I was impressed with this speaker the moment I unpacked the box. The rugged heavy box with expensive printing that oozed quality and was much heavier than I had anticipated; a good sign because quality speakers are almost always heavy due to large magnets.
Design and appearance.
On opening the box I was greeted by the speaker you can see in the amazon point of sale photo; only it looks and feels to be of much better quality in person. The aluminium outer covering is nicely machined and fairly thick sandwiching the rest of the ABS plastic with its tactile slightly rubberized feel. It also has a real leather carrying strap.
I was undecided as to whether I really wanted the strap when the speaker is going to be sitting on the desk behind my notebook. At first glance it looks like the strap is fed around a rung and riveted on but the rivet is actually a brass Philips head machine screw and nut so the strap can be removed and re-attached easily.
The underside of the speaker has rubber feet, a bass port and built in 1/8 3.5mm line in cable that wraps around an integrated reel. The cable is a nice soft silicon insulated one that is slightly stretchy with quality gold plated plugs.
Although the design is symmetrical the speaker drivers aim out of one side only. It’s not easily apparent which side if the speakers are not playing. All the controls are on the left end when the speakers are facing you.
The controls are simple but effective.
A power on/off switch with play and charge LED indicators underneath. A small mic hole, Micro SD card slot, battery level indicator comprising of a row of 4 tiny LED, Micro USB charge port and data socket for charging the built in lithium battery. A round single pole 5v DC input socket (USB cable included) and a full-sized USB Type A socket so you can use the speaker as a power bank to charge your phone or other USB powered devices.
You also have a row of four push buttons. Volume up and down which doubles as skip forward or back to the next track. There is also a phone button that lets you take phone calls and a mode button which switches between the attached line in 3.5mm (1/8”) audio cable, Bluetooth or media from a Micro SD card that has been inserted in the provided SD card slot.
Overall, I think this is a very nice design
To play music you simply switch the device on. A loud American male with a deep full voice pronounces which mode the speaker is currently in, Bluetooth and connection status, line in, and play mode for the SD Card.
The speaker is very easy to use and it’s obvious a lot of thought went into it. Volume level increases in steps set by a single press of the up or down button. Skipping tracks in either direction is done by holding the same button down for about 2 seconds.
The phone button lets you answer the phone from Line in or Bluetooth mode with a single short press to accept a call and a long press to hang up. The same button is pause and play without a phone hooked up (I found this slightly confusing). It also takes the speaker out of standby mode; the speaker reverts to standby mode if there is no audio signal over a 15 minute period.
Bluetooth Mode is easy to setup and only requires the speaker to be in Bluetooth mode. The rest is handled from your phones own Bluetooth settings. On my Android phone it is listed as REMAX RB-H1. When Bluetooth is enabled, all sound from your phone/tablet/notebook etc is played back through the speaker.
The speaker also supports NFC which is a kind of short range Bluetooth connection. Newer Android phones allow you to communicate and share data by touching two compatible devices together or within very close proximity. placing your phone within about 3 inches of the NFC logo pops up a dialog box on your phone display. If you accept the NFC connection then it pairs with the speaker without any setup.
I received a phone call while listening to the speaker and was a bit surprised since the speaker had its own ringtone distinct from that of my cell phone. When you get a phone call you just press the phone button quickly to accept the call and talk towards the control panel where there is a small mic hole. Apparently it works really well and the person at the other end had no trouble understanding me. To hang up you simply hold down the same phone button and the speaker hangs up.
Line in Mode uses the audio cable built into the speaker. You unwind it from the underside of the speaker and basically plug it into any device that has a 3.5mm (1/8”) headphone type socket. It could be your TV, phone, media player, notebook or desktop computer.
Play Mode plays media inserted in the Micro SD Card slot. With this mode active tracks play automatically and can be skipped back or forwards by holding the volume up or down buttons for a long press.
MicroSD, TF Mode enables you to play media internally via a Micro SD flash card which is a cool feature.
The voice prompts are very loud and seems to be a fixed volume. There seems to be an energy saving feature for when the device is turned on without any media or input in which case it goes into standby.
You don’t have to copy media to the device externally. With a Micro SD card inserted in the speaker, the speaker acts like a regular storage device. You hook up your computer via USB to the Micro USB socket in the speaker and it shows up as an external drive on the PC. Just drag and drop files as needed. As far as I can tell it only plays MP3 files. I tried 24bit lossless FLAC files but these weren’t recognized.
While the USB cable is plugged in the speaker will also be charging.
Using the Speaker as a 8800 mah Power Bank
The speaker’s internal lithium battery can also be used as a power supply to power or charge other devices. You just plug your device into the full size USB Type A socket and power will be supplied till the internal battery runs out. The battery capacity is 8800 mah. That’s enough to charge most modern cell phones two to four times as well as my 10.1 inch tablet 1.5 times. I can also power my USB lamp with it which is really nice if you’re camping or somewhere dark without power.
It’s apparent when you turn it on and hear the voice that the speaker has a very good frequency range for its size. The voice is loud, warm and vibrant with good bass and midrange.
Playback through the speaker varies depending on what input the sound source is coming from.
Bluetooth was initially weakest from my Android phone but worked flawlessly. The speaker is top heavy with Bluetooth and initially didn’t have much bass. I use a music player app called power-amp and found upping the decibels of the preamp feature helped immensely. I guess the audio signal just needed a boost. Once boosted the output was equivalent to the audio cable line in from the phone.
Line in from my computer’s soundcard created a much richer and warmer sound straight away. I think the signal is boosted by the soundcard similar to the preamp function in the Android Power Amp music player app I used on my phone.
Play mode where the speaker reads the music internally direct from the MicroSD card sounded excellent, much like the output from the PC soundcard.
For its size, this speaker sounds very good indeed. Great quality production gives the device a upmarket look and feel. The leather strap can be removed which is a plus if you’re using it as a static desktop speaker. It doubles as a 5V USB powerbank and can charge and play at the same time.
The bass port underneath works with the speaker producing clear and well-defined sound with decent bass and midrange from low to mid volumes. At high volume it doesn’t distort too much with the kinds of music I play but the small speakers can’t push enough air to create a really deep bass at high volume.
I have tried many battery powered portable Bluetooth speakers and this is the best of the bunch. Where bluetooth speakers are concerned I am however a little spoiled because we have an AC powered Marshall speaker which is considerably larger sounding like a jukebox and shakes the house at high volume.
Considering its small size this Karnotech REMAX speaker is great and I actually use it in unison with the Marshall to widen the sound stage. Both this speaker and the Marshall are stereo but with their driver speakers so close together the sound has a fairly narrow focus. There is a lot of depth but it is directional and lacks some breadth. So when I combine the sound from both speakers together using this one to widen the sound in the room the combo works amazingly well. So well that I have actually removed our Denon separates and polk speakers saving a lot of space.
The only negative thing is the voice prompting. The man has a nice cultured accent but you cannot adjust the volume. So even at a low volume, if you change input mode he will belt out the new mode at startlingly high volume and you can’t turn him off either.
I think you will have a hard time finding anything better at this size and price range. It sounds really nice and has a lot of extra functionality being able to playback mp3’s without a separate device and double as a external drive or a power supply for charging and powering other 5v USB devices. I’m really pleased with it.
Disclaimer: I received this speaker in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.
Amazing speaker for this price range
Product Name: Karnotech REMAX Portable Bluetooth Speaker RB-HI Silver
Product Description: Karnotech REMAX Bluetooth Speaker Portable Desktop Multi-Function Power Bank Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Outdoor PC Car Subwoofer Speakers, RB-HI Silver
Offer price: $99.99
I think you will have a hard time finding anything better at this size and price range.
It sounds really nice and has a lot of extra functionality being able to playback mp3’s without a separate device and double as a external drive or a power supply for charging and powering other 5v USB devices. I’m really pleased with it.