Thursday, August 28, 2014

First impressions - Fugoo Bluetooth speaker!

I just received the Fugoo speaker yesterday so my own review will be coming up soon. Unfortunately it is going to be in German this time, sorry folks, but there are already some great and detailed reviews of the Fugoo in English, like that from Gadgetmac, Mashable by Brent Butterworth, Tom's Guide etc. but Fugoo is currently starting to offer their speaker in Germany for the first time, though any German review is still missing, so I will hopefully be the first one to close this gap!

As you can see my son is already pretty excited about this new toy. He even managed to drop it once, but  there is no need to become worried, as the speaker is extremly rugged and well protected inside the "Sport"-jacket. I also received a "Tough"-jacket which looks like a tank. Of course I will test this too, although I am a bit afraid of my floor getting damaged if my son manages to drop it again inside this one.

My first impressions are very positive indeed. Although I immediately became annoyed by the much too loud voice-prompts, you can deactivate them completely with some button presses. There are lots of different combinations to enable different modes, you probably have to learn them by heart, but the Fugoo can do lots of things, the limiting fact is that it has only 3 main buttons and the power-button, so look forward to some finger-acrobatics.

The sound is pretty smooth. It is by far not as heavy as on the Bose Soundlink Mini, but the Fugoo sounds more natural with very clear mids and perfectly tuned treble. There is plenty of bass, reaching quite deep, it is not as boosted as on the Bose, but the Fugoo nevertheless never sounds anemic. You really get a sense of punch and there is "real" bass, unlike most other portable speakers I have tried, including the JBL Charge, UE Boom etc. I think the Fugoo can compete pretty well with bigger speakers as well, becaues when I directly switched between the Fugoo and the Soundblaster Roar, I preferred the much more open and less boomy sound of the Fugoo, without that much upper bass, but with more low bass instead compared to the Roar.
As the Fugoo is nearly omnidirectional you don't need to care about placing or aiming it at you. It sounds just good, wherever you put it, even on the floor from above it sounds gerat, regardless if you are listening from behind or from the front, as it has all drivers spread to all sides.
Volume control is synced with the player, which is great because you can also control start/stop and track skipping directly from the speaker, if you intend to use it mounted on your bike with your phone hidden somewhere in your pocket for example.
The only thing I noticed is that maximum volume might be a bit low for some. Currently it is by far not as loud as the Bose Soundlink Mini for example, but I still have an older Firmware (01.00.14) installed, so I will hopefully be able to compare it with the latest 01.00.46 firmware which is claimed to improve sound quality and overall loudness! I will try to prepare some comparison videos as well as detailed frequency response measurements. Of course there will be also a comparison to the Soundlink Mini, and maybe the UE Boom, but after having listened to to the Fugoo for some minutes only, I can already claim by now that the Fugoo is just a class above the UE Boom with a much more mature sound, while the UE Boom can play considerably louder, but just sounds like a tin-can speaker, not a grown up system!

Please be patient and give me some time to prepare everything!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: Soundfreaq Pocket Kick - more style than substance?

There are so many portable Bluetooth speakers on the market right now, that it is really hard to follow all of them. Apart from the big boys like JBL, Sony, Bose, etc. I sometimes ask myself if I might be missing something not trying out some of the cheaper ones, most of them being no-name brands designed and built somewhere in Asia.
What is still missing though is a really pocketable speaker with good sound. With "good" sound I mean something really outstanding that manges to wipe the floor with all other offerings. Similar to what Bose did in the Jambox-class when they announced the Soundlink Mini, just smaller and more pocketable.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Infinity One - the better Pill XL?

Harman Kardon which meanwhile owns some known audio brands like AKG, JBL, Lexicon, Mark Levinson and Revel will now also launch new products for their Infinity brand, one of them being the Infinity One Bluetooth speaker.

JBL Charge 2 out now!

JBL already offers the new Charge 2 speaker without making a song and dance about it.
It is not yet available in any other stores except JBL's own online store and Crutchfield. There's no known availabilty for Europe either...

The new Charge 2 has dual passive radiators to the sides, and it seems it has dual drivers facing to both the front and back of the speaker making it nearly omnidirectional. The bass-response is claimed to be 75Hz, which is quite a gain over the 150Hz of the original JBL Charge speaker.

Now this could finally be the real contender for Bose's Soundlink Mini, with more features, better outdoor usability and hopefully better sound too? The old one was rather a bad joke to tell the truth.

Update: You can find my final review of the JBL Charge 2 here.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Review: AudioXperts EVA BLU - the portable Bluetooth speaker with wooden flavor

I am going to review a speaker which probably most of you will never be able to buy or even hear in person because AudioXperts as a company doesn't exist anymore! The EVA BLU was originally announced to cost 399$, but now there only seem to be some units left for the German market, with some dealers even offering prices below 200€, so hurry if you still want to get one or just read my own impression if it is worth at all.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Measuring speakers, a first apporach

I hope there are some readers out there who appreciate my work of doing speaker reviews and comparisons. I am not really sure, because the comment sections remain mostly silent, therefore it is not easy for me to judge if I should evolve my reviews even further, or if it would be just wasted effort.

Experiencing "sound" is mostly a matter of subjective and personal taste. Describing sound to someone else is even harder, espcially for me being a non-native speaker.
Therefore I introduced my first comparison videos 1 year ago, which were still very clumsy and not recorded that well. But I continued to improve the recordings as well as optimize my whole recording setup. My idea was that two or more speakers could be compared pretty well to each other by just listening to them, without having to write a single word. When hearing two speakers on your own and noticing the change in sound when one switches over to the next one, this would be the most objective sound comparison I can provide. Of course everyone listens with different speakers, or different headphones, so everyone will be hearing something else, but the relative difference between two speakers will always remain the same. I also doubt that my recording microphone is as linear calibrated as it is claimed to be, thus there will always be some deviation from the pure original sound already starting with the microphone. But as long as both speakers are recorded in the same way, with the same microphone etc. they should still be comparable pretty well.