BOSE SOUNDLINK AIR: Blow your mind, not your budget

Written by Sudhir Chowdhary | Updated: Jan 10 2013, 15:27pm hrs
Listening to music is a great way to relax your body and mind. My personal choice is listening to ghazals by Begum Akhtar, Farida Khanum and Jagjit Singh to relax my mind when I have had a long day at work. Even timeless hits of Abba, The Bee Gees, Richard Marx or the scintillating saxophone solos of Kenny Gall played on a seven year-old Bose twin speaker sethave a soothing effect and actually help clear the mind for sleep, as far as my personal experience is concerned. Moot point is, listening to music that is personally enjoyable has positive effects on the brain.

Dedication to research and excellence has been the Bose approach to better sound since Amar Bose founded the company in 1964. Ever since then, Bose engineers have focused on creating better technology. Youll find that focus exemplified in the SoundLink Air digital music system. A very neat, one-piece wireless speaker system that streams audio from an iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or a computers iTunes library via Apples AirPlay technology and a Wi-Fi network.

AirPlay is Apples technology that enables iOS (and other) devices to stream music to AirPlay-enabled receivers. The SoundLink Air also features an auxiliary input so you can connect and play music from other devices that dont utilise AirPlay.

Most Bose offerings are incredibly good, but frightfully expensive. Thankfully, this Bose model is aimed more at the mass market; the SoundLink Air comes in high-gloss black with a metal grille for R22,388. An optional rechargeable lithium-ion battery is sold separately for R6,638. Other Airplay speakers are a lot more expensive. I wondered if the sound quality would be compromised for the fairly inexpensive price for an Airplay speaker, and it definitely isnt. But more on its audio performance later.

Visually, this all-black Bose system looks slick and will fit into any room and onto any surface. It is beautifully designed and measures 17 cm x 30 cm x 10 cm (height x width x depth). On the front of the SoundLink Air, near the top, sits its single LED, which indicates whether the speaker is successfully connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Unlike other Bose units, there is no concept of docking the iPhone/iPod/iPad, as AirPlay involves streaming audio wirelessly from the iOS device to the audio system. Thus SoundLink Air owners can maintain full control of their Apple devicebrowsing, texting or making callsall while enjoying a new level of audio performance from an AirPlay-enabled system of this size.

The SoundLink Air incorporates proprietary Bose acoustic waveguide speaker technology, neodymium transducers, and Bose digital signal processing to deliver detailed, room-filling sound across the entire frequency range and at any listening level. Music is reproduced accuratelyclear and natural, without audible distortion, manufactured boosts or accentuation.

Setup is straightforward. Connect the SoundLink Air to a computer using the included USB cable, go to setup, complete a few easy steps, and the SoundLink Air connects to a home Wi-Fi network. Once complete, an AirPlay icon automatically appears on the Apple device or a computer running iTunes (Mac or PC). Select it, and music is streamed instantly to the SoundLink Air.

The SoundLink Air has two options for control of basic functions: the Apple iOS device or an included infrared remote. The remote includes power, mute, volume, auxiliary-input, play/pause, previous, and next buttons. The Bose speaker also offers an aux-in to connect to other audio devices and an optional rechargeable lithium-ion battery for more freedom. Unplug the system and place it anywhere in range of the Wi-Fi network for hours of uninterrupted listening.

Once the SoundLink Air is successfully on your wireless network, you can send music to it from any compatible AirPlay device, such as any iOS device or iTunes on your computer. When you do, youll be treated to satisfying, room-filling sound.

In my test-run, this tiny system filled my room with incredible sound. I streamed music from an iPhone and iPod Touch and as you would expect from Bose, the sound is good even at high volume. The product is portable and light to carry. I tried tried all sorts of music on it; Indian classical, rock, folk, Hindi film songs etc. Everything sounds nice and crisp.

Highly recommended!

Estimated street price: Rs 22,388