At $900, buying a Soundboks — or, more specifically, the Soundboks 2 — is no minor decision, but trust us: If you need tunes for any large gathering, be it a wedding reception, a company picnic, a blazing beach bonfire, or a backyard birthday bash, this just might be your best bet.
Durable is an understatement
The Soundboks 2 itself is about three feet tall, two feet wide, and a foot deep, and weighs in at a relatively light 33 pounds. It’s a little unwieldy, though — given the somewhat awkward handles and the shape of the speaker, we don’t necessarily recommend toting it far, unless you make it a two-person carry job, or shell out $130 for the backpack attachment. The Soundboks 2 is advertised as “apocalypse-ready,” and we’re inclined to agree.
The Soundboks 2 is advertised as “apocalypse-ready,” and we’re inclined to agree.
It’s essentially weatherproof, capable of withstanding rain, snow, and extreme temperatures down to -4 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, though it isn’t designed to be submerged. The casing, built from Baltic birch plywood and wrapped in scratch-proof powdered aluminum, also feels extremely sturdy. In a clever design choice, there are ball corners built in to prevent the speaker from damaging anything else during transportation.
The Soundboks is incredibly easy to set up. Just turn the power knob from Off to Indoor or Outdoor, depending upon your location, and the Bluetooth indicator will begin to blink. Find it in your device’s settings (each Soundboks has a serial number on top; use this if you’re connecting multiple Soundbokses simultaneously), and select it to connect. If you’ve got a 3.5mm auxiliary cable, you can connect that way too.
The speaker has has a pole mount slot on the bottom for those with a professional tripod, and the battery pack is easily removable, and offers an impressive 40 hours of battery life on average, and up to 100 hours total (depending how you ration your juice; at full volume, you’ll get less than ten hours). If you buy a spare and charge it up, which takes just three or four hours, you’ll have as much as 80 hours of listening. That’s a week-long camping trip with no battery concerns whatsoever, though we wish the system followed other speaker makers and added in a charging port for your phone. The battery pack itself has LED indicators to show how much juice is left; unfortunately, the lights on ours didn’t work.
Rock the party
Simply looking at the Soundboks, you already know it’s going to be loud. You can feel it in your soul. The speaker actually only plays out of one side, so you’ll need to properly orient it to project audio. This does mean, inevitably, music will be louder in some parts of your listening space than in others. (If you need 360-degree audio, you’ll need to look elsewhere.)
If you stand in the right spot and close your eyes, it’s almost like you’re actually at a music festival.
Crank the volume up to “11” (literally, it goes to 11), and you can easily hear music from more than 100 feet away. The Bluetooth range is equally impressive, staying clear with no dropouts further than 100 feet. Even a single arm or leg in the way can cause issues, though, so we don’t recommend partying with the anchor device in your pocket.
The speaker has both an “indoor” mode and an “outdoor” mode, as mentioned. Outdoor mode adds some bass and results in a warmer overall sonic profile, but the difference wasn’t too drastic in our experience. Since the Soundboks 2 is designed for outdoor use, that’s where we started. Drop it in the middle of an empty field, crank it up, and it’ll fill that field with sound. Not just “sound,” though — great sound.
The Soundboks is equipped with dual 10-inch woofers and a single 1-inch neodymium silk dome tweeter, which work in concert with a Merus Audio eximo switching amplifier and dynamic bass boosting technology. The combination ensures that the speaker virtually never distorts, even at crazy high volume. In outdoor mode, electronic and hip-hop tracks performed best, while songs with less bass and more natural instrumentation benefited from switching to indoor mode.
Porter Robinson & Madeon’s Shelter sounded sublime, bouncing synths off a poppy bass line with impressive clarity, and The Notorious B.I.G.’s Hypnotize and Juicy came through cleanly, as if Biggie himself was standing next to us rapping. Honestly, if you stand in the right spot and close your eyes, it’s almost like you’re actually at a music festival (except vocals are much clearer, and there are way fewer people, and fewer intoxicants).
Throw on some soft rock or even classical, and the speaker still performs fairly admirably, but it is a bit lacking in midrange definition and instrumental separation. Despite its ostentatious price, it’s not really a white-collar speaker — it’s built to rock. That said, there are other outdoor choices for a lot less cash on the market, including the Monoprice Bluetooth Party Speaker, which may not have comparable sound performance, but starts at just $90.
While $900 is a ton to spend on a Bluetooth speaker, calling the Soundboks a “Bluetooth speaker” is like calling Andre The Giant “a wrestler.” If you’ve got some disposable income and an upcoming party (or camping trip, or beach day, or just a big backyard and a penchant for loud music), you might want to consider purchasing the Soundboks 2. It’s ultra-durable, it sounds great, and its battery lasts for eons. What’s not to love?