04
Apr
1

We've reviewed many Bluetooth speakers here at AP (I myself have penned many of them), but I'm not sure we've ever taken on anything like the Sound Rise from Soundfreaq. It's an inherently different sort of speaker, as it's really more than just a Bluetooth speaker – it's a Bluetooth alarm clock.

I'd like to think there are two kinds of people in this world: those who use their phone as an alarm clock, and those who have a more traditional buzz buzz buzz alarm clock. The Sound Rise, in my opinion, is the perfect combination of the two options. I personally can't stand being woken up by a jarring beep or eeenngghhh sound, but my phone oftentimes isn't loud enough to wake me. Soundfreaq is offering a really well thought-out and executed solution to this quandary with the Sound Rise, which easily bridges the gap between old and new – and sounds great doing it.

Pros

Cons

  • Sounds great as both a speaker and alarm clock
  • Easy to use/set up
  • Multiple Alarm Options
  • Automatic Bluetooth connection/disconnection with the phone
  • Can charge devices with its USB port
  • Could use an app so more set up/options could be handled on the phone side
  • That's it, really
Appearance and Features

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If you remember the Sound Spot, then you basically already have a good idea of what to visually and functionally expect from the Sound Rise, as it's essentially a bigger brother to the Spot. My review sample is a sleek black unit, though taupe/white is also available. The front of the speaker is covered in a soft, cloth material (whereas the Spot has an actual speaker grill) – this makes sense, as the Rise isn't meant to be portable, but rather an always-plugged bedside unit.

The upper part of the front is where the large LED display is located; it shows time, alarm status, current connection (Bluetooth, FM, or auxiliary-in), and day of the week, which is represented by a letter. The display has six different brightness levels – including completely off for those who wish to sleep in total darkness – each of which is toggled using a small button on the back of unit; there's even small bump just below said button that helps users find it in a dark room without having to visually look for it. It's the little things like this that really show how much attention went into crafting the Sound Rise.

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The top of the speaker is where you'll find all the appropriate controls: input source, a pairing button, track and volume controls, alarm 1 and 2 toggles (which can be used to set different weekday/weekend times), a large snooze button, a programming button, and a sleep timer that can be set to 15,30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes. That's all pretty cut-and-dry, but the design here is probably the most notable part of the speaker. The top of the unit has a sort of "ledge," with the snooze and alarm buttons thoughtfully placed just beneath. This actually guides your fingers directly to the snooze button without even looking, making it very easy (maybe too easy?) to grab an extra five or ten minutes of sleep. If you're the up-at-the-first alarm type, then it's equally as easy to hit the appropriate alarm button, which must be held for two seconds to dismiss the alarm. It's all quite intuitive and really well thought-out, which is great while in a half-awake state.

The back of the unit is where all the additional features are found: a USB-out for devices charging (a very nice touch, in my opinion), aux-in, antenna port (for FM radio), the aforementioned dimmer button, and a tone button. It may not be entirely clear what the latter does at first, but it's basically an on-board EQ. The settings – flat, warm, and bright – are subtle tweaks which live up to their names, but we'll get more into that later.

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Lastly, there's a compartment for a battery on the bottom of the unit, which is used for backup in case of a power failure or blackout – you know, just like a "traditional" alarm clock.

So, let's talk about how it actually works. Set up and programming is all cut and dry – it's programmed like any other alarm clock. But the actual functionality is really cool. Let's say you have alarm 1 set to use Bluetooth at 7:00AM Monday thru Friday; when the time comes, it'll automatically connect to the phone and fire up the most-recently played song (it essentially just hits "play," which will trigger the most recent app/song). When you hit snooze, it pauses the music for either 5, 10, or 20 minutes (user-defined), then starts playing again. Once the alarm is disabled, it automatically disconnects from the phone. It's absolutely brilliant – you never even have to think about anything other than ensuring a reasonable wakeup song is selected on the device.

This is actually where I think an app could go a long way – a way to communicate with the Rise to define certain things, like exactly which track to play. Then you wouldn't even have to think about setting the track each night, as everything would basically be on autopilot. Also, the ability to set alarms and such from the phone and send that info back to the Rise would be awesome. Maybe sometime in the future that will happen – I see no reason why it couldn't.

In a normal situation, the Rise auto-connects to the Bluetooth device, but what if that device isn't available for some reason? No worries, the Rise will sound its own internal alarm instead – a slightly more pleasant version of the "beep beep beep" we've all grown to... hate. Still, it's not jarring, so at least you won't wake up in a rage. Of course, you can also use auxiliary in or FM radio, but who wants to do that?

Lastly, I want to point out what a good idea it was to put a USB charging port on the back of the device. With the Rise, your alarm clock and phone charger become one, thus eliminating the need to use two outlets behind the nightstand.

Sound Quality

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Since this is also a very useable Bluetooth speaker, sound quality discussion is an absolute must. Let's just get it out of the way right now: it sounds damn good. I'm genuinely impressed with the amount of deep, rich sound Soundfreaq is able to coax from such a small box. It's interesting to note that there's only one speaker in the Rise (as opposed to two, which is the norm for most Bluetooth speakers) – according to Soundfreaq, this allows for "better sound and deeper bass in a smaller package." I believe it, because the Rise is very well-rounded.

Like I mentioned earlier, there's a "tone" button on the back, its function not unlike the same feature on the Sound Spot. Basically, it internally tweaks the speaker to provide a slightly different sound profile: flat, warm, or bright. The warm settings has deeper bass and more muffled highs, the bright setting lowers the bass and emphasizes the highs, and the flat setting is a good combination of both. I found the flat setting to be the best for what I listen to (rock/metal), but they all sound good. Like I said, they're really subtle.

The Rise has a really big, bold sound overall – it easily fills a room. It's fantastic to wake up to such excellent sound quality, and even better that it can carry over into other parts of your day.

Conclusion

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For $70 (Black)/$80 (taupe/wood), the Sound Rise offers the most bang-for-your-buck that I've seen in a while. It's a fantastic-sounding home-use speaker and an alarm clock all in one. Sure, it may not be portable, but there are a slew of portable options on the market, and I feel like the Sound Rise is in a league of its own at this point. If you're looking to replace your tired old alarm clock (or just looking for a more pleasant way to wake up), then the Sound Rise is your answer.

Buy: Target (Black only)

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.

  • BR

    Great review. How does it know which music app to hit play on ? Google Music friendly?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      It just launches the most recent music app. And yep, it works great with Play Music.

      • BR

        Great thank you for the quick reply sir.

  • supremekizzle

    I wish Google play music had an auto play function...

    • Clifford Rebelo

      Check out the Media Utilities plugin for Tasker. I use it when I get into my car and scan my NFC tag to connect to my bluetooth dongle, start Google play, then the plugin immediately starts music playback (this is all using the Trigger app for NFC).

  • John Smith

    What's the red toy in the background ?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Huh? That's one of the legs on my monitor stand.

      • gorungtoheh

        I think he was insinuating that it resembles a dildo. I'll bet his collection is quite large.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

          Ugh, you're probably right. How stupid.

  • Dima Aryeh

    Just a quick tip in case you didn't know: when the Bluetooth function is off, you can use the volume buttons to adjust brightness. Super useful feature since you don't have to reach to the back of the alarm.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Neat! I didn't know that.

  • jamesfuston

    For clarification, would you put the quality of this on par with the G-Project G-Boom? Obviously it won't have the oomph or the max volume of the G-Boom, but I doubt either of those are required to wake someone up.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Man, it's really difficult to compare a massive BT boombox with a BT alarm clock, but the quality - both build and sound - is definitely on par with the G-Boom. Like you said, you can't expect the level of volume or oomph you'll get from the Boom, but the Rise can hold its own for what it is.

      • jamesfuston

        Great. I've been suffering from insufficient volume on my phone's alarm, especially after switching from an HTC One to a Nexus 5. I'm excited to pick a Rise up and put an end to that problem. Thanks for the recommendation. I thoroughly enjoy reading your audio articles on AP.

  • Jacob Serna

    I have the Sound Spot from Soundfreaq and I've only had good things to say about since I got it. I may need to pick one of these up to add to the bedroom.

  • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

    NFC bluetooth pairing would have been a plus.

    • Rook HD

      just buy an NFC tag then

    • ProductFRED

      1. Buy NFC tag
      2. Program NFC tag with bluetooth address of speaker
      3. ???
      4. PROFIT!!!

  • fer

    Don't want to be picky, but the backup battery is not a 9 volts, it is a CR2032 3 volts. :-)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Hey! You're right. I didn't even look at it close enough. I'ma fix that now.

  • primalxconvoy

    Why not just buy a set of (powered) speakers with a phono cable, connect the speakers to your phone (while it charges in a dock) and do it that way? Surely it's easier and cheaper?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      I don't know about you, but my phone spits out notifications all night long. I have the volume set to automatically drop at night (using Silence), but if the phone were connected to powered speakers set loud enough to wake me, those sounds would be too loud to sleep through, too. I don't mute them altogether because I have kids who live with their mom and I want to be able to be woken if something were to happen in the middle of the night and they need me.

      With the Rise, my phone still stays quiet enough to sleep through at night (unless it rings), but the automatic Bluetooth connection kicks in when morning comes to give it that extra volume boost to get my lazy ass up. I think it's the ideal solution, honestly.

  • Dan

    Cameron smokes e-cigs? Is that what we see back there?