Bose Soundlink Revolve vs. Mini II vs. Color II: Can the New Take Down the Classic?

The differences to be aware of in a few of our favorite ultra-portable speakers

We ran an exhaustive meta-analysis on Bose’s Bluetooth speakers, and what  major European and American consumer organizations had to say about them. We also took into account the commentary from all sorts of audiophile critics and tech bloggers.

Which is best for whom among the Bose Soundlink Revolve, the Bose Soundlink Mini II, or the Bose Soundlink Color II? To answer, we considered the reviewers’ contexts and biases, and averaged out the opinions.

We’ll start with a quick side-by-side comparison, then sum up our findings.

We’ve also run a separate comparison of the Bose Soundlink Color II with the smallest Bose speaker yet, the Bose Soundlink Micro.

Update History of This Article

This article was originally published on Aug. 16, 2017. Link to Micro article added on Nov. 3, 2017. Updated on July 6, 2018 with minor changes. Added a photo on April 14, 2019.

Biggest, excellent and detailed 360-degree output, fullest bass

• Size: 7.1 in. tall, 3.25 in. in diameter (18 cm tall, 8.3 cm in diameter)

• Weight: 1.46 lbs. (.662 kg)

Sound: Full bass (though too much for some tastes), excellent clarity and detail

360-degree output: Impressive evenness, sounds the same on any side, meant to be placed in the middle of the party

• Can pair two for stereo: Via iOS and Android apps

Splashproof: Rated IPX4

• 12-hour battery

• Charging cable and wall plug included, charging cradle sold separately

Revolve $199.00

Great clarity and soundstage

• Size: 7.1 x 2.3 x 2 in. (18 x 5.8 x 5.08 cm)

• Weight: 1.5 lbs (.68 kg)

Sound: Good clear, detailed “soundstage” for picking out all instruments in a crowded piece of music

• Directional: Sounds best when you’re right in front of the speaker

• Charging cradle included

• 10-hour battery

Mini II $139.99

Good clarity and even sound, rugged, cheaper, not as loud

• Size: 2.2 x 5 x 5.2 in. (5.6 x 12.7 x 13.2 cm)

• Weight: 1.2 lbs (.544 kg)

Sound: Clear, even delivery; above-average sound for its size and price but most critics prefer the other two

• Directional: Sounds best when you’re right in front of the speaker

Splashproof: Rated IPX4

• USB charging cable included, no wall plug

• 8-hour battery

Color II $129.00

I tested the Bose Soundlink Revolve in a large living room; it easily fills a large room with sound and is a convenient home speaker in that it can be carried to any point in the house where you might want sound. The Color II is perhaps better for travel.

Critics’ comparisons of these speakers to each other vary, even to the point of contradictory (see the popdown box below if you want your head to hurt, or skip it if you just want the conclusions).

The Expert Testing Panels and their Array of Wildly Conflicting Opinions

The German consumer testing organization has not yet tested the latest versions of these Bose speakers, the French organization loves the Soundlink Mini II but haven’t tested the other latest Bose speakers, and the Wirecutter prefers the Color II to the first Color, and prefers the Soundlink Mini II to both of them, extolling the clarity of the Mini II. The American organization confusingly gave a better score to the Color II than the Mini II, and complains more about the latter’s lack of volume and sounding “congested”, but the reviewer of the Mini II was perhaps comparing this speaker to much larger wireless speakers. The Mini II does go much louder than the Color II. Finally the testers at the British organization liked what they heard from Bose in 2015, but disliked the 2017 updates; they loved the Soundlink Mini II for its evenness and detail, hated the Color II for its “one-dimensional low note”, calling it much worse than the Color I, which they had quite enjoyed two years prior. They were also disappointed with the Revolve for having too much “boomy” bass. We suspect they may have become more stringent, or else are just in a worse aural mood, in 2017 vs. 2015.

Here are the agreed commonalities of the Bose Soundlink Revolve, Mini II, and Color II:

  • All offer excellent speakerphone functions.
  • Testing shows that the battery-life for all three is as Bose claims.
  • All offer easy Bluetooth pairing with voice prompts to guide you along.

And here’s what’s pretty safe to generalize about what various listeners hear as the speakers’ differences. The Bose Soundlink Revolve is the best-sounding of the lot in the ears of most critics; they find it “detailed”, and “expansive”, with “rich bass” (though it’s also slightly over-emphasized bass for some tastes). They are particularly impressed with how it evenly distributes sound at 360 degrees, so it sounds great no matter which side of it you’re standing on (and for the best sound, should be placed on a solid surface, which gives the bass more resonance).

The Revolve is definitely better than the other two speakers for outside use; aside from performing best when placed in the middle of the action, it’s rugged and splash resistant.

Another key point: If you buy two Revolves (now or eventually) you can link them up to create true stereo sound, or else just a bigger party, via the Bose Connect iOS or Android apps.

Most critics think that the Bose Soundlink Mini II also sounds excellent, delivering one of the most careful, detailed soundstages of any speaker its size. They point out that while the Revolve will better animate a party (sound better to a group when it’s placed in the middle), the Soundlink Mini II sounds better when you’re directly in front of it, giving a sense of “placement” to the various instruments in a complex piece of music. 1Also, some lovely YouTube geeks have made videos allowing you to “listen” to both the Revolve and the Mini II side-by-side, which makes no sense as the Bose speakers’ effect will be lost in the camera mic and in whatever speakers you hear the video over, but in any case these YouTubers observations generally concord with those of other critics. The Mini II might not be as powerful on the bass department, but it’s not skimping on bass either and delivers a powerful low end for such a small speaker.

If you’re looking for great sound that you can use in the corners of various rooms in the house, and take sometimes on trips to use in a hotel room, this is the best Bose to choose.

Reviewers generally feel that the cheaper Bose Soundlink Color II is a quality speaker that delivers reasonably good mids and highs for its size and price, though it’s generally not nearly as loved as the UE Boom 2 (see the next section), which is now nearly as cheap. The Color II offers reasonable detail, although it’s a bit harder to pick out all of the instruments in a crowded song, and it doesn’t provide as fulfilling an experience on the bass end. The Color II has a rubberized housing so it’s the most rugged of these three speakers — it’s likely to survive getting knocked off a table and keep playing. It’s also splash resistant.

The Bose Soundlink III is the much larger, “home” Bluetooth speaker, though at that larger size and price point we think you might as well just get the beloved and top-rated Sonos. That said, since Bose has been phasing out the Soundlink III in favor of its Revolve lineup, you can sometimes click through that Amazon link and find used or refurbished models of this excellent home speaker for quite cheap.

The Bose Soundlink Revolve+ is a larger, more expensive, fantastic-sounding version of the Revolve. As we mention in that review, we think it’s better in every way — but it’s also more expensive and a lot more speaker to lug around. Depending on your tastes, a better upgrade pick might be to buy two Revolves and pair them via the app for a portable stereo experience.

The JBL Charge 3 is louder and has a better battery life than these Bose speakers. It’s not really our top pick, but lots of people do love it.

The Fugoo Sport is practically indestructible and has an insane 40-hour battery, far more than most people actually need.

UE Boom 2 $89.12
All things considered, and we really nearly did consider all of them, we think that the very best portable Bluetooth speaker right now is the UE Boom 2. Read that review to find out why.


Bose Soundlink Revolve
Great bass and top-notch 360-degree sound for indoor/outdoor use
Bose Soundlink Mini II
Provides a detailed soundstage for such a small speaker, meant for purely inside use
Bose Soundlink Color II
Quality and detail of Bose sound, usually available for cheaper

Get the Best Deal on Bose Speakers by Checking These Shops

While Bose prices tend to be about the same no matter where you shop, you can check various options for the latest by clicking through here.

Also, using our links to Amazon or other vendors when you buy helps keep our little obsessive research project afloat. Thanks!

SpeakerAlso Available AtPricing
Bose SoundLink RevolveeBay
B&H Photo Video
Bose SoundLink Mini IIeBay
B&H Photo Video
Bose SoundLink Color IIeBay
B&H Photo Video
Bose SoundLink Revolve PluseBay
B&H Photo Video

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    September 1, 2017

    Excellent Review!

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