Bose SoundTouch: a shift from making music, to managing it

Anand Parthasarathy tries out a Bose product that responds to the public's need to not  just hear great sound -- but to manage it from multiple sources.

"True innovations are never the result of rational thought processes; they flow from intuitive ideas", Amar Bose used to tell his co-workers at the Bose Corporation. Dr Bose personally inspired some key technology breakthroughs -- noise-cancelling headphones; wave-guided digital radios; electronically controlled car suspension systems....

Late last year, the company unveiled the latest piece of audio innovation, a few months after Dr Bose passed away at the age of 83 .... but as his MIT student and current Bose Corp. CEO, Bob Maresca said at the time, this was something the founder had inspired -- and directed -- a canny shift in its core music system business, that is becoming increasingly digital, wireless and mobile... a shift from merely making great music to managing it.

Music lovers today, have to grapple with the problem of plenty: They can tap multiple sources for the music of their choice: CD and DVD collections; music folders on their PC or laptop; online music streaming services; Internet radio stations.. the problem is how to whip all this together so that they can hear the music that suits their mood, when and where they want it.

Which is why the latest Bose offering -- SoundTouch -- is as much about enabling great sound as managing its complexity. It lets you stream music wirelessly into any room-- from the Web or from your stored collections -- by simply pressing a button. You can mix-n-match music from Internet stations, playlists or artistes, to create your own folders, that can be reached through any one of six presets. SoundTouch connects with all these sources wirelessly, thorough your existing home WiFi network and its built-in speakers belt out the music with the customary Bose audio quality.

SoundTouch is available in three sizes: SoundTouch 30, is aimed at large homes and comes with the proprietary Waveguide system and deep woofers that fuel the Bose radio. SoundTouch 20 is slightly smaller, like the 30, a table top system but more than adequate for most Indian homes. The paperback-sized SoundTouch Portable has built-in rechargeable batteries and can be carried from room to room -- or to your car or office.

The music for all three versions can be managed by the free Bose SoundTouch app then lets you use smartphone, tablet or computer to browse and discover new content, operate any system in any room wirelessly, and combine your music so they can be accessed by touching one of the six preset buttons -- they could be six moods or six different users in the family. The app app is compatible with Android, iOS, Mac OS and Windows systems. SoundTouch is AirPlay enabled, so owners can stream content from their iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.

With SoundTouch, I think, Bose as always, has caught a subtle shift in  consumer needs in the audio arena  -- and responded with a premier solution.

The SoundTouch 30 available in India from mid November for Rs 52763; the SoundTouch 20 and the Sound Touch Portable will cost Rs 32512.50 each. They can be ordered online. Fuller details here