Cheap and cheerful magic sound box.
Reviewing products for manufacturers can be hard sometimes. PR companies are ruthless in striking up a rapport with websites like this one so that when you actually get their product in your hands it can be really hard to give a bad review.
That’s why I was happy to review this budget Bluetooth speaker system; Marmitek don’t even know that I’ve got it, so I can be brutally honest without any thought to damaging a business relationship.
Instead, props for this review go to MoneySupermarket.com, who’ve decided to send me this review sample for the simple reason that they actually seem to want my opinion, which is nice.
I knew nothing of Marmitek before receiving this product (another reason I can be as honest as I like), so I had a quick Google before testing anything. Turns out they’re a Dutch company focused primarily on home entertainment and home automation.
From the product line on their website it looks like most of their systems involve wireless technology, which would explain the strangely named BoomBoom 230 speaker (no laughing at the back).
If I had to describe the BB230 in one word it would be “minimalist”. The unit itself is a straight-up rectangle, with rolled edges to give it a slightly more expensive feel. The main part of the casing is wooden with a plastic covering, with a screwed on rear plate and a cloth grill to the front.
The plastic doesn’t feel cheap, but at the same time it’s not the most luxurious material. Having a matt-black finish, it’s perfectly fine to look at, but as soon as you touch it you’re reminded that it’s not a premium piece of equipment.
That being said, it feels well made, and because it is rather plain looking it will fit in almost anywhere.
To the front of the speaker, you’ve got a quite discreet control panel, highlighted by the Marmitek logo. There are volume buttons, a Bluetooth connection button and a pause button. Some people might not like the minimalist look, but I’m quite partial to it. To me a speaker isn’t something to be looked at, it’s something to listen to, which brings us nicely along to……
I wasn’t expecting much from the BB230. It’s relatively cheap at £43.99, and it’s not the heaviest speaker in the world either.
However I was pleasantly surprised. Whilst no where near audiophile level, the BB230 produces perfectly reasonable sound, with lows, mids and highs all being produced with relative clarity.
Most smaller systems tend to suffer from a poor bass response, but this speaker handles them quite well, probably owing to the depth of the casing which would allow for deeper speaker drivers to be used.
As well as this, the BB230 has a pretty impressive volume range. It’s perfectly clear and listenable at the lowest volume settings, but crank it up and you’ll experience the same level of clarity at volumes which will get your neighbor banging on the wall and disrupt everyone in your large, open-plan office (I can confirm both of these facts).
It’s not just music either, streaming the audio from a movie file over Bluetooth produces excellent results, which is excellent if you’re a fan of watching video on your mobile device.
As well as that, the BB230 has a 3.5mm input on the back, and it would be well suited to replacing the built in speakers of most flat screen TVs.
Unfortunately, one area that does let Marmitek down is the list of features on the BB230. While it does feature Bluetooth connectivity for up to 8 devices, it doesn’t include any sort of equalizer settings. Neither does it have an LCD display or a built in battery. There’s also no radio tuner to speak of, either FM or DAB.
But, you do get rock solid Bluetooth connectivity with pretty much any device that supports streaming audio over Bluetooth. In tests I managed to use the speaker while my phone was in the next room with no loss of signal. Nor does it lose any fidelity in areas with a lot of WiFi interference, which shares the 2.4GHz band with Bluetooth.
To be honest, I would have expected at least an FM tuner at this price point, but I suppose that would have made a screen a bit of a necessity, which would have pushed up the price.
Ease of use
The simplicity of the BoomBoom makes it a pretty simple device to get along with. As mentioned previously, it can store settings for up to eight Bluetooth devices, with the ninth displacing the oldest device in the memory.
Holding the Bluetooth button will put the speaker into discovery mode, and from there it’s just a case of searching for new devices on your phone or tablet. I had no issues connecting iOS or Android devices to the speaker, or streaming media from either type of device to the speaker. Unfortunately I don’t have nine Bluetooth devices laying around, but the process is so simplistic, I don’t have any reason to believe that it would work other than as described.
If you want to switch Bluetooth devices, it couldn’t be simpler. To switch between the last two device, just tap the connect button once. To connect to any other device in the “paired” list, just hold the connect button and then connect from the playback device.
You also get a 3.5mm input on the back, and a shortish lead supplied as well. Connect up any audio device and you’ll be able to play back audio with no need to press any buttons. The only downside is that the pause/play button will be disabled, but that’s hardly surprising.
When you want to switch back to Bluetooth, just disconnect the 3.5mm lead and tap the connect button to connect to the last device.
Value for money
As new devices go, the BoomBoom 230 is pretty reasonably priced. True, you don’t get a great deal of features for your money, but what it does do it does incredibly well. Audio quality is perfectly reasonable for the price, but the ability to quickly and easily connect multiple devices is a real bonus for busy households.
Personally, I’d probably choose to buy a device that included a DAB tuner, but most smart phones and tablets are able to stream digital radio content from the Internet, so perhaps I’m just being picky.
The sound quality is definitely good for a device in this price range though, you’d be hard pushed to find a comparably device which performed as well.