Solid Bluetooth compatible speaker for Mac or iOS devices. (October 17th, 2011)
This tiny portable speaker works up to 25-30 feet from its sound source. It includes a Lithium-ion BassBattery that powers the device up to 8 hours when fully charged. What it lacks in bass, it makes up in treble, convenience, and reliability.
Product Manufacturer: soundmatters international, inc.
Price: $199 US
- Small, solidly built.
- Good sound.
- Works well as a speakerphone.
- Can charge via USB.
- Comes with all the pieces you need.
- Somewhat lacking in bass.
- Power switch is hard to use.
For the past few months, I've been using the FoxLv2 Bluetooth speaker from SoundMatters for listening to music and as a speakerphone with my iPhone 3G. The portable FoxL is a small speaker system, 5.6" wide, 2.2" high, and 1.4" deep, that delivers impressive sound - especially for its size. The FoxLv2 is surprisingly heavy (9.5oz), because there is very little plastic in the FoxL. It looks like metal, but is actually a glass-filled composite that forms a sealed acoustic enclosure, which is much lighter than metal, for portability. This gives it a very solid feel, at the cost of some extra weight, but will not break after a few months of use, like many other small portables.
The FoxLv2 comes with an extensive collection of accessories. It has an A/C adapter, with several different wall plugs for international travel. You can also charge it via a micro-USB connector, which is what I do when I travel. It also comes with an audio cable for connecting non-Bluetooth devices, and a small rubber pad for the FoxL to sit upon if you are worried about marring the finish of your desk. The mat also serves as an anchor of sorts, which prevents the speaker from "walking" when listening to loud music with a lot of bass. You can pair it with a computer, iPad, iPhone, or any other compatible device.
As a set of speakers, the FoxLv2 delivers good sound. The music is crisp and clear, but it is missing some of the bass tones. When I ran tests with the MacNN audio test suite there was little to no sound on the low frequencies (below 30 Hz).
The specifications for the FoxLv2 claim a frequency response from 80-20,000 Hz. In my tests, I was able to hear (very faintly) a 27.5 Hz tone, and the 55 Hz was quite clear. On the high end, I could hear the 11K Hz tone and (faintly) 12K Hz, but not the 13K Hz.
Ilene also tested the FoxL and when she paired it to her iMac, it was recognized immediately. She used iTunes and played music and walked from room to room with this easily portable device. It worked up to 30 feet away without any problems. The FoxL has an integrated microphone and works as a speakerphone as well. I used it for conference calls and found that the built-in echo cancellation works well, even when you are talking to someone on the other side of the world.
You can connect the FoxL to your phone or iPod via either Bluetooth or via an audio cable. If you are using Bluetooth, you have to pair the speakers to your phone, and after that, the phone automatically uses the FoxL if it is turned on and in range. I found that handy when I was on a conference call and had to leave the room. I picked up the phone and walked downstairs, and when I left the room, the phone switched to the internal speaker, and when I came back, it switched back to the FoxL - without me having to do anything.
After you pair your phone with the FoxL, you can answer calls by pressing the triangular button on the front. When you're done talking, pressing the button again ends the call. You don't have to touch anything on your phone.
The only problem that I've had with the FoxL is that sometimes you hear a buzzing when tethered to the computer. Disconnecting it from the USB port seems to solve that issue. A minor annoyance is that the power switch on the back is hard to see because it's black on black and takes a bit of effort to slide. If I just left the speakers plugged into power all the time, I could leave them on - and never mess with the power switch. However, I'm the kind of compulsive personality that turns things off when they're not in use. If the black switch were made a different color, it would be easier to see.
When compared to other speakers I've tested, the iHome iDM12 and the iHome ID9 speakers did better on the low end (all the way down to 20 Hz), but only the ID9 was able to reproduce the high notes like the FoxL. Of the three speaker systems, the ID9 sounded the best, followed by the FoxL, with the IDM12 bringing up the rear (mostly due to somewhat muddy low tones). The iHome speakers are not as well constructed and may not last as long, nor take the same level of abuse when traveling.
You can purchase the FoxL directly from SoundMatters. The list price for the FoxLv2 is $199, but they are currently selling it for $169 (15% off). The Bluetooth version is $199, down from $249 MSRP. While this seems expensive, the build quality and convenience this tiny device provides is worth the years of enjoyment you should experience. You can purchase some useful accessories on the site also, including a hard carrying case, wall mount bracket, and bike or car connector kits.