I took Beacon's Blazar ($149.99) wireless portable speaker for a test drive and compared it vs. the Jawbone Big JAMBOX (
Installing the Blazar like all Bluetooth devices is pretty straightforward. Just press and hold the Share button on the Blazar, wait for it to beep and flash the blue LED and then pair it your your Bluetooth device. The unit also features one-touch NFC pairing, but I didn't test this feature.
After pairing I played some music with a decent amount of bass and was amazed how such a little unit could pack such a punch. The bass was so powerful it was causing the unit to hop across my desk. Ok, not literal "hops", but it was strong enough to move on the desk, so you have to be careful not to place the speaker too high and unsecured, lest it fall off due to periods of strong bass.
I turned on the JAMBOX and played the same song. Subjectively, the JAMBOX may have been slightly louder in volume, but not by much. More importantly, and shockingly, I noticed the Blazar actually had better mid-range and bass. I could feel the bass on the much smaller Blazar than the JAMBOX!
Housed in a single piece of extruded aluminum, it sports a 50mm driver on each side and a 65mm bass radiator, The top of the speaker features volume and skip forward/backward controls. Unfortunately, I noticed pressing and holding the skip forward and backward buttons doesn't allow you to fast forward or rewind a song. They only skip forward to next or previous track only.
Although the Blazar has phenomenal sound and fantastic bass, I did notice that when no audio was playing there was a high-pitched hum or hiss coming out of the speakers. The 2nd speaker had a bit of a "crackling" sound to it. Here's a recording I made demonstrating this:
The hiss/hum is only audible if you put your ears very close to the speaker (within 6 inches or so). It bothered me at first to think this fantastic sounding speaker which was designed from the ground up had this issue. It's like buying a performance sports car and discovering there is a scratch on the door. Does it affect performance? No, but it takes some getting used it. But after playing and testing the Blazar for quite a bit I got over the hiss/hum sound which you cannot hear when playing audio at normal and loud levels. I reached out to Blazar spokesperson a few days ago but haven't received an answer yet as to whether this is just a problem with my unit or they all have this issue.
The Beacon Blazar and features Bluetooth and a microphone that enables speakerphone mode or talking to Siri. I like its small form factor and this speaker definitely feels at home on an office desk, a home living room or kitchen, or wherever space is limited. It has a 12-hour rechargeable battery and 1,000 day warranty. The Blazar cost