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Boston Acoustics SoundWare Indoor/Outdoor Speaker Review

by February 10, 2008
Boston SoundWare

Boston SoundWare


  • Product Name: SoundWare
  • Manufacturer: Boston Acoustics
  • Review Date: February 10, 2008 10:10
  • MSRP: $99 each

Recommended Amplifier Power - 15-100-Watts
Nominal Impedance - 8-ohms
Sensitivity - 87dB
Dimensions - (H) 6-1/6" x (W) 6-1/6" x (D) 6-1/2"
Weight - 4.9 pounds


  • Flexible mounting system included for use indoors or out
  • Large color selection, or paint 'em whatever color you like!
  • Great sound and build quality


  • Push-pin type connectors
  • Bass output is limited at higher volumes
  • No fasteners included with mount

Gear Corner Review

The SoundWare speaker from Boston Acoustics is a very interesting product, considering that whole-house audio has become all the rage.  Whether it's in the kitchen or out on the back porch, we all want our music to follow us throughout the day.  But as Audioholics, it's not as simple as having a boom box or clock radio wherever we want music - we want a nice set of speakers.  Boston Acoustics has introduced a new line of affordable speakers aimed squarely at those of us who want great sound both indoors and out.  The compact SoundWare speaker comes in a variety of colors and comes complete with flexible wall or corner mounting hardware.  And the best part is the price - only $99 each!

Design & Features

The cabinet is roughly a 6 1/2" square, and weighs 4.9 pounds.  The enclosure houses a 4 1/2" woofer and 3/4" dome tweeter.  Included with the speaker are both corner and wall brackets for mounting.  Also included is an ingenius little ball and socket connector that screws onto the cabinet, allowing you to point and position the speaker in an endless number of directions.  It can be mounted flush in a corner, angled up from a flat surface, flat against a wall, or pointed anywhere you please.  There is even a built-in "safety bar" for attaching a security or safety wire. 

soundware rearAlthough at a glance it appears to be a square, technically the shape is that of a polyhedron.  But even if you don't know what that is, know this - it allows for some really great mounting possibilities.

One complaint I have is that the speakers have push-pin style connectors.  They appear to be gold-plated and are pretty robust, but lets face it, they are still push-pins.  Although the quality (and popularity with manufacturers) seems to be rising, I still have reservations about this type of connector.  Screw-down or 5-way binding posts just allow for a much more secure connection, and I always prefer them.

Interestingly enough, Boston chose not to include any screws or hardware for attaching the mounts to the wall itself.  The instruction manual explains that since there are "so many different kinds of surfaces on which the speakers could be mounted," they want you to choose the right screw for the job.  So they provide a nice set of mounting brackets, and you provide your own fasteners.  Or, you could simply place the speakers on a flat surface such as a bookshelf. 

soundware wallMy review samples were white, but they are also offered in Black, Just Red, Bamboo, Natural, Expresso, or Silver.  Are you really so eccentric that none of those colors work for you?  No problem - the speakers can be painted to match your kitchen's colors, which is sure to please your wife!

Boston has really come up with a winning design.  These speakers can be easily integrated anywhere in your home, inside or out, and they will blend in with ease.  They are much more inconspicuous than the small black bookshelf speakers I had been using, perched on top of my kitchen cabinets.  While all this is great, even better is the fact that they sound good.

Listening Impressions

The Boston SoundWare speakers are geared towards lifestyle applications.  By that, I expect that they are going to be purchased primarily for use in background situations, such as the kitchen, the back porch, family room or playrooms, etc.  This is not the speaker you buy for your dedicated home theater.  It's great to have music playing in the background as you cook dinner, or have friends over for game night, etc.  But typically these speakers are used for ambient sound - they are background music providers.  That being said, you still want a quality speaker, and many times you can spend hundreds of dollars on speakers designed for in-ceiling or outdoor use.  More often than not though, speakers of this type do not perform well. 

soundware nogrillFor my listening tests, I used the SoundWare speakers in two different applications.  The first was in my kitchen, mounted discreetly on top of my kitchen cabinets.  In this situation they were driven by an old Yamaha stereo receiver using a CD player as the source.  I have been using an old pair of Polk Audio bookshelf speakers for several years in this setup, so I simply swapped them out with the Boston's. 

At my house, Christmas music begins the day after Thanksgiving and ends on New Year's Eve.  (I initiated this rule.   If it were up to Dina, I am pretty sure we would have Christmas music playing year round...)  I received the SoundWare's just before Christmas, so the first couple of weeks they did heavy duty with some of our favorites - Amy Grant, Martina McBride, Harry Connick, Jr., and this year's new favorite, Over The Rhine.  Whether in full blown party mode or as a subtle background effect during meals, the SoundWare speakers had no problem stepping into the shoes of the larger bookshelves that had previously occupied the perch atop the cabinets (and they looked MUCH better doing it, too!).

soundware cornerCompared to the traditional bookshelf speakers I had been using, I felt the Boston's were much better suited to the high ceilings of our kitchen.  I did not use mounts - rather perched them on top of the cabinets, pointing slightly upward from the built-in angle on the base of the speaker cabinet itself.  This "indirect" positioning did a better job of dispersing the sound throughout the open kitchen than the bookshelves had done, as they pointed directly towards the opposite wall. Add to that the fact that they are placed at least 8 feet high in the room, and the music just ended up firing back and forth across a space well above our heads. The SoundWare's seemed to spread the music all over the kitchen area, resulting in a much more pleasing effect for background music. A nice of bottom-end (considering the application) and crisp highs.

The second application I tried was a modern approach that we will be seeing more and more of in the future. Colorado vNet has a whole-house audio product called the Vibe Touchscreen Amplifier that incorporates a 70 watt digital amplifier into a gorgeous 7" color touchscreen that gives homeowners access to the company's music server and other sources, such as an iPod dock.  If you have this unit desk or wall mounted in a room, you can connect a pair of speakers directly to it for impressive sound.  I have a touchscreen and iPod dock up and running in my theater right now, so I decided this would be a great setup to test the SoundWare speakers with, since many people will use them in similar setups as the popularity of small digital amplifiers becomes more prevalent.

Keeping in mind that my source for this setup was an iPod, I was shocked at how well the SoundWare's performed in this (a more traditional stereo) setup.  Spaced about 5 feet apart (on either side of my center channel) in my main listening room, they made me re-think my assessment that these speakers are not a substitute for a pair of similarly-priced bookshelf speakers.  Indeed, the bottom end extended much more than I would have expected from the relatively small enclosures, and filled my listening room with a balanced and warm tone.

LBTLittle Big Town's latest record, A Place To Land, evokes ghosts from the 70's of Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles due to a perfect combination of brilliant production by the talented Wayne Kirkpatrick and incredible vocal harmonies by the band.  Even when I pushed the SoundWare's to high volumes, they handled everything this record could throw at them with ease, never flinching.  The bass output is limited by the size of the driver and the enclosure, but if paired with a subwoofer you could really get a decent sized-room or porch humming for a party. 

Day after day we found ourselves turning on this setup to fill the adjoining rooms with music.  Putting in the iPod and shuffling, the Boston's cranked out a variety of tunes and never became harsh or annoying, as cheap in-ceiling speakers so often are.  My shuffles would regularly include the new live record from Genesis, Jonatha Brooke's catalogue, Michelle Branch, Paramore, and even the AV Rant podcast,  and it all sounded very good.

Want to impress your teenage daughter?  Throw on the very cool poppy power-punk of Paramore (try Crushcrushcrush from the Riot album).  I can almost guarantee she will crank up the volume.  Even though most of your listening through these speakers will probably be at reasonably modest levels, it is nice to know that they hold together quite well when you crank them up for a party every now and then. 


I began this review expecting the SoundWare speakers to be comparable in their performance to in-ceiling or outdoor speakers.  Those expectations were exceeded on many fronts.  These speakers are perfect for small to medium-sized rooms or screened porches where you want to have background music.  Not only are they offered in several modern colors, but you can paint them any color you like.  This feature, combined with a very effective mounting system that allows an almost endless array of positioning options makes the speaker very pleasing when incorporating into the decor of your home.  They are large enough to provide very respectable volumes, yet small enough to not stand out. 

The best compliment I can give these speakers is to tell you that at this point, I plan to invest in a few pairs of these to outfit my kitchen and porch in the house we will build later this year.  The Boston Acoustics SoundWare indoor/outdoor speaker is a winning combination of price, aesthetic and performance that I highly recommend. 

For more information visit www.bostonacoustics.com.

The Score Card

At Audioholics Gear Corner we give you a quick but comprehensive look at consumer electronics from several different categories. All products in the Gear Corner have been individually evaluated through hands-on testing by our reviewers in order to give you a quick but detailed overview that we hope will help you in your purchasing decisions.

The Price: Bargain
  About right
Category: Bookshelf
5.1 System
Recommended For: Acoustic/folk/bluegrass
Home theater
Styling: Boring
Nothing special
About the author:
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Over the years J. has constantly found himself to be an "early-adopter," spending way too much money on "new" technologies such as Compact Disc, LaserDisc, and DVD. He is one of the few people who actually purchased (and still owns) a CORE programmable remote control (bonus points if you remember this product).

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