I remember the first time I received a boom box for my birthday as a kid. It had a AM/FM radio, and a dual tape deck – and I was stoked. It meant I could head out to the lake with my friends, talk smack, drink wine coolers, and listen to the mix tapes we made. The only problem was that it took 8 D-cell batteries to power it, and those suckers ran out of juice in no time. It was also the size of a typical Craftsman toolbox. (ie, not small.)
I may have just dated myself with the cassette reference, but the fact remains that kids today don’t need a stereo the size of a footstool to bring their tunes with them. At this point, most of us probably own several types of MP3 players already, and at least one of them travel with us constantly in the form of a phone.
We tried a few portable speakers out in the past when we were traveling, mostly for watching movies and TV on our laptops. They were kind of a pain in the ass. We even bought a padded case to keep the cables, wires and speakers together, but the ones we had kind of sucked. They were a bit louder than the stock laptop speakers, but now that we live in an apartment again like normal people, I haven’t watched utilized the laptop as much for viewing online programming. (instead I’ll watch Netflix on my iPhone using the headphones, although that is a solo viewing experience) That is, until the BoomBotix showed up at the door.
Formerly known as the SkullyBoom, this micro-sized boom box by BoomBotix is pretty rad. Completely self-contained, it is powered by a lithium-ion battery that is easily recharged by a USB cable. We’ve been impress by how long the batteries last as well. Operation is simplified and basic: there is a single button and two jacks on the rear. An LED lights up to let you know when the speaker is on, with different colors to signify whether the unit is charging or low on power. On the back there is one jack for the audio, and one for the USB cable to recharge the batteries. The speakers are encased on a sturdy housing with a street art-toy-style form factor in a shape of a skull. They come in four different colors, with our test model coming in a lavendar color. (that just happens to match my new fixed ride.) The speakers are designed to take with you, and the back of the speaker features a belt clip that makes it easy to carry around. In fact, we rode all over town with our tunes playing and bunny hopped everything in sight, and it didn’t budge a bit. While I haven’t tried it dirt jumping or shuttling yet, I don’t think it would have an issue staying put whatsoever.
The cable that runs from the speaker to your music source is a basic two sided headphone style cable, with a retractable cord wrap. I’ve never used one of these before, but it’s brilliant. If my phone came with one of these, I’d probably still be on my original headphones as opposed to on set #2 or 3. With the retractable cord, I was able to play tunes while riding around, and keep the cord neatly tucked away. In fact, the only thing I felt the cable was lacking was a pause or fast forward feature, should a sappy metal ballad or showtune accidentally make its way into your playlist. (um yeah, street cred: -1 but I happen to like that Meatloaf song!)
We’ve been pretty stoked on how much volume these little speakers put out. Audiophiles might complain that they would like more bass, but that would be asking quite a bit more from this little device that is much smaller than most speakers, much less any sub-woofers. The volume is controlled via the music source, which keeps the speaker simple, and having fewer parts is a good thing with less stuff that could break. Inga loves the unit so much it has been hard to get it back from her, especially if she’s in the middle of a reality TV show watching marathon on her crappy PC laptop. (her speakers barely put out any sound, so she is loving the SB1). My brother’s family were equally impressed when they tried it out paired with a portable DVD player- the kids could actually hear the movie as the SkullyBoom puts out quite a bit more volume than the stock speakers.
The only gripe I can think of is that there’s no way to easily fast forward tracks when my phone is in my pocket. If you have a sappy rock ballad or show tune that somehow made it onto your playlist “accidentally”, you are sharing that with your peers whether you like it or not. Heaven forbid your playlist goes from something rad like Iron Maiden to Britney Spears.
I’m not the type to roll around town with broadcasting music blaring all the time, but we’ve found ourselves really pleased with the BoomBotix. If you are into or don’t mind the art toy look, definitely look into this tiny boom box that can.
The SkullyBoom SB1 by BoomBotix retails for about $50. For more info, check them out here.