The first portable speaker released by Harman Audio’s Infinity group, Infinity One ($300) is a sleek, attractive Bluetooth all-in-one audio system. Apple-focused speakers from Harman’s other brands Harman/Kardon and JBL have often shined in our testing, and Infinity is looking to make a similar splash in the marketplace. Building on JBL’s Charge 2, Infinity One includes six total speakers: two front-facing 1.75″ drivers, two back-facing 1.75″ drivers, and dual passive radiators on the sides. Infinity is apparently quite proud that the speaker was “designed in collaboration with Linkin Park” — that language is included on the box and even a bit more inconspicuously on the speaker itself. Ten hours of continuous play time are promised, and a charger is included.
Infinity One has a gorgeous body — we think it’s one of the nicest speaker designs we’ve seen in quite some time. A black cylinder, it has a heavy aluminum body coated with a ceramic finish. It’s roughly 9” from end to end, 4” in diameter, and 2.75 pounds. Though it’s thick and water-resistant, we wouldn’t take this thing out for a hike. The passive radiators are exposed, and we scuffed the body after minimal use without even realizing how it happened. Infinity One would be best when placed in a room, or in a secure location outdoors.
The buttons on top of Infinity One let users pair with a device, in addition to controlling playback and volume. A rubber hatch on the lower backside of the speakers reveals a USB port that supports 2.1A charging, an aux port, and two power options for charging — DC or micro-USB. A battery indicator just above that hatch uses five lights to indicate how much charge is left, and though Infinity claims 10 hours of playtime, the 5000 mAh battery, paired with the claimed 25-Watt amplifier, makes us wonder; Charge 2 promised 12 hours of playtime with a larger 6000 mAh battery, using a 15-Watt amplifier.
Positioning Infinity One for optimal sound is a little tricky. While it might appear that you can set Infinity One on its side, doing so would block one of the passive radiators. Also, although one might imagine that the four drivers inside would all be firing directly forwards in a line, they’re all angled upward, two pointing around 45” up from the front, and the other two up from the back. You might think you would get 360 degree sound with the speaker, but we would recommend facing it forward to hear the treble better, and we wouldn’t place the speaker too high up, either.
Infinity One gets loud for a small system, but perhaps not quite as loud as you might expect for a $300 speaker. We did notice distortion sometimes at the highest levels — some songs sounded kind of rough at or near top volume, while others sounded great. But Infinity One handles range well. The speaker’s radiators give it thumping bass for its size, and the treble is nice and clean. We really like Infinity One’s sound, but we wouldn’t use it to fill a large space. Our tests also showed that Infinity One’s speakerphone performance was just OK, not up to snuff with the integrated speakerphones of modern iPhones.
There’s a lot to like about Infinity One. Its industrial design is undeniably great, and within a certain range of volume, it’s a really good performer. However, we wouldn’t push it too much — it struggles at louder levels, and one could certainly argue that a $300 speaker should get louder. Similarly, Infinity One is portable, but we would only take it to certain places; you can throw it in a backpack, but an outdoor space like a patio would probably be better than atop a rock in the woods somewhere. Personally, we wouldn’t mind leaving it on a nice shelf in the office. But compared to the internally similar JBL Charge 2, which is half the price, we’re not sure Infinity One offers enough extra oomph, unless you really value the design. In the end, Infinity One is good enough to earn our general recommendation.
Company and Price
Model: Infinity One
Compatible: All Bluetooth-capable iPads, iPhones + iPods