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Seven Portable Bluetooth Speaker Systems, Tested And Reviewed

Edifier Extreme Connect

Unlike Arctic and Luxa2, Edifier is a brand dedicated to audio. Let's see if the company's Extreme Connect can distinguish itself in the ultra-portable playing field.

Bundle And First Impression

Packed in an Apple-esque white plastic case with a clear plastic cover, Edifier's Extreme Connect includes an accessory bundle that closely mirrors its ultra-portable competition. You get a USB-to-micro-USB charging cable, a 3.5 mm male-to-male input cable, a carrying case, and a manual (not shown). Considering an even higher price range between $83 and $100 on Amazon, we're all the more let down that there's no AC charger in Edifier's kit.

At least the Extreme Connect feels sturdily built, with hard rubber top and bottom caps, and wrapped in a metal mesh grille. The black-on-black motif is simple and tasteful, though there are more interesting color options available (blue, red, yellow, and gray).

The system sports two 1.9" drivers and one 2" x 3.5" passive radiator. Those are the largest speakers of the three ultra-portables we're reviewing. At 2.4" x 6.4" x 1.7" and 1 lb (450 g), though, the Extreme Connect is still fairly diminutive.

Connectivity And Controls

Edifier's product really stands apart from its competition in a comparison of connectivity. Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and a 3.5 mm audio jack are merely par for the course. But the Extreme Connect also features a microSD slot for playing music from a memory card, and the microUSB jack doubles as a PC interface. That means you can hook the speaker up to a notebook and use it as an output device. You'll find a power switch over there as well, next to the other I/O.

Other controls are up on top of the speaker, etched into the rubber material that surrounds them. This low contrast, coupled with seemingly random placement, makes the buttons less clearly defined than we'd prefer. There are seven of them in total: select input, answer phone, previous track, next track, play/pause, volume up, and volume down.

Subjective Sound Analysis

Armed with the largest drivers in the ultra-portable category, the Extreme Connect has a flat frequency response. Bass is still minimal, but the output is still reasonably good. However, Luxa2's Groovy offers the richness that Edifier is missing. There's a more pressing issue, though. The Extreme Connect runs into a lot of distortion at high volume levels, so you need to be somewhat conservative to really enjoy the sound.

The built-in microphone does a decent job with phone calls, but it seems to muffle high frequencies. It's a little quieter than Arctic's S113BT, but louder than the Groovy.

Livability And Subjective Conclusion

Again, Edifier's Extreme Connect boasts a nice, flat frequency response. It also includes USB and microSD connectivity options you just can't get from any other Bluetooth-capable speaker in our round-up. Assuming you can find it at the lower end of our observed price range, you'll have a hard time choosing between this speaker and Luxa2's Groovy. Just remember that the Groovy doesn't have next/previous track controls or those unique input options.

Edifier Extreme Connect
Power:2 x 2 W RMS
Maximum Volume at 30 Inches:77 dB Line-in77 dB Bluetooth
Speakers:2 x 1.9", magnetically shielded1 x 2" x 3.5" passive radiator
Impedance:4 ohms
Measured Outdoor Bluetooth Range:9 meters
Inputs:5 V, 0.5 A micro-USB charging port/PC input3.5 mm input jackmicroSD Card
Outputs:N/A
Controls:Input selector buttonPhone buttonPrevious track/folder buttonNext track/folder buttonVolume up buttonVolume down buttonPower switch
Battery:Built-in Li-ion rechargable battery, 1400 mAh
Running Time at 46 dB(A), 20 inches:Approximately 6 hours
Dimensions:62 mm (2.4") height162 mm (6.4") width43 mm (1.7") depth
Weight:450 g (1 lb)
Build Materials:Upper and lower silicone shell, black painted perforated metal wrap
Available Colors:Black, Blue, Red, Yellow, Grey
Accessories:USB-to-micro-USB cable, 3.5 mm male-to-male cable, carrying case, manual
Bluetooth:Bluetooth 2.1 + EDRA2DP (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:<3 hours
LED Indicators:Charging
Warranty:Two years
Amazon.com Price Range:$83 to $100
  • vmem
    whatever happened to really popular products like jambox and solemate? they're well within your price range
    Reply
  • 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.)
    Reply
  • lp231
    i was hoping you guys would also include the Creative Airwave.
    http://us.store.creative.com/B00COIHWVG/M/B00COIHWVG.htm
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • cleeve
    12155233 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.

    Reply
  • cleeve
    12154939 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.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • lp231
    12155607 said:
    12154939 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.
    Reply
  • DarkSable
    12156054 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.)

    Reply
  • TunaSoda
    My Bose Soundlink Mini blows all of those away for sound quality
    Reply