Does size matter when it comes to portable speakers? In a word: No!
We recently played with three portable Bluetooth speakers ranging in size from "desktop" to "briefcase" and discovered that the smallest of the trio gave us the best sound.
The G2 Mini Portable Bluetooth Speaker from Cambridge Audio ($199.99) proved to be the mighty-mite of the group, giving us clear, crisp sound from pure bass to treble.
Pairing the speaker to our computer and other devices using Bluetooth was a simple process, but, as with all Bluetooth and NFC connections, we experienced a bit of static and the sound quality suffered. Where the G2 really shined, was when we used an audio cable to connect it to our devices.
Truthfully all three of these speakers gave us better sound quality when a cable was used, but the G2 was just a bit better.
Other features include:
- 10 hours of battery life
- It syncs to devices using Bluetooth 4.0 and Near Field Communications (NFC)
- You can wirelessly link it to another G2
- It charges your devices using an USB charging port
- It can also be used as a speakerphone to make and answer phone calls
- Each unit contains two speakers and two bass radiators
Coming in at a close second was the larger Phorus PS5 ($229).
Overall the PS5 delivers great sound, but the bass was a bit muffled when compared with the smaller G2. Truthfully, this is hardly noticeable to the average user who just wants to listen to his favorite tunes or play games. But, those of us that are a bit obnoxious about sound quality will notice the difference.
What really attracted us to the PS5 was it's ability to link to a wireless network using a Phorus (for Android and iPhones) or Play-Fi app (for PCs). We used it to connect the speakers to a PC using Microsoft Windows 8.1 and to our Samsung Galaxy S4 Android phone. Both installations were virtually painless and gave us access to Pandora, Songsta, the BBC, ESPN, Radio Disney and a huge selection of radio stations and podcasts. Connecting via Bluetooth or AirPlay delivered the same features without needing to use the app.
As with the G2, the quality of the sound was a bit better when we used an audio cable to connect our devices.
Among the PS5's key features are:
- Push-button WPS setup to connect to your wireless router
- A USB 2.0 port to charge mobile devices
- Premium DTS sound
- It supports high resolution FLAC audio files
- It can link to other PS5 speakers or paired with another speaker for stereo sound
- You can stream to individual speaks in other rooms using different devices (Hayden in one room, Coltrane in another)
- You can set up multiple zones for streaming
The third speaker is the RIVA Turbo X from RIVA Audio ($349.99).
Frankly, we expected much better sound quality from this unit. Boasting 45 watts of power, three full-range drivers and four bass radiators, we were prepared to be blown away by pure, awesome sound. Alas, this was not the case.
Bass was a bit muddy, and definitely not as clear as we had experienced with the G2, and the higher range treble sounded a bit "tinny."
Like the other two, the Turbo X is a Bluetooth speaker and gave us much better sound reproduction when we used an audio cable.
Other features of the Turbo X include:
- Up to 25 hours of battery life from a single charge (we were able to get 20)
- RIVA Ground Control, which is an app for iOS and Android devices
- A built-in microphone to use it as a speakerphone with noise-cancelling technology
- A Bluetooth range of 33 feet
- ADX Trillium Surround Sound
Of course your experience with these speakers may differ, but our experiment does prove one point: You don't need to be the biggest - - - or most expensive - - - player in the pack to be the best.
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