Gadget review: Roth SOF-a Bluetooth Hands-Free Speaker

Roth SOF-a, a �49 wireless Bluetooth speaker
Roth SOF-a, a �49 wireless Bluetooth speaker
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I prize the real estate on my desk very highly. I’m a firm believer that a tidy desk means a tidy mind. The number of speakers, iPod docks and sound systems trying to claw their way onto my glass table reminds me of a scene from The Walking Dead.

I’m not afraid to bin big names either; iPod docks from Edifier, Gear4 and Philips have all been shown the door. There’s nothing more disappointing than a luxury price tag combined with lacklustre sound.

The latest pretender trying to shimmy its way up my table legs is the Roth SOF-a, a £49 wireless Bluetooth speaker. It’s a pretty looking thing in a manly way – just like Brad Pitt’s jaw line in the new Chanel ads.

Bluetooth audio typically delivers decidedly average sound quality. The ten watt output power of the SOF-a partially reverses this stereotype, delivering a solid meaty sound with an edge of refinement. That edge is at times a little blurred by the technical limitations of Bluetooth, but it’s a palatable sound none the less.

The general rule with audio electronics is that you divide the price by five to get to the rough price of the internal componentry. I’d say that the SOF-a is punching above its weight. First is the built-in handsfree Bluetooth microphone, which is activated at the touch of a button once hooked up wirelessly to a mobile. Second is the handy built-in USB port at the rear for charging phones and tablets – a useful yet ingratiating feature in the race for desk space.

I like the Roth SOF-a, in the same way that I like my toothbrush – it’s decidedly utilitarian, yet never promises more than it delivers.