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.
Appearance and Features
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.