Review: Soundboks – 35lbs of kick ass Bluetooth speaker
Bluetooth audio ain’t gonna ever be the same.
Summer might have gone for another year, but that doesn’t mean the party season ends. Next up is bonfires, Thanksgiving grilling, and Halloween, to mention a few excuses to get the gang back together.
So what do you do about music? You don’t need to wear your car battery down by playing the stereo anymore, not with the latest $999 Bluetooth speaker from Soundboks.
So, what’s it all about?
Okay, so the OG Soundboks was a Kickstarter back in 2016 when over a thousand people liked the idea of a huge speaker they could take anywhere. Now it’s 2019, and the third iteration of the Soundboks speaker is here. Dismissing the massive Soundboks as “just another Bluetooth speaker” would be doing a disservice to music. This thing is about as far removed from your handheld speakers as a drag racer is from your Hot Wheels collection.
The speaker? Massive. So massive, you can buy a backpack frame accessory to carry it around with. The sound? Massive, from two 10-inch woofers. The battery? Yep, that’s massive too – 99.84 Wh from a huge LiFePO4 pack. Oh, and it’s IP65 rated, so it’ll be fine in most situations you could carry it into.
Sure, it has Bluetooth 5.0 for input. It’s also got a 3.5mm AUX input, one 3.5mm input, two XLR inputs, and a new wireless technology that allows up to 5 Soundboks to connect together in perfect sync. Can your pocketable speaker do that?
So, how’s it sound?
This speaker goes up to 11, but you won’t get anywhere near that unless you’re in the middle of nowhere – these things are LOUD! That’s because there are three 72W RMS Class D amps running two 10-inch, 96 dB woofers, and one 1-inch 104 dB compression driver tweeter. All of that means a total of 126 dB of sound at full whack, far more than your neighbors will be happy with.
I tried testing the full range of volume but was defeated at level 6 when my apartment started shaking… Definitely one for those beach parties. The best part? Or should I say parts, as there are two important things here. First, there wasn’t a trace of distortion or other unwanted audio effects even at that volume. The second is that the Batteryboks that powers each speaker can power 40 hours of playback at that same volume. 40!
If you find yourself playing at full whack, you’ll only get 5 hours of playback, with 3.5 hrs needed to recharge the battery. You can recharge the battery while still playing music though, which is a nice touch.
The standout feature for me is the TeamUP feature, which wirelessly connects up to 5 Soundboks together, in perfect sync. That’s because it runs on a specially-created wireless protocol for wireless music, SKAA. Well, technically it’s the Nadja version of SKAA, which has one major improvement over the base protocol – it’s built into the device, with the ability to broadcast music from either Bluetooth, AUX or XLR inputs. Nifty.
Where most wireless audio systems need WiFi, SKAA doesn’t – it creates its own network wherever you are. That’s a perfect pairing with the go-everywhere-do-anything Soundboks, and it really elevates an already great speaker system to a fantastic one. It’ll also pair with other SKAA-enabled devices, like the Syncronice Hub which worked fantastically to send the audio from my DJ controller to the Soundboks speakers.
It’s simplicity itself to use as well. Tap the red TeamUP button, to change from a Solo speaker, a Host (which searches for other SKAA devices to send audio to), or Join, which turns your speaker into a receiver for the host device. That’s it. No passwords, no pairing routines, nothing. Just high fidelity wireless audio at the press of a single button.
So, should I buy one?
Short answer? Why stop at one? The TeamUP feature is the real star of the show here, letting you connect up to 5 speakers together in perfect harmony, with the minimum of fuss. Honestly, the only complication is that you won’t be able to carry all five yourself.
Soundboks has a real winner here, held back by the relatively high price of $999 per speaker. Then again, PA systems are expensive and annoying to run as they need gas generators for power. Soundboks takes all that mess out of the equation, leaving you to only worry about the music.
Do you need it? Possibly not (unless you’re a mobile DJ, or another type of performer), but you want it? You really, really want it.
A sample unit was provided for the purpose of this review.
- Apple’s AirPods Pro have officially been announced – Here are all the new features
- Review roundup: Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL
- 10 of the best mechanical keyboards you can buy right now
- 10 of the best-selling PC gaming monitors Amazon buyers can’t get enough of
Just a heads up, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale. Click here for more.