The Bose Companion 20 is something all too rare from the company: a new product. The famed Bose SoundDock Portable, for example, was released way back in 2007, and yet it remains largely unchanged while many of the competition is refreshed every 12-18 months. Bose may well choose to keep the Companion 20 unchanged for many moons, but as it stands we benefit from the company’s latest technical innovations, and as such, in August 2011, it is a joy.
While smaller brands battle to get their voices heard in an increasingly crowded market for desktop speakers, the Bose Companion 20 speakers have the advantage of a Bose brand name that has plenty of resonance and pedigree.
Speakers such as the portable and wireless Bose Soundlink have seen the company try to appeal to a younger, mass-market audience, so the Bose Companion 20 desktop speakers are very much on home turf.
Easy installation, setup and maximum ease of use has always been on the top of Bose’s priority list.
This is definitely evident in the Companion 20, which can be installed without using the accompanying instruction manual within minutes.
The two speakers are simply connected with the supplied cables, with one between the speakers and one between the right speaker and the mini-jack audio output on the computer.
Finally, the small, round, easy-to-use control pad (or puck?) is then connected via USB cable to the right speaker.
All you need to do now is to tell your computer to send the audio to the mini-jack / headphone output, and you´re done.
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Design and Build Quality
The Companion 20 will come across as extremely simple looking speakers with the front metal grill and polished silver finish.
The speakers look quite appealing and have a nice matte effect which is shared by the control pod as well.
The speaker set comes with four connectors – the audio in, control pod, adaptor and the connector to the left speaker.
The bass is located at the back. The cables are pretty long but you’ll get a pretty hefty adaptor with the speakers.
They weigh 2.72 kg as well, and all of this does limit its portability to a great extent. There are four rubberized slots underneath that will help the speakers stay stable on most surfaces.
The control pod deserves worthy mention. It has a feather touch top that allows users to quickly toggle the power.
There’s the volume ring as well, and it’s quite responsive.
To ensure that the speakers remain untouched most of the time, Bose has included the headphone jack and line – in connectivity options on the control pod as well.
Bose Companion 20 Performance
Wild Nothing’s brand of dreamy pop music seems to suit the Bose Companion 20 speakers down to the ground.
Ethereal vocals are given an open, spacious presentation with plenty of detail revealed.
Turn up the volume and they will fill a room no problem, sounding more powerful and dynamic than we might have guessed.
There’s certainly no shortage of bass.
Listening to The xx, the sparse vocals and guitar sounds have plenty of room to breathe – but introduce some deep bass and we have issues with both the quantity – a little too much – and quality – a little loose around the edges.
Still, we’d certainly take that over a thin, unassuming presentation.
Calvin Harris’s Feel So Close requires a little more energy, and while the bass and scale gets you half the way there, the Companion 20 speakers don’t quite have the timing prowess required to make the track really hit home.
They are at the affordable end of this price group, though, so this is no disgrace.
Sound Quality of Bose Companion 20
Bose typically describes its sound as ‘rich’.
Detractors say this equates to indistinct and muddy and there are certainly products where this is true, but the Companion 20s are a delight oozing drive and detail. Most surprising is the volume.
Despite their small size and 2.0 arrangement the 20s will not just fill a room, but an entire floor before hitting maximum volume. They will also vibrate your windows.
Purists will miss the ability to tweak bass and treble settings as Bose retains an Apple-esque vice control over its products, but the sound signature is very well balanced.
If anything the 20s are slightly bass heavy, a remarkable achievement given they obviously have no dedicated bass unit.
That said they don’t lack detail and classical music aficionados will be just as satisfied as bass heads.
As mentioned at the beginning of this review, we have no idea how regularly Bose will refresh the Companion 20 to fend off rival products in future, but right now they are outstanding.
Low on frills but high on reliable, solid sound, the Bose Companion 20 speakers are, in a way, exactly what we expected from Bose, a company with so much heritage.
If you’re on a tight budget and want to keep things simple, this set of desktop speakers could be the answer.
Frequently Asked Question
Below are some Frequently Asked Questions by Users before making a Purchase. We took our time to answer these questions so you have no need to worry. Check it out!
QUES: Are these compatible with a mac book?How would these connect to my mac book?
ANS: Yep. Bose makes many Mac-friendly devices. Currently using a Companion 5, that uses a USB connection. No drivers to install, no software; OSX takes care of everything.
QUES: Will these speakers work on a 220 v system outside the US?
ANS: Hi there. The Companion 20’s power supply is dual voltage. It can be used in a different region by replacing the line cord that connects the power supply to the outlet. Thanks for the question.
QUES: Does it have a Mic?
QUES: Can I use a subwoofer with these speakers? If there is, what can I use or recommended?
ANS: No, this is not possible.
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