Portable Bluetooth speakers have slowly been getting better and better. As that’s happened, price points have also slowly been dropping. For the past week or so, I’ve traded in my Sonos PLAY:1 for the DOSS Soundbox – a compact yet surprisingly powerful Bluetooth speaker, which also has an incredibly attractive price point (around £30/$35)!
- Capacitive touch controls
- Bluetooth 4.0, 3.5mm and MicroSD inputs
- 12W Stereo audio (2 x 6W drivers) with “uniquely enhanced bass“
- Built-in Microphone
- Compact form factor (16.8 x 7.4 x 6.9 cm (6.6 x 2.9 x 2.7 in))
- 2,200 mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery
- Waterproof pouch in the box
As noted above, the DOSS Soundbox is incredibly compact. The Soundbox is constructed almost entirely of plastic, bar the thin, metallic grill that wraps around the main body of the device. This gives off the impression of almost “360 audio”, when as a matter of fact the two drivers are on the front of the device and point forwards.
I purchased the “Matte Black” coloured speaker (UK / US), but the Soundbox is also available in “Pearl White” (UK / US), “Ocean Blue” (UK / US) and “Passion Red” (UK / US). There are no garish brand logos on the device either. A small and simple logo on the front grill and the brand name on the right hand side of the speaker, both of which blend in nicely. Moving to the top of the device you’ll see the touch controls (more on this in a bit), which are a nice light grey colour when the device is turned off and backlit with either a blue or white light (depending on control) when the device is on.
The rear side of the device is where the I/O is kept. Almost out of sight! You have a couple of options here: MicroUSB (Type-B) for charging, TF card slot (a.k.a. MicroSD), 3.5mm line in and the On/Off button.
Pairing, battery life and audio quality
Pairing the Soundbox (via Bluetooth as opposed to 3.5mm) with your phone is incredibly simple, as long as your phone supports Bluetooth 4.0+ (which 99% of modern devices do). When you first take the device out of the box and turn it on, it’ll be in pairing mode (at least, mine was!). It’s as quick and easy to pair as going into your phone’s settings menu, heading into Bluetooth and then tapping on “DOSS Soundbox”. Et voila. Speaker and phone – paired! If you want to pair another device at a later stage, it’s also incredibly simple to do:
- Press and hold the Play/Pause/Phone “button”. The ring on the top will begin to blink alternating colors. Head into your phone’s Bluetooth settings menu and you’ll see “DOSS Soundbox” on the list of available Bluetooth connections. Tap it and you’re good to go!
You’ll get the standard Bluetooth 10m of usability, dependent on wall thickness and other environmental variables if you’re inside. Outside and with clear line-of-sight you may find you’re able to wander a bit further without dropping audio! Turn the Soundbox off and come back to it at a later date and it will automatically pair with the last device is was connected to.
Battery life is always a major concern when it comes to portable devices, whether it’s a phone, speaker, laptop, drone or whatever else you may use. If you’re of an older way of thinking, you may also still be under the impression that Bluetooth is a massive battery drain! Well, fear not – DOSS claim that the Soundbox will give you around 12 hours of audio playtime (which in real world use is actually closer to around 9 hours dependent on volume of playback) from its 2,200 mAh Li-Ion battery – which is rechargeable via MicroUSB! To take it a step further, DOSS have also included a clever “auto off” feature, which will turn the speaker off if no audio is played for a certain amount of time.
Audio quality is probably the most important aspect though and is usually where the compact, portable speakers fall down – especially at this price point (£29.99/). The DOSS definitely lives up to it’s claims here. Whilst it won’t replace my Sonos PLAY:1 permanently, I’ve no gripes or problems about using this speaker at all. Volume is loud when you need it to be (a satisfying “bong” sound is made when you’ve turned the volume up as high as possible), audio is incredibly clear both in terms of music and phone calls, bass is decent (you can feel a small “punch” if your hand is near the speaker or resting on the surface next to the speaker). Push the volume up to the max (which is rather loud actually – especially if you’re inside a building/room) and things, surprisingly, do not get worse. Usually, the louder you go on a smaller speaker, the more distorted the audio becomes and the tinnier the bass gets – but somehow, DOSS have overcome this problem in their little package.
It’s hard to explain and everyone has their own audio tastes… you really have to listen to it to understand! I’m not an audiophile by any standard, but if there’s one thing I hate, it’s poor audio!
Intuitive, innovative touch controls
So the touch controls are probably the most physically notable feature. At the end of the day, this is a speaker – it outputs audio… you could’ve guessed that before reading this review! But the DOSS Soundbox has a clever user interface that really makes it stand out in the crowd of portable speakers. There are no chunky buttons, no raised/bevelled buttons and nothing clicky/rattle-y. The touch sensitive controls atop the speaker are sleek and well implemented.
Intuitive to use, I didn’t even have to read the instructions. Run your finger clockwise around the circle to increase volume and counter-clockwise to decrease volume. A light tap on any of the 4 surrounding function buttons and the speaker responds immediately to the command! Skip forwards, backwards, switch between inputs, resume or pause your music or even answer/hang up a phone call!
I have really enjoyed using the DOSS Soundbox. It’s a well built, decent sounding and attractive looking product. 12 hours of battery life is likely more than enough for the average user and providing multiple methods of input is always welcome. At around £30/$35, I’d definitely call this a no-brainer purchase for anyone looking for a portable, wireless speaker. Whilst it’s not the most rugged, it’s definitely one of the better sounding. I definitely wouldn’t be taking it outside with me if there were any chance of rain, a light drizzle or any bumps/bounces along the way. This speaker is definitely a fingerprint, dust and scratch magnet and I doubt it’ll get along well with even the slightest drop of water.
With multiple colour options, you’ll also be able to match this speaker up with the rest of your ensemble – almost bringing in an aspect of individuality. Without a doubt, I’d highly recommend this speaker to anyone looking for something in this price range and for decent quality! I’ll definitely be adding this to my tech essentials and everyday carry kit.
DOSS website: http://www.doss-av.com
Soundbox product page: http://www.doss-av.com/en/product/products-9-20.html