When wireless audio devices first began gaining traction, Bose was one of the first companies to offer products that performed to almost sci-fi standards. The idea of carrying around premium-quality sound in your backpack was now a reality, particularly in wireless earbuds and Bluetooth speakers.
Since then, hundreds, if not thousands, of other options have become available to the world’s users. And many of them at a fraction of what Bose’s products cost.
That being said, many hardcore users will remain adamant that it’s worth investing in the quality that is synonymous with the Bose name.
But is that truly the case?
At around $150, the SoundLink Flex doesn’t push itself into expensive territory. Many lesser-known brands have produced speakers that cost almost twice as much.
Does spending double the money buy double the speaker? According to Bose, the SoundLink Flex can deliver “astonishing bass that you can feel in your chest.” So, let’s find out if that’s true in my in-depth Bose SoundLink Flex review.
Design and Build
Starting with options, Bose offers the users a selection of three color schemes. There is plain Black, Stone Blue (which looks like almost nothing else out there), and finally, you can have Smoke White.
Build quality is as expected from Bose, which can only mean good things. The speaker not only resembles a brick in its shape but also in its solidity. The weight is reassuring, and a lot of it comes from the powder-coated steel grill. Additionally, the back is made from soft silicone.
Mixing these two materials makes the SoundLink Flex more UV and Corrosion resistant. Even though it’s made from heavy materials, the SoundLink Flex still manages to be light. Weighing in at just over a pound or 450 grams. It’s one of the best lightweight Bluetooth speakers out there.
Controls and Construction
The rubberized buttons on the top don’t make any worrying clicks when pressed. Furthermore, they feel like they could survive millions of presses over years.
According to Bose, the design and build quality of the SoundLink Flex enables it to withstand small drops and knocks easily. Additionally, it has further built-in durability. But I’ll get to that later.
One minuscule downside…
In regards to the wonderful silicone rubber, it does get statically charged easily. Therefore, dust and fibers tend to get stuck to the top and back of the speaker quite a bit. This is especially noticeable with the black version.
Finally, there’s the integrated loop. Considered one of the most unique aspects of the SoundLink Flex, it is of high-quality material and will perform its function with ease. One thing to note, while the SoundLink Flex is shown in many photos with a carabiner, one is not included in the purchase.
Functionality and Battery Life
If using the loop with a carabiner is likely to be in your schedule, you’ll be happy to know this speaker can survive almost anywhere. Furthermore, you can prop it up vertically, lay it on its back, or hang it from the roof. Any way you place it, the SoundLink Flex will keep on booming.
The SoundLink Flex comes with an IP67 rating. Making it one of the best dust and waterproof Bluetooth speakers you can buy. Furthermore, combined with its durability, this is one of the best outdoor Bluetooth speakers on the market.
One can’t imagine too many situations where it won’t be able to survive. Another neat and deliberate design feature is that the SoundLink Flex will float.
But, there is a downside…
The SoundLink Flex doesn’t come with a 3.5mm auxiliary jack. Therefore, this speaker connects via Bluetooth only.
The SoundLink Flex uses Bluetooth 4.2, which is outdated by many standards. That being said, it’s hard to think of a situation in which I would be saying to myself, “I wish I had Bluetooth 5.2.”
Basically, the main difference is range. The connection itself is solid with no dropouts, and the range is still up to ten meters. All told, it’s one of the most durable Bluetooth speakers you can buy.
The SoundLink Flex charges via a USB-C cable and will provide a playtime of around ten to twelve hours at moderate to loud volumes. This playtime is by no means a threat to any of the top performers out there.
But, it is plenty impressive for this price range and adds value for money. Sadly, the SoundLink Flex does not support multi-point pairing.
Built-in Mic for Sound optimization
The built-in microphone on the SoundLink Flex serves two functions. First, it allows the speaker to automatically optimize playback depending on the position of the speaker. Second, the SoundLink Flex can serve as a speaker and microphone should you take a call.
Likewise, this works with the dedicated button on the speaker to activate Siri or Google voice assistant.
The SoundLink Flex lacks a companion app, which means the sound cannot be customized. It does have the capability to be combined with another SoundLink Flex to function as a stereo speaker pair. Doing this is a very good idea, and here’s why.
Before we get to how much of a difference the combination of two SoundLink Flexes makes, let’s talk about the sound quality and sound signature.
When functioning on its own, the SoundLink Flex is a mono speaker. While it’s plenty loud for its size, even surprisingly so, it’s not the loudest Bluetooth speaker you can buy. While Bose claims that the SoundLink Flex will “fill a room with sound,” the room can’t be too large.
Bose knows sound…
As for the sound quality, there’s almost nothing but good news. The sound signature has a very subtle bass boost, which is not uncommon for Bose products. The boost is perfectly balanced to complement whatever is playing instead of being over-pronounced, as is often the case with Bluetooth speakers.
The treble and mids are impeccably balanced and never seem overpowered or diminished by the subtle bass boost. This testifies to a well-engineered sound signature that was done with care.
Overall, the mids remained dominant with all the audio we tested, and the treble frequencies had crispness without ever seeming bright. Also, distortion is almost nonexistent when pushed to the highest volume. Making this one of the best sounding Bluetooth speakers on the market.
Combining two SoundLink Flex speakers
While the soundstage on the SoundLink Flex as a stand-alone speaker is by no means bad, you will notice that more complex mixes might tend to lose some details.
However, when combing two SoundLink Flex speakers, the soundstage becomes one of the most impressive of any wireless speaker we’ve ever tried. Many speakers have this capability, but the difference it makes to the sound on the SoundLink Flex is by far the most noticeable.
It might pay to invest in two…
When I say “two,” I don’t necessarily mean two SoundLink Flex speakers. Using the Party Mode feature on your smart device, you can even link the SoundLink Flex with other Bose models. This can make for a wide variety of achievable sound signatures and capabilities.
The microphone functions surprisingly well during phone calls and makes the SoundLink Flex perfect for group calls, etc. At a distance of around five to eight feet, the person on the other end was still able to discern the words we were saying, as well as who was speaking.
Bose SoundLink Flex Review – Pros and Cons
- Reasonable price.
- Party Mode feature.
- Good battery life.
- Good sound quality.
- Very durable and well-built.
- Built-in microphone.
- Not the loudest speaker on its own.
- No companion app to tweak the sound.
- No 3.5mm jack.
- Multi-point pairing is not available.
Looking for Some More Great Speaker Options?
Then check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Bose Speakers, the Best Wireless Outdoor Speakers, the Best Bluetooth Speakers With Radio, the Best Waterproof Speakers, and the Loudest Portable Bluetooth Speakers you can buy in 2023.
Also, take a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Tailgate Speakers, the Best Solar Powered Bluetooth Speakers, the Best Apple AirPlay Speakers, the Best Bluetooth Speakers with Light Show, and the Best Outdoor Rock Speakers that are currently on the market.
Bose SoundLink Flex Review – Conclusion
For around $150, there are bound to be options that one might pick instead of the SoundLink Flex. Many speakers can deliver more power, longer battery life, companion apps to tweak the sound, and 3.5mm jacks.
However, very few of those competitors will be as well-built and designed as the SoundLink Flex. Bose’s experience in making good-sounding gear that will last, shines through in the SoundLink Flex.
This speaker will take knocks and scrapes without a care in the world. And, when it gets a bit smelly, you can even give it a bath, and it will love you for it. The Final Score is 8 out of 10.
Until next time, happy listening!