For more than a year now, we have lived in a world where everyone wants to have smart speakers. And the offer is not sparse: in addition to Apple’s HomePod with Siri we have the Amazon Echo with Alexa, or the Google Home with its corresponding Assistant. All are speakers designed to be fixed on a table, plugged into the current and permanently connected to the internet.
This phenomenon has caused the speakers that dominated the market before, the battery-powered laptops, such as the Logitech/EU Boom series, to be in the background. But companies like Fresh’n Rebel want to show us that that market is not lost by putting on the table models like the Rockbox Bold. Let’s check if these portable speakers are still valid for those cases where you want to take a speaker outside the home.
Extra buttons and external battery function as great advantages
The appearance of the Rockbox Bold, both m and L, is robust. The fabric that covers the entire speaker is fluffy but sturdy, and all the finishes are good. It is especially noticeable on the tape on top, designed to be able to hang them wherever we want: it is attached to a metal screw and the same tape is thick enough for us to consider it reliable. You can see it in the image above.
The power button and the Bluetooth turn-on button are located at the base of the speaker, so you have to lift it to turn it on. A design decision that makes that operation a little awkward, although at the same time it protects those buttons from involuntary presses (children can inadvertently touch it and turn it on/off, for example).
We have the rest of the buttons on one side of the speaker. Here we have to give a very positive point for rockbox Bold: while other speakers have very few buttons that depend on learning us longer or shorter presses, in this case we have individual and comfortable buttons to play/pause, turn the volume up/down and move forward or backward from song. There are five buttons when most equivalent speakers have two, one or even none going on to rely entirely on the phone.
If we go back to the base of the speaker, there we will also have three more ports: a 3.5mm jack to use traditional headphones, the microUSB charging port and a USB-A port. Another plus point: that USB-A port can be used to charge iPhones and other devices such as AirPods or Apple Watch if we have their corresponding cables at hand. Thus, Rockbox Bold can also be used as external batteries in case of need. All these ports are protected by a lid that is securely fixed (in fact taking it out is sometimes somewhat expensive).
In the case of charging via MicroUSB port we miss that it is USB-C. It’s the port the whole industry is heading to right now, and it would give us the opportunity to charge the speakers in less time. What’s more, with a single USB-C port we could save the USB-A port of device charging, since that connection could serve to receive and provide power.
The IPX7 resistor means that we can use this speaker on the beach, allowing it to get wet or exposed to the sand without worrying about damage. That same standard also tells us that it’s best not to intentionally submerge it: it can withstand accidental dives for up to half an hour and a metre deep at most. If you drop into the pool nothing happens, but don’t make it a habit.
As for the load, I have been able to check how this has been done in a few hours as the specifications set. Autonomy also approve, as I have been able to play songs for hours and hours with the battery running out according to the 15 total hours of autonomy they promise. Of course, this charge is diminished if we decide to use the speakers to charge our iPhone.
Enough sound quality, but there are better speakers
It is perhaps in sound quality where Rockbox Bold snares their weakest point. The look of the speakers makes you think they have speakers scattered all over their sides, but it’s very easily noticeable that the center speakers are only on one of those sides. That makes the sound quality vary a lot depending on how you place the Rockbox Bold, having to get used to turning it until you notice that you listen to the music better because you have found the side on which the tweeters are located.
-The Rockbox M and L are not intended to compete against the HomePod, so buying its sound quality would not be fair-It should be noted, I insist, that we are looking at a portable speaker designed not to obtain excellent sound quality but for comfort and portability. You don’t have to compare the sound quality of these Rockbox Bold with that of HomePods designed to be permanently in one place, because it is very inferior. The comparison should be done with other portable and battery-powered speakers, and in this case we insist that the sound quality is sufficient but improveable.
And finally we have the advantage of the price, which we consider well balanced: The Rockbox Bold are very accessible considering the price of 79.99 and 99.99 euros respectively. Compared to UE Boom 3 scars 113 euros, and HomePod 329 euros. That makes my conclusion about these speakers is that they are an economical and very useful alternative for anyone who wants that flexibility to have many playback buttons and also be able to charge our smartphones and other devices. That’s something that EU speakers, for example, don’t have.
If you want sound quality above all else, I don’t advise buying Rockbox Bold. If what you want is a speaker with a decent sound quality that resists falls and liquids and can also be used as an external drummer, then Rockbox Bold is a very suitable choice that will not be a great outlay of money.