Bose’s rather costly but very stylish and sweet-sounding Soundlink Revolve portable speaker line has been updated:
- The Bose Soundlink Revolve has been replaced by the Bose Soundlink Revolve II.
- The somewhat larger and louder version with a carry handle, the Bose Soundlink Revolve+, has been replaced by the Bose Soundlink Revolve+ II.
You’ll also see these new versions sold with the labels “2” or “Series II”. The “+” sign for the larger speaker is also sometimes written out as “Plus”. Frankly, yes, the naming is all a bit annoying, especially for speakers that themselves excel in dead-simple ease-of-use.
We reviewed the first release and compared the original Bose Soundlink Revolve and Revolve+ quite a while back—their detailed, expansive, smoothly 360-degree sound was impressive for such a small package. Bose went for a relatively long time without updating them—and they were, after all, pretty close to perfection. That might explain why the Series II versions look haven’t changed much. We’ll give a side-by-side look at the old and new speakers and then our full meta-review combining our thoughts and the select wisdom of reviewers, testers, and consumer organizations.
You’ll see that we definitely don’t recommend upgrading if you already have the original Bose Soundlink Revolve or Revolve+, but if you’re deciding between the new and the old series there are minor differences to be aware of in terms of features—and we’ll offer our tips on where to get the best prices in the links below.
- Side-by-Side Quick Comparison: The Bose Soundlink Revolve and Revolve+ vs the Bose Soundlink Revolve II and Revolve+ II
- Important Differences Between the Original Soundlink Revolves and the New Series II Revolves
- Common Features in all Bose Soundlink Revolve and Revolve + (Original and Series II) Speakers
- Meta-Review of How They Sound: The Bose Soundlink Revolve, Revolve+, Revolve II, and Revolve+ II
- Alternatives to the Bose Soundlink Revolve II and Revolve+ II
- Wrap-up: So Which Is Right for You?
Update History of This Article
Side-by-Side Quick Comparison: The Bose Soundlink Revolve and Revolve+ vs the Bose Soundlink Revolve II and Revolve+ II
Important Differences Between the Original Soundlink Revolves and the New Series II Revolves
Most features are quite similar between the original Revolve and Revolve+ and the 2021-released Revolve II and Revolve+ II. Bose appears to not have wanted to mess much with what was working.
Here are the minor changes.
- Battery life: Bose’s advertising states that the original Revolve plays for 12 hours, the original Revolve+ for 16 hours, the Revolve II plays for 13 hours, and the Revolve+ II plays for 17 hours. Reviewers and users have reported that this is fairly accurate and they get a bit more or less depending on playback volume. If you need more time than that away from the power grid (e.g., you’re camping) we suggest a portable battery with both USB-C and regular USB-A out ports (after all, you’ll need to charge your phone too—the battery we recommend there can take care of both several times over).
- Water-resistant: The IPX4 label on the original Bose Soundlink Revolves means that they can survive splashes but are not rated for dust. The newer Bose Soundlink Revolve II and Revolve+ II are rated IP55, which is an improvement meaning that they can survive splashes, jets of water, and dust and particles that could otherwise get inside the units and affect their functioning. None of the Bose Revolve speakers are fully waterproof (IPX7) and should not be dunked underwater (for speakers that are fully waterproof see non-Bose alternatives below).
- The layout of the buttons on the top of the speaker is slightly different (though you’ll find the same buttons performing the same functions).
Common Features in all Bose Soundlink Revolve and Revolve + (Original and Series II) Speakers
The Bose Soundlink Revolves have stood out from other Bluetooth speakers since the begining for their sleek, Apple-ish design flair and ease of use. We particularly like the small details below like voice prompts and easy pairing that make the Bose Revolve lines great choices for the tech-wary.
- Connect two speakers for stereo: If you buy two Revolves, Revolve+s, Revolve IIs, or Revolve+ IIs, you can pair the two speakers together for stereo sound. This is best done via the app. Some users have reported that the experience can be a bit finicky to set up with the older series speakers. Should you have one of each (not recommended), we’ve also gotten reports that the older Revolve and Revolve+ do not pair together whereas the newer Revolve II and Revolve+ II can pair together. Finally, if you don’t want stereo but just want to pump out more sound, you can use “party mode” with two speakers rather than stereo. But honestly, for bigger sound we’d recommend instead that you just get one single bigger unit, such as the JBL alternatives below.
- Voice prompts: These speakers’ voice prompts can tell you useful things like battery levels or which devices are currently connected. The prompts come in English, Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Italian, Portuguese, Swedish, Dutch, Russian, and Polish. For some this is helpful, but for most users we suspect this is more information than needed and can get a bit annoying; thankfully the voice prompts can also be turned off (or back on again) by pressing and holding the volume up and down buttons simultaneously.
- Easy Bluetooth pairing: One of the more frustrating aspects of Bluetooth speakers can sometimes be getting them to connect. Bose makes this easy with all of these Revolve speakers; if they are on and they are not connected to something, they are in pairing mode and ready to connect. Simply select them from your device’s Bluetooth menu. You can also tap an NFC-capable device (most phones) against the Bose label on a Revolve series speaker to pair it.
- Multiple-device Bluetooth pairing: The Soundlink Revolve speakers can be paired to up to eight devices and can be actively connected to two devices at once. Pause the audio on one connected phone and you can then play audio from a tablet, computer, or other phone without having to go through a pairing process.
- Aux cable connection: This doesn’t particularly improve the sound quality but it’s nice to be able to connect an older (non-Bluetooth) device like an iPod or other MP3 player to these speakers via the auxiliary in port, located just below the power port on the Revolve original and Series II and just to the right of the power port on the Revolve+ original and Series II. You will need a 3.5mm cable.
- USB cable connection for charging and audio playback: The charging cable is your very standard USB A to USB micro-B, used in most non-Apple phones and other portable devices before USB-C came along. While one would expect Bose to have upgraded to USB-C by now (and many reviewers have complained about this), it really makes little difference as both standards are still quite common. You almost certainly have and still use other USB micro-B devices. If you connect the provided cable to a computer’s USB A port you can also play back music via any of the Revolve and Revolve II series speakers.
- Charging cradle: All original and new series II Revolves are compatible with the optional, overpriced-but-convenient Soundlink Revolve Charging Cradle. You’ll be much more likely to keep your speaker charged up and ready for travel if you just need to set it in its cradle at home rather than fumbling around for cables.
- Bose Connect app: This helps you set up the Bluetooth connections so that multiple people can take turns DJ-ing and is useful for connecting two speakers simultaneously. It is not useful for much else—particularly lacking is an equalizer feature like you can find on many competitors’ apps as with the Ultimate Ears Boom speakers discussed below. I admit that I rarely use the equalizer with those speakers’ apps but do like having that power.
- Rubberized top and bottom bumpers: These protect the original and new Revolve speakers from drops—somewhat.
- Portability: The smaller Bose Soundlink Revolve and Revolve II are exactly the same size and weight as in the table above; they’re just slightly wider and taller than a soda can and feel solid in the hand but certainly not heavy (at .68 kg / 1.5 lbs.). The Bose Soundlink Revolve+ and Revolve+ II are a tad bit larger in all dimensions and have carrying handles which are not strictly necessary for portability, as they still fit easily in one hand, but nice, especially for hanging if you hit the road with a (highly recommended) travel hook.
- Sound: The sonic guts are the same between the old Bose Soundlink Revolve and the new Revolve II as well as between the old Bose Soundlink Revolve+ and new Revolve+ II; there are a downward-facing driver and two passive radiators. See the next section for more.
Meta-Review of How They Sound: The Bose Soundlink Revolve, Revolve+, Revolve II, and Revolve+ II
Since the sonic design from the two original to the two Series II speakers remained the same, our comparison of the reviews then and now from consumer organizations, tech websites, and audio geeks shows more about how Bluetooth speaker expectations have changed over the last four years.
The original Bose Soundlink Revolve speaker is generally lauded as one of the best options at its quite-portable size for clean, detailed sound at middle volumes (for comfortable listening in indoor spaces). Vocals are crisp and the low end is present and comfortable. It goes surprisingly loud for its small size, and you’d rarely want to crank it to top volumes. If you do, however, you notice some of that smoothness dropping off and the top-volume sound gets variously described as a bit distorted, shrill at the higher end, or strained in the lower end. Also that bass end is certainly smooth and impressive for the size, but not as powerful and thumping as larger portable speakers. Most impressive is the 360-degree performance; it truly doesn’t matter which way the Revolve is facing for it to sound great. A nice wooden coffee table can provide some pleasing extra resonance and oomph for the lower end.
The original Bose Soundlink Revolve+ has a very similar sonic profile to the Revolve, once again delivering a lot of detail and surprising volume for such a small package. There’s an aural aesthetic continuity at Bose, for sure (and it continues on up the line as we compared the Revolve+ to the much larger Bose Portable Home Speaker). Critics of this larger portable option also gave the original Revolve+ generally high marks for deeper and more convincing bass than the Revolve and thrilling, immersive detail in the mids. The Revolve+ goes even louder than the Revolve but similarly has problems at the very top; there are complaints of the digital processing kicking in to limit the volume in ways that sound unnatural. Overall though for most uses (normal to loud volumes in indoor home spaces) it sounds lovely and starts to rival less-portable bookshelf speaker options.
The updated Bose Soundlink Revolve II and updated Bose Soundlink Revolve+ II sound the same as their older siblings, but consumer organizations and reviewers of these 2021-edition speakers are slightly more critical, most likely because expectations in sound quality have gone up in highly portable Bluetooth speakers over the past four years. Both speakers still get top marks for careful delivery of detail and present, pleasing bass, but their pricing can seem a bit high compared to the many other excellent-sounding options now on the market.
Alternatives to the Bose Soundlink Revolve II and Revolve+ II
If you’re a fan of other Bose speakers the Revolve II and Revolve+ II will likely suit you as well; they have the same simple use and excellent, even sound profile you’re likely used to.
But there are excellent alternatives are interested in spending a bit less, needing more powerful bass, or expecting to drop your speaker in mud puddles or take it to the pool or beach.
- My favorite small travel speaker of all that I’ve reviewed over the years is the Ultimate Ears Boom 3. It boasts a higher dust- and waterproof rating (IP67) than the comparably sized Bose Soundlink Revolve II, has better battery life, and has an excellent, punchy, dynamic, powerful sonic profile that kicks out tons of volume for its small size. It does not have a speakerphone but I tend to think that feature is overrated—I’d prefer to use my phone for calling, not a speaker.
- The next step up in size, price, and performance from the same company is the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3, which would be a similar alternative to the Bose Soundlink Revolve+ II, with the same feature differences as we just saw between the Boom 3 and Revolve II. Check this comparison of the Boom 3 and Megaboom 3 for more on which to choose.
- If you want even bigger, much louder sound in speakers that are also a bit heftier to lug around, check out our comparison of the JBL Xtreme 3 and JBL Boombox 2. They’re much louder and more suitable for outdoor use and huge spaces.
Wrap-up: So Which Is Right for You?
Bose pricing tends to be fairly consistent but if you’re looking for a deal do check the Bose links in the boxes below, where there are sometimes refurbished deals (exclusively from Bose.com; we’d be a bit wary refurbished or used speaker offers on Amazon for instance).