Bose Honors 50th Anniversary, Boosts Streaming Options on 2nd-Gen SoundTouch
The famed audio manufacturer announced it is expanding its latest SoundTouch wireless speaker system capabilities with Spotify Connect, a Deezer exclusive and iHeartRadio services.
Arlen Schweiger · October 3, 2014
When Bose launched its initial consumer products in 1966, there was little reason to think that it would be around to celebrate 50 years later.
But soon after its mammoth 2201 corner-placement loudspeakers hit the market with a thud, Dr. Amar Bose’s nascent company followed up in 1968 with the more living room-friendly 901s and the rest, as they say … well everyone knows how the Bose story has unfolded.
During an event in New York City on Thursday, the Framingham, Mass.-based audio manufacturer celebrated its 50th anniversary with a look back at its greatest hits (and miss, in the case of the 2201s) and a look forward that includes the latest iteration of addressing today’s popular way to enjoy music in the home: streaming devices.
The event also included a short documentary (directed by Morgan Neville, whose 20 Feet From Stardom won this year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature) highlighting the history and legacy the company continues to share a little more than a year after Dr. Bose’s death in July 2013.
A timeline with original products on hand — and in working condition — allowed Bose to recall product introductions such as its Acoustic Wave music system, Jewel cube speakers, Acoustimass system and noise-canceling headphones, to name a few. The path has continued in recent years, embracing the portable music player trend with dock players, and last year hopped on the wireless streaming speaker trend with the introduction of SoundTouch (Bose was certainly no stranger to success with the all-in-one sound system thing).
The company announced its second-generation “Series II” of its SoundTouch Wi-Fi music systems — the SoundTouch 30, SoundTouch 20 and SoundTouch Portable systems, available for $699, $399 and $399, respectively. As far as the physical speakers, the only real change is an aesthetic one as they are now available in black to go with the original white. For a refresher, from our coverage at the launch of the original series:
SoundTouch 30 Wi-Fi: Measuring 10x17x7 inches (HxWxD), this unit is designed for larger spaces. Bose, which is known for its strict policing of a universal pricing policy, has this unit set at $699.
SoundTouch 20 Wi-Fi: At 7x12x4 inches, this more compact unit is targeted for bedrooms, bathrooms or other smaller sized areas of the home. It is priced at $399.
SoundTouch Portable Wi-Fi: This smaller unit has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery in a speaker about the size of book at 6x10x3 inches.
As far as the content to be played on the speakers, however, Bose has upped its streaming game by adding Spotify Connect, Deezer and iHeartRadio options to go with Internet Radio, Pandora, iTunes and Bluetooth support already provided.
The Deezer addition is an interesting one, especially given that it recently made its U.S. introduction as an exclusive to wireless audio competitor Sonos. The European streaming service, which has made a splash by offering lossless FLAC format playback of its 35 million-track library, now adds a Bose exclusive that will automatically include an account to purchasers of SoundTouch and give owners a 30-day free trial followed by 12 months at half-price discount (making it $5/month) for its Deezer Premium+ service. Deezer also allows for different streams of its service to be played in different rooms.
SoundTouch Series II also features improvements to the free SoundTouch app functionality and navigation, including now the ability to configure a system and recognize connected components automatically and fully wirelessly straight from the app to create a multiroom setup. Among the highlights remains the ability to drag-and-drop from music sources into a bank of six “presets” that give users one-click access to favorite artists, playlists, channels, etc.
So why will integration clients (and mainstream consumers) want SoundTouch as opposed to the glut of other brands offering wireless music systems now?
“The first thing that comes to my mind is sound quality. We put tremendous amount of effort and research into our sound. We can compare any Wi-Fi system to this one and I don’t believe anyone comes close to this one. Our smaller [systems], there’s ones that are competitive, but I believe at our price point we are superior in sound,” says Santiago Carvajal, Bose’s category business manager for home music systems.
“The second, to me, is the simplicity — we’ve put a ton of effort into the simplicity of SoundTouch,” Carvajal continues. “For example, the presets, to me, is a big, big difference between our systems and everybody else’s. Let’s say you’re a big Deezer fan … you open here, go to ‘My Library,’ I like Chill Out Music [explaining with the app] … if I really like that playlist, I can say ‘You know something, I want that on preset No. 5 that hasn’t been set,’ I can press and hold that playlist and that’s Chill Out Music now. You can press one button and it starts playing that. You can have a Spotify playlist, a Deezer playlist, an iTunes playlist from your music library as one of the presets … you can have anything you want instantly accessible at the touch of a button.”
Of course, some people still prefer traditional stereo speaker systems and, oh by the way, as the company notes that 901 Series is still in the Bose lineup today as a floorstanding option. For a look at the original, along with other past and current offerings check out the slideshow of Bose’s history.
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Arlen Schweiger is managing editor of CE Pro, Commercial Integrator and Security Sales & Integration magazines. Arlen contributes installation features, business profiles, manufacturer news and product reviews. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Arlen at email@example.com
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