When I found the SoundBlock Ultra Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker by Noria on sale for only $35 I got excited. With the regular price for the product on Amazon at $99.99 and having received an average of 4.5/5 stars I was not only hopeful that this was a quality product, but also that I had received a great deal. It’s been a couple of days, and after some extensive testing I have gathered my thoughts on the product.
The wireless speaker boasts some pretty fancy features for the low price. Contained in the small speaker is Bluetooth 3.0 with a range of around 33 ft, two 40mm drivers with 6 total watts, a built-in rechargeable battery, and a 3.5mm audio line in for your devices that do not have Bluetooth capabilities. Also featured is a hands-free speakerphone for answering calls while synced to the speaker. While the sound coming out of the unit for call audio was crisp and clear, the mic unfortunately was pretty bad. Sitting only a couple of feet from the unit with speakerphone on, callers stated that that my voice was frequently cutting out. No one mentioned it being quiet or distant, but it was choppy and almost impossible to carry on a conversation. Thankfully the speakerphone is not the reason I purchased this set and I don’t plan on using it for that. The Bluetooth range is excellent. I received no interference or cutting in and out as I changed rooms or went out on my back porch. My phone and speaker were never more than 30 feet apart, but my walls did not seem to make much of an impact. The battery lasted the entire time I used it for about 8 hours. It is advertised to last around 10 hours and I don’t see any issues with it reaching that mark. Recharging the unit is really simple, connecting a micro USB to any device or outlet enables charging during use and only takes around 3 hours to complete. A small LED light will remain lit while the unit is charging and disappears once completed.
The speaker is rather compact and despite its small size is actually heavy. Reminds of a line from Jurassic Park: “Is it heavy?… Then it’s expensive, put it down.”. The weight of the unit give it a feel of quality, and based on the build it shows. With a brushed aluminum top, back and base, and a metal mesh front cover, the unit feels sturdy enough to carry around in your backpack without much risk of breaking. Located on the top are control buttons that enable speaker phone, play/pause, next and rewind, and volume up and down. The buttons for skipping and volume only work over Bluetooth, and sadly over wired connections the only way to adjust volume is on your device itself and not the speaker. Located on the back is the Micro USB port, on/off switch and audio in port.
Syncing devices to the speaker is easy and the need to confirm a pin to connect has been removed. Once a device has been synced, reconnecting is automatic once the speaker has been turned back on. PlayStation Vita connects easily as well and transmits all audio to the speakers. The Vita speakers are not always as loud as I would like them to be and wearing headphones in your house with others can be awkward. Being able to set the speaker on my coffee table and have all my Vita audio playing right in front of me without any wires was excellent. Speaking of the Vita, the length of the speaker and Vita are almost exactly the same. The metal mesh covering the speakers is open of course on the front as well as along the side. Being opened on the side helps to allow audio out in a wider area and creates almost a 360 degree radius of sound dispersion.
I do not have the ability to compare this unit to similar products such as the Jambox, but I do have the experience with other good audio equipment and can give a fairly good idea of what to expect. I am not what some would call an “audiophile”, but good sound has always been important to me and I usually will spare no expense to get quality, researched products. For my main audio system in my modestly sized apartment, I have a Klipsch Pro Media 2.1 set that serves my needs perfectly. Klipsch has developed amazing horn technology over the past decades and their speakers provide quality, rich sound. Besides the audio quality, you also have to consider the size of the area you will be listening. Given the fact that this is a portable Bluetooth speaker, there is very little chance that you would grab this as your main way to listen to music or play games. You are going to be using it on the go, or as a headphone substitute in some situations. The sound quality of the SoundBlock speaker is substantial for the size. Mid’s and high’s are crisp and clear even at max volume. The low’s are less impressive with very little bass, but just enough from to keep them from sounding “tinny”. At mid to high volume the speaker was at ample level to be heard in every area of my two bedroom apartment, and the max volume being just a little too loud at times while sitting right in front of it. Which to me is a good thing since I would much rather have the option of going louder than being stuck at max with not quite the loudness I need.
The SoundBlock Ultra Portable Bluetooth speaker by Noria is a quality unit that delivers good sound for the size. While it will by no means replace your PC or home speaker systems, it was never intended for that and it instead provides quality sound for portable music and gaming. The rechargeable battery enables long life between recharging and the sturdy build gives the hope of longevity while on the go. Although the speakerphone is a good idea to include, it is basically useless considering the poor mic quality. While this may not be the best deal at full price, if you can find it on sale or wait for an inevitable price drop, the SoundBlock is a great addition to anyone’s audio slinging library.