Today’s top smartphones from Apple and Samsung offer amazing screens, high-resolution cameras, and ever-increasing amounts of storage and battery life. But there’s one area where even the best phones disappoint: playing audio through the built-in speaker.
Many people have turned to wireless Bluetooth speakers as a way to enjoy better quality sound from their mobile devices. With their larger drivers, a portable speaker can play louder and clearer without distorting. The marketplace for speakers is getting crowded with products from Jambox, Urbanears, and of course, the Beats Pill speaker by Dr. Dre.
At CES 2015, I was introduced to a Bluetooth speaker that really stood out from the crowd. The Superstar Backfloat from Monster can do one thing these other speakers cannot: it can go swimming in the pool with you! Think about that for a second: electronics and water are not a good mix. Monster has managed to take a portable Bluetooth speaker and not only make it waterproof, but it also floats on the surface instead of sinking to the bottom.
I had the chance to play with the new Monster SuperStar Backfloat recently.
The speaker comes in an elegant package, much like something Apple would do. It has a nifty magnetic latch that opens to reveal the user manual and a welcome message from the company CEO.
The speaker body is built of a tough, durable plastic that is both shock-proof and lightweight. You can bang on it pretty hard and it doesn’t deflect at all! The whole thing is protected by a silicone rubber liner that can be removed when drying.
The speaker is completely waterproof and carries an IPX6 rating. It feels good in your hand and measures 7.25″ x 3.25″ x 1.5″ and weighs just half a pound.
To turn on the speaker, press and hold the power button for about 4 seconds. Pairing with my phone was a breeze and I got a voice confirmation from the speaker once it was paired. I did not test the speaker’s ability to answer calls, though Skype did recognize it as a microphone when I connected the speaker to my computer for charging.
Sound quality is a very subjective thing to talk about in a review, as no two people are likely to have the same opinion. The bass might sound punchy to one person, but weak compared to another person who has a Beats Pill or other hip-hop speaker.
I would say the speaker sounded good, comparable to the Jambox or UrbanEars boom. It has two full-range drivers and the Monster logo in the center is actually a passive radiator, which helps the speaker to sound bigger while retaining a compact size. Battery runtime was advertised as 7 hours at 50% volume, but of course this will vary depending on your usage and volume.
If you want one, the Monster SuperStar Backfloat is available now for $169 MSRP – but do shop around, as you can find it quite a bit cheaper online.
Price is a bit steep
Does not work as a powerbank like some other speakers
Verdict: This speaker is a stand-out for its waterproof abilities, and is a good speaker in general. If you can find one for less than MSRP, you won’t be disappointed.