Boston Acoustics Soundware XS Digital Cinema loudspeaker review

We take this style-conscious 2.1 speaker package for a spin

Boston Acoustics’ latest effort is not your average 2.1 system. In fact, it’s hard to say exactly what product category it fits into. Because, as well as providing enhanced stereo playback of movie/TV fare, it also offers built-in Bluetooth, letting you stream music wirelessly from a PC or other gizmo, courtesy of full amplification for the satellite speakers as well as the sub.

The SoundWare XS Digital Cinema flaunts compact dimensions. The two satellites are just 108mm high and styled in gorgeous multi-sided, gloss black enclosures, making them some of the most chic and distinctive sats on the market. There’s a gloss white option, too, if black’s not disco enough for you.

Build quality is good, with a similar weightiness to that of KEF’s KHT1505 or Cambridge Audio’s Minx. On the back are sturdy metal springclips and a groove to keep cables tidy. The sub’s not ugly, either – small, sturdy and housed in a pleasant matte-finished cabinet, it’s the epitome of living-room friendly.

The sub houses the connections, including optical digital audio, analogue stereo and 3.5mm minijack inputs, plus a Dolby Digital decoder and a claimed peak power of 250W.Built-in Dolby Digital decoding means you can rig up a BD or DVD deck directly to the optical input and enjoy discreet three-channel sound.

The system comes with an IR receiver called the Control Pod, which plugs into the back of the subwoofer, and a tiny remote control. That means you can hide the sub away and place the Control Pod next to your TV, allowing you to adjust the volume or change sound modes. Red, green and blue LEDs indicate the input, sound mode and power status.

Refined audio

These dinky speakers produce a fulsome and dynamic sound. It’s punchy and powerful, yet with a level of refinement at play that’ll be a revelation to anyone raised on the tinny sound of TV speakers. During the Frost Giants battle scene in Thor, the Boston system bashes out the brutal effects with delicious energy, but at no point do the high-pitched sounds of splintering rocks sound thin or abrasive. I won’t pretend I didn’t miss the rear-room envelopment, though, and the Movie preset brings little to the table.

This sound quality, along with its Bluetooth function and gorgeous styling, makes the SoundWare XS Digital Cinema easy to recommend.


Boston SoundWare XS Digital Cinema
£400 Approx

Highs: Sparkling sound; Bluetooth streaming; cute design
Lows: Toothless Movie mode; no HD audio decoding

Performance: 4/5
Design: 5/5
Features: 4/5
Overall: 4/5


Drive units: 1 x 2.5in woofer; 1 x 0.5in tweeter
Frequency response: 39Hz-20kHz
Sensitivity: 85dB
Power handling: 10-100W
Dimensions: 113(w) x 108(h) x 94(d)mm
Weight: 0.5kg

Drive units:
1 x 8in
Frequency response: 39Hz-180Hz
On board power: 250W
Dimensions: 240(w) x 251(h) x 288(d)mm
Weight: 5kg
Connections: Optical digital; 3.5mm minijack; analogue stereo