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Customer Review

on May 25, 2012
Note: This is an adaptation of my review of the Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile Speaker - Nylon, which is also an excellent option, as noted below.

I recently purchased several bluetooth speakers to test in my bedroom and office in hopes that I would like one enough to keep. Before I get into the details, I'll cut to the chase and let you know that I decided to keep the Big Jambox over the Bose SoundLink. While the Bose puts out a truly impressive amount of sound from such a small, portable package, the sound quality is not as good as the Big Jambox at low to normal volume levels.

The products I tested were the Bose SoundLink Wireless, Jawbone Jambox, Jawbone Big Jambox, and Logitech Wireless Boombox. Without getting into too much detail about other products, I found that the two best speakers for filling a medium to large room with music were the Bose SoundLink and Big Jambox, which isn't a surprise given the that these are the two most expensive speakers of the bunch, both priced at $299. Ultimately, though, I felt that the Big Jambox sounded and looked better (for my taste), so I returned the Bose and Logitech Wireless Boombox (I also kept the little Jambox for my office, which doesn't sound nearly as good as the bigger speakers, but makes for a great ultra-portable speaker for half the price ($150)).

My biggest problem with the sound of the Bose Soundlink is that there's far too much bass at low to normal volume levels. This is a problem for me because the bass clouds the rest of the music -- vocals become difficult to hear and the treble is nearly non-existent. The Bose sounds muddy and veiled under these circumstances, especially in small rooms. And to be clear, I'm a big fan of bass. I hate speakers that have no bass because the music I listen to (jazz, pop, hip hop, electronic) really benefit from bass. In contrast, the Big Jambox has a much better balance of bass, midrange, and treble at low to normal volume levels, providing a clearer overall sound.*

However, this is only an issue when the volume on the Bose is lower. As you turn the volume up, the bass becomes less pronounced, as if the other frequencies get louder but the bass stays at the same level. It sounds much much better when the volume is cranked up. In fact, I would say the Bose sounds significantly better than the Big Jambox at high volumes -- at their loudest settings, the Bose projects a bigger, richer sound than the Big Jambox, which can sound a bit shrill and boxed in at its higher settings. The "better" speaker ultimately comes down to how loud you listen to music.

This isn't to say that the Big Jambox sounds bad at high volumes. Frankly, I don't think anyone relying on a small wireless speaker is expecting perfection. The Big Jambox can still fill a very large room with an impressive amount of sound, and I find that it tends to distort less at higher volumes than the Bose. Not to mention the Big Jambox comes in a fantastic package. The speaker in white is extremely attractive, well built, has a long battery life, syncs easily with multiple devices, and has a great speakerphone option. Ultimately, I preferred the sound of the Big Jambox for my use and decided to keep that speaker. If you're more of a party-level listener, though, you would be wise to choose differently.

*One issue I've had with the Big Jambox is that, unlike the Bose, the Big Jambox emits a static "hissing" sound that is audible in a quiet room. If you listen to music at low volume or sit near the speaker, this sound will be very obvious (and possibly quite annoying). The Bose has no hiss sound whatsoever. I'm hoping this is an issue Jawbone can fix with a firmware update, as they did with the little Jambox, but it's not much of an issue for me since I listen at normal volumes and never sit near the speaker.
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