The Full Comparison: Bose Soundlink Revolve vs. Revolve Plus

Our in-depth comparison of Bose's 360-degree portable party speakers

The Bose Soundlink Revolve+, with its handle

We’ve examined the Bose Soundlink Revolve and Bose Soundlink Revolve+ to run a full comparison looking at the reviews, audiophile blogs, and costumer reviews they’ve thus far received. This is in the same spirit as our complete meta-review of the best travel Bluetooth speakers.

Both the Revolve and the Revolve+ have so far gotten great reactions, and we’ll discuss those in more detail below. First, a quick side-by-side comparison; essentially, the Revolve+ is the bigger, louder, more expensive big sister to the Revolve.

Update History of This Article

This article was originally published on May 16, 2017. It was updated on July 6, 2018 with daily price auto-updates and other latest info. It was again updated on March 19, 2019 with new info and to reflect changed competition from other speakers. Updated on Oct 16, 2019 with new information, and revised links to the competition speakers now out.

Top-rated sound: It’s small, but still often manages to top critics’ lists as the best-sounding speaker of its size 

• Portable: 6 in. (15.2 cm.) tall, 3.25 in. (8.2 cm.) in diameter

• Weight: 1.5 lbs. (0.66 kg.)

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

Splashproof: Rated IPX4

• 12-hour battery

Connections: 3.5 mm aux input, micro-USB for charging

Recognizes Siri and Google Assistant as long as it is connected to your phone

Speakerphone

• A bit louder, with improved bass: Everyone agrees that its sounds even better than the Revolve, but it’s a bit heftier to carry around

• A bit chunkier: 7.25 in. tall, 4 in. diameter (18.4 x 10.5 cm)

• A bit heavier: 2 lbs (0.9 kg)

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

• Carrying handle

Splashproof: Rated IPX4

• 16-hour battery

Connections: 3.5 mm aux input, micro-USB for charging

Recognizes Siri and Google Assistant as long as it is connected to your phone

Speakerphone

I tested the Bose Soundlink Revolve in front of a fireplace. It easily filled a large living room with sound and animated our lovely soirée. The bass is quite present compared to other speakers of its size, particularly when the Revolve is placed on a coffee table, which helps the low end gain presence without booming or becoming overemphasized.

These two speakers are single-piece aluminum cylinders with rubberized tops and bottoms. Customers generally fawn over their classy looks. More importantly, they sound great, even to audio geeks. CNET feels that they sound “excellent”, and TechRadar lauds their “detailed and expansive sound” and rich bass.

Nobody is claiming that they sound better than a good set of bookshelf speakers or than the less-portable wireless home audio systems like Sonos, but critics generally think that the Revolve is at the top of the enormous Bluetooth speaker heap for its small hand-held size. And they agree that the Revolve+, which is bigger, sounds even better.1One notable exception is the contrarians over at Which?, who feel that both speakers overemphasize the bass end, and prefer other speakers that we discuss in the last section.

The Revolve and Revolve+ speakers have dual opposing passive radiators and a powerful transducer that faces down towards an acoustic deflector (so they don’t necessarily need to be placed on a hard surface, though that can certainly improve the bass too). The idea is that these speakers can be placed anywhere in the center of the action and sound just as good to everyone who is around them.

The Bose Soundlink Revolve: Top view. It is quite easy to switch between multiple inputs.

At 12 and 16 hours, both have more battery life than you’ll likely need for an all-day or all-night party, and they’re splashproof (with an IPX4 rating, which is a binding claim for a certain degree of water-resistance). Many other good Bluetooth speakers (like the Ultimate Ears Boom 3 mentioned later) are fully IPX7 waterproof and can be dunked underwater — but not too many listeners realistically need this level of protection. Other features to be aware of for both Soundlink Revolve speakers:

  • Threaded Tripod Mount: This, we think, is genius. You can mount the Bose Soundlink Revolve and Revolve+ anywhere that you can mount a camera, by screwing into the standard threaded mount on the bottom. This means that you could place the speakers on a tripod in the yard, or, interestingly, use a flexible clawed tripod to attach them anywhere else. Do consider, however that both units sound a just bit better when placed on a solid surface in order to leverage the downward-facing driver.
  • Google Assistant and Siri Integration: Pushing the multi-function button on the top of the speakers triggers whichever is the relevant assistant for your linked phone. This could actually be considered superior to the always-on, gimmicky home speakers (“assistants”) like the Apple HomepodGoogle Home or Amazon Alexa speakers. But if you really want to chat with your speaker, see more on other smart speaker options below.
  • Speakerphone: The Revolve and Revolve+ speakerphone function works great, but most people never use it. Your smartphone already has a speakerphone function that works fine.
  • Handles multiple inputs: The Revolve and Revolve+ can both switch flawlessly between multiple Bluetooth sources, such as phones, tablets, and laptops. You can also connect them directly to a computer via USB.
  • Apps: The Bose Connect iOS or Android apps allow you to pair any two Bose Soundlink speakers, including the Revolve and Revolve+. This allows you to create a wide stereo soundstage anywhere, on the go, or to simply double up the sound in “party mode”. These apps can also be used to update the firmware of the speakers (and it’s recommended that you do so upon purchase).
SpeakerWeight (oz.)NotesLength (in.)Width (in.)Height (in.)Waterproof?Pricing
Bose Soundlink Revolve23.4• 12-hour battery
• Generally well-liked by Amazon reviewers
3.23.26Water resistant (IPX4)
Revolve $199.00
Bose Soundlink Revolve Plus32• 16-hour battery
• Generally well-liked by Amazon reviewers
4.14.17.2Water resistant (IPX4)
Revolve+ $299.00
The Bose Soundlink Revolve is small enough to fit comfortably in one hand.

These are hardly the only Bluetooth speakers out there — there are plenty of other options even from Bose itself.

The smallest Bose portable Bluetooth speaker is the Bose Soundlink Micro. It can fit in a coat pocket and yet manages to offer something close to the Bose signature soundstage and quite a bit of loudness. We review the Micro here as our pick for best speaker for its petite size.

Next up in terms of size, the Soundlink Color II creates an excellent soundstage for such a small speaker but doesn’t go quite as loud as the Revolve speakers, nor does it kick out 360-degree sound; you’re meant to listen to it from the front. We compare the Soundlink Color II to its Bose sisters here. Note that if you already have any of these current Bose speakers, you can now pair them (via iOS or Android apps) with the Revolve or Revolve + for bigger sound, or to create a stereo pair. So it can be worthwhile to stay in the Bose universe just for that reason.

Bose also offers a personal, wearable speaker, the Bose SoundWear Companion. It’s expensive and isn’t meant to fill a room with sound like the Revolves do; it rather works more as a headphone alternative, giving you a cone of sound to carry around. We discuss it as well as some cheaper alternative wearable speakers here.

Just slightly larger than the Revolve+ is the new Bose Portable Home Speaker, which goes louder and allows you to talk to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant; we compare the Revolve+ and Portable Home Speaker here.

We think that the strongest non-Bose competition to the Revolve and Revolve+ is from Ultimate Ears. Our overall favorite small cylindrical speaker for travel is the smaller and more portable Ultimate Ears Boom 3. It also pushes out loud, even, punchy 360-degree sound, and it is much lighter, more durable, completely (IP67) waterproof and dustproof, and not at all incidentally cheaper than the Bose Soundlink Revolve. If you want to move up a notch in size and sound, check out the differences between the Boom 3 and the Megaboom 3, also from Ultimate Ears.

JBL also has some good options we review here, and B&O offers the Beoplay A1, but while these are all generally very well-liked speakers, critics overall are less uniform in their praise of how they sound. 

Finally, if you’re considering the Bose Soundlink Revolve+, know that there are also a few other speakers on the larger end that we think sound great, and have different tradeoffs.

We’ve compiled some of the questions we most get asked about these speakers in messages or comments. Feel free to drop us a line and we’ll try to answer and continue to improve this article as needed.

Are these “smart” speakers (i.e. with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa)?

No, the Bose Soundlink Revolve and Revolve+ do not have any smart speaker features, but you can push a button to talk to your phone’s smart assistant via the speakers.

We think smart speakers are a bit overrated; you can just talk to your mobile phone instead, which is also very likely to be handy. Also, your Android or Apple’s voice assistant works anywhere with your phone, whereas smart speakers only work when connected to WiFi.

But if you want a hands-free assistant on your Bose Soundlink Revolve or Revolve+, you can pair either of these speakers with an Echo Dot 3rd Generation to reach Amazon’s Alexa, but over the better-sounding Bose speakers.

You could also instead opt for the smart speakers Riva Arena or Concert, which we like a lot, or if you want to stay in the Bose universe, go for the Bose Portable Smart Home Speaker, which we compare to the Revolve+ here.

How can I charge the Revolve or Revolve+?

Both speakers charge via mini-USB, and can be charged anywhere you can plug in a USB cable (like your laptop or wall charger).

Should you lose your charging plug, you don’t need to replace it with Bose’s very overpriced wall adapter. Opt for a cheaper multiplug (that also works in any country) like the one in the question just below.

Can I use the Revolve and Revolve+ in other countries?

Both of these speakers are light and thus great for travel.

If you want to charge them in another country (or if you’re buying them while on a shopping trip in the USA but for use abroad), you might also want a plug adapter with multiple USB-outs (we love the Nierbo).

Compare Pricing (Yes, There Are Sites Other than Amazon!) and Latest Deals

Pricing for these speakers has gone down a bit over time, but overall been pretty stable (whereas other Bluetooth speaker brands vary widely from week to week and dealer to dealer). Nevertheless it’s always worth a quick peek to shop around. We’ve got links to a range of outlets below that have had these at good prices; click through for the latest for each (they open in new windows).

Latest Revolve pricing: Amazon, eBay, BestBuy, eBags, Bose, B&H Photo, Walmart

Latest Revolve+ pricing: Amazon, eBay, BestBuy, eBags, Bose, B&H Photo, Walmart

Wrap-Up

In the end, choosing between the two really comes down to price, size, and sound quality. All of these are greater with the Bose Soundlink Revolve+.

Bose Soundlink Revolve+
It's bigger, heavier, and more expensive, but definitely produces a richer experience, goes louder, and has fuller bass.
Bose Soundlink Revolve
A bit smaller, but the best sounding speaker of its size in the ears of most critics and consumer organizations. And an alternative to upgrading to the Revolve+ is to just grab two Revolves and for a travelling stereo (paired via the app).

   [ + ]

2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Russ
    October 2, 2019
    Reply

    I am unable to adjust sound from my SoundLink revolve when linked with Bluetooth to my TV so I see this is a definite negative

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