Today we’re looking at the Woof 3, a Bluetooth speaker from Creative Labs. The speaker is more feature-rich than most, thanks to its ability to play MP3 files directly from microSD cards as well as streaming music over Bluetooth. The Woof 3 is good looking too, with a chrome top and coloured body. Let’s take a closer look, and see whether it justifies its £40 price point.
Features & specifications
- Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR connectivity
- Integrated MP3 / FLAC player w/ microSD card
- USB Audio and aux-in
- 6 hours of playback, micro USB charging
- 75 x 65 x 68 mm, 237 grams
A cylindrical design is pretty standard for a Bluetooth speaker, but the Woof 3 maintains a distinct look with a metallic shell that extends down to a slim white plastic base. The shell — which can be coloured red, blue, silver or gold — is glossy and reflective, so it looks nice but picks up fingerprints easily.
The top of the speaker is a chromed speaker grille with a multi-function button in the centre; this is how you activate the pairing mode, answer calls and so forth. The remaining buttons — play, skip forward, skip back — are on the right hand side of the base, and they’re quite tiny. The base also contains the microphone, right at the front.
The back of the base is home to the micro USB charging port and the 3.5 mm auxiliary input. There’s also a tiny reset button and a microSD card slot here. Finally, the bottom of the Woof 3 contains its power button, and a circular rubber foot that keeps the speaker from sliding around slick desks.
Sound and mic quality
The Woof 3 sounds like… a small Bluetooth speaker. While Creative boast of its ‘oversized bass radiator’, in reality it doesn’t rumble any more convincingly than its alternatives of the same size — this won’t replace your Hi-Fi setup any time soon.
But for its size, it certainly sounds fine; it’s capable of filling an average living room without distortion, and that’s respectable enough for a speaker of this size.
The Woof 3 can also take calls, and performance here was also average. The microphone picks up sound well if you sit in front of it, but less well if you’re somewhere off to the side. So far, so predictable.
Where the Woof 3 excels is in connectivity; it can use four different methods to play music from a variety of digital and analogue sources.
Up first is Bluetooth, version 2.1 EDR+. It doesn’t support the popular aptX standard for higher quality audio streaming, but the difference isn’t significant for a speaker of this size and aptX isn’t supported by iPhones.
You can also stick in a microSD card and play files directly off that, saving battery life on your phone. The Woof 3 can play MP3 files, as well as uncompressed FLAC or WAV files. Again, I don’t particularly see the point of lossless audio on a tiny Bluetooth speaker, but the option is there. Choosing tracks is a pain too, as of course there’s no graphical interface to select songs — just skip, skip, frickin’ skip.
You can also plug the Woof 3 into your PC via USB to both charge it and use it as a speaker. As it’s a USB audio device, it doesn’t depend on your machine’s sound card, which is useful if your PC’s sound card is missing, broken or crap.
Finally, you can also plug the Woof 3 into a legacy device that outputs via 3.5 mm audio, like a radio or CD player. That’s probably not going to be your primary use case, but it’s nice to have these oft-neglected fallback options.
The Woof 3 doesn’t include NFC, so pairing is done through the normal method: hold down the multi-function button, find the speaker on your phone, and press connect. You’re guided through this process by the speaker itself, which speaks ‘waiting for a device to connect’ and bleeps once the connection is made. Once paired, your phone should automatically reconnect to the speaker when it’s turned on.
While turning the Woof 3 on requires inverting it, the playback controls are at least accessible while it’s sitting in place. The buttons for skipping tracks and pausing are pretty small, but they jut out a bit from the surface so they’re not too hard to find without looking.
The Woof 3 is a stylish Bluetooth speaker that offers a wide range of connectivity options, easy usability and reasonable audio performance. While its price tag is higher than similarly sized options from smaller brands, its added features and high level of polish justifies the premium price. If I got this speaker in my Christmas stocking, I’d be well chuffed.
Support XSR: Buy for $54.56 from Amazon.com
- Stylish looks, with four well-selected colour options
- Strong range of four connectivity options
- microSD playback is a cool (if impractical) addition
- Playback buttons are easy to find without looking
- Loud enough for solo use or small, studious parties
- Glossy shell picks up fingerprints quickly
- Bass performance doesn’t live up to advertising
Support XSR: Buy for $54.56 from Amazon.com