Soundmatters foxL v2.2 speaker
Sound & Image, www.foxl.com.au
Amazing sound for the size; excellent build quality; easy to use
Low-level hum on review unit
Getting great sound out of a small package is one of the holy grails of the tech world. Over the years we’ve reviewed any number of small speaker systems and, while some have come close, none have been excellent.
So it was with some measure of cynicism that I read the blurbs on the box of soundmatters’ foxL Bluetooth speaker: “The first pocket-sized portable speaker good enough for an audio purist”; “Miniature audiophile portable music system that turns the palm of your hand into a personal amphitheatre”; and so on.
But within minutes of turning it on, pairing it with my iPhone via Bluetooth and playing a few tracks I knew it was definitely something special.
The audio quality is nothing short of astounding for a hand-sized unit measuring 14.3cm x 5.5cm x 3.5cm.
It’s a big, full sound with a surprisingly wide frequency response (80Hz-20kHz) and a decent soundfield that almost hides the source of the music.
It’s clear, smooth and, most importantly, engaging. Anyone who uses the foxL just wants to keep playing their favourite tracks because it’s just such … fun.
Design-wise, the black foxL is good looking, with a metal grille hiding two 1in drivers that Soundmatters calls ‘Twoofers’ – tweeters that also woof. They’re driven by four digital amplifiers delivering up to 8W of power.
On the back is another impressive piece of tech – a BassBattery, which combines a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery and an acoustic bass radiator. The latter is a panel which resonates at a frequency lower than the active, or wired, woofers, enhancing and extending the bass.
If the bass isn’t enough for you – and it’s so good that there’s a non-slip pad in the box to stop the foxL from ‘walking’ on some surfaces – then you can buy a separate SUBstage subwoofer that plugs into the side of the foxL.
The BassBattery is protected by a metal grille that flips out to act as a stand. If you’d rather carry it around your neck, there’s a lanyard in the box. (It weighs 270g, though, which is a bit heavy to wear for long.)
The unit can be charged via a 5V wall charger or a USB connection to your Mac.
Bluetooth connection is simplicity itself. The unit begins searching as soon as you turn it on, which makes it instantly findable from your iOS device or Mac. The A2DP Bluetooth audio stream is robust and high-quality, and the foxL is also useful for use as a table-top phone conferencing unit via your iPhone because of its built-in noise-cancelling microphone.
This brings us to the only fault I could find with our review unit: When the Bluetooth circuit was turned on it emitted a low hum. You couldn’t hear it when playing music, but it was obvious to incoming callers.
If Bluetooth isn’t your bag then you can hook up your iOS device, Mac or other audio source via a 3.5mm mini-jack. In fact, if you aren’t going to use Bluetooth, there is a non-BT model available for $199.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice
Soundmatters makes much of the fact that the foxL was developed by a rocket scientist – soundmatters founder Dr Godehard Guenther, who is a physicist and former NASA engineer with three PhDs. And well they should, because Guenther’s expertise has just made my day. Very highly recommended.