Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised by products that show up for review. That was the case with the Truffol DuraSound Bluetooth Speaker (US$44.99) that arrived recently. I have to admit that I wasn't expecting much; this is a bargain-priced speaker from an accessory company that's better known for iPhone cases and iPad sleeves. But I was completely knocked off my feet by this speaker's sound volume and quality considering that it is priced at a fraction of what some other brands are asking.
Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.17 x 2.44 inches (165 x 55 x 62 mm)
Weight: 0.75 pounds (340 grams)
Dual Speakers: 40 mm, 2.5W each, dynamic range 130Hz - 20kHz
Colors: Black, blue, yellow
Battery capacity: 1,200 mAh, 8 hour playback time
I can't say that the DuraSound Bluetooth Speaker is the most exotic looking mobile speaker I've ever seen, but it's not bad. The front and back of the speaker feature ABS grilles, while the entire rest of the body is wrapped with a thick blanket of silicone to give it some protection from drops and bumps. That silicone also gives the speaker some isolation from hard surfaces so you won't get a buzzing noise when you've got the speaker volume cranked up.
On top of the device are three buttons outlined in a metallic plastic. One's a volume down button, the other a volume up button, and between the two is a small round button that's used to start music play, pause it, answer a call or end a call. The volume down button is also used to return to a previous song, while the volume up button will skip to the next song in a playlist.
On one end of the DuraSound is a button to turn the device on and pair it to your device. Unlike any other speaker that I've tested, the DuraSound not only pairs via Bluetooth, but also through Near Field Communications (NFC) for devices that have that enabled. While there are other speakers that use NFC for pairing, there aren't many at this price point. Next to the button is a micro-USB port for charging the 1,200 mAh battery, as well as a 3.5mm (1/8") line-in port if you have a device you'd like to connect to the DuraSound via a traditional cable.
My only design beef with the DuraSound has to do with the silicone wrap, which seems to pick up dust and dirt easily. I don't think this would be as visible on the yellow or blue models, so you may wish to wait to pick up a DuraSound until those other colors are available.
As I alluded to in the first paragraph of this post, this is a LOUD little speaker! In fact, I was quite surprised when I linked it to my iPhone 5s and pulled up my favorite iTunes Radio channel, because it immediately began blasting out music so loudly that my two kittens wondered what the heck was going on. A press-and-hold on the volume down button brought the volume down to a somewhat more tolerable level for their sensitive ears.
Pairing was incredibly simple and fast, with voice prompts telling you what's going on during the process. The power button has a blue LED embedded in it so you get a visual indication of pairing status as well.
The big reason people buy Bluetooth speakers is that they a way to wirelessly beam their favorite tunes to something that's louder than the speaker on their iPhone or iPad, and they want some quality to that sound as well. While this speaker's dynamic range is listed as 130Hz to 20kHz, it sounds much better than that. Bass sounds wonderful -- usually that's not an issue with Bluetooth speakers -- but I was surprised at how clear and well-amplified the high end was as well. The twin 40mm speakers really do a bang-up job of pumping out sound.
I'm never pleased with the sound quality of Bluetooth speakers when they're being used as speakerphones. However, I found the DuraSound to have a surprising amount of clarity when in speakerphone mode. I had to control the volume of the speaker from the iPhone during calls, but once I was aware of that "inconsistency" (not using the physical controls on the speaker) it was not a problem.
How good is the sound quality? I'd say it actually is as good or slightly better than the Braven 625S, a $139.99 speaker that also features a silicone wrap for outdoor use. So think of it this way -- you get a speaker that is equivalent in functionality for $95 less. That's a lot of beer money!
For $45, the Truffol DuraSound Bluetooth Speaker provides volume and sound quality that meets or exceeds many speakers that I've tested that are three to four times the cost. Build quality is good (not excellent) and the controls of the DuraSound are very usable and easy to understand. This speaker is perfect for the budget-minded iPhone or iPad owner who wants to save money, but not skimp on sound.
Rating: 3-1/2 stars out of 4 stars possible
OK, you know that the sound quality from the DuraSound is pretty darned good. The battery lasted me through quite a few hours of listening (including one play of "Free Bird" on iTunes Radio). How would you like to win one? Here are the rules for the giveaway:
Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
The entry must be made before August 15, 2014 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.
You may enter only once.
One winner will be selected in a random drawing and will receive a Truffol DuraSound Bluetooth/NFC Speaker valued at US$44.99