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Home / Reviews / Audio / Bluetooth Speakers / Bose Soundlink Max review: a perfect travelling companion

Bose Soundlink Max review: a perfect travelling companion

Bose' signature sound in a compact - yet still mighty- package

Bose Soundlink Max

Stuff Verdict

Much like its impressive soundbars, the Bose Soundlink Max is a stellar sounding outdoor speaker designed to last.


  • Powerful, well-balanced audio
  • Strong and reassuringly well-built
  • Easy to use, with great connectivity options
  • Plenty of customisable design options


  • Price factor


Bose has become rightfully synonymous with high-quality home speakers, soundbars and wearables. It hasn’t quite made the same dent for itself in the portable speaker market, though. While many of you will likely host a Bose soundbar under your TV set, the likes of Sonos and JBL remain the go-to brands for portable outdoor audio. 

That may change with the Bose Soundlink Max, a high-end speaker designed for the outdoors. It’s advertised as a rugged speaker that produces great sound under the Bose name, but does it deliver?

How we test Hi-Fi equipment

Every speaker, amp and Hi-Fi separate reviewed on Stuff is used for a minimum of a week’s worth of daily listening. We use a playlist of test tracks made up of multiple genres to assess sound, and use our years of experience to compare to other models. Manufacturers have no visibility on reviews before they appear online, and we never accept payment to feature products.

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Design: just like a pill

Bose has gone for simple sturdiness with the Soundlink Max. When I took it out the box for the first time, there was a reassuring weight to it that I know could handle a few hard knocks. The rounded, almost pill-like shape is compact and satisfyingly smooth to the touch.

A powder coated, silicone-wrapped steel shell makes it an ideal summertime companion, one that’s designed to be chucked in a backpack or taken to the park for a summertime picnic. Water and dust-proof features also means it can handle the odd beer spillage. 

The Soundlink Max offers room for customisation, too. The speaker is available in five colours – Blue Dusk, Apricot, Hyper Citron, Carbon Blue and Chilled Lilac – with four optional colour handle accessories to choose from at £25 each. An additional carrying strap (£45) is also available in Black or Blue Dusk colours for hands-free transportation. 

Features and connectivity: collective listening

Bose Soundlink Max

Being compact yet easily connectable, the Bose Soundlink Max is a portable speaker that’s perfect for communal listening.

The battery life on this thing is pretty staggering, too. Officially, Bose says its rechargeable lithium-ion cell will last up to 20 hours on a single charge. I however, found that it exceeded that. I clocked up 24 hours of on-off use before needing to top up. Each morning I switched it on, expecting it to have perished with last night’s listening but no.

All audio tweaking is done through the Bose app, which hosts an extensive array of EQ tinkering options. From the app, you can control bass, mid-range and treble levels on the fly. It can also connect to any existing Bose soundbar or smart speaker you already own for a little extra audio oomph.

It has a Bluetooth range of up to 30ft (9m), which checked out in testing. Further connectivity is provided through one USB-C in/out port, which doubles as a phone charger, and an AUX in. Switching between the two is done through a handy shortcut button on the top of the speaker, which can also be customised to work seamlessly with Spotify.

Sound quality: grade A

Bose Soundlink Max

As a brand, Bose is pretty well regarded for its top-tier audio quality, so I was excited to see how the Soundlink Max matched up to its high regard. I wasn’t disappointed. I first tested the speaker with Atlin Gun, who bridge psych rock with complex melodies using many different instruments. Each synth melody, drum hit and conga rhythm sounded crisp and perfectly balanced. Dance music basslines are given plenty of impact, without any low-end distortion at higher volumes. 

But it’s not all about that bass. Genres that favour higher frequencies such as ambient music are given a gentle, rounded nudge through the Soundlink Max. At times, the speaker can provide a little too much power for the source material, boosting tracks that don’t really need it. That can be easily adjusted though.

On top of three transducers across the front of the speaker for a wide stereo experience, two custom passive radiators provide thick bass that doesn’t overpower the mid or hi-range frequencies. 

Bose has also borrowed some of the tech and processing you’ll find in its soundbars. This is meant to round round off grainy frequencies for an optimum listening experience. And in practice, it works like a charm. 

In small spaces, the Bose Soundlink Max provides detailed and layered sound. The audio is expansive, immersive, and seemed to fill any room I used it in. It works similarly well outdoors, too. There’s no compromise between audio quality and volume, making it a pretty ideal companion for BBQ season. 

As someone who favours the communal nature of outdoor listening over at-home audio setups, Bose has hit it out of the park with the Soundlink Max. It’s a speaker that delivers stellar audio quality, convenience, customisable features in a hardy shell; everything I want in an outdoor speaker that will last. It’s not exactly a bargain find, but for me it’s worth every penny.

Stuff Says…

Score: 5/5

Much like its impressive soundbars, the Bose Soundlink Max is a stellar sounding outdoor speaker designed to last.


Powerful, well-balanced audio

Strong and reassuringly well-built

Easy to use, with great connectivity options

Plenty of customisable design options


Price factor

Audio3 x transducer speakers (front), 2 x passive (sides)
BatteryUp to 20 hours
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3, USB-C, AUX
Dimensions12×26.5×10.5cm, 2.13kg
Profile image of Jack Needham Jack Needham


A writer of seven years and serial FIFA 23 loser, Jack is also Features Editor at Stuff. Jack has written extensively about the world of tech, business, science and online culture. He also covers gaming, but is much better at writing about it than actually playing. Jack keeps the site rolling with extensive features and analysis.