Geneva Model XS
Geneva Lab, www.genevalab.com.au
Bluetooth, Aux & FM sources; folds up for travelling
Overly sensitive touch controls; Bluetooth hum
The Geneva Sound System Model XS is a small, portable speaker system that sticks to Geneva’s visual aesthetic. The Bluetooth-enabled speaker – which doubles as a travel alarm clock – includes a built-in rechargeable battery.
The XS lives inside a clamshell case, and is attached by pins. When closed up, the case measures about 16cm wide, 11cm tall and 5cm deep; it latches shut snugly and securely, with integrated magnets to help seal the deal.
When you want to use the XS, you open the case. But rather than remove the speaker from its cosy confines, you fold it into a triangle by latching the top of the case into grooves on the top of the XS itself. It’s an effortless connection, and the overall design is much like that of a 1970s travel alarm clock.
Geneva describes the case’s exterior as ‘leather-like’. We don’t quite share that assessment, but the case is made of some nice material. The case’s colour matches the XS inside – the model we reviewed was white, but the XS is also available in black and red.
Once you’ve set things up properly, the XS lights up its LED panel, which glows from behind the speaker grill in the upper-right corner.
A small indentation on the right edge of the speaker indicates a touch- sensitive power button. Press it, and the XS launches a brief startup process – as LEDs dance across the front of the speaker – before illuminating a series of other touch-sensitive controls: alarm (a bell), radio tuning controls (left and right arrows), mode (M), clock (a clock icon), and volume down (–) and up (+).
We generally dislike touch-sensitive controls on speakers, and we don’t love them on the Geneva XS. It’s too easy to graze the wrong button accidentally, and we prefer the tactile response of a real button on this sort of hardware. We also found that if we moved the unit while it was powered on – touching both the front face of the speaker and the rear of the clamshell case – the XS would mistakenly believe we were trying to trigger various buttons. These minor annoyances aren’t deal-breakers, but they’re less than ideal.
Setting the clock on the XS isn’t too difficult, and in an advantage over the Model S (www.macworld.com .au/16715), you can set and schedule the clock’s single alarm directly on the unit itself – there’s no need to use a remote (which is good, because the XS doesn’t include one). For your alarm sound, you can choose either FM radio or a buzzer.
On the back of the speaker sit the power-adapter connection and a 3.5mm Aux audio input for connecting a non-Bluetooth source. On the bottom-left side of the XS, you’ll find a telescoping FM antenna.
Bluetooth pairing is straightforward; We successfully paired my iPhone and Mac with the XS without difficulty. Bluetooth audio sounds quite good – rather on par with that of the Jawbone Jambox – with wired performance a tad better.
The FM radio is a nice touch, but You can’t save station presets, so navigating between stations is a hassle.
The XS exhibited a crackly hum when powered on and in Bluetooth mode but without music playing from a Bluetooth source. This wasn’t an issue when listening to music through the speaker, and it was never severe, but the hum was audible whenever my iPhone or Mac stopped playback.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice.
If you’re looking for a good-sounding, compact Bluetooth speaker and/or need a travel alarm clock, the XS is a viable option.