chest" and describes the speaker's custom transducer as maximizing clarity and says the proprietary digital signal processing technology dramatically minimizes distortion.
The Flex also floats and Bose says it can survive drops and bumps, with a soft silicone back and powder-coated steel grille that "won't peel or flake and is resistant to corrosion and UV light."
Bose'salso delivers impressive sound for its tiny size and this speaker is bigger, weighing just over a pound (0.45 kg) and measuring 7.9 inches wide, 2.1 inches deep and 3.6 inches high (20 by 5.3 by 9.1cm), so it should sound significantly better than the Micro.
The Flex is firmware upgradeable via the Bose Connect app for iOS and Android. You can pair two Flex speakers in Party mode or Stereo mode (left-right channels). It's also worth mentioning that the Flex has physical buttons on the speaker for controlling playback and a built-in microphone so you can use it as a speakerphone. Bose adds, "When at home, the Flex works flawlessly with one or more Bose smart speakers and soundbars to extend your listening experience using Bose SimpleSync technology. When the Flex is connected, ask your voice assistant to play music on your smart speaker, and content will play simultaneously on both."
Currently, the speaker is only available in the US and Canada, so I don't have broader international pricing yet, but $149 is about £110 or AU$200.
I'll have a full review after I get my hands on a review sample but at first glance, the SoundLink Flex looks like one of the most interesting portable Bluetooth speakers to be released in 2021.