Gadget review: Sond Audio Bluetooth speaker
THE newest speaker from Sond Audio offers a fine range of features for a price tag under £50 if you are prepared to overlook a few niggling faults. The bookshelf speakers we recently reviewed from the company - the in-house brand from major online electronics retailer, eBuyer - were an impressive budget offering, combining power with an unfussy aesthetic, and its Bluetooth offering is in a similar vein.
With an uncomplicated red and black design and a robust build, the Sond is rectangular in shape, but with a base angled at 30 degrees which leaves its grille pointing upwards. It is smart idea given that this is not the kind of premium speaker to be found on a living room bookshelf. Instead, the best position is on a low table, or even ground level, a vantage point which allows it sound to project well in a small or medium sized room.
The Sond makes a decent fist of handling music despite its power limitations
It makes a decent fist of handling music, with well defined frequencies when asked to play acoustic and classical genres. Anything heavier, however, and the limitations of its 16W output are evident. Bass never quite comes through on rock or dance tracks and at maximum volume, the mix gets a touch muddled. For a speaker at the affordable end of the market, it is a passable performance, provided your expectations are realistic.
For that price, there some good features to be had. The speaker powers down automatically after 15 minutes if it is not being used, an ideal way of conserving a generous battery life which provides around 16 to 18 hours of playback on a full charge, according to our tests. The Bluetooth and NFC connectivity also has a range of around 10 metres, but we found that a distance close to this upper range occasionally resulted in a half second or so of silences, even when we switched the input source from an HTC One to an iPhone 6.
The 3D effect may sound dubious but it works surprisingly well
Another feature, a 3D effect, is surprisingly impressive, in spite of its name. It might sound like the kind of gimmick that belongs in a hi-fi system from 1990s, but the way it spreads its simulated surround sound around is subtle and pleasing, adding warmth to acoustic tracks in particular. What is more, does not sacrifice any of the detail. It is at its most effective when listening to podcasts or talk radio.
Unfortunately, the strip of touch controls where the 3D button features leaves much to be desired. Located to the front of the speaker, it looks straightforward enough, with options for playback and volume as well. But there is a lag in feedback between pressing one of the buttons and hearing the result. The delay might only last for less than a second, yet coupled with the lack of visual or audio indicators, you can easily end up with the sound blasting out accidentally. With no LEDs, it can also be confusing to quickly ascertain when the 3D is on or off.
The sub £50 price means the Sond’s faults are annoyances, not deal breakers
Given the price, this is an annoyance rather than a deal breaker. Compromises must always be made in the budget market and for what Sond are asking, this Bluetooth speaker holds its own against the competition. In build and performance, it is solid if unremarkable and if you are looking for a speaker for the bedroom, it warrants consideration.
The Sond Audio Bluetooth speaker is available to buy from eBuyer