Logitech's new speaker aims at putting a lot of sound into a small space. (October 7th, 2013)
Product Manufacturer: Logitech
- - Compact size - High volume levels, strong bass - Decent to above-average sound quality - Can pair with second speaker in stereo or mono
- - Pairing option largely impractical - Most controls relegated to mobile apps - Limited fidelity range
Portable Bluetooth speakers can sometimes feel as if they're a dime a dozen, at this point. Here at MacNN and Electronista, we seem to get word of new ones launching several times a week -- it's reached a stage where it's simply impractical to cover everything. The Mini Boom is a natural exception, since both Logitech and Ultimate Ears are well-known names. In our review, though, we'll see if there's anything that genuinely separates it from the competition, or if it's simply riding on brand recognition.
If there's one thing the speaker lives up to, it's the "Mini" description. There are smaller Bluetooth speakers, but not by much. The Mini Boom is just 4.4 inches long and 2.6 inches wide, with a depth of 2.4 inches. It's a bit thick to stuff in a purse, but messenger bags and suitcases should have ample space for one.
Other than that it's very plain, visually speaking. A rubber-like material wraps around the speaker's rounded edges, leaving only the front and back panels exposed. Five different color combinations are available, but only two of these change more than just the front and back.
That's just fine, since the real attraction of the Mini Boom is its power-to-size ratio. It's extraordinarily loud, capable of hitting 86dBC. I had to scramble for the volume controls when I first start playing music. Through companion iPhone and Android apps, you can link two Minis together in stereo or mono configurations; that's kind of impractical, however, for a variety of reasons.
The first is cost. A single Mini Boom is $100, and once you reach the $200 mark, you might be better off with headphones or a unified speaker system. You also have to re-link Mini Booms each time you turn them on, so however much you might like the idea of having sound throughout a building or campsite, you'll probably end up reverting to a single speaker out of frustration. Finally, the Mini Boom runs off either micro USB power or its 10-hour internal battery -- not exactly conducive to a multi-speaker setup.
As far as audio quality goes, the unit ranks above average. It has a limited range, spanning only 130Hz to 20kHz, but within that it still sounds fairly clear, with surprisingly punchy bass. A pair might almost make for good computer speakers, except for the problems I mentioned above and the inherent inferiority of Bluetooth versus a wired or Wi-Fi connection. The Mini Boom does have an aux-in jack, but using that somewhat defeats the purpose of the product.
A final comment has to be made about controls. There are only four physical ones to speak of: giant volume and Bluetooth buttons, located on top, and a power switch on the back. Everything else can only be configured through the mobile apps, which is usually a non-issue but a little disappointing, considering how much you're paying for the privilege. It seems like it shouldn't be expensive to include physical controls for the EQ settings or linking speakers together. There are only three EQ settings in total, I should mention. And if you're listening to a Mini Boom on a desk, I'd recommend switching from "Out Loud" to "Intimate" right away.
If I were shopping for a Bluetooth speaker, the Mini Boom would definitely be on my radar. It's not cheap, but it's smaller and less expensive than some other options, while still generating loud audio with decent- to above-average quality. If you can, I would recommend trying one out in a store -- if you like what you hear, everything else is such that that may make all the difference.