Back in February 2011 – I received a press release from Soundmatters regarding their FOXLV2 portable speakers which they dubbed as the “ULTIMATE PORTABLE SPEAKER”. With their claim of having the best sounding pocket-sized stereo speaker in the world, I’m intrigued because from the size of the product, it defies the physics of sonic properties. However, at the same time their claim of frequency range is quite an oxymoron. They claim their use of “Patented “Twoofer/BassBattery” Technology” results in “Ultra-wide 80 Hz – 20 kHz Audio Range”. 80 Hz to 20 kHz is “Ultra-wide Audio Range”? When a speaker that can do 35 Hz to 40 kHz is not even considered as “ultra wide audio range”, how an 80 Hz to 20 kHz range can be considered as “Ultra-wide”? Also how can any company defy the law of physics in terms of producing 80 Hz from a couple of tiny 1” drivers? Usually it requires a woofer of at least 6” in order to create a true flat 80 Hz tone. Maybe the astronomical US$199 price can create some magic. Interestingly enough, the PR company that handles this product seem to be curiously reluctant in sending a review sample.
In the end I got tired of jumping through hoops in getting the review sample and I went to a local mobile-phone accessories shop at First Markham Place to buy the product. Heck, if the product is good enough, I can just replace my $79 Altec Lansing mini PC speakers which from the use of Real Time Analyzer, it shows to have 80 Hz to 20 kHz.
So after connecting the speakers to my Pioneer PD-D9 reference-class CD player with my beloved built-in WM8740 dual-differential Wolfson DACs with a Y connector (one to the $79 Altec, another to the $199 Soundmatters FOXL V2). Using Emilie-Claire Barlow’s “The Beat Goes On” CD, I started my comparison… and oh my goodness, what a revelation! The audio CD sounds like a completely new CD to me. No longer can I recognize Ms. Barlow’s voice. Her vocal timbre and sonic signature completely changed for the worse. The double bass sounds like the huffing and puffing of an oversized muffler usually installed on a modified Honda CR-X of the 80’s. Now it’s clear why it’s like pulling teeth when I asked for a review sample. The company don’t want this unit to be reviewed.
Using a sweep-tone CD, it is true that the speaker can produce 80 Hz, so there is no lie there. However, instead of just hearing the pure 80 Hz tone, the speakers also produces harmonics that are not there in the recording. To my surprise, the higher the frequency goes, the louder it becomes. Based on my SPL reading, the loudness gap between 80 Hz to 120 Hz is at approximately 7 dB. That’s quite an unwanted frequency roll-off!! From 120 Hz and up, however, the response is within +/- 2 dB which actually quite commendable for a tiny speaker unit like this.
All in all, especially for the CDN$199 street price, I can’t recommend this speaker unit to anyone. I can’t even recommend this speaker unit at $79 since my 14 years old $79 Altec Lansing PC speakers sound more accurate than this. My recommendation? If you’re into style, and this unit is somewhat stylish, and you have money to burn, buy it. If you’re into quality, with $150 you can find a THX certified PC speakers. If you’re into portability, with $10 you can get a retractable speaker that can be daisy chained to even more $10 speakers to fill your room if you’re inclined to.
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