22
Oct
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The amount of Bluetooth speakers on the market is mind boggling. Not only has every brand that ever made a speaker in the past throwing its offering into the arena, but the category has brought forth many new contenders as well, each of which claiming theirs is the "best." That's actually a silly assertion, as best is completely subjective. But I'm getting off topic. 

The way I see it, finding the right Bluetooth speaker for you isn't all that daunting of a task. Simply identify what you want in a speaker - portability? Volume? Excellent sound quality? Features? Something that will easily blend with any decor? Once you've pinned down what's most important, it's become infinitely easier to narrow your options. 

When considering all the options, the Sound Spot from Soundfreaq is a very different speaker than what we've looked at in the past. Instead of focusing on durability or portability, Soundfreaq calls the Sound Spot a "wireless home speaker." Looking at it really confirms that claim - it's just cool looking.

Good

Bad

  • Fantastic, minimal design
  • Good sound quality for the money
  • Good battery life
  • Materials feel slightly cheap
  • The buttons are weird
  • The design may not appeal to everyone

Appearance and Features

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The Sound Spot offers a beautiful mid-century modern aesthetic and comes in three different colors: white/wood, white, and black. In my opinion, the white/wood model looks a bit more modern and classier, though the all white one is a very close second. All three models have the same overall look and functions, so it's all about which color scheme you prefer. Soundfreaq sent me the white/wood one for review, however, so I can't say how the others look in person. I definitely dig the white, though. 

The white/wood unit has a two-tone look throughout, with the front consisting of a white grill and plastic wood-colored front plate, with a seemingly out-of-place zebra-print square in the center (all three models have that). I really could do without that one small embellishment - it just doesn't fit with the overall look. The entire back of the speaker is also white. Oftentimes I find skeumorphism like this slightly offensive, but in the case of the Sound Spot I actually don't mind it - it's classy and well done. 

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The top of the unit is where you'll find all the controls: volume down/up, track back, play/pause, track forward, pair, and power. Aside from the power button, the Sound Spots's buttons take some getting used to, as they don't have any sort of tangible feedback when pressed - they're basically just touch sensors. There's no tactile reaction, nor does the speaker beep or give any other sort of indicator that the button press was successful. The only way to know for sure is to watch the power button - it'll blink when a change is made on the speaker-side. There is, of course, the expected reaction, as well: volume or track changes, etc. However, this isn't the best indicator either, because in the case of the track controls there's a slight bit of latency (as with all Bluetooth media controls) which may result in the user hitting the button multiple times because they're unsure if the original press went through. After a bit of time, though, you get used to the way the controls work and it starts to seem natural. 

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On the back of the speaker you'll find everything else: aux in for wired input, aux out for daisy-chaining more than one Sound Spot together, the "tone" controls - more on that below - microUSB charging port, and full-size USB output for devices charging. The bottom has some rubbery non-slip grips to keep the unit from moving around. 

The entire unit is made of a very lightweight plastic, so don't expect it to be able to take a beating. One fall and it's likely to meet its demise - this is definitely not an on-the-go sort of speaker. 

Sound Quality

Before getting into the overall sound quality, let's talk about the aforementioned tone controls. The Sound Spot has three settings, accessed via a small toggle switch on the back: flat, warm, and bright. In theory, these should active different audio profiles within the speaker itself. In reality, the differences are fairly minimal - flat (which basically deactivates the on-board EQ) sounds broad and open, warm provides a bass-ier, more saturated sound; and bright is tighter and more articulate. Like I said, however, the changes are very subtle and you have to focus to hear the differences of each effect. That said, I found that bright sounded the best to me, so I ended up leaving it there most of the time. 

That brings me to the overall sound quality. In short, the Sound Spot is a pretty incredible-sounding little speaker - it may be $70 in price, but it's at least double that in sound quality. It's incredibly impressive. 

For such a small, light little speaker, the Sound Spot not only sounds incredibly immersive, but it's surprisingly rich and full. You can put this little guy in a corner and easily fill a bedroom, kitchen, or similarly-sized room. It does a great job of projecting sound that is much larger than the speaker itself. 

Lastly, let's talk about battery life. Soundfreaq rates the Sound Spot at about seven hours of play time, and that's about what I got out of it - maybe a little bit more, actually. Of course, I had the volume relatively low (can't have it too overbearing or all focus goes at the window), so when cranked it'll definitely get fewer than seven. I'd say it's safe to say that you'll get at least six hours, granted you don't use it to charge your phone. 

Conclusion

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In a market full of Bluetooth speakers, it's difficult for any manufacturer to really make its mark, but I think Soundfreaq does an excellent job of setting itself apart from the crowd with the Sound Spot. It looks unlike any other Bluetooth speaker I've seen, plus it's small, light, and can pump out a generous amount of good sound. For $70, it's really hard not to consider the Sound Spot if you're looking for a good speaker to use around the house; you could throw it in a bag and take it on the go, as well, but it's pretty clear that's not the intended use (and honestly, I'm not sure it could take the beating). 

If you're looking for more of a take anywhere-type speaker, you may want to look elsewhere. If you're searching in the sub-$100 price range, G-Project has some really solid choices that offer incredible bang for the buck. We've already looked at the $99 G-Boom - stay tuned for a a review covering the rest of the G-Project family if that's your poison. The $99 UE MINI BOOM is also another excellent little speaker that can take a beating and has an excellent sound profile.

If you don't anticipate ever taking the speaker outside of the house, however, definitely take a look at the Sound Spot. It looks great, sounds great, and provides a lot of oomph on a relatively small budget. 

Buy: Amazon

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, and musician. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6- or 7-string, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Drig

    Lol. The "out of place zebra print" is their logo

    • Chris

      I think... they may actually have Verizon beat (no pun intended)

  • Herman

    No need to read the review apparently, it sounds horrible in my opinion if the title is to be believed.

    • RitishOemraw

      it looks like an old airconditioner. Hang it by the window and tip it over :P

    • Matthew Fry

      I think it looks retro not modern. Like 1970s.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      This is the ugliest speaker I've ever seen I think. I mean I can see why some people might think it's good-looking, similar to how they would think rusty car parts glued together make a great statue, but this is straight up outdoor speaker glued into a piece of wood. Yuck.

  • Kesey

    On what planet does this thing look great? Holy shit is that thing hideous.

    • Thatguyfromvienna

      My best bet would be Planet Hipster.
      It's got this overused applish look to it.

    • Russel Taylor

      Hideous was the same word that came to my mind.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I agree - this thing's ugliriffic.

  • Thatguyfromvienna

    Bah! That's uglyrific!

  • AndroidBluetoothSucks

    I write this every time, but why write about the sound quality of Android bluetooth speakers when ANDROID BLETOOTH MUSIC STREAMING IS TERRIBLE QUALITY?

    And I don't mean bad quality, I mean terrible quality. Worse than CD, worse than cassette, worse than radio and worse than vinyl. The bitpool was always too low for music until 4.0, when it was fixed. Then Google changed the Bluetooth stack and broke it again. Low bitpool makes music with high-end (ie. cymbals) all crackly and disgusting. I'd say it is like the 32kbps file here:

    http://www.fastserv.com/kb/article/mp3_bitrate_selection_and_samples/

    CD quality is 320kbps, so 10x what Android is capable of. 128kbps is the lowest recommended listening quality, which is stil head and shoulders above Android. This isn't just for audiophiles; this is where normal people begin to hear a substantial reduction in quality.

    The worst $5 wired speaker than the highest quality Bluetooth speaker. Save your money. Why Google haven't prioritised this, I don't know.

    NB: Any device with CyanogenMod won't suffer because the devs aren't deaf and fixed this glaring problem.

    • ReturnOfTheMack

      I was about to say something until I read the last line of you comment. Haha for some reason I never really used Bluetooth streaming before my devices ran CM.

      • Mike Harris

        I was thinking the same thing, but I use AOKP, which I believe is based off of CM. My major problem with the Bluetooth streaming is that there always seems to be a bad audio delay. This is fine for music, but sucks for video. Because of that, I don't even bother with the Bluetooth. I just use the line-in.

        • ReturnOfTheMack

          Yeah AOKP is CM based. Bluetooth streaming with video, even on Netflix, has been flawless for me on my N7 or G-Nex.

        • OP

          I don't think AOKP is based on CM anymore. Last time I used AOKP it suffered this problem, although that was months ago.

    • Robert Alex Kibler

      I completely believe you about the audio quality, because I've noticed it's pretty terrible. What did the CM devs do to fix it? And have other developers been doing it? Because I use bluetooth streaming in my car (using Mmuzzy's 4.3 on my gnex), and I can't tell if it's gotten any worse or better after switching from PA.

    • Matthew Fry

      So... have HTC and Samsung fixed it for their devices?

      • oP

        No. Well, at least not on the last ones I tried which were an S3 and HTC Sensation.

        • Matthew Fry

          I can fully understand the position the Android team is coming from as I am also a developer. It's much easier to work on the cool new and fancy features. At some point though, you've got to go and fix things. Bluetooth. Audio latency. Out of control wakelocks. A better system for persistent applications than the notification shade. SMS (which they are fixing a bit in 4.4). Random reboots on Nexus devices. Actually selling accessories that use the pogo pins. Actually implementing the gestures in their apps they espouse. Some of these are extremely difficult problems to solve, some are just boring. They really need to have a quiet year fixing all the crap that's broken and half implemented. For goodness sake, the only way to access Keep from a browser is to type in drive.google.com/keep. There's no links anywhere to get to this place. There's a Chrome & Android app but there isn't a damned link!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I'm going to have to go ahead and disagree. I own many BT speakers and many phones, though I tend to only use my Samsungs, and the quality is fine, nowhere near what you're describing.

      • OP

        I'm sorry, but your devices aren't magically special. This is a registered issue with Google. It is just your ears. Actually, I'm not sorry; I'm jealous that it doesn't annoy you. Once you've noticed the distortion, you can'tun-hear it.

        • Ben Weaver

          The curse of delving into audio. I don't know how many times I have wished to un-hear things.

  • gyg err

    The sound quality is terrible. Probably the worst bt speaker. I opted to go and spend more for the jawbone mini and am very happy. This speaker though has awful, flat sound. Stick with Jawbone or G Project.

  • Nathan Starr

    I have the previous soundfreq speaker and the audio is almost on par with my high quality speakers (at low volume); Google soundfreq reviews and you'll see the reviewer and I are not alone. If you want a preset Bose bass equalizer sound go with jambox.

  • Atomic Zombie

    Looks like someone had a bit of spare decking lying around and put an outdoors speaker in it.

  • a

    Title impression - Judging how hideous it looks it must sound terrible.

  • iandouglas

    I love AndroidPolice, I used to be a writer here, and I have a lot of respect for Cameron's writing... But this post confuses me. Yesterday, Artem ranted about *Android* blogs writing about *non-Android* things, specifically ChromeOS devices ... yet these kinds of posts get approved and published?

    • Demi

      These are not the consistencies you're looking for.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      We review accessories all the time, which includes BT gear, be it headphones or speakers. A ChromeOS laptop is not an accessory.