You can walk into basically any department or electronics store right now and be overwhelmed with the assortment of Bluetooth speakers. And when you start to dig in online, the competition gets even tighter - there are so many legitimately good options available today, it can be incredibly challenging to pick the one worth your hard-earned dollars.
As a result, manufacturers are looking to things other than just sound quality to give their offering an edge. Things like size/form factor and available accessories are starting to be much more important than they were this time a couple of years ago, which is exactly why the Transit XS from Soen ($130 retail) was born.
This speaker, which started its life on Kickstarter, is one of the thinnest and overall sleekest on the market today. It also features a 1/4" tripod mount on the back, allowing it to be used in situations where other speakers fall short, as well as creating a practical way of attaching various mounts.
That's a pretty cool feature, and the speaker even ships with an awesome little clip that can be used to strap it to a backpack or put on a belt. I super dig that. Otherwise, it's a pretty classy-looking little guy, with a nice high-end matte black and aluminum color scheme (white, red, and purple units are also available) and a modern trapezoid shape. The XS' controls are a simple three-button configuration (volume and play/pause), all of which can be found on the top. The power button, auxiliary-in, and microUSB charging port are all on the left side, and the bass reflex port is on the right. That's pretty much it. Super simple.
When it comes to sound quality, one word sums up the Transit XS: wow. A lot of manufacturers make some sort of claim about their small speaker sounding big, but this one actually delivers. The sound is definitely bigger than the speaker, no contest - I've tested speakers twice this size that can't deliver the crisp bass that's produced by the XS' tiny package, which is very impressive. Apparently Soen uses something they call "Momentum Port" to make the bass so prominent, which works as a "virtual subwoofer." I normally don't buy into buzzword-laden junk like that, but with one listen, they made a believer out of this skeptic. Good job, Soen.
I've tested speakers twice this size that can't deliver the crisp bass that's produced by the XS' tiny package.
But it's not all about that bass, 'bout that bass (I'm sorry). The XS delivers on the other end too - the treble and mids are also on point. There's really no overabundance of anything with this speaker; it's a well-balanced, well-calibrated listening experience, especially if the listener uses a software EQ (as I do) to dial in exactly what they want to hear. I typically go for the Rock preset in Play Music, with the Bass Boost and Surround Sound set to "1." This scoops some of that midrange out, which always sounds best to me. Of course, your ears may prefer something different, but that doesn't really matter - the Transit XS can deliver, regardless of preset. Or no preset. It's just a good-sounding speaker.
Overall, I highly recommend the Transit XS. It easily gives other speakers of this form factor - like the Jawbone Mini Jambox and Soundfreaq Pocket Kick - a run for their money. Of course, it's also more expensive than both of those options, about $30 more than a Mini Jambox, and $50 more than the Pocket Kick. It does sound better than both, however, so it's probably worth the price bump if you want the best sound you can get from a compact speaker.