Review

6 wireless boomboxes

Review6 wireless boomboxes

Boomboxes are back

The modern version of the 80’s ghetto blaster is versatile, but just as loud as the name suggests.

In the 80’s, every teen movie and music video contained break-dancing and huge ghetto blasters that played hip hop. They quickly became popular due to their relatively portable size and impressive sound. The link to the hip hop culture was strong, and groups like The Beastie Boys were strongly associated with them. Then came the 90’s and the Walkman, which resulted in the downfall for loud systems in favour of convenient personal sound.

With the introduction of wireless portable speakers, the boombox seems to be on its way back. Not everyone is satisfied with a small pocket speaker for personal use at the picnic or by the pool. For each year that goes by, bigger and bigger speakers with more powerful drivers and larger batteries are making an appearance. Just last year, UE Megaboom, about the size of a can of Pringles, was considered a giant. Then came speakers in the size of shoe boxes, such as Marshall Kilburn and Beoplay Beolit 17,  and now we suddenly have speakers that require a proper carry handle again from manufacturers like Sony, Monster and JVC.

Something to think about

Before you head out and buy the first and best boombox, it’s a good idea to think about what you really need. Where are you going to use it? If you’re just going to have it on the balcony or in the garage, it may not need 100 decibels of sound pressure. However, if you want to use it at outdoor parties, you might need a little more sound pressure and a more powerful bass than if you were going to use it indoors. Do you want to take it to the beach? Then it may need an IP code so that it not only tolerates splashing, but also is protected against sand.

(Photo: Manufacturer)

 

Are you going to be carrying it around a lot? Then beware of loudspeakers upwards of 8 kilos, they quickly become hard to lug around. Also, check how you can carry them. Is there a large, comfortable handle? Can it be carried with a shoulder strap?

You should also think about connectivity and other features. If you are going to play it for a long time, running it cordless drains a lot of battery power from your mobile phone. Using a cord is more energy-saving. If you are almost running out of power, can you borrow power from the speakers to charge your mobile phone? How is the speaker charged? Can you borrow a regular device cord from your buddy, or does it need a special charger? You can easily get stuck if you forget to bring the special charger.

Products in this test
Sony GTK-XB60

Despite its party exterior, the XB60 does not play as gripping as its competitors.

We’ve previously tested Sony’s refined speakers with lighting effects in the ExtraBass-series. Like the travel friendly Sony SRS-XB30 and last year’s party speaker Sony GTK-XB5, which unfortunately lacked battery operation. This has been fixed in the Sony GTK XB60, which lasts up to 14 hours at reasonable levels and with the lighting effects turned off. But at full volume with extra bass and lamps, it only lasts for three hours! This is somewhat comparable to the others in the test. However, the carrying handles are not all that comfortable. They work well if all you’re doing is move the speaker, but not if you plan on carrying it around for a while.

There are far too many choices and settings in the app.

As usual, Sony’s devices are full of features. The most obvious are the disco lights, which pulses and flashes to the music, and can be set by music style. If you wish to be a DJ, you can hook up a microphone and shout to the guests. The speakers can be connected, either in a stereo pair or in party mode with up to 10 compatible models. Either by cable or wirelessly. There are also audio settings for different music styles as well as an extra bass amplifier. However, all these features packs the top of the device with buttons and makes the app difficult to navigate. There’s even an extra DJ-app that controls the lighting.

 

(Photo: Manufacturer)

 

Bearing in mind that the XB60 is part of the ExtraBass series, and with the massive sub-woofers, we had expected something extra. That the sound pressure would push you backwards and rip the gutters off the roof, maybe? But in reality, XB60 is more modest than both JBL Boombox and Braven XXL. It handles many music styles, as long as you are prepared to tweak the Bassboost and EQ settings and the ClearAudio feature. If you do not, dance music can feel somewhat tame, and more finely tuned music may seem somewhat enclosed.

Conclusion

Sony’s speakers are arguably the most festive of them all with its cheerful lamps and strobe lights. Talk about energising the dance throughout the night! You can even be a DJ with a microphone and sound control. If the sound is not extensive enough, you can connect two or more speakers for an even more powerful volume. A single speaker is not as loud or bass heavy like many of the competitors. On the other hand, XB60 can handle a lot of musical styles, but it requires lengthy adjustments of the sound settings in order to make it really good. With all the buttons on the speaker and all the menus in the app, it might be overwhelming to work with.

 

Drivers: 2 x 2”, 2 x 5 1/8”

Frequency range: –

Amplifiers: –

Max sound pressure: –

Connections: Bluetooth 4.2, RCA inn/ut, Mic, USB (charging)

Battery life: 14 hours

Dimensions: 55 x 26 x 27 cm

Weight: 8 kg

Website: sony.no

Pris: 4000 kr
PositiveSleek design and impressive light show. Party mode and microphone input. USB charger.
NegativeShort battery life with all features on. Requires adjustments to sound good with different styles of music.

An armoured vehicle on the outside that turns out to have unexpected music qualities on the inside.

As the name suggests, Braven XXL is the largest of Braven’s outdoor speakers. It is splash proof, which means it can handle a little water hitting it. However, you cannot throw it in the pool. It not only looks like an armoured vehicle, it also feels really sturdy. This means it also weighs a lot. Luckily, it has a proper carrying handle. It also comes with a carry strap so that you can have it over your shoulder when you bring it around. The strap has a built-in bottle opener as a fun gimmick.

All the buttons are placed on the one short side, well protected by rubber. The adjust buttons control the volume, bass and treble. There is also a play/pause button if your phone is not in range. Behind a hatch on the other side, there is an Aux input if you do not want to use Bluetooth. In addition, there is a microphone input so you can use the speaker as a PA system. There is also a USB port to charge the mobile phone from the built-in battery. Unfortunately, the transformer sits externally, so if you forget this, you can’t charge the speaker. It is worth noting that a new XXL2 model is in progress, and it has a capacity of up to 20 hours.

Aux and microphone input, as well as USB to charge the mobile phone.

 

With such a tough look, it’s easy to believe the sound is just as brutal. It’s true to some degree, as it has significant volume, and the bass gets the table to vibrate. However, it requires that the volume is cranked up quite high before the bass really comes to life. At a lower volume, it may be necessary to turn on the bass control. But it is actually sophisticated enough to handle many music genres. Pop and rock music sound naturally amazing, but more surprisingly even acoustic concerts provide a sense of presence. The bass does not go quite as low as EDM requires, and the treble is a little harsh for orchestral music. It’s somewhat better if you turn down the treble a little. With some corrections, you can make the speaker sound good with various styles of music.

(Photo: Manufacturer)

 

 

Conclusion

Braven XXL has a classic boombox format and looks like something you can carry around on you shoulder like a ghetto blaster. Especially since it is as sturdy as it looks. It’s too heavy for our tastes though, and you should probably use the shoulder strap. Thanks to large, clear buttons, it’s easy to operate. Besides Bluetooth, there is Aux input and as a bonus, there is a mic input and a USB charger for the mobile phone. The sound is as loud and bass heavy as you might suspect, but it is indeed sophisticated enough to handle many styles of music. If you want improved battery life, you can wait for the XXL2 model that launches soon.

 

Drivers: 4

Frequency range: –

Amplifiers: –

Max sound pressure: –

Connections: Aux, Mic, Bluetooth, USB (charging)

Battery life: 14 hours

Dimensions: 51 x 24 x 21 cm

Weight: 8.9 kg

Website: solipi.no

Pris: 4000 kr
PositiveRobust and IPX5 splash proof. Microphone input and USB charger. Unexpectedly good sound.
NegativeQuite heavy to carry around. No decent deep bass. Requires a special charger.
Vooni Boombox

Just like the gadgets in the Hobbex youth catalogue, the Boombox is too good to be true.

When you unbox the Vooni Boombox, it is mildly amusing. It’s so big, you think it’s a joke. When you try to lift it out of the box, you end up hurting your back, and then you stop laughing. They can’t seriously believe that this is a portable music device? Party speakers in the same weight class tend to be equipped with wheels for a reason. There is indeed a carry strap, but it is only attached with two small screws directly in the thin chipboard, which the entire chassis is made of. The design is ridiculous, and it’s no surprise that the speakers are as sturdy as a cheap IKEA closet.

A huge amount of inputs, outputs, knobs and buttons.

What it lacks in quality, Vooni compensates with the amount of buttons as well as inputs and outputs. It not only comes with a line input, but an actually guitar input, as well as a wireless microphone. You also get two line outputs. The boombox seems more suitable as a PA system than an actual boombox. Besides Bluetooth, you can play music via USB memory and memory cards. And there is FM radio! Next to the inputs and outputs, there are controls for volume and tone as well as the playback buttons. The front also has a gigantic visual equaliser, but you have to play it at a dangerously high volume for it to show anything whatsoever.

Like the rest of the impression you get of the Boombox, it seems as if no one bothered to listen to the results before Vooni began selling the speakers. The soundscape is unbalanced and totally incoherent. It sounds as if you are listening to a woofer and a tweeter that happen to be close to each other. The bass goes undoubtedly quite deep, but is too indistinct. The mid-range dominates so that voices and certain instruments drown everything else. The treble sounds glaring if you press it. I actually had flashbacks to the 80’s, when buddies swapped speaker drivers in their cars without having any knowledge of acoustics or what worked together.

 

(Photo: Manufacturer)

 

Conclusion

Let’s imagine that the Vooni Boombox originated as a Vodka & Red Bull-drenched idea at a late night on a beach on Ibiza. How big are the drivers? Enormous. What should it contain? Everything. What sound sources should it have? All of them. What’s the battery life? Incredibly long. But won’t that make it too big and insanely heavy? Perhaps, but it’s just a matter of putting on a huge handle. Won’t it be too expensive? No, we simply screw the standard parts together in a wooden crate. But if it is to be used outdoors, shouldn’t it be robust? Well, I guess you must be a little careful. This is our best idea ever. Who’s buying shots? Not us!

 

Drivers: 2 x 4”, 2 x 10”

Frequency range: –

Amplifiers: 120 watt

Max sound pressure: –

Connections: Aux, Bluetooth, Mic, USB, SD card

Battery life: 12 hours

Dimensions: 90 x 45 x 16 cm

Weight: 21 kg

Website: coolstuff.no

Pris: 2500 kr
PositiveA lot of decibels for its price. Many sound sources.
NegativeImmensely huge and terribly heavy. Cheap, ill-considered construction. Sounds terrible.
Aiwa Exos-9

You can't complaint about the sound, but it has its limitations as a boombox.

Monster Superstar Blaster

Monster’s boombox is brutal to look at, but it sounds nicer than expected.

JBL Boombox

Despite its relatively small size, JBL Boombox has a great sound with proper bass rendition.

    Add

    Leave a Reply

    avatar
      Subscribe  
    Notify of

    Alternatives to 6 wireless boomboxes

    Bose Soundlink Micro

    Very easy to use and bring along to the beach, but you have to compromise on sound.

    Devialet Phantom Reactor 900

    Breaks the sound barrier

    Devialet Phantom Reactor is a nuclear power plant in tiny packaging.

    KEF does it again with a wireless edition of one of the best loudspeakers we have tested.

    6 wireless boomboxes

    The modern version of the 80’s ghetto blaster is versatile, but just as loud as the name suggests.

    Thinking that the limits were reached to the maximum, Devialet has surpassed itself. Gold Phantom is the coolest we have heard among small speakers.

    Last year's surprise now plays even louder, and is even more protected from the drivers.

    In a wireless world it is easy to get lost in one-box solutions. But it's just as easy with two speakers — and offers much better sound.

    Scroll to Top