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ExPix are always in the thick of the action, so getting our hands on anything that makes our job easier, whether it’s the latest kit or time saving gadget is something to shout about. We don’t provide bog standard product reviews. This section is an honest endorsement of the gear and brands that the ExPix crew have used and which we’d highly recommend. Each item is tried and tested first hand by our team; if we don’t like it we won’t bother sharing it! Check out our Van Life and Photo Blog sections for more products.

 

Portable Speakers Travel / Wireless Speaker Reviews / Comparison

So the event season is well under way and as usual that involves plenty of travelling for the many extreme sports riders and fans as they travel to competitions around the world. And the same goes for the ExPix crew too. The first leg of the ExPix Euro Tour was a 2,200m round trip to the South of France to cover two international extreme sports events and the second leg of our Euro Tour, a 3,200 mile+ trip, will take in Ireland, France, Switzerland and Holland to visit 3 major European Extreme Sports and Beach Lifestyle Festivals.

As any seasoned traveller will know, when you’re away from home it’s always good to have some home comforts with you. And being able to listen to your own music catalogue is right up there.

But what’s the best way to listen to it? Head phones and ear phones are good on planes and vehicle sound systems are great for driving. But what about when you’re out and about, at the festival site, in the camper, in the tent, on holiday in the apartment or down at the beach, and what can you use when space is an issue?

To give you some insight and help you make the right decision, the ExPix crew have been busy testing a range of wireless speakers and mini speakers. We’ve got together a selection of portable speakers that are compact enough to fit easily into your pocket or hand luggage, yet powerful enough to add that extra volume and clarity to your MP3 player, IPad, tablet or computer.

For the first of our reviews we’ve paired one of the big names in the music scene against a more generic brand of speaker to see which gives the best sound quality. And then we’ve moved onto comparing mini portable speakers and seeing what you can get for under £40.

 

Best Sound Quality Portable Speaker

 

KitSound Hive Bluetooth Portable Wireless Speaker RRP: £79.99

Dr Dre Beats Pill 2.0 Wireless Speaker RRP: £169.95

Regulars of the ExPix site will know that we’ve tested some KitSound goodies before. Well-constructed and with performance levels way above their price tag, it was going to be interesting to see how the KitSound Hive compared against one of the better known names in the industry, Dr Dre Beats Pill 2.0.

Whilst both these speakers are certainly portable and definitely small enough to fit into a backpack or hand luggage, they’re not going to fit into your pocket. So if space is an issue then these might not be the best option.

From the outside

If appearances are anything to go by then we’d say that the Dr Dre Beats Pill has the edge. The packaging is sleek in design and the art work graphics looks impressive. And with a bigger box and price tag, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re getting a bigger, better product. But on opening the boxes it soon became clear that the massive amounts of material in the Beats Pill packaging encased a smaller speaker system. The KitSound Hive on the other hand had much less packaging, with the speaker unit being slightly bigger.

In the box

Dr Dre Beats Pill 2.0 had a hard carry case, micro USB cable, 3.5mm male – male audio cable charger plug, a carry attachment and a small clear plastic wallet with a small catalogue, sticker and warranty information. The KitSound Hive has a micro USB cable, 3.5mm male – male audio cable, soft carry case and a user manual.

Specifications & Features

Kitsound Hive

Size - D49X h64 X W164

Weight - 400g

Built in mic

Wireless or wired connection Bluetooth - 2.1

Soft case

Range - 10m

Play Time - up to 10 hrs

Output - 5w rms (2.5w @4ohm x 2) S/N Ratio - 78db

Frequency Response - 50 Hz – 20 KHz Aux in - 3.5mm

Aux in 3.5mm

 

Dr Dre Beats Pill 2.0

Size - D49X h45 X W190.5

Weight –400g

Built in mic

Wireless or wired, NFC connection

Hard case

 

Range - 10m

Play Time – up to 7hrs

Output - 12w rms (3w x 4)

Frequency response – no information available

Aux in 3.5mm

 

Configuration

Both units were easy to configure and connected easily to both a mobile phone and a laptop computer.

Sound Quality

The Dr Dre Beats Pill 2.0 may look impressive, but what was obvious very quickly was its inability to cope with full volume. With very little bass, the mainly treble sound was tinny and the reverberation and distortion at the higher end wasn’t what we expected from this brand name who are known for their strong bass. The KitSound Hive however, coped very well with a higher volume, probably due to the extra speaker on the underneath of the unit, giving excellent sound quality with full bass. So to sum it up; we were disappointed with the Dr Dre Beats Pill 2.0. Whilst Dr Dre has been up there with the best in the music industry and was the best-selling American performing artists in 1993; we think the Beats Pill 2.0 is trading on reputation. The name and the packaging may be well be ‘A’ list but the performance wasn’t! And coming in at £169.95 we feel it’s massively overpriced.

The KitSound Hive on the other hand far surpassed our expectations. With its sturdy rugged design, powerful digital amplifier, active drivers and passive radiator all contributing to the amazing sound quality, we think it won hands down. And at nearly £90 cheaper than the Beats Pill, the KitSound Hive is better on the pocket too!

 

Mini Portable SpeakersBest Mini Portable Speakers under £40 – Ideal for Festivals and Travelling

 

KitSound Mini Buddy RRP: £9.99

X- mini WE Portable Thumb Size Speaker RRP: £24.99

KitSound Invader Capsule Speaker RRP: £29.99

KitSound PocketBoom XB Portable Speaker RRP: £39.99

 

When it comes down to mini speakers we think it’s more subjective and really all about personal choice. With the sound quality of the units being similar, things to consider are; size, volume, connectivity, design or price. And what you then choose will inevitably be based on what’s most important to you.

To give you a heads up we’ve put some details below on which speaker we think comes out on top in each category.

 

Packaging

The KitSound Mini Buddy, KitSound Invader Capsule Speaker, KitSound PocketBoom XB Portable Speaker and X- mini WE Portable Thumb Size Speaker all come in similar sized packaging. The X- mini WE Portable Thumb Size Speaker and KitSound Mini Buddy do have clear plastic fronts so you can see what you’re getting.

Size

The X- mini WE Portable Thumb Size Speaker wins hands down. At 48mm x 40mm this is probably the smallest and lightest unit around although the KitSound Mini Buddy does come in at a close second. The KitSound Invader Capsule Speaker and KitSound PocketBoom XB Portable Speaker are slightly larger units, but not massively so, and will still fit in your pocket, hand bag or ruck sack.

Volume

The X- mini WE Portable Thumb Size Speaker’s output is 1.5w, the KitSound Mini Buddy is 2w and the KitSound Invader Capsule Speaker and KitSound PocketBoom XB Portable Speaker units are 3w output, and this is apparent when using the devices. We found that the KitSound PocketBoom XB just managed to out play the KitSound Invader Capsule Speaker when the volume was increased and although it did struggle at full volume from our laptop, considering its size, the volume and sound quality was impressive. Whilst not Bluetooth enabled, the KitSound Invader Capsule Speaker and KitSound Mini Buddy do allow for several units to be daisy chained providing a greater volume. The more units you join together, the louder they get and as far as we can tell there is no limit to the number of device that can be joined. So for individual volume go for the KitSound PocketBoom XB Portable Speaker. The KitSound Invader Capsule Speaker and KitSound Mini Buddy Invader are good if used in chain, but would you carry more than one unit or just use a bigger speaker? However if friends have them you can join them together!

Connectivity

With the NFC Bluetooth 3 function for us X- mini WE Portable Thumb Size Speaker came out just ahead of the kitsounds Pocket Boom XB Portable Speaker. 

But the ability to daisy chain more units with the kitsound invader capsule speaker and kitsound mini buddy was also a plus.

Play Time

The X- mini WE Portable Thumb Size Speaker and KitSound Invader Capsule Speaker both have play times of up to 6 hours whereas the KitSound PocketBoom XB Portable Speaker is slightly less at 5hrs. Charging time is 2hrs for all units.

 

 

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