Best Outdoor Portable Speakers Showdown

Best Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker- Turtle-Shell-v-Boombot-REX

a wireless portable speaker match up for those craving adventure

The Boombot REX and the Outdoor Technologies Turtle Shell have quite a lot in common as outdoor portable speakers.  Both of them were designed for the outdoors.  Both ran almost equally successful launch campaigns on Kickstarter.  Each has a somewhat sharp edged geometric design.  They each feature microphones, dual drivers and passive radiators.  So what’s the difference?  That’s what we’re here to tell you.  In December we did a comparison of an older model of the Boombot REX and the Jambox.  Check that out as well if you want a little more data.

the differences in size shape

The OT Turtle Shell is at least 40% larger than the Boombot REX.  If you are ACTUALLY looking to make moves, you might want to think hard on which unit you’d like to lug around.  The Turtle Shell has a loop where you can dangle it… but to be quite frank, I’d be worried about that unit hitting me where the sun don’t shine.  The Boombot REX is more of a palm-sized piece with a built-on clip for much more seamless transport.  Much more of an on-the-go product.

differences in sound

In our recording of Basement Jaxx, the OT Turtle Shell was barely clipping into the mid 70s on the decibel meter.  We saw it max out around 75dB on even the punchiest part of the song.  The Boombot REX on the other hand put out well over 85dB exhibiting sheer dominance in output.  It is odd because typically a larger cabinet allows sound designers to build a lot more around better acoustics, but this is one case where the David destroyed the Golliath.  Watch the video and you can really hear and see the difference.

the verdict

The OT Turtle Shell retails for $149.99 while the Boombot REX starts at $119.99.  Call me crazy but bigger isn’t necessarily better.  If you want the best outdoor portable speaker, look no further than the Boombot REX.

 

Portable Speaker Review: Jawbone Jambox v. Boombot REX

Portable Speaker Review- Jawbone Jambox v. Boombot REX

comparing the best wireless speakers in the game

In December we ran a comparison on our Boombot REX going up against the Jawbone Jambox and the Outdoor Technologies Turtle Shell.  At the time, the Boombot REX was holding it’s own on the Jambox.  It was  outputting about the same volume across most of the spectrum with a little bit less bass.  Both of the units performed significantly better than the turtle shell.  After a couple more months of fine tuning, we’ve actually manage to accomplish even more with our nano acoustic engineering.

the evolution in audio

The Boombot REX features a CSR BC5 bluetooth module.  We realized that there were certain frequencies that the unit responded to better and some that caused distortion. We spent numerous hours understanding exactly which frequencies these were.  We modified our firmware profile have a built-in profile in the DSP (digital signal processor).  What we were able to do is bring up even more mids and highs out of our device while also providing robust bass output.

This is all about allowing each driver to move more air in a crisp fashion.  You need a full understanding of exactly which frequencies cause distortion and which ones you can increase the gain on.  We isolated each frequency band with a pretty tight resolution and created a custom equalization curve to get exactly the acoustics we were looking for.
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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

 

How to use a Boombot2 wireless Bluetooth speaker

SIMPLE instructions for wireless speaker operation

  1. Charge the Boombot over USB using the included cable
  2. Press the center button once to enter the line-in mode (for use with included wire)
  3. Press the center button a second time for pairing
  4. Find “Boombot2” on your smartphone or mobile device.  Usually you can find your Bluetooth Settings under your General Settings navigation.
  5. Enter the Pin number 0-0-0-0 to pair with device.
  6. You should be connected and able to play music.  Should you have any other issues, you can try reconnecting.  If that fails, delete the device and repair from scratch.
  7. You can turn OFF the unit by pressing and holding the center button for 2 seconds.
  8. The next time your turn on your Boombot2, it will automatically repair to the last device that it paired with.  You do not have to do the entire pairing process every time.

If you would like to download the full user manual, it can be found HERE.  If you have any other questions, you can email support [at] boombotix.com

Don’t forget we also have our Exchange Program so you can also take your old models and exchange for a $25 credit on any purchase of $50 or more.

optimizing the sound on boombots

If you find that your Boombot is distorting at high volumes, try to adjust the equalizer settings.  For iOS devices (iPod/iPhone/iPad), go here. For android devices, read this article.

boombot2 video instructions

 

a silly video that explains it

the story behind this ridiculous instructional video

When I first started this project, all we wanted was a simple wireless portable speaker demo video.  We wanted  to show our potential customers how easy it is to use a Boombot2 bluetooth speaker.  I started to write a boring script highlighting the features and the bare basics.  When I first recorded the audio, I ran it in my fake British accent.  Our head of sales jumped on the mic and ran through the script in perfect crisp enunciation.  Suddenly, I got the idea to just make a bunch of different voices/characters with my friends.  I spent a Saturday evening sipping some dark IPAs and immersing myself into about seven voices and eventually getting Ben Radler’s girlfriend to help me out a bit.  Some of them were silly, and some of the accents are awful, but I had a lot of fun with it.  I could have walked around the city trying to get people to read this stupid script, but this just seemed to work ok.

Will it win an oscar?  Probably not.  But the whole point of this video is to educate people about the Boombot2.  It shows that the product is easy to use.  It shows some of the very practical use cases and added versatility that a clip-on speaker provides.

I shot most of the footage with a Canon 7D.  I made a lot of use of a macro lens for close-up shots of the product and the devices.  It was also nice because the macro lens blurs out all the unsightly backgrounds of our luxurious garage.  Ben also helped me edit the footage on Premier Pro and in two days, I had a working draft video.  We’ve done a number of different videos and we know that this is always an evolutionary process.  Towards the middle of this project, I was thinking to myself, “I’m not actually going to be able to put this together.  My coworkers are going to think I’m insane.”  When all was said and done though, they thought I was insane anyways…. but they liked the video.  They gave me some quick pointers and we shipped it.

Music Requake — Fatality (Megalodon Remix) [DUB]
Tamborays (thetamborays.bandcamp.com)

 

Bluetooth Stereo Pairing Network

Creating an audio network for a short range use case

Boombotix is working a new firmware that allows two speakers to be networked via Bluetooth for true stereo sound playback.  The speakers can be used in this loft scenario to have synchronized music in the top and bottom floor of a studio loft.  They also use the Boombot2 wireless speaker to be tethered to the home stereo system for amplified sound.  If you’re looking for portable speaker tech, look no further.

In principal, what the speakers are doing with the audio source goes as follows; One bluetooth speaker pairs to an audio source (smartphone, laptop, tablet etc.)  The source must be a bluetooth source.  The audio data is sent to the speaker where it is re-encoded as a stereo audio signal.  The first speaker will play the right channel while sending the audio data for the left channel to a second speaker.  This works without any latency so the speakers are able to maintain synchronized playback wirelessly while also offering true stereo.

This feature is not currently incorporated into our devices, but it is something we are developing for future models.  We are addressing the firmware design to make this pairing process seamless and ultimately allow users to transport full wireless stereo configurations wherever they choose.  If you have any questions about this technology or you may be interested in getting involved, just let us know.