|Review: Audiomotion Nanobeat speaker|
Wednesday, 15 February 2012 10:30
I like bass. Not the kind that you hear rumbling down the road and emanating from a woofer on wheels, but the kind that gives music a solid foundation on which to build.
Producing bass is easy. All you need to do is move air and create pressure. Doing this is also not rocket science and you need either a big speaker, or a slightly smaller one that can move in and out a lot. It's all just simple physics really.
The problem with most portable speakers is that they're small (otherwise they wouldn't be portable) and they don't have much excursion, which means they don't deliver bass.
Some overcome their size limitations by using some kind of accordion suspension that creates a resonant chamber behind the speaker, and this adds some bass (do a Google search on Helmholtz resonator if you're into geek type stuff).
While this helps to a degree, the laws of physics still apply and small speakers tend to sound small.
The Nanobeat we reviewed uses a number of technologies to create more bass. There is the now usual pop up accordion part, and more innovatively, it uses what some might call a tactile transducer that converts whatever it's sitting on into a speaker.
To ensure that you can use the Nanobeat anywhere, there is the optional suction cup and I used this to attach the Nanobeat to a series of weird and wonderful surfaces, but more on this a little later. In normal use you simply place it on any flat surface (it has a sticky pad on the bottom to ensure that it doesn't vibrate itself away to a corner) and select either internal micro SD card or an external sound source and off you go.
While the Nanobeat is equipped with a mini USB port, this is only for charging the built-in battery, and you cant use it to load music onto the micro SD card. Having to remove the card to load music on to it is my only real gripe with the unit as far as set up and use is concerned.
The Nanobeat distributors claim that it delivers surround sound, and this is only partially true. While its distributes sound omni-directionally (something they tell you too) and it sounds far bigger than it actually is, you're not going to hear real surround sound like you would with a dedicated surround sound system. Its performance is also directly related to what you place it on.
When placed on my lounge table, I heard a little more bass, but as the table is quite solid, the Nanobeat didn't quite have the energy to activate the whole table.
It sounded more bass-heavy when I popped it onto my laptop, but I felt that having a sound producing (and vibrating) computer probably wouldn't be too good for reliability.
My tumble drier delivers a more metallic sound, lounge windows were slightly crystalline, while holding it against my cheek bone yielded a sound in between using speakers and headphones. With bone conduction sending low frequencies right into my head, I liked this sound, but it wasn't the most practical.
The best balanced sound, and one which had real bass authority (once again for a small PC type speaker) was when I mounted the Nanobeat on a wooden door in my study. Here, I was able to get sound that was better, bigger and louder than I would have thought possible from such a small speaker.
While the Nanobeat isn't the cheapest PC type speaker around, it is one of the most flexible I've come across. It can be used almost anywhere, can deliver surprisingly good bass (and I like bass) and it looks good too.
Good: It works better than you might think and can delivers surprisingly good bass. I used it with its optional suction cup base, can be used almost anywhere.
Bad: Quite a bit of distortion at higher volume levels. Micro SD card needs to be removed to load music on to it.
Price: Nanobeat - R 599; 4GB micro SD card - R 95; Suction cup - R 50
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