Buka Projects, speakrbox.com.au
Looks awesome; nice sound; small; no power needed; well-built
Not very loud; big connector means it won’t work with some iPhone cases
“SPEAKR BOX is intended for personal use, not to rock a party yo,” reads one sentence of the short warning note that comes with this diminutive Melbourne-made ‘portable wooden speaker’. It’s good advice – this little guy won’t be filling a big room with sound any time soon, but that’s not really the point. The SPEAKR BOX looks far cooler than any other speakers I’ve seen in this price range (it’s just $60), and the 2W stereo speakers perform an admirable job of playing my Mac’s audio. Plus, it’s made locally, so it’s hard not to like.
The SPEAKR BOX is about as minimal as it gets when it comes to speakers. It’s an unfinished plywood box housing two small speakers, with a sturdy, high quality cable coming out the back to connect to a 3.5mm headphone socket. It’s also smaller than it looks online: it measures just 8.5cm x 17cm x 6.5cm.
The speakers are passive, so there’s no need for batteries or external power. That obviously limits its sound-producing abilities, but I was surprised by the volume it manages.
When playing music on my 13in MacBook Pro, the SPEAKR BOX isn’t much louder than the laptop itself, but playing the audio through the little plywood box makes the sound richer and gives it some extra depth. For quiet listening while you’re doing something else on your computer, it’s pretty much perfect.
Given the SPEAKR BOX’s 3.5mm audio input, it will plug into just about anything you want it to – making it a speaker for any occasion (except that party that the makers warn you about).
It’s so good that I’m considering replacing the stereo that currently handles my Mac mini’s audio at home. It’ll save me plenty of space and look a lot better. Sure, I won’t be able to crank it up, but I also won’t have to remember to turn my speakers on to hear sounds.
It’s also brilliant for an iPhone or iPad (or even a Walkman if you’re not quite up with the latest and greatest). In fact, I’d love the manufacturers to do a version with a stand on top for an iPhone or iPad – though the weight of the latter may make for an unstable system. Plus, the point really seems to be to make it as simple as possible.
I noticed the volume is lower using iOS devices than it is when playing a Mac’s audio, but again, for quiet listening, it’s a great option. The SPEAKR BOX is small enough to take anywhere, though its exposed speaker cones make it less than ideal to just throw it in a bag to take on your next trip. It’s also worth noting that the headphone connector is quite large, meaning it may not connect to an iPhone inside a case (I had to take my Ultra Slim Bumper off my iPhone 4).
Australian Macworld’s buying advice
This isn’t the loudest, nor the best sounding, speaker you’ll find for around $60. But it’s one of the best looking, and because it’s passive, you can use it anywhere without worrying about batteries dying on you. It’s decidedly low-tech, but I love that about it. If you like to support local companies, or just like well-designed simple accessories, it’s a great little unit for any Mac or iOS device in your arsenal.