Something I get to see all too infrequently are Soundbars especially ones that come with a separate sub-woofer. Here the latest offering from Creative Labs a company best known for everything ‘sound related’ such as sound cards, headphones, earbuds and speakers. So when I was offered this I was happy to give it a good thorough testing.
First the main unit it has four push buttons on the front on/off, volume -, volume + and source along the 26.5cm length, the back mains power in, three HDMI in a row (two in and one out) then in a row optical, USB and sub-woofer connector in a central area along the 23.5cm length of the back, the unit is 8cm tall and 6.5cm deep. The sub-woofer can be up to 100cm away from the main unit. It is 11cm wide, 24cm deep and 40cm tall with the speaker on the right side 18cm cm across.
Following the end of Lockdown, LG offers a speaker to entertain those you invite to celebrate the freedom.
LG Electronics has announced the arrival of its new XBOOM 360 speaker. As the "360" part of the product's title indicates, this product is capable of delivering an all-round omni-directional audio experience that LG feels will be perfect for any listening space or occasion that requires an audio environment. As yet I have not had the opportunity to check out this speaker in situ and, as a result, and this report is based on the information supplied by LG Electronics.
And now it is time for yet another instance of the Big Red Bus syndrome as news reaches me of this next product.
No sooner had I send off my report on the arrival of a new speaker system from Tronsmart than information arrived regarding the launch of a new speaker from Fyne Audio. This is a company founded in 2017 as the brainchild of six audio-industry professionals. Based in Scotland, Fyne Audio, the UK's fastest growing audiophile brand, has developed their latest offering which is the F500SP speaker model.
Creative Labs do a lot in sound, most will know this with SoundBlaster range of headphones and earbuds however they also do DAC’s and of course speakers, here a set of rather nice speakers so those who like to fill their rooms with sound can get satisfaction.
They are 20x8x12cm and while by far the simplest way of taking sound from your PC or notebook is via USB and these speakers do that they also need a mains connection to work. If you only have USB then you are still catered for by an adapter in the box but natively the connection is USB ‘C’ and the lead to the master speaker is 1.
Tronsmart claim you can give your ears a treat with this product.
Tronsmart, a tech brand that designs and manufactures world-class tech accessories, has announced the launch of the Studio 30W SoundPulse® Portable Bluetooth Speaker. Featuring TuneConn™ pairing technology, this product also offers Type-C fast charging and voice assistant capability. It is expected to be available from the Tronsmart website and Amazon.com priced at £69.99 with Amazon UK expecting stock to arrive within the next two months.
This is the latest item from Pure to cross my desk, it is a Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Auxiliary music playing device that has Spotify support and also works with Alexa and the last named can allow you to select what you play on Spotify without leaving the comfort of your chair. Best of all the output from its speaker sounds excellent. So this is not a radio as such but a Smart Speaker with 360 degree playback.
The Pure DiscovR measures 13cm tall when open and is roughly square at 9cm. It works on its rechargeable internal battery and can be used whilst being charged. A USB ‘C’ to USB cable is supplied in the box but no USB plug front, Pure are being waste conscious and they say that any PC or other device can do the job.
Having recently told you about a small DAC from SoundBlaster here a larger one, this however is not just a DAC it is also an external 7.1 sound card and still more. While the recently reviewed DAC was useful for those on the move to get great sound quality here the X4 is definitely for those in a static position probably to get improved sound where an internal card is not available.
The SoundBlaster X4 measures 12.5x12.5x3cm with a big round volume control knob on the top that increases the height by close to another centimetre. Also on the top are three indented touch buttons for Audio Balance, Direct Mode and Super X-Fi. The front has 3.5mm input for microphone and 3.5mm output for headphones. Both the left and right sides are clear. The back has four 3.5mm Line out sockets for front, side, rear and Q/Sub, there are also Line in, Optical Out and USB ‘C’.
This is a quality speaker that has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Chromecast and Auxiliary input; it has control by voice curtesy of Google and of course like everything of quality ‘size is not everything’ as it is quite small. Setup should be a matter of minutes then just enjoy the quality of the sounds and wonder why other speakers even large ones do not sound so good.
The Braun LE03 measures 16x16x7.5cm but the power lead sticks out from the back by another 4cm, if you were thinking placing it on a shelf it weighs 1.7kilos. There is possibly another problem but I will mention that later. Setup is first placing the unit, then linking it to Google Home and then enjoying your purchase.
The SoundBlaster Play 4 is a DAC, a plug in device to USB or USB ‘C’ that improves the sound quality of music and indeed of the spoken voice be in from a phone call or any other source. As a plus it can also improve your voice be it a phone call or any other connection with other people. In the simplest of terms a DAC is a Digital (to) Analogue Converter.
The SoundBlaster Play 4 measures 5x1.5x.8cm and has a 3.5mm headphone or earbud connection at one end and the other end has a hard wired 8cm lead ending in a USB ‘C’ plug, an adapter for USB ‘C’ to USB is included in the box, this would add 2.5cm to the length. A lot of Notebooks and most Tablets compromise audio; I have even seen a Tablet without a 3.5mm socket.
A pair of good quality speakers sold as ‘True Wireless Speakers’ which they are but they can also be used with RCA sockets, Optical, 3.5mm socket and even USB stick. Or course you still need power but by default when you power on they will default to receiving their signals via Bluetooth. Here they can also be used separately should you wish to.
The speakers are each 23x15x24cm the last figure the depth allows for connection of the power cable. Each speaker weighs 3.3 kilos. While there are controls on top of each speaker, they can also be controlled from your phone or other unit and there is also a remote control supplied. The User Guide suggests ramping the volume to maximum on the speaker and assuming your SmartPhone as the input then turning the volume down from that.
Rather than rising from your favourite armchair, why not ask Alexa to carry out tasks.
The Alexa influence continues to spread its net wide as our households become more reliant on smart technology. The latest member of this Amazon family to be released into the wild, and make its way to my home, is the 4th Generation Echo Dot.
It is rare for me to form an instant like or dislike and even rarer for this not to change during the course of the review period. This arrived as I was trying to stream something via a notebook that has adequate speakers when it is on your lap or desk, if you walk to the door you lose the context so as soon as I unpacked the Creative Pebble I plugged it in, instant plug and play and I could clearly hear even outside the room.
The Pebbles are 12cm across, 12cm tall and 12cm from back to front, however they are not round and in places are far less than that. A triangle might describe them better as the speakers are angled at 45 degrees. The left unit is hardwired to the right unit. The right unit has a wire emerging from the back to link to the left unit and another also hard wired that goes to the USB ‘C’ port.
While this may look like just another speaker I can assure you it is not. Just hear the sound quality from any of a range of sources and you will understand, be it Bluetooth, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Optical or even a USB Stick. It is not cheap but if it was then I would know there was something wrong, this is quality.
The Pulse Flex 2i measures 18x12x9.5cm and weighs 1530grams. The top has controls for back a track, forward a track, play/pause/on/off, - volume and + volume. In front of this are the numbers 1-5 these allow you to preset various things like a favourite over the air radio station. The rear has external connectors for USB ‘B’, Ethernet and Service in one line, below this another line of connections Headphones out, USB in, Optical In and Analogue In.
For under twenty pounds, this next product uses German technology to add speaker output to a computer.
Founded in 1974, the company Jöllenbeck is the driving force behind the Speedlink brand of devices that cover gaming. computers, office, sound and accessories for PCs tablets, camera and smartphones. I have recently had the opportunity to check out the Speedlink Daroc product which is a set of stereo speakers.
This is a DAB and FM radio with presets, it is also a speaker for those who want output from the ‘Aux’ input plus it also has ‘Alexa’ built in. This oval unit has another big plus the ability to run from its internal battery for up to fifteen hours.
I called it oval as it has rounded corners but in truth it is a 10cm cube when in use. The height when switched off is only 8cm. The on/off mechanism is simply by pushing down in the centre of the top and this releases the unit to show the display, push down again from any mode and the display disappears and it becomes 10x10x8cm. On first switch on you should be given the option to set your language of choice.
Offering to deliver music where ever you go is the next product under review.
With its goal to "free the sound", Libratone has set about creating wireless technology enabling music that can be enjoyed anytime and anywhere in the home and its surrounding area. The result of this work is the Zipp 2 device which is the subject matter of this review. The Libratone Zipp 2 is a portable cylindrical, tower speaker with attitude.
While not a familiar brand to me, the Kurbis is a German speaker system.
The Kurbis is a Bluetooth Bookshelf speaker system that forms part of the Thonets & Vander's catalogue of audio products. For those not familiar with the company, Thonets & Vender is a German organisation originally founded, in Berlin, during the middle of the last century, by Hannes Josef Einrich using his telecommunication experience gained during the Second World War.
Early this year I told you about the Google Home Hub, now Google have launched another range of products. I will start with probably the smallest the Google Nest Mini (2nd Generation) that is truly small but it has a big sound with twice the base of the first generation offering.
The Google Nest Mini is round with a 9cm diameter and is 4cm thick; there is a choice of four colours: chalk; sky; coral or charcoal. There are three touch controls on the device volume down, volume up and mute. The only physical connection is the 1.5 metre long micro USB to mains plug. The initial setup requires the Google Home App which is available on the iOS or Android store. Once setup is completed you can run the Nest Mini totally from your voice so the phone does not need to be present.
A recent very noisy event at an iconic London institution had me see a range of audio items one such was this soundbar from Orbitsound and if you delve through the Gadgetspeak archives you will find other such reviews from them.
This recent offering has Airsound and Airamp technology. Airsound means wherever you place the unit in the room you get surround sound. Airamp is an active amplifier which increases clarity and reduces distortion. You can connect to it by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth the setup for these is via an iOS or Android App. The third choice is via optical and the required lead is supplied in the box. There is also an option to listen via Aux input.
Taking a more basic approach is a speaker system from Edifier.
Joining the ranks of Edifier speaker system product line-up is the company's R980T offering. This speaker system is made up of two wooden encased boxes covering the role of active and passive units. Various permanently attached and floating leads are provided for connecting purpose along with a User Manual covering different languages for carrying out the straightforward set up process required by this speaker system.