We first met the folks over at Soundfreaq last January at CES with the debut of their new Sound Platform 2. Since then, the company (along with its cohorts at G-Project) has quickly become one of our favorite purveyors of low-cost/high-performance audio gear, offering an impressive lineup of Bluetooth devices that routinely outperform their price point.
The white and wood-grain [Sound Spot]…looks as though it was just pried from the wall of a sauna…
However, with its latest release, the Sound Spot, Soundfreaq has crossed into dangerous waters. Surrounded by a feeding frenzy of rival entry-level portables, the Sound Spot hopes to entice consumers with its home-inspired “mid-century design,” and an impressive selection of features, offered at a rock-bottom price of $70. Wondering whether Soundfreaq could carry its streak of quality performance down into the doldrums of the price scale, we took the Sound Spot for a spin. Here’s what we discovered.
Out of the box
Pulling the Sound Spot from its package revealed a slim, corrugated block of glossy white plastic, capped with a wood veneer at the front face. The heavy little box seems like it’s all speaker, with a wide swath of real estate carved out of the front panel for its single, full-range driver set behind a white metal screen. At the top we saw the familiar Soundfreaq collection of touch capacitive keys, matched by a selection of ports at the backside. Inside the box, we also found a mini-USB to USB charging cable, a 3.5mm Aux cable, and a packet of instructions.
Features and design
The Sound Spot strikes a unique aesthetic which is decidedly reminiscent of our previous encounters with Soundfreaq gear, at the same time venturing into brand new stylistic territory. The white and wood-grain version we received looks as though it was just pried from the wall of a sauna, creating a classic/bohemian vibe. Soundfreaq says the speaker was specifically designed as a home portable, and that its light veneer face allows it to blend in easily with tables and wooden cabinets. The speaker is also available in an all-black version for a more modern approach.
The touch capacitive buttons along the top panel covesr play/pause, song search, volume functions and pairing functions for easy and elegant control of the device with the touch of a finger. The power key is a regular button, however, demanding the irksome use of actual muscle power (in all seriousness it’s a clever exception that helps prevent turning the speaker on accidentally.) At the back of the speaker are Aux ports for both input and output, a USB port for charging a smartphone, and a mini-USB charging port. Also at the back is another familiar Soundfreaq specialty, the tone switch, which offers flat, warm, and bright sound curve patterns via DSP.
The wide mesh screen along the front panel guards the SoundSpot’s single speaker cone, a 2.25-inch driver with a tightened down frequency range of 100Hz-10Khz. The amplifier achieves 3.5 watts RMS power, run through Soundfreaq’s well-designed DSP system. At about 5 inches high and wide, and 2 ½inches deep, the speaker is harder to take on the road than many of its competitors, underlining the philosophy that it’s meant to hang out with you in your kitchen or living room, rather than accompany you to the beach. Still, it’s easy to slip into a bag, and while the estimated 7 hour battery life isn’t extensive by any means, it allows for some limited excursion time should you want to take your music with you.
The Sound Spot isn’t the sort of speaker you want sit down and cuddle up with, it’s more the sort you want tagging along while taking care of business around the house.
The Sound Spot is the sort of speaker you want tagging along while taking care of business around the house
Thanks to its use of an oversized single driver, rather than the usual twin pair of smaller cones, the Soundspot was able to reproduce an impressive amount of sound pressure, as well as a pleasantly warm and full sound signature in our testing. The downside to the single driver approach is, of course, the loss of any potential for stereo separation, but honestly, there aren’t many speakers in this class that offer much in that department anyway. The sound signature was pretty light on the details, and things got a little muddy at times, but the Sound Spot did exactly what a speaker of its class is meant to do, putting out balanced sound that’s easy to listen to and fills the room.
We listened to most of our test tracks with the tone control set to warm, though the difference between the three categories was nominal at best. Our favorite tunes were those with ruddy, organic instrumentation such as bluegrass, folk, and alt-country. The speaker seemed to lend a mossy timbre to acoustic instruments, bringing full resonance to guitar and mandolin that was just a tad dusty at the attack. We were actually surprised a few times by its ability to flush out lyrical melodic lines in the upper register that were quite pleasant, though the frequency cut-off at 10KHz severely limited clarity in higher instrumentation.
Classics from artists like Sinatra and Ray Charles were also well done. The thick, tape-saturated colors of the older recordings blended well with the Sound Spot’s husky sound signature. We were impressed by the speaker’s ability to belt out the tube-warmed vocals with good presence, while also scratching out the reedy timbres in the woodwinds, and a flash of metallic snap to the big-band brass.
Moving to heavier electronic tracks and hip-hop, the Sound Spot revealed its focus on the midrange and below, providing plenty of punch in bass grooves for its size, offset nicely by the lighter percussion hits and vocal tracks up above. Multi-faceted productions from bands like Depeche Mode definitely suffered from the speaker’s lack of clarity and definition, creating some masking of background tracks and an all-around loss of some of the effects. Still, at the price, we weren’t complaining, happy to sit back and let the speaker pound out the music with its smooth balance, and ample force.
Rather than simply competing with the crowd, Soundfreaq’s Sound Spot hopes to carve out its own niche in the wireless speaker market somewhere between a trail-ready portable speaker, and a homebound plug-in, at a price that nearly anyone can swing. Whether it’s a product people will run to remains to be seen, but either way, the Sound Spot is an attractive little speaker that’s rich in features, super-affordable, and sounds pretty good to boot.
- Powerful max volume
- Warm sound
- Cool aesthetic
- Feature packed
- Light on the details
- Sound can get muddy at times