Seven Portable Bluetooth Speaker Systems, Tested And Reviewed

Luxa2 Groovy

Luxa2 is Thermaltake's high-end consumer technology brand. While it's relatively young, Luxa2 is already known for its liberal use of aluminum and leather, two materials that are prominently featured on the Groovy Bluetooth-equipped speaker. Despite the intended luxury target market, an $83 price tag on Amazon.com is the second least-expensive in our round-up.

Bundle And First Impression

The Groovy comes with all of the accessories you need, such as a USB-to-micro-USB charging cable, a 3.5 mm male-to-male analog input cable, a leather carrying case (not shown), and a manual. Again, we're disappointed that an AC charger isn't included.

Luxa2 encases its speaker in a solid aluminum frame that wraps from the top to bottom around the back. You're able to choose between brown and black leather straps; both are bundled. Thanks to high-quality materials, this is a sturdy-feeling product that gives us the impression it'll last a while.

A gray cloth material surrounds the metal grille protecting the speakers. We couldn't get the the drivers' specifications, which typically isn't a good sign, but based on the unit's size, we guess they're in the 1.75" range. At 3" x 7.3" x 2.1" and 1.2 lbs (556 g), the Groovy is a bit heavier than Arctic's S113BT (though still small enough to carry around easily).

Connectivity And Controls

The Groovy is set up to communication over a Bluetooth 2.1-based connection, capable of up to 3 Mb/s, or a 3.5 mm audio jack. NFC isn't supported, and despite the addition of secure simple pairing to Bluetooth 2.1, we found that it took longer to establish a relationship with the Groovy compared to other speakers in our round-up.

All of the controls and inputs are along the top of the speaker. There are four buttons: power, lower volume, pause/play/answer phone, and raise volume. Unfortunately, there's no provision for skipping or repeating tracks. The auxiliary input, micro-USB charging port, and microphone port are also up there.

Subjective Sound Analysis

The Groovy's bass is naturally limited by its tiny drivers, just like the rest of the ultra-portable contenders. But relative to its competition with speakers smaller than 2", Luxa2 stands out with richer and deeper sound than Arctic's S113BT and Edifier's Extreme Connect.

On the other hand, the Groovy's built-in microphone is a mixed bag. It delivers the round-up's clearest sound, but sacrifices maximum volume. You have to get closer and speak louder with the Groovy's hands-free mode enabled. We'll give you a recorded example of this in our benchmarks toward the end of the story.

Livability And Subjective Conclusion

Luxa2's Groovy is built using the highest-quality materials and offers the best sound compared to the other ultra-portables we're reviewing. Despite minor shortcomings, such as a conspicuous lack of previous/next track controls and an overly quiet microphone, more important variable like solid audio performance earn our respect.

Luxa2 Groovy
Power:
2 x 2.5 W RMS
Maximum Volume at 30 Inches:
81 dB Line-in
87 dB Bluetooth
Speakers:
2 x drivers (1.75" estimated)
2 x passive radiators (estimated)
Impedance:
Not specified
Measured Outdoor Bluetooth Range:8 meters
Inputs:
5 V, 0.5 A, micro-USB charging port
3.5 mm input jack
Outputs:
N/A
Controls:
Power button
Volume up button
Volume down button
Pause/Play/Phone button
Battery:
Built-in Li-polymer rechargeable battery, 3.7 V, 1800 mAh
Running Time at 46 dB(A), 20 inches:
Approximately 5 hours
Dimensions:
76 mm (3") height
186 mm (7.3") width
54 mm (2.1") depth
Weight:
556 g (1.2 lb)
Build Materials:
Aluminum, leather, textile covering
Available Colors:
Silver metallic
Accessories:
USB-to-micro-USB cable, 3.5 mm male-to-male cable, carrying case, two leather handles (brown, black), manual
Bluetooth:
Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
A2DP (Audio sync-only)
AVRCP (Remote control-only)
Hands-free (Built-in mic)
Hands-Free Phone:
Yes
Microphone Sensitivity:
Not specified
NFC Pairing:
No
Charging Time:
<4 hours
LED Indicators:
Charging and status
Warranty:
One year
Amazon.com Price Range:
$82
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  • vmem
    whatever happened to really popular products like jambox and solemate? they're well within your price range
  • DarkSable
    I run a firespinning troupe. When you're practicing routines, you HAVE to have loud, clear music, because the fire tools are spinning quickly, causing a massive amount of air turbulence with the flames, creating a very, very loud roar.

    In order to practice a routine with perhaps five other people on stage, you have to be able to hear the music to know where you are in the routine - otherwise someone might move too early or not move, and, well... bad things would happen.

    When I founded the club, I was looking at all sorts of options; what I really wanted was a shop boombox, but they were expensive and didn't have the battery life I needed for practice... and couldn't be plugged in because you practice outside.

    After reading a lot of reviews, I got the UE boombox. It has several features that were incredibly useful to me - most notable the fact that it could store three bluetooth profiles AND connect through a normal 3.5mm jack - that way we didn't have to just use my music collection, but could use other members' as well without them having to mail me the files.

    Solutions we tried to use before was an iHome system, which didn't come close to having enough volume, and an old CD boombox... which worked fine, except the CDs got worn out pretty quickly as they were outdoors, and it was limiting on what music we could use - we had to have it beforehand.

    So I got this UE boombox, and it was perfect. It doesn't have THE sharpest sound in the world, but it doesn't have distortion with everything turned to max volume, and it has solid base (so you can hear the beat clearly) and good battery life.

    For anything requiring outdoor music that has to carry well or be particularly well, I highly, highly recommend the UE Boombox. (It would work perfectly for, say, a beach party, or something like that.)
  • lp231
    i was hoping you guys would also include the Creative Airwave.
    http://us.store.creative.com/B00COIHWVG/M/B00COIHWVG.htm
  • thesuperguy
    The problem with this review is that they are basing their recommendations on the purely technical aspects that in the end, really don't contribute to sound quality. Ranking them based on features, range, and maximum volume is fine and all, but frequency range is not an indicator of quality. It is a very subjective thing.
  • cleeve
    Anonymous said:
    The problem with this review is that they are basing their recommendations on the purely technical aspects that in the end, really don't contribute to sound quality. Ranking them based on features, range, and maximum volume is fine and all, but frequency range is not an indicator of quality. It is a very subjective thing.


    That's not true, sound quality is foremost when it comes to factors that contribute to our final recommendations.

    Both subjective and objective measures of sound quality were taken into account.
    We can't chart subjective sound quality but that doesn't mean you should assume it's unimportant. It's a huge part of the analysis.
  • cleeve
    Anonymous said:
    i was hoping you guys would also include the Creative Airwave.
    http://us.store.creative.com/B00COIHWVG/M/B00COIHWVG.htm


    We asked Creative for a sample and they declined to answer.
  • boogalooelectric
    I just bought one of these for $20 from Monoprice

    http://www.monoprice.com/Product?ab3=b&utm_expid=58369800-11.KFcpHWqASSutMqNPOqaJVg.1&c_id=108&cp_id=10827&cs_id=1082704&p_id=7364&seq=1&format=2&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.monoprice.com%2FCategory%3Fc_id%3D120%26cp_id%3D10827

    I hooked them up to a pair of old cambridge soundworks 2.1 speakers and voila I have bluetooth speakers.

    Monoprice has another for $45 that can also do NFC.

    Also where is the JBL3
  • lp231
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    i was hoping you guys would also include the Creative Airwave.
    http://us.store.creative.com/B00COIHWVG/M/B00COIHWVG.htm


    We asked Creative for a sample and they declined to answer.


    I went to this shopping center one time and one of electronic stores has it on demo. It doesn't sound too bad, quite good actually, was about to get it, but its price was a bit steep during that time.
  • DarkSable
    Anonymous said:
    I hooked them up to a pair of old cambridge soundworks 2.1 speakers and voila I have bluetooth speakers.

    Monoprice has another for $45 that can also do NFC.


    I've got an NFC/bluetooth receiver for my stereo system as well. The trouble with that is that it requires two wall outlets to run - the idea behind these is you can take and use them anywhere. (I would consider them bluetooth boomboxes, rather than speaker systems.)
  • TunaSoda
    My Bose Soundlink Mini blows all of those away for sound quality
  • gofasterstripes
    Dunno man, BOSE can be a pretty mixed bag usually.

    Anyway - they should have tested a few vibration speakers. I've heard the 10W "Adin" branded Chinese unit a few times, and it's a bit of a game-changer to be honest. On a good solid desk the bass is remarkable and everything else is listenable enough. Goes loud too.
  • LORD_ORION
    Buy a Mighty Dwarf and be happy.
  • rwinches
    The Logitech UE Boombox has been on sale online Bestbuy for $99 and it was just before that $129 in-store. It is currently $149 BB online.

    It is tuned for outside so it has loudness compensation on by default. Inside if you use an EQ and pull down 250Hz on down just a bit it it really opens the mids and highs.
    At it current discount it is hard to beat. It truely provides room filling sound.

    I also have the Philips DS7880 which is a great sounding speaker and would be a great choice because of it's wide range and uncolored sound. If you grab the speaker while it's playing the bass vibrations is surprising. I don't use it's docking feature just direcr or BT.

    The Soundfreaq SFQ-04 Sound Kick is another speaker to consider ($99 Amazon) it too has quality sound that is easy to listen to for hours on end.
  • rwinches
    Now after reading this joke of a review and seeing that the highly acclaimed Logitech UE Boombox was panned because Tom's doesn't know how to use an EQ I am amazed.

    The Minx is a good speaker.

    The Monster Micro Clarity currently $75.99 at Amazon will blow the doors off of the rest of the field, not only does it have speaker phone you can give it voice commands. It is compact and easy to carry THe BT has apt-x and AAC.
    http://www.amazon.com/Monster-Micro-Clarity-Bluetooth-Speakers/dp/B0084Y9V54

    The Sony SRSBTX300 ($128 Amazon) 20 watts, is another excellent choice as is it's bigger brother the SRSBTX500 ($249 BestBuy) 40 watts, they have NFC and speakerphone.
  • cypeq
    They are all pretty crappy... I've seen Bose release some passable mobile/bluetooth players but they are out of this budget range and they are still just passable/ok-ish.

    It's cool gadget and there is market for all this buit it ain't very good sounding speaker for the price. I would only consider this as mobile solution.
  • rwinches
    ^^ Wrong, there are quality speakers as I listed above, they of course are not sound system replacements, but they are HiFi.
    The Klipsch Music Center KMC3 $399 (Street $359) or the Beats by Dre Beatbox $399 (street $320 -$359) will replace the spl and fidelity of a home system and are luggable,
    they take 6D batteries

    If you want really to go for excellence the Polk Audio AM6119-A Woodbourne $699 should satisfy your needs remote, BT, apt-x, USB (charging), ethernet, optical, 3.5mm 180 watt 4 channel amp 24" x 7" h x 6.88" d 17 lbs DSP and Dolby, Airplay, no batteries. If you can afford this and need portability then get a 12 volt gel-cell and an inverter.
  • DarkSable
    ...why in the world would you spend $700 on something that someone could walk past, pick up, and walk away with?
  • utomo
    I wish they can add built in mp3 player and radio
  • lp231
    What about those outdoor speakers that look like a rock. Are they better than all of this?
  • JAJ13063
    I was hoping you could include Phoniture as well - the sound quality is great and it acts as a phone stand & charger too. I have compared to a few listed here that cost a bunch more. The product details are on phoniture.com.