Saturday, December 27, 2014

Denon Envaya Mini für €79,90 (Versandkostenfrei in Deutschland)

Kaum ist Weihnachten vorbei, beginnt Weihnachten erst so richtig, denn Comtech hat gerade ein interessantes und zeitbegrenztes Angebot für alle unseren deutschen Mitleser: der Denon Envaya Mini frei Haus.

Wer bei diesem Angebot nicht zuschlägt, ist selber schuld ;-)

PS. Ich bekomme keine Provision vom Händler oder so, wollte das Angebot einfach an alle Interessierten oder Unentschiedenen weitergeben, die von meinem Testbericht immer noch nicht überzeugt wurden.

Würde mich natürlich über alle Kommentare von neuen Besitzern zu dem Gerät freuen!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Best portable Bluetooth speakers (Oluv's personal favorites 2014)

With this list I want to show you my personal favorite portable speakers that I use on a regular basis including some explanation why I have chosen them over some others and when I use this instead of that. It's been quite a long time I wanted to prepare a kind of best-of list of all portable speakers I know or that I have heard. But after having heard so many, I thought that a real best-of is simply not doable as each speaker has its own strengths or weaknesses. After all those years it seemed I would still not be able to find a single speaker which would satisfy all my needs not until I have heard the new Denon Envaya Mini, which mixed up my whole perspective and made my whole list until now pretty useless. The Denon Envaya Mini finally persuaded me to sell all other speakers I currently own, including JBL Charge 2, Fugoo, Sony SRS-X3 etc. Therefore I would like to present *drum roll* the Denon Envaya Mini as my current favorite portable speaker.

Review: Denon Envaya Mini DSB100 - the mini speaker (r)evolution

I already reviewed the bigger Denon Envaya DSB200 which was introduced earlier this year and although I found it to be quite a solid performer, it didn't knock my socks off. My favorite speaker by then was the Soundlink Mini which was considerably smaller but managed quite a similar sound. Although both were tuned differently, I couldn't discern any real advantage in sound if I chose the Denon Envaya over the Soundlink Mini with a similar boomy bass and similarly muffled treble, except a slightly higher overall loudness but at the same time ending up with a much larger speaker.
Now the smaller brother of the Denon Envaya, the "DSB100" was announced recently without making big waves about it as I only managed to hear about it per chance. I became really curious to hear what Denon managed to sequeeze out of a speaker that small, as they don't seem to be a company to contend themself with little. Let me tell you that this is finally the speaker which indeed managed to blow my mind more than any other portabler speaker I have tried in the last years. Come in to find out why.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

First Impressions: Denon Envaya Mini - mini big speaker

I was about to prepare some further reviews of speakers like the Pioneer Freeme or the Cambridge Audio G2, when I received the freshly announced Denon Envaya Mini which suddenly makes the reviews of all the other speakers pretty much obsolete. Although I hadn't noticed any big announcement to tell the truth, I was really curious to hear it when I finally discovered it and did my best to get it as soon as possible. In Germany there are already offers for as low as 90€ including shipping, which puts the Envaya Mini on the same price level as the NudeAudio Move Super M I reviewed recently. Not sure when the Denon Envaya Mini will become available in the U.S. and how much it will cost though, so jump in to ease your waiting!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Review: Cambridge Audio Go V2 - "return to sender"

Some Blogreaders and viewers of my YouTube channel were repeatedly asking me how the Cambridge Audio speakers compared to the current line of portable Bluetooth speakers and begged if I could make a comparison. I only knew the old Cambridge Audio Minx Go which I heard once in a store and was pretty disappointed by its performance. Meanwhile there is a new improved version out called "Go V2", so I thought I should give it another try to see how this speaker fits in the whole portable speaker market and if it is really worth its asked price. Let's have a look!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review: NudeAudio Move Super M - pocket sized, not so "super"

I am still looking for a nicely compact speaker to be carried all-around, small enough to fit inside a pocket which despite its small size should be able to pump out some serious sound. So far I haven't found anything worth mentioning. The Mini Jambox, TDK A12 or JBL Clip being probably the best solutions are still far from anything serious sounding.
Now NudeAudio came up with a kickstarter campaign for their Move Super M speaker which finally managed to find its way into commercial stores. After all the hype I thought I should give it a try if it really deserves all the rumor, so jump in to find out if it is worth the hassle.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A2 - the sounding purse (not for House lovers)

Shorty after the announcement of the B&W T7 also Bang & Olufsen announced their own vision of a true portable speaker with omnidirectional sound, a claimed 24 hours battery life, recharging of external devices and max. 180W!! sound... well, too good to be true? All those specs come with a price and this is 399$ or 349€, which makes the A2 even more expensive than the B&W T7 at least in the US because in Europe both cost the same. For the price of one Beoplay A2, you could also have an Infinity One thanks to the recent price drop and still have enough left to buy an extra JBL Charge 2, at least in the US.
So let's find if the Beoplay A2 is really worth the extra and how it compares to the current line of portable Bluetoothspeakers particularly with regard to its direct competitor from B&W.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Review: Bowers & Wilkins T7 - premium sound at a premium price?

Just when I wanted to calm down a little bit after all those reviews and comparisons I had done lately the British well known premium company B&W unexpectedly announced their first portable Bluetooth speaker, the T7. Of course the specs and given data was looking pretty promising and with 349$/€ the T7 was priced above the current competition like the Bose Soundlink III, the Infinity One, or even the Beats Pill XL, which all cost around 299$ (the Infinity One just got a price drop down to 249$, which makes it even more competitive now price went up again) thus putting the T7 on top of all the rest.
I became quite curious to try out this speaker and hear if a serious company like Bowers & Wilkins managed something really outstanding. Meanwhile I got the T7 and put it through some tests and measurements, so let's have a look if the T7 was really worth the long wait to finally get a portable speaker that stands out of the crowd.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review: Hercules WAE NEO - take the Disco with you!

Recently I received an intriguing funky speaker called "WEA NEO" from Hercules which is a sub-brand from the french company Guillemot. WAE stands for "wireless audio experience" and represents a whole line of different wireless/Bluetooth speakers, the WEA NEO being the top model of the whole line. Although I was aware of the brand before, I must confess that I haven't heard any speaker from Hercules yet. Now this has changed and I would like to show you where this speaker "shines" in the truest sense of the word.

Monday, October 27, 2014

News: Binaural speaker recordings

When I had the idea of doing "fidelity-tests" of various speakers, I quickly noticed that it wouldn't be that easy to achieve really representative results.

Apart from room acoustics etc. the microphones have a too strong self-sound, to really allow valid results. I had tested more than half dozen different handheld recorders, from Olympus to Yamaha and Zoom. And all of them sounded so different that I doubt they would allow any neutral results.
To give it another try, I lately ordered a Zoom H5 and an optional XYH-6 capsule as I hoped these would give me significant improvements over the "cheap" Zoom H1 recorder that I am currently using, but in the end, the results were even worse. Not only did both mic-capsules emphasize treble too much, they did roll-off with low frequencies too strong, and there was a noticable divergency between left/right channel with the sound being not centered as it should be. Both microphones had a different bias towards left or right, therefore I sent both back totally disappointed.
Currently it seems as if I was still at the very beginning to find a better but still affordable recording solution which would allow the most neutral and flat recording.

You can hear some of my previous test-recordings here. In this case the JBL Charge 2 was recorded with all recorder/microphone combinations in the same room with the same settings/distance etc. As the XYH-6 capsule supports 2 different directional patterns, I did recordings with both, you can also check out the original track for comparison:

Excerpt of the original track:

Zoom H1:

Zoom H5:

Zoom H5+XYH-6 90°:

Zoom H5+XYH-6 120°:

I think it is pretty obvious that all the used microphones have a different sound, there is even a noticeable sound-difference between the 90° and 120° setting of the XYH-6 capulse. I also tried a recording with my current measuring microphone the MiniDSP UMIK-1, but so far I am still in the process to include the calibration file into the recording procedure and will post it as soon as I managed.

At the same time, I had also ordered a Roland CS-10EM binaural microphone. I wanted to try out something new and although these microphones are not really suitable for neutral direct recordings of a speaker, they seem perfectly suitable to record how a speaker would sound in a particular room thanks to a rather neutral sound. You have to wear headphones to hear how the sound was meant to be, or you can try playing it back through speakers with a crosstalk cancelling filter like "Liveaudio" from the Mini Jambox.

To understand better how the listening situation was, what kind of room etc, I also did a photo of each listening position, so that you can see what I heard when I did those recordings wearing the microphones inside my ears. I am curious what you think about this kind of audio-demo, and if I should continue using it in future for further speaker comparisons too. I did not normalize the recordings, so the difference in loudness you hear is real and represents the real situation.

Again I used the JBL Charge 2 (my current portable reference despite all the distortion issues, it is one of the best sounding portable speakers which can be already had for 129€) and recorded it in different rooms and positions from different distances, please have a look (and don't forget to listen through headphones):

Equally to the JBL I also tried recording some further speakers inside the shelf in the living room, I wonder if you can hear the difference in sound between all of them. I think that especially the increased stereo-separation of the EVA Blu and the Bose compared to the JBL Charge 2 and the mono Play:1 is pretty obvious:

Please let me know what you think about these recordings. Does the binaural effect work for you? Do these recordings sound more real than the previous ones I did? Which listening position does represent the most realistic situation for you?

Please leave a comment if you have further ideas!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

News: B&O vs. B&W - fight!

Some will probably already have noticed two new and really interesting Bluetooth speakers, the T7 from Bowers & Wilkins and the BeoPlay A2 from Bang & Olufsen. I am not sure if this is pure coincidence that two companies release their first portable Bluetoothspeakers nearly the same day.

I won't go much into details and further tech specs, as you will find all information on their dedicated sites, but both speakers will cost exactly 349$/€ thus making them directly comparable and putting them a step above current offerings from Bose, Infinity or whatever.
The big difference I see between both is that Bang & Olufsen really tried to make a portable speaker with an own grip, 360° sound, a 24 hours battery life and USB-charging of external devices while B&W was rather trying to copy existing concepts and make their own version out of it.

I would really love to hear both side by side and prepare a detailed comparison.

Update: The B&W T7 should arrive tomorrow, while I haven't got any shipping confirmation from B&O yet. According to B&O support, the Beoplay A2 should arrive on Friday, so stay tuned for some detailed comparison between both!

Update2: My B&W T7 review is already finished. I can already reveal that one of them is considerably more serious sounding... you guess which.

Update3: Finally also my B&O Beoplay A2 review is finished.

Monday, October 20, 2014

News: Bluetooth speakers "play different" - BenQ eVolo and Mass Fidelity Core

One might think "not another Bluetooth speaker" every time a new model is announced.
Indeed the whole Bluetooth speaker market started becoming quite a bit boring. There are units costing less than 20$, others costing close to 1000$ or even more, colorful ones, swimming ones etc.
But there is hardly any innovation visible. Some Bluetooth speakers still refuse any quick re-pairing to already known devices...

But two recently announced Bluetooth speakers managed to catch my attention. They are both portable, which means they will run from a rechargeable battery, and they are both pretty compact to really deserve the term "portable".

Friday, October 10, 2014

News: Speaker fidelity tests

I wanted to try out something new to allow for an even better judgement of a speaker's sound quality. Please let me know if you have some further ideas suggestions or wishes, so that this test could evolve to something helpful maybe.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pimp my JBL Charge 2 - protection tweaks for transport

A portable speaker which can be easily damaged during the first transport is pretty useless. I am not the only one who thinks that the unprotected passive radiators of the JBL Charge 2 are the weakest part of the speaker, so some owners already came up with some tweaks to protect their new gadget.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Review: Infinity One - Premium wireless portable speaker

I must confess that the Infinity One was the most awaited speaker I wanted to try lately. My request for a review sample directly from Harman was denied with the statement the Infinity One not to become available outside the U.S. I am not sure if they might change their mind, but even in the U.S. availabilty still seems quite a bit limited.
At least my good old friend is dependable as he took the risk of ordering one overseas paying some premium taxes and import fees. But this is what you are ready to pay for a "Premium wireless portable speaker", which the Infinity One is called according to the Infinity site.
For all desperate potential buyers living outside of the U.S. there is still the option to buy the Infinity One directly from as they seem to be shipping their units to Europe too or maybe even worldwide. Ultimatively you can try a delivery service like "".

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review: Bose Soundlink Colour - now we're talking!

The latest Bluetooth speaker from Bose is also the most affordable one, costing just $129,- or a bit more in Europe with €139,-. The new Soundlink Colour is not just a stripped down version of the bigger Soundlink III or the Soundlink Mini, as it rather seems to introduce an own new category of fashionable and colourful portable speakers for Bose which are more suitable for real outdoor use than the previous Soundlink versions. Let's have a look how much features and sound Bose has managed to squeeze into their cheapest Soundlink.

Monday, September 22, 2014

News: Bose Sounddock XT - the dock is dead, long live the dock!

So far I haven't even noticed any announcements about the new Sounddock XT, but today during my visit at the Bose store they already had one on display and I could have a look at it.

The design is pretty funky, not that old school as the previous models. I couldn't have a listen unfortunately as I still have my old trusty Iphone 4, while my wife got her Iphone 5 with lightning-connector only. The Sounddock is not equipped with Bluetooth, with so many speakers currently supporting multiple connections through Bluetooth, Airplay and even dock or Micro-USB simultanously, I am pretty surprised to see the Sounddock XT being just equipped with a lightning connector. This limits the usage to Apple-devices only, which is a pity.
Overall I really like the looks of the Sounddock XT, at the same time it got pretty cheap compared to the old Sounddock models.

According to the Bose salesman the new one is not as powerful in base, but to tell the truth, the old one was already a bit owerpowering, maybe the new one sounds more balanced now. I will have a listen next Thursday when I will be returning my review sample of the Soundlink Colour.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

News: The new Bose Soundlink Colour - because paint is beautiful!

Bose announced the new Soundlink Colour, a completely new speaker with quite a different design than the Soundlink Mini but also cheaper and more colorful. It should become available worldwide during the next week(s). Biggest improvement seems to be charging through USB, it also seems to have track controls, at least it looks as if you could play/pause music, not sure how to skip tracks though. The Soundlink Colour supports multipoint pairing with 2 devices to quickly switch from one to the other. A pity it doesn't seem to support pairing with another speaker for wireless stereo as so many recent speakers already have this great feature included.

I have no clue how the new one might sound, but it looks quite a bit more rugged and portable than the Soundlink Mini which rather looks good on the shelf at home, than on a sandy beach. The new one seems to be better suitable for transport due to its flat form factor it is also slightly lighter, but I have yet to see it in person to be able to judge the difference in size between both.

Despite all the beautiful colors, I think I like the white one most. As soon as I can get my hands on one, I will of course compare it to the Soundlink Mini. Let's hope the new one is not just a cheaper trimmed down version, but will also have some ace up its sleeve especially regarding sound, maybe loudness, clarity etc...

I prepared a simple and rough 3d-sketch according to the specs the Soundlink Colour is not that small. It is about 60% larger in overall capacity than the Soundlink Mini and already reaches more or less the size of the JBL Charge 2:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: JBL Charge 2 - the failed new benchmark!

I am actually quite surprised about the lack of rumors or reviews regarding the new JBL Charge 2.
The old JBL Charge was one of the most popular speakers with thousands of reviews on from many enthusiastic owners claiming it to be the best portable speaker around. I personally found it pretty mediocre, sounding like a typical canny small speaker, with a strange boomy upper bass. Even the much smaller FoxL sounded more mature overall, although it was not able to reach the high volume of the JBL.
Instead of the JBL Charge, I would have probably even chosen the UE Boom, despite finding that one pretty average too.
But meanwhile the new JBL Charge 2 was announced or not really announced, as any "official" announcement is still missing, maybe they wanted to wait for the IFA. But the first units are already available on and, and I managed to grab one because I was really curious to see and hear if there are any improvements over the old model.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

First impressions: JBL Charge 2 - the new king? of distortion!

After the announcement of the JBL Charge 2 and the Infinity One I asked Harman if they would send me review samples. They didn't but instead responded about the Infinity One to be not released in Europe at all, but rather be a U.S. only model. Strange decision, but as meanwhile at least the Charge 2 became available here, I simply ordered a white one to try it out and satisfy my curiosity.

All I can say: JBL should have sent it to more beta testers than they obviously did, because as it is now the Charge 2 seems unusable, at least for anyone who wants to listen to music, not noise!
Maybe my unit is defective, therefore I already ordered a replacement and will hopefully get this soon to have a direct comparison and be sure if not all of them are like that.

But judging the unit I currently own, which I assume to be alright, there seem to be considerable problems with either sound-processing, the amplifier or whatever. Apart from that, the sound is indeed great if not even best in class and a huge improvement over the old Charge, although not in all aspects. I will cover that more in detail with my final review. As for now I only want to demonstrate the problems my JBL Charge 2 unit suffers from.

As I sometimes like to listen to music at low levels depending on the situation and mood, I wanted to try out if the JBL Charge could deliver enough sound for my needs. The first thing I noticed was, that it didn't sound that overwhelming at low levels. The Charge has only 15 dedicated volume-steps, exactly like the Fugoo, volume control is synced on both the speaker and streaming device, at least with an iOS device. When controlling volume through the speaker, it seems as if there were 30 steps, but you can only hear a jump of volume every second step. Unforunately the speaker becomes too loud too quickly. Step 5 is already as loud as 50% on the Soundlink Mini. Nevertheless within the very first volume steps the sound remained a bit flat only to become more punchy at higher levels. Compared to a Sony SRS-X3 that I reviewed here, the Sony managed a much more profound sound down to lowest levels while the Charge 2 sounded more canny at comparable loud(soft)ness settings. But the more worrying fact was, that the sound became really strange at low levels. The bass sounded as if it couldn't come through and aside there was some distinct noise and interference artifacts, that I first thought to be the influcence of a mobile phone network, Wifi, or even Bluetooth. Later when I could narrow down the problem and try different solutions to solve it, I realized that it was not solvable. The artifacts which I thought to be interference were even present with the iPhone set to flightmode and with music playing through line-in.

The other problem I heard was some severe distortion on particular tracks that are mastered with a very high gain close to 0dB. Strong peaks like that from a bassdrum start to get a scratching sound. First I thought it to be a problem with the drivers, the passive radiators etc. But this distortion was noticeable at lower levels as well. I thought that because of the synced volume, the input gain through Bluetooth was maybe set too high causing this distortion. But when trying to listen through line-in while lowering volume on both speaker and player to prevent any clipping, funnily the distortion remained exaclty the same as if it was "baked" into the track directly, which of course is not the case, because any other speaker plays these tracks perfectly. To further test this issue I played some sine-sweeps and heard that particular frequencies or frequency changes seem to cause these artifacts. I guess the sound processor is responsible for that, as it maybe tries to process bass adequately, but fails, who knows!

You can hear or download quite an extreme example here. This is an MP3-file of a close mic recording from about 15cm with the JBL Charge playing at volume step 4/15. I switch over to the Fugoo 2 times in this file, and you can hear that beside all the grumbling background noise the JBL has also a much higher overall noise floor compared to the Fugoo. Both speakers were recorded in exactly the same way with the volume more or less matched, which was about half way on the Fugoo thus not that low anymore.

I also prepared a video which demonstrates the problems of the JBL Charge 2 with some selected tracks. To show how the music should sound in reality I also recorded the same with the Bose Soundlink Mini and the Fugoo using equivalent loudness settings and switching between the speakers.
My only hope is that my unit is indeed defective, otherwise the JBL Charge 2 would be a complete fail!

UPDATE: Meanwhile I was able to test another brand new unit, but also on YouTube several other owners confirmed the same issues with their JBL Charge 2. This would lead to the conclusion that indeed all units seem affected. I already contacted Harman on this problem and am curious to hear what they will answer and what kind of fix they might offer!

UPDATE2: All issues were finally fixed with the final Firmware, please have a look here.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Test: Fugoo Bluetooth speaker - der aktive Lautsprecher für Aktive!

Ich habe nach einigem "Betteln" nun endlich direkt von Fugoo ein Testgerät zur Verfügung gestellt bekommen. Dass ich das Gerät nicht selbst gekauft habe, soll meine objektive Meinung dennoch nicht beeinflussen. Ich fand den Fugoo seit seiner Vorstellung bereits extrem interessant, bloß war er bisher auf dem europäischen Markt noch nicht erhältlich. Aber die Kombination aus Design, Features, extremer Robustheit und einem vermeintlich guten Klang, ließ den Lautsprecher beinahe perfekt für Outdooraktivitäten erscheinen. In der Zwischenzeit konnte man sich den Fugoo sogar direkt über nach Deutschland oder Österreich liefern lassen, aber die Gefahr war mir dann doch zu gross, ob ich damit überhaupt zufrieden sein würde, ob mir der Klang gefallen würde, ob er laut genug sein würde etc. Eine Rücksendung wäre wohl dementsprechend teuer geworden. Mittlerweile ist er aber sogar schon auf zur Vorbestellung gelistet, wobei nur noch die eigentliche Verfügbarkeit offen ist.
Die meisten Testberichte zum Fugoo sind zwar positiv, aber es gibt immer wieder extrem negative Bewertungen, die dem Lautsprecher zu wenig Lautstärke nachsagen. Andererseits gibt es auch genügend Testberichte zu Geräten, die im Grunde für die Tonne sind, und trotzdem sich die Leute begeistert darüber auslassen, wie phänomenal dieser Lautsprecher um 20 Euro doch sei, und was für ein "Klangwunder". Somit blieb mir nichts anderes übrig, als den Fugoo selbst auszuprobieren, um mich von seinen Qualitäten zu überzeugen.

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.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: Jawbone Mini Jambox - the better Jambox?

We all know that the Jambox is just a piece of overpriced garbage... well the truth is, the original Jambox was nevertheless something like a game-changer for the whole portable speaker market.
Up to then all portable speakers were either small and sounded tinny, or they were too large to really be called "portable".

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: AudioActiv Vault LS waterproof case for Soundlink Mini

AudioActiv asked me if I was interested in testing their Vault series waterproof speaker case and sent me one for the Soundlink Mini.
I was looking forward to trying it out, because I use the Soundlink Mini quite regularly also near the pool when swimming, so it could be nice to either have the speaker finally protected somehow against splashes, or even take it directly into the water for an even better and more immersive sound experience.

Speaker news and rumors: BoLse, Audio Dynamix and Fugoo

"BOLSE", yeah right, Bose but with an "L" contacted me recently, if I would like to test their newest speaker:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Sony SRS-X3 - The Bose Soundlink Mini killer?

Happy Birthday to my Soundlink Mini, as it will be exactly one year ago to the day that it made me 200 bucks poorer, when I carried it out from the Bose store. As much as I had used it over the time and thought it would be my last portable speaker bringing my search for the perfect portable speaker finally to an end, instead everything seems to have started again from the beginning.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: Sony SRS-X5 vs. Denon Envaya - priced small like a Soundlink Mini, sound big like a Soundlink III?

Lately I concentrated rather on more portable speakers, with the hope of maybe finding some better alternative to the Soundlink Mini. Apart from the Pill XL that I have already reviewed here, I haven't tried any larger speakers, because for my own personal purposes they would be just too large to be carried around all the time. The Soundlink Mini is able to produce enough loudness for my needs, and the sound from the Soundlink Mini is full and bassheavy enough to make listening to music really enjoying, thus I didn't feel the need to try out something larger and heavier.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Review: Beats Pill XL - the ultimate portable speaker?

When people were asking me for the overall best portable speaker I was already raving about the Beats Pill XL without even having heard it in detail. The only chance I had for a short listen was outdoors together with a friend when we compared his new Pill XL to his iLoud and my Bose Soundlink Wireless Music System. Of course I was pretty impressed by the Pill XL, as it was the sheer power easily blowing the iLoud out of the water, nearly matching the Soundlink Wirless Music System in overall loudness. But it is a completely different experience you get when you listen to a speaker indoors in a more controlled enviroment, where you don't feel the need to crank it to the maximum. Meanwhile I own the Beats Pill XL, and while it is indeed an impressively powerful speaker, it definitely has some quirks regarding sound.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: Klipsch GiG - the first real Bose Soundlink Mini contender?

There are hundrets of similar sized or even larger portable speakers than the Soundlink Mini, but so far none of them really managed to reach the level of Bose. Although many claim the UE Boom to sound much better, or even the JBL Charge, in reality they are both just better kitchen-radios.

Apart from JBL not many real speaker companies (I won't call Logitech a speaker company, they usually make mice and keyboards, and UE was making in-ear monitors before) have tried to bring out something really comparable or even better. The bigger part of the Bluetooth speaker market is produced by some no-name companies from Asia without any real audio-background.
But Klipsch is a well known brand with a long history in audio with their professional speakers. Their portable KMC-3 boombox is one of the best I have heard, the smaller KMC-1 was pretty average but I was curious to hear their smallest speaker "GiG", which indeed seems like a direct competitor of the Bose Soundlink Mini.

Recently I finally managed to get my hands on a Klipsch GiG and wanted to do a short review. I'll try to concentrate on the facts and avoid any long and unneccessary explanations.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Saturn Österreich: Beats Pill XL um 229,- Soundlink III um 249,-

Für unsere österreichischen Leser diesmal, falls es überhaupt solche geben sollte (bitte aufzeigen, wenn jemand aus Österreich mitliest ;-)

Ich verfolge selten diverse Flyer, die einem ins Haus schneien, wir haben das ganze Werbematerial sogar abbestellt, da es unseren Briefkasten immer überfüllt hat. Diesmal hätte ich einen wirklich interessanten Flyer sogar fast übersehen, und mir wohl in den A... gebissen!

Der Saturn in Österreich bietet jetzt nämlich ein "zweites Urlaubsgeld" (nur noch bis 28.06) und im Zuge dieser Aktion gibt es einige interessante Angebote. Die bieten tatsächlich die Beats Pill XL um 229,- an, statt den regulären 299,-. Auch den Soundlink III kann man dort derzeit um 249,- kaufen. Kein schlechter Preis wie ich finde.
Ebenso der Sony SRS-X5, zu dem ich demnächst noch einen kleinen Review verfassen werde, ist dort günstiger zu haben, Amazon bietet ihn gerade aber auch nur unwesentlich teurer um 179,- an.

Ich habe beide Beats und Bose im Laden mal nebeneinander etwas spielen lassen, und der Soundlink III hatte nicht die geringste Chance gegen den Pill XL. Je lauter es wurde, desto besser und kraftvoller wurde der Pill XL, desto schlechter und hohler der Klang von Bose. Die 20 Euro Aufpreis für den Bose kann man sich schenken, wenn man eine echte portable Boombox mit langer Akkulaufzeit (etwa 8 Stunden unter Volllast!), einem fetten Klang und hohe Lautstärken benötigt

PS. ich habe mir sogar noch etwas günstiger den letzten Austeller ergattert und werde euch demnächst hoffentlich ein paar Vergleiche von Pill XL mit einigen anderen Spielsachen bieten können...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Wavemaster MOBI and MOBI-2, the most popular ultraportable speakers

Meanwhile there are tons of pocket-sized portable speakers around. I haven't heard all of them, but the Wavemaster MOBI was one of the most popular ultraportable speakers and top-seller in Germany for a long time. You could also find it under different brands like "Cabstone Sounddisc", or "Divoom Pop" and many others.
Fact was that compared to many similar speakers like X-Mini, Raikko Nano etc, the MOBI managed the best balanced sound somehow. The sound was still far away from anything really serious, but it was better than all the rest. I still own my old MOBI, which was one of my very first really portable speakers that small.

There has been a revised Bluetooth version out for some time now called MOBI-2, which took the crown and is now best selling speaker system according to I wanted to check how much different both sounded and if the new version was any better costing 1/3 more. I prepared a video which hopefully can show you some differences in sound as well as which one will play louder etc.
Although the new version has Bluetooth I recorded both with a wired connection to get exactly the same conditions and not to disadvantage one of them.

I am also expecting a sample of the Teufel BT Bamster to arrive soon and will try comparing it to my Soundlink Mini using the same track as above, so you will hear the difference in sound ;-)

Update: Have a look here, how this sounds on the BT Bamster and Soundlink Mini.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bose Soundlink Mini um €139!

Für all unsere deutschen Leser: Morgen 12.06.2014 wird in Köln der Saturn Hennef neueröffnet, da gibt es dann neben einigen anderen Schnäppchen auch den Bose Soundlink Mini um 139,- zu ergattern.
Die Eröffnung startet um 6:00 Uhr früh, also schnell hin, wenn man sich einen sichern will, als Geschenk für die Mama, oder als Zweitgerät für seinen eigenen, oder wenn man noch keinen hat.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Review: Anker MP141 Bluetooth Speaker

Anker sent me a sample of their new Bluetooth speaker, the so called MP141. Until now I only knew Anker from their Powerpacks, I also own one, but it seems they started to get into audio as well.
So far I have not heard much about this speaker. I started reading some reviews which were all positive, and found the design to be really appealing, so I decided to try out the speaker on my own as well.

TDK TREK Max A34 - the better A33?

TDK just announced the TDK TREK Max or simply A34, which seems to be a successor of the very popular A33.
The A33 is not a bad speaker, but I was not impressed with it due to some bad experiences I had made.
The A33 had a pretty weak and unreliable battery built in. I got a brand new device and it could only play for several minutes on top volume before shutting down on its own.
Also sound was not the best you could get in its class, but still better than most of its competition. I didn't like the rather tinny sound at lower volumes, apart from that it sounded really powerful and nicely balanced from medium volume upwards.

The new A34 seems to have gained NFC-connectivity and track-skipping buttons. Also design is a bit different now, still not sure if I liked the old one more. But it is still splash resistant, so if you are going to use it near a pool or at the beach, the A34 should safely do the job.

If other than that much changed especially regarding the battery and sound, has to be tested. The A34 seems to be available soon through, but there is no availabilty for Europe yet.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

First impressions: Beats Pill XL

Today during lunch I met my friend, who just received a Beats Pill XL as probable substitute for his IK Multimedia iLoud, after the iLoud started getting battery-problems with self discharge after one day without usage etc.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: Creative Sound Blaster Roar SR20 - the Swiss knife speaker

I got contacted by Creative lately if I would like to review a new speaker from them, the "Sound Blaster Roar SR20". I started reading a little bit about it and as some first reviews were already online I got pretty excited, as it seemed to be an interesting portable speaker with infinite and even some funny features.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Some videos...

I didn't have lots of time lately doing reviews etc.
Originally I planned to do a review of the Loewe Speaker 2go, the UE Boom etc... but it is really time consuming to prepare the stuff, write about it, and then still make it appear understandable to others, especially in English.

But I was not completely inactive during this time, as I have prepared lots of different comparison videos. If you haven't subscribed to my Youtube channel, here are some recent videos for you:

Bose Soundlink Mini vs. UE Boom:

Bose Soundlink III vs. Loewe Speaker 2go: 

An updated comparison of the Soundmatters FoxL vs Bose Soundlink Mini:

TDK A33 vs Bose Soundlink Mini:

TDK A33 vs Bose Soundlink Mini outdoors:

Bose Soundlink Mini vs. Harman Kardon Esquire:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Music - some tips

What value does the best speaker have without the right music to be played through it?

I am no music expert by any means, but I listen to a lot of different music and I sometimes find interesting artists that are not known that much, but might be interesting for others too.
It is a sad fact that the best artists are rather kept secretly in the background while shit-music is commercially promoted and pushed through media and radio stations...

Here I would like to present some recent albums from this and last year that I think are really worth to be listened to. The style is my own preferred music style, which lies somewhere between Jazz/Funk/Electronica/Groove whatever.

First comes a very fresh release, just released this week: "Resolution 88"!
Tom O'Grady's jazz funk band sounds as if the original Herbie Hancock Headhunters band had rejoined together to record another album. The sound is very retro 70s sounding, but with modern mastering and a very thick bass heavy mix done by another Rhodes-wiz Dan Goldman aka "JD73", who will hopefully also be releasing his new album soon (if you don't know him yet, you have to check out his previous 2 albums).
If you like the old 70s Herbie Hancock fusion sound, you will definitely love Resolution 88.

Another pretty inspiring artist (and British as well) is Carl Hudson with his album "Zoology for Martians". The album is very Fusion-Jazz/Funk oriented too, but with more of a spacy atmospheric sound. Carl Hudson uses vintage keyboard sounds as well as some vocoder effects which makes it also quite reminiscent of Herbie Hancock's own experiments from the late 70s. The drums on this album are played by ex-Jamiroquai member Nick Van Gelder. If you liked the spacy sound of Lonnie Liston Smith or Christian Bruhn's soundtrack for the 80s TV-Cartoon "Captain Future" you will love Carl Hudson, but with a more groovy and more sophisticated sound.

If you are into Brazilian jazz and funk with acts like Azymuth or Marcos Valle, you should have a listen to Lucas Arruda's masterpiece "Sambadi", which is a mix of modern Brazil-grooves, with electronic acid jazz elements. Lucas Arruda played all the instruments by himself which proves him to be one exceptional artist!

This is the first real solo album of Jean Paul Maunick aka "Bluey", the mastermind behind the legendary Acid Jazz/Nu Soul band "Incognito". Leap of Faith is a pretty straight forward Nu Soul, R'n'B album where you can still hear some Incognito elements, but with all vocals parts sung exclusively by Bluey. Some tracks have an 80s vibe to them, while others remind me a bit of 90s Massive Attack. My favorite is "Why did I let you go", a kind of house-track bearing Simon Grey's signature.
Overall a bit short for a full-length album, but definitely worth listening to!

Jeff Lorber started to add "Fusion" to his band name recently like he originally did in the 70s. Jeff Lorber Fusion sound is indeed more groovy and jazzy than some of his previous smoothjazz albums, nevertheless there is still some easy smoothjazz-vibe floating around here and there.
The highlight is definitely the cover version of Frank Zappa's original "King Kong" that was originally played by Jean Luc Ponty who also plays the lead violin part here.

After all those hot and groovy albums, now something to float and chill. Aandra aka Alexandra Hampton shows how sophisticated chill-out and lounge music should sound like. The vibe is soft and a bit jazzy with nice laid back grooves sounding a bit like Naoki Kenji. I am already looking forward to her upcoming release that should be out any minute according to her website.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Review: Bose Soundlink III - the best Soundlink yet?

I have been playing around with the new Soundlink III for the last days, comparing it to the old versions as well as to the Soundlink Mini, and I think I can state that it is the best sounding Soundlink so far. This should already have been the Soundlink when the first version was announced in 2011.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Bose Soundlink Bluetooth Speaker III - hands on and first impressions

Bose announced the new Soundlink III speaker!
The third generation comes 1.5 years after the Soundlink II and 2.5 years after the original one, which was announced in September 2011.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Review: Bose Soundlink Wireless Music System - oldtimer redux!

Bose has the habit of very long life-cycles for their products. I have no idea how long their Waveradio has already been on the market without much changes in design or acoustics (not to mention their nearly 50 year old 910 speakers).
The same is true for their Bose Sounddock, which now is revived within the 3rd vesion, but didn't change much from the very first version that came out 10 years ago.