I am hardly an audiophile but I do like to think that when my ears are properly cleaned I know what good audio sounds like. Ontario, Canada-based Bayan Audio’s Soundbook X3 is a small, portable bluetooth speaker that packs quite a punch.
Unboxing was a fairly straightforward affair. The unit comes in a low-profile, flattish box with a simple power cable and instruction manual. There’s not a lot of extra packaging that you have to wade through to get at your new sexy device.
The unit itself comes in silver or black (my review unit was silver), isn’t remarkable to look at, and is the very definition of unassuming; visually it blended nicely everywhere I put it. The LED screen lights up, but the speaker cover hides the dark blue lights and other than the volume indicator the buttons on the top don’t light up. This is a speaker and not an accessory that screams “look at me,” which is a good thing because you want to focus on the music. A lot of audiophiles will probably like this non-sizzle approach.
There are three modes of operation: 1) Bluetooth connection, 2) FM radio, 3) Auxiliary Input (line in). Briefly pressing the Power Button (middle button on top of the unit) will toggle through these three modes. The operating mode will be displayed on the front of the speaker for a few seconds each time the button is pressed. Holding the Power Button for a few seconds will turn the power on or off.
It was disappointing that it didn’t come with an external antenna or a remote. Your phone can control your volume levels, but it drove me kind of nuts that the unit automatically shuts off after about 20 minutes of inactivity to save power. It means getting up from my computer and walking all the way over to the other end of the room to turn it back on.
I’ll admit it took about two weeks for this unit to grow on me. It has a couple of annoying quirks. In the beginning the sound was pretty weak and disappointing. I first tried it in my bathroom, which probably wasn’t the best location, the acoustics there weren’t all that great, and it initially sounded pretty terrible in my main room. I emailed the PR rep and they told me that it takes a good 40 hours for the unit to “loosen” up and settle in.
Once it does, it’s hard not to be impressed. It is fantastic in my 900-foot living/dining room area.
At 9.25” wide x 4.72” tall x 1.75” deep, the size is perfect for travel. Just unplug it and throw it into a small suitcase. It also helps that it has a built-in rechargeable battery. I took this unit with me for my weeklong vacation to Williamsburg and it was perfect for my timeshare condo unit. The wall of sound kept the fun coming all week, and the bass was surprisingly rich at the bottom range and well balanced. Its room-filling sound was full, rich and nicely balanced in my living/dining room area which is about 900 square feet. Since this is a bluetooth-enabled unit it worked flawlessly with everyone’s phones. There’s even a USB port in the back that will keep your phones charged up.
I generally use my 5.1 bluetooth surround system for my home audio needs, but in the few weeks that I’ve had this little speaker it’s become my go-to. It’s just easier to use and puts out sound that serves as an adequate replacement for my more robust setup. My issue is that at $299, I would have liked more options like the aforementioned remote, antenna, and maybe some onboard equalizer controls. This is a great little portable speaker that would be a no-brainer at a sub-$200 price point.