Although it’s similar in functionality to the splashproof wireless speakers we recently covered, Boom’s Urchin Bluetooth Wireless Speaker ($150) is one of the more distinctive-looking options out there. Shaped like a six-inch long, four-inch wide rounded stone, it comes equipped with a removable silicone cover in your choice of red, black, or blue colors. With included accessories, Urchin can be stuck to a flat surface with adhesive, hung with a suction cup, or dangled from a carabiner clip. It also comes with a wall charger to juice up the eight- to ten-hour battery.
The core of Urchin is made from hard, dark grey plastic. It’s mostly solid, although a five-inch long oval reveals the two speaker drivers. Directly beneath them are physical buttons that allow you to adjust the volume, initiate Bluetooth pairing, and turn the unit on and off. Most people will never likely see the interior, however, as the rubber skin comes already installed, and it’s not necessarily obvious that it comes off; although it’s technically interchangeable, you currently can’t buy covers separately. With the skin in place, the buttons still stick through. There’s a loop at one end, used for hanging, and a flap at the other end covers the auxiliary and Micro-USB ports. Audio is exposed through a pattern of holes in the top of the skin. Water resistance allows the speaker to withstand showers, rain, and splashes.
One of the benefits Boom’s Urchin offers is support for multiple mounting options, and the tools to do so are included in the package. You can hook the speaker to a bag with the carabiner clip, or stick it to a vertical surface by fitting the two-piece suction cup mechanism through the loop. Alternatively, a rubber circle can screw into the bottom, with the 3M adhesive on the other side allowing you to stick Urchin where you want it. All three are nice alternatives to just leaving the speaker on a table, and it’s great that they don’t come at an extra cost.
We were generally impressed with Urchin’s audio performance. Although not identical, the sound profile is roughly equivalent to Scosche’s boomBottle, which is a very good thing. Although boomBottle gets a bit louder, and has a small edge on bass, Urchin performs a little better with high-frequency sounds. Overall, Urchin’s sonic performance is better than we would have expected from the form factor. In terms of speakerphone voice performance, Urchin’s mic wasn’t as strong: one listener described it as comparatively wavy and somewhat distant, falling a solid step behind boomBottle’s for making phone calls.
Urchin is a smart choice for users looking for a splash-proof speaker, although it falls just a notch below boomBottle, earning a general recommendation. We definitely like how good it sounds for indoor music playback, although since it’s marketed for use outdoors, the ability to get louder would make it even better. The different accessories for hanging are definitely appreciated, and will appeal to users who want a speaker that does more than just sit on a table or desk. And while the look isn’t for everyone, it’s a fun, playful design. This is a nice option, and generally well-executed.
Company and Price
Compatible: All Bluetooth-Capable iPods, All iPhones, iPads