If you like a bit of music when you travel, then chances are you already carry a small speaker, or even a docking base for your device. In this review, I’ll introduce you to the Soundmatters foxL v2 and explain why it is the definitive perfect speaker for travelers.
The Soundmatters foxL v2 pocket sized music system is a small battery powered Bluetooth enabled speaker unlike anything I have ever reviewed. Yes – we have featured travel friendly speakers here on Gadling before, but none of them get even remotely close to the performance of the foxl.
So – what makes this speaker so special? For starters – Soundmatters is a professional grade audio company. Their lineup of products relies heavily on their own patented technology, and all their products have years of research behind them. The foxl speaker is no different.
The basic specifications of the foxL v2 are impressive: Stereo “twoofer” speakers, built in lithium-Ion battery pack, built in kick stand, integrated BassBattery bass booster, USB charging option and an optional Bluetooth enabled version with Stereo music streaming and “business class” hands-free.
On the front of the foxL are its two main speakers, and on the rear (behind the kickstand/grille) is a bass booster (with subwoofer performance). And trust me when I say that this is not just there for show. On the rear is also the power switch and 2 volume buttons.
On the Bluetooth enabled version, an LED/button on the front of the unit enable pairing mode, and show Bluetooth status.
On the left side of the unit are the line-in and power-in jacks, and on the right is a USB charging port and a subwoofer output (which is a good hint that this is not your ordinary speaker).
The foxL package comes extremely complete – inside the box is an AC charger, an assortment of international plugs (a very nice touch), a carrying case, non-slip mat (more on that in a moment), a wrist strap and a USB charging cable.
Battery life is rated at 5 hours – which is quite astounding, given how well this thing performs. Amazingly, Soundmatters actually managed to turn the battery into part of the subwoofer assembly – dubbed BassBattery/Flatmagic.With the volume nice and loud, you can actually feel the bass if you hold your hand in front of the grille.
The speakers on the front are specially designed and patented by Soundmatters – these 25mm Linear Magnetic Drive speakers are “Twoofers” (tweeters that also woof).
The included lanyard also works perfectly as a neck strap, which is a great way to carry it around if you just want some tunes on a hike (pictured above is one of the Soundmatters staff members who took his speaker to Alaska, providing music for everyone on his team).
So – now on to the most important part of the Soundmatters foxL v2 – its audio performance. There really is no other way to describe it – the foxL is unbelievable. I spent my first ten minutes with the foxL just staring at it, wondering how the hell they manage to get so much volume out of such a little speaker.
I’m not joking when I say that the foxL performs better than my (pretty pricey) PC speakers. Best of all, the foxL doesn’t just excel in volume, it also produces amazing clarity.
In my test, I used the foxL with a Google Nexus One and an iPhone 3GS (using Bluetooth) and with a Sandisk Sansa Clip+ (using FLAC uncompressed audio). In each test, the performance was amazing. Obviously, the sound quality of the (wired) Sansa Clip was slightly better than the music from the streaming Bluetooth devices. Even when set to its maximum volume, there was virtually no distortion, but at this level, you do realize why they include a non-slip mat, without it, the speakers start “walking” off your table!
Of course, a video does not give a good impression of how music sounds, but it should give you an idea of the quality.
The only downside to the foxL v2 is the price – $169.99 or $199.99 for the Bluetooth enabled version. That said – when you compare this to a premium iPhone or iPod docking system, the price is actually quite reasonable, especially since the foxL Bluetooth comes with a very usable hands-free system. The only minor thing I missed on the Bluetooth version is audio controls, but it does pause and resume music, and you can pick up a call using the Bluetooth control button on the front.
Since this is a standard Bluetooth device, you can pair it with any device that supports Bluetooth audio (A2DP) and Bluetooth hands free (which means it’ll also work as a hands free speakerphone for Skype on your computer).
PROS: Absolutely amazing sound, unlike anything else on the market, very complete package of accessories included
All in all, if you value good music, and don’t want the compromise of almost every other portable music system on the market, you should seriously consider the foxL. The unit is very compact (5.6 x 2.2 x 1.4 inch) and weighs just 9.5 oz.
To learn more about the Soundmatters foxL v2 or to find out how to order your own, check out their product page.