Bose Sound Touch: Easy, Wireless Audio for Your Whole House
Bose SoundTouch: Easy, Wireless Audio for Your Whole House
Bose Sound Touch: Easy, Wireless Audio for Your Whole House. If you’ve always wanted one of those whole-house audio systems, where you have speakers in multiple rooms playing the same song, it’s a good time to be alive. Previously the domain of people who could afford extensive installations and the custom installers that go with them, whole-house audio systems have become simple, relatively cheap and wireless.
Companies like Sonos pioneered the field of distributing digital audio throughout a house, and advancing wireless technologies — coupled with ever-more-powerful smartphones — have led to the likes of Samsung entering the category. Now Bose is getting in on the action with its SoundTouch system, which can stream music to multiple speakers in different rooms, all controlled from a smartphone or tablet.
Bose, however, isn’t just getting its feet wet with whole-house wireless audio — it’s jumping in completely. In addition to introducing three new different-size SoundTouch speakers, the company is promising to upgrade all of its home audio gear with SoundTouch compatibility in the next six months.
That means everything from the company’s soundbar to the tried-and-true Wave desktop radio will soon upgrade to SoundTouch, letting customers integrate their gear into a whole-house system. But if you want to try the system now, you’ll need to get one of the new speakers, including the large-size SoundTouch 30 ($699), the “normal” size SoundTouch 20 ($399), and the roving SoundTouch Portable (also $399).
While SoundTouch does what you expect from such a system — send streams of music (either different or the same) to speakers in multiple rooms, all controlled from an app — Bose has added what it sees as an essential element: making the experience “effortless.” Bose has added what it sees as an essential element: making the experience “effortless.” It achieves this via presets: Every speaker has six buttons that remember six different music sources. The idea is you get home, press one of those buttons, and music just starts playing.
Those presets can be assigned (via the app) from three different kinds of sources: music stored locally on a computer, one of many Internet radio stations (from a list Bose curates) or Pandora (Bose plans to add more services soon). Once you start the music playing, it’s easy to assign the preset, either through the app or on the device itself. Presets are assigned to a person’s SoundTouch account, so all speakers in your home will share the same ones.
Setup is relatively painless: Plug in the speaker(s), download the app and get them connected to your Wi-Fi. Once they’re on the network, they’ll automatically show up in the app, and you can rename them with a few taps. The SoundTouch app is available for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows. The speakers also support AirPlay, although that will be a direct stream — when using one of the supported sources, content is pulled from the Internet.
I attended a demo of SoundTouch, and the speakers themselves sound good, even if the design is uninspiring (I much prefer Samsung’s wedge-shaped M7). Playing the big SoundTouch 30 speaker at 75% volume filled an entire floor of a townhouse in New York City’s Greenwich Village with big sound, with crisp highs and rumbling lows and no distortion I could detect. To preserve my eardrums, I didn’t dare go to 100%.
The SoundTouch 20 is a good size, and the vertical design ensures it takes up as little space as possible; it’s right at home on an end table or nightstand. The portable model is even better, although it’s clearly designed to be taken room to room, but not outside the house (try the SoundLink for that).
As mentioned, Bose has big plans for the SoundTouch concept. In addition to upgrading its entire line, it’ll introduce a SoundTouch 2.1 system with a pair of small “jewel” box speakers and a subwoofer (the sub lets the system play nice and loud, while the speakers take up very little room). There’ll also be a SoundTouch controller, a disc-like remote control about the size of a really thick coaster.