So we were doing some cleanup last year in our living/dining room after some water damage from the snowpocalypse of 2015 and I had to make some decisions about to do with my sound system and speakers in the room. I had an apple wireless hotspot in the room plugged into the video input of my stereo (yes a stereo) and two floor CSW speakers and a subwoofer placed around the room with wires around the edges of the long area rug.
We had decided that after stuffing the room with furniture and sound and other things we were going to rethink the layout, get rid of the rug, sand and refinish the water damaged floor, paint the walls et cetera. The stereo and speakers had to go. Although acoustically it was very good, each component stuck out like a sore thumb.
Anyway, I had done a little bit of research and came upon on a Bose tabletop system called the SoundTouch. There were 3 models, and given the size of the room, I went for the one with the biggest speakers and a built in subwoofer. This model was the SoundTouch 30 Series III. Booming sound, as expected, and filled the room with sound easily placed at one end.
The SoundTouch system is basically an internet radio with access to your accounts on Spotify, Pandora and Amazon (and a couple of others). It also supports Internet Radio streaming. Notably it doesn’t work with Apple Music and the new models have dropped being Airplay compatible. However, you do have a line-in and bluetooth if you need to pump in something from your phone. Also it does know how to traverse your NAS or iTunes music library on a computer over the WiFi so you can get some of your personal library played on it.
There is an app that runs on your phone/pad and on your desktop to control the device as well as select what music stream source. It also can pair over bluetooth with an Amazon Echo so you can pump music from that by asking Alexa. Can be very convenient!
This was pretty much as good as I expected. But there was an issue that I had sorta solved with apple TVs and the Airport Express in that room which was no longer available. At holidays or dinner events, I could pump from the same playlist across all my apple endpoints from iTunes on my desktop (and control that from my phone as a remote). Bose has thought of this of course. Bose thought of this by allowing you to buy multiple SoundTouch speakers and place them around the house. This can get pretty expensive and if you already have sound systems from other eras having an extra speaker in the room is redundant. Bose has a solution for this also. They sell a SoundTouch module that can be hooked up into existing sound systems and from the app you can add that endpoint to act in concert with an existing speaker, essentially pumping the same source to both rooms. This works great for me since I can now have the music in the living room and the Samsung sound bar in my kitchen playing the same music.
One other thing that Bose seems to have solved that Apple did not was that the various endpoints are acoustically in the same phase as each other. Standing in between the two rooms in a doorway, I don’t sense that there is a delay on one of the setups…whereas I always felt like I the Apple products had no clue that they were in the same setup and stepping from room to room the phase shift was detectable (at least by me, in low noise situations).
So overall, if you want a compact sound system that has some neat extensions and gives you that Bose bassy sound, I would recommend the SoundTouch products. At some point I might replace my Samsung sound bar with an SoundTouch 300 sound bar which would free up the small module to be used somewhere else in the house. But that is for another day/year.