Review: Divoom Voombox-party Portable Bluetooth Speaker | iLounge

Review

Review: Divoom Voombox-party Portable Bluetooth Speaker

B
Recommended

Company: Divoom

Model: Voombox-party

Price: $119

Compatible: All Bluetooth-Equipped iPads, iPhones, iPods

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Divoom's Voombox-party ($119) is a portable Bluetooth speaker which ticks off many desirable boxes — splash resistance, 8-hour battery life, NFC, quick-pairing Bluetooth, speakerphone capabilities, and enough range to stream from across the house. Divoom's stereo speaker is bolstered by two 2" full-range drivers, an active 3" subwoofer, and two passive radiators, boasting 20W of output power. Voombox-party’s design is like a thinner, longer version of last year's Voombox, and its sturdy (if heavy) design inspires confidence. A micro-USB port is included for charging, in addition to an aux port — both a micro-USB cable and a short audio cable are included.

Voombox-party features a sleek anodized metal chassis with a rubberized outer shell. It’s well-built, even if the design isn’t the most revolutionary thing you’ll ever see. It’s also bigger and heavier than you might expect, weighing in at 2.5 pounds and measuring 9.17” x 2.13” x 4.06”.

Control buttons are recessed into a single band of silicone on a perfectly symmetrical device, making it nearly impossible to tell whether you’re pressing volume, power, or speakerphone buttons without direct visualization. This makes for a somewhat clumsy experience, as missing the volume down button can result in bringing up Siri, an unwelcome guest at any party. As a result of its completely symmetrical design, it’s easy to place the speaker upside-down (hiding the controls) or backwards (resulting in a bass-only sound). It is apparent that this speaker was designed to be primarily controlled from your phone, which is not a problem.

You don’t need to hear the speaker to know that Divoom’s promises of “room-filling,” ”thrilling,” and “realistic” sound are likely overstatements. Marketing aside, the real question is whether Voombox-party delivers adequate sound for its intended function — a party.

Voombox-party’s sound signature is in line with many of its competitors. Bass and highs are boosted at the expense of mids, making this speaker well-suited for the kind of music you’d play at a party. Those shopping for a speaker to play orchestral music or dreamy indie rock at low volumes in their office should probably look elsewhere — these genres often sounded veiled and lacking definition; almost underwater.

The biggest problem with Voombox-party’s sound is how directional it is. If you’re listening to this speaker at your desk, you’ll hear a drastically different sound depending on whether the speaker is on your desk (elbow-level) or at ear level. In a large room, the sound is similarly affected if you stand, sit, or move around the room. The speaker loses a lot of its “room-filling” punch if anyone is standing between you and its drivers.

The subwoofer is the Voombox-party’s key differentiator and is hard to judge objectively. It seems like the concept of subwoofers in music (reproduction of low-frequency sound) has been conflated with that of home theater subwoofers (ground-shaking explosions), but that’s exactly what some people prefer. To be sure, Voombox-party’s 3” woofer moves a lot of air. Bass hits hard, and can be felt when you’re standing close to the speaker. This effect fades as you move away from the speaker, which is to be expected with a subwoofer this small. To be fair, many people prefer this sound signature, with many big-name competitors using this as a direct selling point.

We found the boomy bass was too fatiguing for extended personal listening, and did not perform well with songs that actually have a lot going on in the low-frequency range. While Voombox-party made hard-hitting beats of electronic tracks sound great, it also reduced the amazing, creepy, low-end rumbling in Son Lux’s “Easy” to little more than someone banging on a desk.

Volume is also a factor for the party planners out there. If you have a large space or lots of friends, you will need a speaker with enough volume to be actually “room-filling.” Voombox-party can get loud, but that volume comes at a price. Near max volume, the full-range drivers seem to outpace the tiny subwoofer, resulting in a thinner sound. Near minimum volume, the converse — the subwoofer dominates the music.

Divoom is likely aware of Voombox-party’s limitations, as on the speaker’s product page, groups of three to six teenagers are depicted listening to the speaker in close proximity. This kind of small “party” is probably Voombox-party’s ideal use scenario. The speaker performs best in a medium-sized space, with a medium-sized guest list, at medium volume. It may not meet expectations — especially considering how surprised we were by Divoom’s first Voombox — but it does offer solid value, ultimately earning our general recommendation.

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Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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