The most important way to test any speaker is simply to listen to it. I trialled the speakers over a period of approximately two weeks with a wide swathe of music including Alias, 65daysofstatic, Diefenbach, VNV Nation, video game soundtracks and tributes, Daft Punk, Florence and the Machine, Deadmau5, Eminem, Eskimo Joe, Foo Fighters, Four Tet, Burial, George Gershwin, Gorillaz, Keple, Linkin Park, Matthew Good Band, Mike Oldfield, Moby, Modest Mouse, Phillip Glass, Rammstein, Roeksopp, Seth Lakeman and The XX.
In the upcoming Results section, I’ll be examining how the speakers performed in terms of their sound quality (both of music and of hands-free calls) and battery life.
The BeatBar produces decent audio, but you’re looking in the wrong place if you are after gut punching bass or eyeball shaking volume. The two 3W drivers and central bass radiator provide much more enjoyable renditions of my Google Play library than any phone speaker or laptop speaker could, with clear mids and highs. The speakers were tuned to give a little more bass than a totally flat profile, which helped in producing a nicely rounded sound. I genuinely enjoyed listening to music from the BeatBar, which was reason enough to keep it in my bag as a travel companinon for the entire week. In terms of loudness, it’ll lend a large room (or in my case, a medium sized machine shop) some much needed audio without much trouble. The BeatBar’s grows impressively loud without clipping or distorting at full whack.
When used as loudspeaker during calls the quality drop was noticable but not excessive, with speech still being easily recognisable. Between the lower bandwidth of telephone lines and single-channel bluetooth audio used during calls, I can’t atribute much of this drop in quality to the BeatBar itself. The microphone on the unit picked up my voice much more readily than my Nexus 4, allowing me to stray further from the speaker without becoming too quiet for the other line to hear me.
I estimate I had the BeatBar on for between 2 and 3 hours a day- the partial charge that it had out of the box kept it going for the entire week. The review will be updated when I have a more concrete idea of battery life, but currently I would have no worry about bringing the BeatBar along with me on an extended camping trip. Charging over micro-USB is adds to the BeatBar’s travel friendliness, meaning that most phone chargers will happily juice it up without the need for yet another different cable.
With a MSRP of £29.99 the Beatbar is definitely worth considering. My previous travel speaker of choice which had approximately equal sound quality and decidedly fewer features (non rechargable, no bluetooth) was £25. The difference is easily justified for the upgrade and the speaker makes a strong case for itself over those terrible X-mini style pop-outs.
- Good value for money compared to Jambox et. al.
- Simple buttons make it quite easy to use
- Acceptable battery life, and can be charged over micro-USB
- Certainly a sonic improvement over tablet/smartphone speakers
- Sound quality a bit worse than more premium Bluetooth speakers
- Bass and volume were merely ordinary