If you own an Apple iPad, iPod touch or similar device, you know that the speakers aren’t all that good. For those numerous times when I am using my iPad or Motorola Xoom on my deck, it would be nice to listen to iTunes, Pandora or Spotify without headphones. For the last few weeks I have been using a device that allows me to do just that—the foxL Bluetooth speaker from soundmatters. This little speaker, which I had on loan from the company, fits easily in the palm of my hand and delivers surprisingly powerful sound over a wireless Bluetooth connection.
Out of the Box
The word “portable” is thrown around quite a bit these days, so I was quite surprised when I opened up the box to discover just how portable the foxL speaker really is—it measures 5.6 × 2.2 × 1.4 inches and can fit in your pocket. Despite its small footprint, soundmatters did not skimp on construction, as is evident when you pick up the foxL. Weighing in at just less than 10 ounces, the foxL is not made of cheap molded plastic.
The foxL is also a nice-looking piece of technology. The front of the unit sports a glossy metal grille with two speakers, a noise-cancelling microphone, and combination button for turning the Bluetooth on and off as well as for answering, ending or rejecting phone calls. On the back are the up and down volume buttons, the on-off switch, and a hinged “kick-stand” grille. On the sides you will find an audio input jack, a power input for the wall charger, a mini–USB input for power, an external subwoofer jack, and a LED charge indicator.
The foxL comes with a number of accessories, including a wall charger, international power blades, a USB cable, a wrist strap, a carrying bag and an anti-slip “yoga” mat to keep the speaker from “walking” when you are listening at high volumes.
Setting up the foxL is very easy. You can charge the speaker using the wall charger or plug it into a USB port on your computer. Soundmatters suggests that you fully charge the speaker before using it in order to achieve the best sound quality (even if you aren’t playing it on batteries).
In order to connect your device to the foxL speaker, make sure the speaker and the device’s Bluetooth receiver are both turned on. I did not have any trouble syncing the foxL speaker to any of several Bluetooth-enabled devices supporting A2DP. In order to stream audio from your iPhone or iPad, you need to have iOS 3.0 or higher.
The foxL also has an aux-in jack, which allows you to connect any audio device via the included 3.5mm audio cable.
I was very impressed with the sound quality of the foxL. You have to remember its size and adjust your expectations. That being said, however, I found the listening experience to be pleasurable, with discernable stereo separation, a good balance of treble, midrange and bass. There was noticeable distortion at the highest level, which isn’t surprising for such a small speaker system. At high volumes, you will also need to use the included “yoga” mat to keep the foxL from moving.
Sound quality did drop off a little as I moved the foxL away from my Bluetooth device, but after reading reviews of earlier models, it appears that the soundmatters has made improvements that greatly reduce the static for the v2.2.
You can also use the foxL v2.2 as a monaural hands-free speakerphone with Bluetooth-compatible phones and computers. The sound quality on calls was serviceable, although I wouldn’t see myself using this function very often.
The foxL v2.2’s battery life is quoted as up to 8 hours.
The foxL v2.2 Bluetooth speaker is perfect for someone who uses a Bluetooth-enabled device such as an iPad to listen to music but who doesn’t always want to use headphones. In addition, being able to stream wirelessly is a nice feature. The sound quality for such a small unit is impressive. At $199, I do think that the foxL v2.2 is a little overpriced for mainstream users (a wired-only version is available for $169). If you aren’t turned off by the price, however, I think you will be happy with the foxL’s performance and the convenience of the Bluetooth connectivity.
- Stream audio wirelessly via Bluetooth
- Impressive sound from such a small package
- Solid construction
- A bit pricey for mainstream users
soundmatters foxL v2.2 Bluetooth Speaker
Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of “Gadget Corner.” All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.