The Soundboks 3 really pushes the limits when it comes to our idea of a Bluetooth speaker. Not only is it the size of a professional cabinet, it delivers the sound of one too. The speaker offers excellent sound quality at festival-level volumes. It is perfect for parties and has the staying power to keep going thanks to the Batteryboks. Highly recommended if you've got the spare $999.
- Performance speaker
- Made for epic sound
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Alternative performance inputs
- Long battery life
- Brand: Soundboks
- Connectivity: Bluetooth/XLR/3.5 mm Stereo
- Integrations: SKAA (audio transmission)
- Battery: 40 hours, rechargeable
- Water Resistance: IP54
- Excellent sound
- Very loud
- Nicely balanced sound
- Customizable grills
- Battery lasts well
- Bluetooth is faultless
- A bit heavy for one person to carry
- Not fully waterproof
- Would be overpriced for some
The Soundboks 3 portable performance speaker is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best speaker I have ever used in my life. Period. As it is a performance speaker, it is ideal for parties, and is loud enough to cope with the liveliest of gatherings.
It currently retails at $999, which some people might find somewhat excessive for a Bluetooth speaker. However, this isn't any Bluetooth speaker. Having road-tested the device for several months and really put it through its paces, I can highly recommend investing in one, if you're in the market for something that both looks and sounds professional.
Want to know more about this portable, pumping party-box? OK then...
What's in the Boks?
The Soundboks speaker doesn't come all on its lonesome when its formidable packaging arrives on your doorstep. Opening the box, you'll find the following:
- One Soundboks 3 Bluetooth performance speaker.
- One power cable.
- One Batteryboks (the battery pack).
- Instruction manual.
- Soundboks stickers.
If you ordered any of the extras (of which there are several, including cable bundles, and backpacks for carrying the Soundboks), these will probably be in the big box of goodies, too. You get everything you need to get started with making a lovely old racket with your new speaker, anyway.
A Spectacular Sight
The first thing you'll notice about the Soundboks 3's appearance is its size. It is truly a behemoth when it comes to Bluetooth speakers, with dimensions of 25.6 x 17 x 13 inches, and weighing in at a scale-tipping 34 lbs.
Our review unit features all-black cabinetry, including the removable grill at the front of the device. You can replace the Soundboks branded grill at the front, with several colors and limited edition variants included in your options. If I had to choose, I'd go for the plain orange grill or one of the cool Artist Editions grills, which feature sweet graphics from some well-respected illustrators and muralists.
Remove the grill, and you'll see the speaker array housed at the front of the cabinet. This comprises two 10-inch, 96 dB woofers and a single 1-inch, and a 104 dB compression driver tweeter. This probably gives you an idea how loud the Soundboks 3 can get.
All eight of the corners have silicone ball bumpers, so the speaker can take a knock or two without breaking a sweat. On either side of the Soundboks 3, you have powder-coated, steel carry handles, which form part of the Pulse Reflex Port. This runs horizontally through the speaker cabinet, from one side to the other.
On the left face of the cabinet, above the Pulse Reflex port, is the battery enclosure (where you place your Batteryboks) and DC input to connect your power source (more on this later).
The right face of the cabinet carries the user interface panel, which comprises a power button, a TeamUp button (again, we'll come to that shortly), and the Bluetooth LED indicator.
The Batteryboks itself is pretty self explanatory. It is a brick-shaped, black, plastic box that holds your juice for portable playing. It has a fabric strap to remove it from the Soundboks battery port, battery level indicators, and there is also a rubber button to check the battery status. The Batteryboks connects to the DC power input on the Soundboks via its power lead.
Around the back of the Soundboks, you have your Soundboks Team ID panel (which tells you which number Soundboks you have and identifies it for customer service purposes). Below this is the Pro Panel, where you can expand on the power of the Soundboks aside from playing music streamed via Bluetooth. The Pro Panel houses an SKAA bond button (more on SKAA later), two 3.5mm stereo inputs, and combination mic and instrument inputs (XLR, 1/4 inch).
And there we have it. That's what the device looks like... but we haven't even started on the sound, yet.
A More Spectacular Sound
I'm going to repeat myself here and say the Soundboks 3 is by far the best speaker I have ever used in my life. Period. And I'm repeating myself because I really want to drive home just how impressive this speaker is. Not only is it formidable in size (which it has to be in order to house the massive bass drivers and the tweeter cone), but the sound you'll get out of this beast is seriously loud.
I tested the Soundboks in a number of conditions and in each and every one it held its own, drowning out any other sound around it. This is no surprise, as the speakers are capable of an advertised 96 dB for the woofers and 104 dB for the tweeter. I wanted to see just how loud it could go and actually went so loud I thought I'd blown the Soundboks within 20 minutes of unpacking it. Thankfully, that was the safety cutout.
I've measured the Soundboks 3's sound levels and found that it was hitting 114 dB, without maxing the sound out (saving myself from another safety cutout panic). For context, that is 4 db lower than the volume of noise an aeroplane makes. I'm genuinely surprised none of my windows imploded.
In general terms, the sound quality from the Soundboks is excellent and definitely gives the impression of a professional performance speaker. Using it for both DJing and simply listening to music, I can confirm it is worthy of its performance credentials.
Bass is round, fat, and pumps with every beat. The mid-range doesn't break up amidst the bass and treble, with instruments and vocals presenting with excellent clarity. The top end is devoid of sibilance, so treble-heavy tracks and bass-free moments don't jar the eardrums with a sudden shrillness.
As mentioned, I tested the Soundboks 3 in various situations, described below.
The Soundboks 3 is an excellent speaker to use indoors. Why? Because it can fill a room with sound without even breaking a sweat. Seriously, I can have the volume at 25% and can still hear the pounding bass of Futureshock's classic 2001 progressive house mix, Dark and Long, downstairs in the kitchen. And my house is pretty big.
I also used the Soundboks 3 as a party speaker indoors and it made sure the shindig was loud enough that everyone kept dancing and couldn't hear themselves think, nevermind speak to each other (all ears on the DJ, please). Not only that, but despite its volume, the sound indoors is never muddy or distorted. It fills a room, but does so nicely, despite its bassy emphasis and overall powerful sound.
Take it outside, and Soundboks 3 really comes into its own. Want an instant mini-festival? Fire the Soundboks 3 up and voila, you have one. In fact, this is what I did. Lockdown regulations meant I could only have five guests in my garden, which was good because my makeshift dance tent was only big enough to house that many people.
But I had my own mini-festival, in my garden, with five people and, my goodness, did the Soundboks 3 deliver on its performance credentials. There could've been 5,000 people there, such was the atmosphere the Soundboks helped create.
This rings true, as Soundboks speakers can be linked together via Bluetooth with the TeamUP feature. This way you can combine the sound from several speakers and power an actual festival (which I believe it has; Enchanted Forest).
The music started off with a mellow, disco, and house-driven daytime vibe. My set included the likes of Terr's Tale of Devotion and Flamingo Pier's Find Your Away. Both are vocal tracks and the midrange held strong during this element of my set; no external sound sources like cars or passers-by ruined the moment.
Later on, the music became a bit more lively, with a bassline set featuring DJ Q's Back to Basics and DJ Zinc's Let's Get Together. Suffice to say, nobody stopped moving, and the bass was heavy enough for everyone to pull disgusting pigfaces every time a killer bassline came spewing out of the front of the Soundboks.
We finished with some hard and acid techno. The acid techno features a lot of top-end, which the Soundboks 3's tweeter carried perfectly above the woofer-beating kick drums. The sound remained perfectly balanced until 3 am when I realized everyone within a six-mile radius would be dialing the police and putting in noise complaints (so we moved the party indoors).
So, performance outdoors is perfect when accompanied by the Soundboks 3. Combining it with my laptop and little Pioneer DDJ-200 controller, I had a truly portable setup, with enough juice in my speaker's battery to have a 40-hour party, should I want to. I also found that I could hook the speaker up to my Pioneer DM-40 DJ monitor speakers and direct the sound around a little more (using one as a monitor for DJing).
Even just listening to music outdoors is a fantastic experience with the Soundboks 3. Obviously, the day after the party is for chilling, so we relaxed in the sunny garden, the Soundboks 3 faithfully pumping out low-slung dub reggae vibes, the deep bass vibrating the soil we were sitting on, which was most therapeutic. Speaking of which...
Playing Non-Music Audio
I'll only be brief with this section, but I wanted to mention the non-musical applications of the Soundboks 3.
Because of its rumbling bass and high-volume output, I tested the Soundboks 3 playing some binaural beats and isochronic tones. I can confirm that I was somewhat blown away by the results. In a room, on your own, with the universal frequency—432 Hz—literally washing over you like a gong bath, you'll find the Soundboks 3 is great for meditation (if you like that sort of thing, which I do, so there).
I did this several times and found that I really became immersed in the moment, and it made clearing my mind a lot easier as the Soundboks 3 was drowning external audio sources out. I could also feel the frequency vibrating my bed, and therefore me, which was soothing and relaxing, as it probably did the same to my vagal nerve (see my review of the Sensate vibrating pebble to see what mumbo jumbo I'm talking about here).
Works Like a Big, Powerful Charm
So, does the Soundboks 3 live up to its numerous claims? In a word, yes. I wouldn't be without it, be that in my office working, streaming music, throwing six-person garden raves, or six-person kitchen raves. It works perfectly in almost every situation.
The only exception being very wet situations, like in the rain. While all the internal components have hermetic seals to a rating of IP65, I wouldn't subject the Soundboks 3 to Mother Nature's continued bouts of precipitation. But it'll be fine if the rain catches you out and you need to whizz it back indoors quickly.
The 40-hour battery life is certainly true. I got 40 hours out of the device in one battery charge; enough to power a very loud 12-hour party and then soundtrack our Sunday the next day, with half the battery left to keep me going until Wednesday. Not only that, but you can charge the battery pack and power the speaker simultaneously, using the supplied split power cable.
Bluetooth is equally impressive in terms of range. Any sound transmitted by Bluetooth never breaks up, at least not in my experience, which is excellent when you're really getting into your music session.
The speaker components are excellent and deliver perfectly on sound, as mentioned earlier. Soundboks 3's tweeter can disperse sound well, thanks to its flared cone. The Pulse Reflex Port passively amplifies bass, giving those rich sub-tones a real boost, which is particularly important for the outdoor festival vibes to present themselves.
The Soundboks features an intelligent boost converter, which is able to minimize clipping and helps the speaker avoid compression. It does this by boosting the voltage from 12.8 to 24 Volts. So, when the Soundboks 3 needs more power than the battery can provide, in order to deliver a big sound, the converter steps in and gives it that extra kick.
The speaker is portable, but it is difficult to carry for long distances, on your own, using just the carry handles. However, you can overcome this with the aforementioned backpack (meaning you can play music while you carry it around) or just have another person help you. It fits into the trunk of a car, though, if you wanted to take it to a forest and, you know, have a little unplanned party...
One feature I couldn't test (but which sounds excellent) is SKAA bonding. SKAA devices act as wireless bridges between a device transmitting sound, and the device it is transmitting to. So, with an SKAA device, you can connect any sound source to your Soundboks without pairing it up, as long as you have an SKAA transmitter plugged into the audio source and the receiver is SKAA compatible (which the Soundboks 3 is). Sadly, I don't own one of these SKAA transmitters, so I was unable to see how well this works.
You can also make use of the Soundboks app. This is great as it offers customizable EQ, mode selection (for switching to Instrument mode to play guitars, for example), and Soundboks controls. You can also use the app to control SKAA bonding, described above.
Would I Recommend The Soundboks 3?
Have you got $999 to spare? If so, and you're on the lookout for the ultimate performance party speaker, then I wholeheartedly recommend the Soundboks 3. It is a truly excellent speaker and I have real difficulty picking out faults, to be completely honest.
The lack of waterproofing is a minor disadvantage, but I recognize that would drive the price up further. I also recognize that the cost of this speaker will price it out of many people's wallets. However, given the joy it can help bring, I feel that, over the course of several parties, the Soundboks 3 will have paid for itself by providing good times. You can't put a price on nourishing your soul, which is what friends, music, laughter, and dancing do.
Soundboks 3 certainly manages that, by being such a well-balanced, powerful speaker, that works hard to keep on bringing the party wherever you take it.