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A Concert in Your Pocket

Do the latest Bluetooth speakers deliver better sound?

In the heydays of Apple’s iPod,docking the music player to speakers was the norm. For those unfamiliar with this,many bought speakers that had a slot for the iPod’s 30-pin connector. Apple since has abandoned the 30-pin connector,and accessory makers are now flooding the market with Bluetooth speakers.

The Bluetooth advantage is that all smartphones support it. However,Bluetooth speakers are often plagued by relatively low battery life and short range. Another concern is interference from wi-fi networks. Since many routers operate on the same frequency as Bluetooth (~2.4 GHz),users may have to turn off wi-fi on their phones while using the speakers for uninterrupted playback. The latest Bluetooth speakers promise great sound quality,let’s see if they deliver.

Bose Soundlink Mini

Rs 16,200

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Although Bose is one of the biggest players in the audio market,its presence in wireless audio has been limited so far. This year,the company has taken huge strides in the segment with the launch of Soundlink Air speakers,AE2w headphones and now,the Soundlink Mini. The speaker is portable and easily fits in coat pockets or bags,but to deliver great sound with punchy bass,Bose had to keep it slightly heavy (680 grams). However,the sound quality more than makes up for the weight. No other Bluetooth speaker delivers bass and room-filling sound as well as the Soundlink Mini. We tested it with a wide range of tracks and at very high volume to check for distortion,but there was none. From the high notes in Adele’s Skyfall to the thud of bass in Bollywood songs,the Soundlink Mini can play anything thrown at it with ease. The volume is beyond adequate for house parties and it delivers enough bass to do justice to dance and dubstep tracks. The battery lasts for six hours. Make sure you carry the charger with you,though. The Mini has a proprietary charger,the chargers of your phones or tablets will not charge it.

Amkette Metal Star BT

Rs 2,995

Amkette is an Indian brand that has recently stepped into the wireless audio market. Metal Star BT is a compact speaker that easily fits in a palm,it is about the size of a cricket ball. Although the speaker feels sturdy,the design leaves much to be desired. The plastic on the top and on the buttons take the sheen off the smooth metal enclosure. The rubber underside keeps the speaker rooted to the spot while playing bass-heavy tracks. The volume is very loud for a speaker of this size,but details are lost,especially when playing songs by instrument-heavy bands such as Indian Ocean,Led Zeppelin,etc. The battery life of this speaker is excellent though — roughly eight hours.

HMDX Jam Plus

Rs 3,990

If you cannot afford the Soundlink Mini,there are several alternatives for a quarter of the price. American brand HMDX’s Jam Plus is one of those. The Jam Plus comes in a neat cylindrical package and the USP of this speaker is that if you purchase two of these (for Rs 8,000),you can pair them for stereo sound. The stereo sound is fairly loud and the pairing works as advertised. These speakers are attractive and available in five colours. The overall sound is decent,but distortion was observed at high volumes. Especially when using one of these speakers,users may find the volume inadequate,as is common with Bluetooth speakers in this price range. The Jam Plus is best used as a laptop speaker,but getting two of these is recommended for the best output. The battery lasts around four hours.

First published on: 01-12-2013 at 11:01:04 pm
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