… no treble. Can carry-on luggage provide better sound than a brick or a lantern? We find out.
If you love to party, but you can’t stand being in a congested, closed space – surrounded by intoxicated, sweaty people – what do you do? The only alternative is a house party, where you invite your friends and they later head back to their respective homes impressed by your booming sound system.
But how much sound can you get if you have about `25,000 to spend on a good Bluetooth speaker? Well, we found three products that are available in different shapes and sizes to see if money can, in fact, buy you better sound quality.
The Line Up
First up is the most conventional Bluetooth speaker of the lot, the Sony SRS-XB40. Weighing in at 1.5kgs, and priced around ₹16,990, the Sony speaker has decent looks and features a brick shaped design that fosters portability. The speaker equips front firing drivers and lights that are housed inside the front grille. As a result, the Sony converts itself to a light show that dances to your music.
A little higher up the food chain comes the Bose SoundLink Revolve+, which is priced at a premium – near the top-end of our budget, at ₹24,500. Shaped like a lantern, with a rubberised flexible handle on top, the Bose is designed to provide 360-degree sound. It can also reflect sound off the wall if placed in the corner of a room. Weighing just 900 grams, the Bose speaker can also be a perfect travel companion.
The biggest of the bunch is the LG FH2 X Boom Handy, which is approximately four times the size and ten times the weight of the others. But it only costs ₹15,990, and so it seems like the bargain of the century. The LG speaker is inspired by modern travel bags, and it actually has a telescopic handle and two wheels at the back of the speaker – which allows you to drag it along as you would normally do with a stroller. Thus, despite being big in size, the speaker still offers portability.
About that Bass
Above all else, a Bluetooth speaker is only as good as it sounds. Everything else is irrelevant if the sound quality is sub-par. In terms of sound equalisation, the Sony SRS-XB 40 seemed to offer the most balanced sound of the three. But with the Extra Bass feature turned on, the bass becomes overwhelming and the mids and highs are not as crisp as they should be. The Sony also has a rear facing sub, which allows it to reflect off walls as well.
The LG has a monster of a bottom end, and that’s even before you go near the Bass Blast button. The LG is designed for a large room, or an open environment. Owing to this, the LG’s low-end overpowers the mid-range frequencies.
The Bose retains the brands signature flat response, but has been heavily improved to deliver better low end output. The Bose does seem to have a boosted high range, which can sound a little weird – but if you happen to be listening to some progressive rock tunes, you will end up noticing every single dynamic of the drums in a way that you’ve never really heard before (even if you’ve looped that song countless of times on other speakers).
Compared to the LG, which packs a 6.5-inch woofer, the Bose and the Sony get devoured in terms of volume. But when you crank all of them up to the max, it’s the LG that stands its ground with crisp audio throughout. The Sony may not be as loud as the LG, but nicely maintains audio integrity when cranked all the way up. And seeing the Bose’s size you might not expect it to be a powerhouse, but the speaker surprised us with the sound signature it achieved.
However, we won’t recommend that you play the Bose at unsafe volume levels – as it struggles slightly to handle wide mid-range frequencies. The only way to fix this is to bring the volume down a few notches in order to maintain clear and crisp sound.
Quantity of qualities
The Bose and the Sony are similarly equipped. They both can access the virtual assistants of your smartphone, answer and reject phone calls, and also be used as a speakerphone at the touch of a button. Bose claims that the Revolve+ has a battery life of up to 16 hours compared to the 24-hour battery life of the Sony.
During our test, the Bose discharged fairly quickly, while the Sony took its own sweet time. For its size, one might think that the LG would need to be plugged in to function, but it features a 7Ah battery that gives it a 15-hour battery life. As it’s the only one in the pack with Bluetooth standby as default, the speaker efficiently utilises its battery. The LG and Sony also double up as a charging station to your smartphones via the supplied USB port.
All the three speakers can play music via Bluetooth, USB or through a 3.5mm auxiliary input. The Sony and Bose have smartphone apps, which allow them to pair with multiple units, which the LG does not. However, the LG has the exact same input options, but it also gets an additional karaoke feature with a quarter-inch jack for a mic. With a push of a few buttons, it can cancel out the vocals of a song and change the key to allow the performer to sing at a comfortable pitch as well. There’s also an extendable antenna, which is awkwardly placed, but allows the system to receive and play FM radio frequencies as well.
The Sony and Bose are water resistant, with the Bose having an IPX4 rating – but it’s trumped by the Sony’s IPX5 certification. However, the Bose is shock proof while the Sony is not. Build quality of all three speakers seems extremely solid, but the Bose’s seamless design gives it a premium look. And while the LG may not be waterproof, it has enough power to be placed far away from the swimming pool and can still entertain with equal measure. And because you aren’t likely to drop the LG, it doesn’t really need to be shockproof.
Moment of truth
The Sony and the Bose are not very far off from conventional portable Bluetooth speakers, but they provide a vastly different characteristic of sound. The LG, on the flipside, is probably the best in terms of its entertainment package, convenience, and feature set. The only thing the LG lacks is probably a mid-driver to compliment the tweeter and the woofer to even out the sound. The Bose and Sony both require smartphone apps to bring out their full potential, but one can do without them.
So, in the end, it all comes down to what you need and where you plan to place the speaker. If you can place the speaker near a wall, the Sony SRS-XB40 would be the best bet as it provides the best balance of sound with its directional speakers. If you need the most volume, clearly it’s the LG you’re after. But, if volume isn’t really your thing and you’re just looking for a quality product with excellent sound and portability, then the Bose Revolve+ fits the bill perfectly.
While the Sony will leave people dumbfounded with its flashing lights and balanced sound, the Bose will let its audio clarity do all the talking. However, your friends probably won’t stop talking about the LG – just because of its sheer ridiculousness.