"Great wireless speaker, exceptional for the price"4.5 starson by piec2
Pros: Really good sound
Really inexpensive for what you get
Bluetooth is easy to setup
Cons: Could use a little bit more bass
Swapping between bluetooth devices is a bit awkward
Summary: I wanted to check the state of some new Airplay speakers, so I decided to compare a few of them, namely the:
- Bose SoundLink Air
- Pioneer A4 XW-SMA4-K
- Pioneer A3 XW-SMA3-K
- Logitech Wireless Boombox
Right off the bat, you can notice that the Logitech unit is in a different category. It's much less expensive (1/3 the price) and uses bluetooth rather than Wi-fi. However since it received great reviews online, I decided to compare it as well. I'm glad I did (read on!).
First of all, let's talk about what's common here.
When using a bluetooth speaker (the Logitech here is the only one), you get instantaneous response when you change track, change the volume, press play or stop: that's the beauty of using bluetooth. Also, apparently bluetooth has less bandwidth than wi-fi, so it compresses the music before sending it to the speaker. However in real usage, I could never tell the difference. If you are a real music expert and have an very good musical ear, maybe you can hear it but I certainly could not. All the music I played sounded great whether I played it on the bluetooth Logitech or on the other Airplay speakers.
Using Airplay, you will encounter a delay when you try to control the music. It's around 1 to 2 seconds before any action on your iPod/iPhone will take effect on the speaker (except for Stop and volume changes which are almost instantaneous but not quite). This delay will also occur when you skip songs (something I hate) however it does not occur if your let your playlist continue and your iPod is simply going on from one song to the next. This means if you are throwing a party and try to skip a tune, you will get silence for 2 seconds.
All three Airplay units have about the same wi-fi hotspot power level, so you can expect the same range as a typical wi-fi 2.4 Ghz router you may have in your home today. You may also encounter the same interference problems as your regular wifi.
All Pioneer and Bose speakers have remotes, which I did not use. I figure everyone will control these units via their iPod/iPhone/iPad or other devices anyway. None of the units have any mute button on the speaker themselves. Only the Bose unit has a mute button on the remove (Pioneer doesn't have any).
Logitech Wireless Boombox
Unlike the other units, this speaker is only bluetooth. It's also much cheaper than the other ones. You can find it around $130 while the other ones are around $350-400; what a difference.
In the back, the speaker has a power port and an AUX port. In the front, the little bluetooth button can be used to pair it with your device.
Pairing is pretty simple: when you power on the unit, it goes in pairing mode automatically. Once it's paired, things could be any easier: just select the unit in the list of speakers on your iPod/iPhone and play. Every command is instantaneous, unlike on Airplay units.
A nice thing is also that if you power off the Logitech, when you power it back on it will remember the last device you paired it with. Furthermore, once the Logitech was turned back-on my Ipod also remembered it was playing on that speaker so it automatically sent my sound to it (I didn't have to select Logitech again in the list of speakers available). Brilliant.
If you want to change the pairing (i.e. pair with another iPod for example), there's a bit more trouble, however once you know how to do it it's easy. Press and hold the bluetooth button on the Logitech for a few seconds until the bluetooth led on the unit starts flashing, then go to your iPod and pair it. However if the iPod you are using had already been paired with the Logitech in the past, you will still see the Logitech listed in your list of bluetooth devices but you won't be able to pair to it: you must first remove it from the list, then redo the pairing.
It's annoying but once you figure it out then it works just fine.
Since it uses bluetooth, it should work with just about any device (Apple, Android) that can support bluetooth, which is a plus. The range of bluetooth can be less than a wi-fi router, however in practice I never has any problems with the range. I could play the unit through 2 walls and approx 20 feet apart. However again interference could lower the range you will get at your house, so it's best to try it out and see for yourself.
The battery is easy to replace and I tried the unit a couple of hours without issue (I didn't try to see how long the battery would last).
The sound on this unit was impressive. For a unit this price, it's really exceptional. The sound was well balanced and the bass was good although not quite as present as the Bose unit. However it was better than the A3 which cost much more. I could easily see why people buying this speaker were very satisfied with it. I tried the unit for a full day at work at low volume and I really liked it.
If I had to choose between the Bose and the Logitech, I would personally choose the Logitech because the bass sound difference isn't huge, because I find the mid-range boost of the Bose to be tiring on my ears and you just can't beat the price of the Logitech.
Using this unit, the volume control from my iPod had full range (no problems like the one I saw on the Pioneer units).
Overall, I found this little speaker to be exceptional for the price. Really good sound, easy to link with your device and good portability: well done Logitech!
For comparison with the others, see my other reviews!