Death to the dock! Bluetooth speaker selection grows and sales show no signs of slowing down

consumer momentum on adoption of bluetooth speakers remains rapid

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The portable Bluetooth market is growing rapidly, and we’re beginning to see several new companies throw their hats in the ring to see if they can successfully tap into the market. According to Twice.com‘s recent article on the explosive growth within the speaker market, we have seen this segment grow in 2012 496% with sales of over 2.2 million Bluetooth speakers. A lot of this growth is attributed to the widespread adoption of the smartphone and more specifically, Android devices. The size of the Bluetooth speaker market is reported to be $264 million in 2012 according to NBD research. With this type of growth in 2013, this gadget could be a billion dollar market just in the US.

Boombotix CEO, Lief Storer commented, “we see a lot of viability in the Bluetooth speaker segment, but with so many players in the space, brands that can innovate with design and standout feature sets will be the only winners. We also expect to see the market become segmented  almost like what you see with bikes. You don’t just get a bike anymore. You get a road bike, a mountain bike, and possibly a commuter.”

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Taking the Battle for the Title of Best Portable Speaker to the Streets

we ask random people to compare the jawbone jambox to the boombot REX on the spot

To say that we were blown away by the response from this little field test we did would be the understatement of the century. Basically, here’s what went down: We went to our favorite outdoor digs and asked some of the locals to compare two portable speakers: the Jawbone Jambox and the Boombot REX.

It was a beautiful day out, so we didn’t want to take too much of the people’s time by asking them really deep questions. Instead, we asked some simple considerations one goes over when trying to decide whether or not to purchase a portable speaker:

  • Which portable speaker is more easily transportable?
  • Which Bluetooth speaker has a better design?
  • Which speaker had the best sound?

The people were very honest in their responses and luckily we had a camera handy to record everything.

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Bluetooth Portable Speaker Showdown

TOP PORTABLE WIRELESS SPEAKERS DUKE IT OUT FOR THE GOLD

Speaker-Showdown

We have received a ton of questions about acoustic performance of the Boombot REX stacking up against competing products.  Talk is cheap, so instead we’ve decided to make the ultimate showdown to lay it all out there pure and simple.  We’ve gathered the top 3 wireless portable speakers on the market and put them head to head.

The Gear

All of the portable speakers tested incorporated dual drivers and a passive radiator.  Each speaker is tested playing over Bluetooth.  This was the major prerequisite for the category test.  Below you can see the three models in the test.  From left to right you have the blue Outdoor Technologies Turtle Shell is a slightly larger unit shaped… well… like a turtle shell.  In the center, the Boombot REX is the ultra compact model with emphasis on power to size ratio.    On the right, the Jawbone features a sleek design with high end finishes in a brick-shaped structure.

Wireless portable speakers

We shot this pic just to give you a sense of form factor between the three designs. The Boombot REX is the smallest in every dimension. The Jawbone is slightly longer than the Turtle Shell, but overall maintains a more slender girth.

DIMENSIONS/WEIGHT

  1. Outdoor Technologies Turtle Shell: 140mm (L) x 89mm(W) x 64mm(H) 340 grams
  2. Boombot REX: 85mm (W) x 80mm (H) x 52mm (D)/ 169 grams
  3. Jawbone Jambox: 151mm (L) x 57mm (W) x 40mm (D)/ 347 grams

The Boombot REX is significantly lighter than the Jambox and the Turtle Shell.  This is the result of meticulous design in component spacing and placement.  The Jambox and Turtle Shell boast larger passive radiators but similar size speaker drivers.

The Acoustic Test

In our experiment, we positioned each speaker at a two-foot distance from our decibel meter.  Primary drivers were be aimed directly at the measurement device.  We used a frequency generator app called Sound Check. We ran some frequency sweeps from lows, mids and highs to demonstrate performance across the full audible spectrum.

We also did a more qualitative analysis by playing a 320kbps MP3 file on each of the three speakers.  We used a song that we felt had a wide range of sounds to demonstrate performance across a full range of frequencies.  We chose Coffee Break by Zeds Dead.

Wireless Portable Speaker Frequency Response

This diagram shows recorded frequency response of all three speakers. The Jawbone has distinctly more low-end amplitude. The Boombot REX dominates past 4000Hz. The Turtle Shell stays close on most frequencies, but really demonstrates a drop-off at the 2kHz and beyond 6.4Khz.

If you’d like to watch video of our test and measurement procedure, feel free to comment.  It is pretty straightforward, raw, unedited #nerdlife.  In any case, we hope it gives you the satisfaction that we are conducting an fair experiment.

 The Conclusion

While the airtight housing and large passive radiator of the Jambox boosted its way into having pronounced bass response, the Boombot REX performed very well at higher frequencies.  The Outdoor Technologies Turtle Shell was outperformed on all fronts in audio performance.  In an outdoor environment, loudness becomes just as important as clarity, and this test clearly demonstrates that the Boombot REX can deliver incredible punch in a very compact form factor.

The amount of time that we’ve spent refining the Boombot REX acoustics has really paid off.  The leap in technology we’ve made enables us to do new things with Ultraportable audio and we hope that you can enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Stay tuned next week as we will be doing a full demonstration of the Boombot REX Siri compatibility.

bluetooth speaker hardware eyecandy

Boombot REX Pitch Black Boombot REX rear view Jawbone Jambox Wireless Speaker Jawbone Jambox Topview Turtle Shell Speaker Bottom TurtleShell speaker topview

 

Water resistant portable speaker guide

our guide of speakers that can get wet and nasty

In the world of water resistant portable speakers there are a TON of shapes, sizes and price ranges to pick from, but very few are actually water resistant.  We wanted to do a little more research on the portable speaker space so you don’t have to.  If you are adventurous and demand a little more than stationary docking from your sound system, check this guide of systems that fit the bill for handling the elements.

What does IP stand for?

IP stand for ingress protection rating.  Speaker that are truly water resistant should have an IP rating. There are usually two digits that come along with an IP rating (IP-XX).  The first digit corresponds to the water resistance and the second digit corresponds to the resilience to dust.  Devices that reach IP-6X can be submersed and ones that are IP-5X can be exposes to a fair amount of moisture, rain, or snow.  Tests are administered by 3rd party labs and they involve spraying specific amounts of water using jets.  Each housing is inspected at the end of the tests to determine if leakage occurred.

Typically the sound systems we evaluated range from $30-150 priced in such a way that you don’t have to feel the pain of the casual drop and bump.  Some manufacturer’s have varying warranty lengths from Boombotix’s NO MATTER WHAT WARRANTY program to the buy at your own risk gamble.

Water resistant portable speaker

The Boombots are derived from urban vinyl toy design fused with ruggedized industrial design. They give you an audio adventure wherever life takes you.  IP53 with a NO MATTER WHAT one year warranty.  Get saucy.

Outdoor Technologies weather resistant speaker

These speakers can take a good beating, but for the size, we’re not too impressed with the sound output. It’s bout 30% bigger than a Jawbone Jambox, but puts out about 30% less volume. How is that possible? It is a burly package nonetheless.

waterproof portable speaker

The Grace ECO Extreme houses your smartphone inside it while playing from a 3W speaker. With AA batteries, the unit comes in a bit on the heavy side and you’ll be pumping $5 of alkaline into here every 30 hours. IP6X

 

rex water resistant speaker

The REX is one of the newest developments in Boombotix labs. REX is scheduled to ship in Q1 of 2013 with a noise-canceling microphone and Siri integration.  IP5X

waterproof portable speaker

Perhaps a little bit on the large side to take on a hike, these EcoXGear waterproof speakers can take quite a bit of moisture. A good speaker solution for those just looking to stay posted.

water resistant portable speaker

This Philips Shoqbox for sure looks like it can take a beating with it’s ruggedized super industrial design. This resembles a very common architecture like the Jawbone Jambox, but with that next layer of weatherproofing. At $155, it also beats out the Jambox in price.

water resistant speaker

This play off the Jammy Pack is yet another heinous way to wear a speaker. That thing is huge. Please tell me that nobody ACTUALLY does this. This unit also takes AA batteries so we would NOT recommend.

2012 Summer Outdoor Retailer Recap

Salt Lake City

This past week our team headed out to Outdoor Retailer tradeshow in lovely Salt Lake City #WEOUTHERE.  The show had exhibitors varying from stand up paddleboards to illuminating night kayaks.  With just about every major brand in the outdoor retail industry, this is not one show to miss; Even if your van breaks down in the middle of a prison area on the salt flats.  Yes, that happened and we towed our van two-hundred miles to get to the show and make it just in time for set up.  Salt Lake City is nestled in the heart of the Wasatch mountain range, which makes it one of the best venues for this type of show.

Standup Paddle board

One of the things we were really on the lookout for was outdoor gadgetry.  Other portable speaker companies at the show included Outdoor Technologies and Eton.  Eton was showcasing wind up radios and solar powered boomboxes.  Outdoor Technologies had a Bluetooth speaker that resembled a hard-edged turtle shell.  We nearly had to twist their arm to get a demo of their speaker.  They claimed that they didn’t have charged units working at their booth (which is quite silly if you are showing a product at a major tradeshow).   While it delivered reasonably good sound output, we were surprised to find their design was a little bit cumbersome.  It was more poised to compete against products like the Jawbone Jambox rather than our portable speakers.

On Friday night, energy was high and our team was amped up about how the show was going.  We headed to Club Elevate for an industry party hosted by Teva.  Apparently Teva is venturing into ultra lightweight running/walking shoes.  Between taking shots of tequila and playing buffalo with liter glasses of beer, we popped Voke tabs to keep a wide-eyed buzz till as late as Utah clubs open (1AM no joke last call).  Despite Utah being known for being a dry state, there was certainly no shortage of alcoholic beverages consumed on this trip.

Hoola hooping

On Saturday night, we headed to a taco stand where they were dishing out two tacos for $1.50 and $3 for a burrito.  Do the math, but one must wonder what goes in these tacos to have any kind of margin.  Low and behold, the entire crew has been farting profusely for the last 24 hours and we literally destroyed the port-o-potty at the convention.  True story.  In any case, they tasted good while they were going down and we made some friends with some local fixed gear riders that were enroute to one of the big premiers.  This eventually inspired us to go ride around Salt Lake till 1AM and get soft serve ice cream.

roach coach

One of the lines we were particularly impressed with was Sombrio Cartel’s collection of urban and downhill bike riding gear.  They have this varsity jacket made with high tech lightweight materials.   #SWAG.  We’ll be teaming with them on their upcoming tour providing them some pro-audio to keep their party on wheels going hard.  You can really see the attention to detail in their specialized garments, and we’re going to be amped to clip some speakers onto their gear in upcoming months.

This was the first show that we showcased a very-close-to-production prototype of the REX speaker.  The feedback was really encouraging.  The addition of a passive bass radiator adds a subtle improvement in the dynamic frequency range of the sound output.  What really got people juiced about it was the feeling when they picked it up.  Not only is the REX pretty lightweight, but you can really feel the bass.  It’s like holding a live beating heart straight out of Indiana Jones.  Now we know we have to mob eleven hours back to the studio and put the finishing touches on this guy to get ready for a Q4 launch.  Lets just hope that the van doesn’t break down on the way home too. San Fran or Bust.

Anyhow, we had a great time and we are most certainly going to be back for another show next year.  You can check our album out on Facebook and hopefully we’ll see our friends at some of our upcoming shows for Surf Expo and Interbike.

Outdoor retailer