It’s widely accepted that all Bluetooth speakers aren’t created equal. In fact, it’s a given that the conveniences of wireless fidelity are no substitutes for personal tastes, especially if your an audiophile or just a fan of decent audio in general.
However, online retailer FoxSmart, a small but eager upstart is confident that the FoxRox Bluetooth Vibration Speaker will attract people who want style and simplicity to match their everyday music needs. The idea is promising enough but, as it turns out, the staff couldn’t agree on its appeal, let alone sound quality.
It’s an unusual situation that left us with differing opinions on how a Bluetooth speaker should sound along with the features offered for the money. The looks are accounted for with a cylindrical tower with a solid aluminum build, and has presence thanks to a wraparound LED status light. The top is a soft matte feel that features embedded icon buttons for track selection, playback (play/pause), and phone calls with mic; you can also directly connect device for external sound or another FoxRox for a dual setup.
At 3.10lbs though, it hardly qualifies as a lightweight and meant for 10 hours of easy-listening at home, a trait that didn’t sit well with the managing editor who was under the assumption that Bluetooth (ver. 4.0) should always equal wireless and travel-friendly. Realistically, I wasn’t planning on taking it with me in a backpack or hoping to use it like a boombox – nor do I know of anybody else who doesn’t wear headphones for music outside the house.
The wedge between expectations only widened when actually listening to music. Because this is meant to be a sub-$60 budget Bluetooth “speaker” we expect compromises to be made for value, however, our managing editor was not as kind. In a side-by-side comparison against something as ‘ancient’ as the Coby Bluetooth iPad Dock he was disappointed outright by the FoxRox, calling the overall performance ‘lackluster’ and found the bass output ‘overcompensating’. My initial impression was a little more curious as my associate was trying to convince me of its supposed inferiority, especially since we disagreed about the Coby being satisfying to my ears (ie: flat, linear, and/or crappy), although the FoxRox didn’t sound that spectacular with my first listen either.
I believe there are factors at play that can make and probably break the FoxRox for the uninitiated. First off, there’s no traditional speaker driver due to a resonance plate that relies mostly on bass and a flat surface to produce something noteworthy. The quality or density of said surface is another influence as my first listening experience was heard on a kitchen table made of thin particleboard with a top laminate finish, where it’s fine for cheap furniture but poor as a conductor for sound. During my testing I found that the speaker works better on heavier materials such as medium density fiberboard (also known as MDF is a much thicker version of particleboard) and higher grade plywood for more balanced acoustics.
Regardless, the fact that the FoxRox is at the whim of whatever surface it’s on can’t be overlooked. It’s certainly adequate on sturdier counter-tops or desks, but you can feel the aforementioned vibration and resonance throughout; being subject to unruly movement at higher volumes that distorts bass-heavy techno and hip-hop tracks and prominent treble for vocals, at times even shaking itself off onto the floor.
The FoxRox Vibration Speaker had us at odds and left more questions than answers such as: “who is this thing actually for?” and “What’s exactly the point of resonance-based audio at this price?” Admittedly, it’s a cool idea and sounds okay just as long as your living environment can compliment the technology, otherwise it often comes off as a design of unnecessary compromise.
For the less brave, I’d be hard-pressed to recommend these over conventional personal Bluetooth speakers, but if you’re after something truly unique above all else the FoxRox could fit the bill.