As you can see, iHome’s SoundFlask iBT32 ($100) is a Bluetooth speaker styled to mimic, yes, a (rather large) flask. On the front of the SoundFlask are a speaker grille and four LED battery indicators. The rear is covered with soft-touch faux leather. A simple set of controls is covered by silicone on top; another silicone flap covers a charging port, audio-in port, and a USB charging port on the bottom. The SoundFlask’s body is trimmed with some chromed plastic to complete the look. In the box, a charging cable, AC adapter, and audio cable are included. We received this and a smaller version of the SoundFlask, the iBT12, but only considered the larger iBT32 version for purposes of this review.
It’s clear SoundFlask’s look is its main appeal. (iHome specifically told us at CES that it envisioned SoundFlask as a fun gift, possibly for groomsmen.) In that respect, the SoundFlask succeeds — even the packaging, with its gold-flake lettering on a matte navy box, evokes that of high-end liquor. Even with our expectations well-managed, though, the SoundFlask has some unfortunate shortcomings. The volume knob is wobbly, and will actually change the volume when wobbled. The faux-leather back also began to peel almost immediately upon testing the SoundFlask, signaling to us that its “real flask feel” might not last very long.
But even if SoundFlask iBT32 is a novelty product, it’s still a $100 speaker from a company that has put out its fair share of notable speakers in that price range. Bluetooth pairing with SoundFlask was quick, the controls work fine, it can be used as a speaker/microphone, and battery life is acceptable. The USB charging port is a nice touch, even if its 1A output won’t charge our iDevices very quickly, and it’s unclear how much power the internal battery provides. The SoundFlask’s audio quality, however, left much to be desired. Sound is muffled overall, and bass ranges from underwhelming to distorted, depending on the song and volume. Laying the speaker on its back so the speakers fired directly up produced a fairly enjoyable effect, but only at low to medium volume. SoundFlask doesn’t measure up to second-tier speakers in its price range, let alone the top performers.
We imagine that the SoundFlask could find its place as a bachelor party gift or an accessory for the liquor enthusiast in your life. If you’re only doing it for the novelty, without regards to sound, perhaps it’s worth considering the smaller iBT12 SoundFlask (though it doesn’t have that same “real flask” look). For the portable audio enthusiast, however, there are much better options out there. We feel iHome’s speakers generally provide good to very good — and sometimes great — value. SoundFlask doesn’t live up to those expectations, though perhaps the speaker’s shape should have been a hint.
Company and Price
Model: SoundFlask iBT32
Compatibility: Bluetooth iPads, iPhones + iPods