You may well be shopping this weekend, attempting to get a head start on your holidaze. A popular item are iPod docks which, while being a great idea, have a major problem; They’re either tethered to your car or a wall outlet for their oh so necessary power feed. Portable speakers also have their downside, namely fidelity. They sound about as good as that oatmeal box+string telephone you made when you were a child. What, you didn’t make telephones? Anyway, if you have an Android or iOS phone, it’s also nice to have a wireless speakerphone so you can share tunes, streams and podcasts, while being able to take calls without having deal with the tinny speaker in your phone…
Some bright geek folk have contemplated this very problem and have come up with a rather tidy and very high fidelity solution. Soundmatter’s foxLv2 Bluetooth is a small but hefty powered stereo speaker with a Bluetooth radio. foxL manages to jam two dual voice coil, full range speakers with a passive radiator, and four channels of amplification into a space only 5.5″ in length and 9.5 ounces in weight. All this tech resides in a light weight composite case that I thought was metal until I read the spec sheet.
Spigots and controls are few and easy to use. The front has only one control, a Call Answer/End/Reject button with an LED that indicates what Bluetooth is up to. On one side, there’s a standard 3.5 mm stereo mini–jack, like you’d find on an iPod. That side also has the power jack, which mates with the included wall wart. A thoughtful feature of the power adapter is that it includes a set of international wall outlet prongs that can be swapped out depending on local standards. So, no need of AC adapters for the hard core road warrior.
foxL’s opposite end cap has Mini–USB jack, for charging only, and a second 3.5 mm jack, this time for an external subwoofer. Because of the device’s diminutive size, it’s incapable of creating any meaningful bottom. For those who want their booty shaken, not stirred, I tested the foxL Bluetooth with a Maxx Home MiniWoofer, a 7″ cube that reproduces frequencies below 100 Hz. Sure enough, it added a heft that the foxL alone couldn’t manage on its own.
For the wireless kids, foxLv2 Bluetooth supports the latest, higher fidelity v.2.0 A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) flavor of Bluetooth. I paired the foxL to both my iMac and my phone and, in both cases, it was easy as pie. The foxL Bluetooth appears as two different Bluetooth devices, a stereo receiver for hi–fi playback, and a mono in/mono out device for hands–free phone use. When used as a hands–free speakerphone, calls were crystal clear, and the other parties had no problem with fidelity from my end.
One of the unique techie features of the foxL family is the BassBattery, the power source and passive radiator for the acoustic suspension speakers. A passive radiator can be thought of as a speaker without a voice coil, hence the name. The speaker’s diaphragm is part of the entire system, and is driven by the pressure difference between the the inside and outside of the speaker cabinet. In this case, the cabinet is the tiny foxL case, and the diaphragm happens to be the battery itself. This clever design saves on space and improves the foxL’s low frequency response.
So, you’re probably wondering how does this mighty mite sound? In a word, astounding. Of all the ultracompact speaker systems out there, this is the best I’ve heard. Between my slogs through the CES, visits to Apple Stores, Best Buys and Fry’s, I’ve listened to quite a few pocketable speaker systems and none comes close. Frankly, the foxL is petite perfection, sounding similar to much larger, powered speaker/iPod docks out there. It offers an uncolored midrange, smooth highs, and a refreshing lack of low frequency hype.
Deploying the “kickstand” on the back, the foxL sat on my desk at a nice angle, projecting a clear midrange and extended if not sparkling highs. When placed in an intersection between my desk and filing cabinet, the added bass boost provided a welcome warmth. With a touch of EQ in iTunes, the foxL was da bomb.
To sum up, the foxLv2 Bluetooth is a lilliputian yet high performance set of wired and wireless speakers that fit in the palm of your hand. Yup, it cost twice as much as a larger portable powered speaker but, it can slip into your purse or pocket and, it doubles as a hands–free speakerphone. Oh, and did I mention that it’s built like a tank and the battery gave me over 3 days of play time? The foxL should be called the roxL cuz it will rock you!
Soundmatters International, Inc.