Provides: 2.1 audio reproduction via Bluetooth
Developer: Definitive Technology
System Requirements: Bluetooth-enabled audio device (3.5mm line-in also available)
Availability: Out now
Much as I love the mobility of modern computing, small size means that a sacrifice has to come somewhere, and it’s usually in audio quality. While great advances have been made in miniaturizing speakers, they still lack the range of larger speakers. The Sound Cylinder from Definitive Technology, however, gives your Bluetooth-enabled devices rich, full sound in a small, stylish package.
The Sound Cylinder (SC) has an interesting design; the speaker is itself the base, with a kickstand in the back that folds into the base when not in use. The rubberized clamp on top holds a tablet or smartphone snugly, with a tension bar to accomodate devices of different thickness. There’s a small notch to accomodate the home button on an iPhone/iPad, and if you want to place the SC on top of your laptop screen, the notch means you can still use your webcam as well.
The SC isn’t a charger, however, and plays audio through a Bluetooth connection, though there’s also a 3.5 mm line-in on the back (a male-to-male 3.5 mm cable is included, along with a wall jack and micro-USB cable for charging). The only controls on the SC are volume up and down, and power on/off, located on the side. As with many Bluetooth devices, the power button blinks to indicate its status: blue when it’s on, red when it’s charging, and blue/red when running low on power.
The sound quality on the SC is great. The 2.1 channel system delivers a lot of punch, especially from the woofers, located on the side. You get the sound fidelity of a much larger system in a tiny, portable package that you can easily carry from room-to-room, along with a lot of volume. Even in areas with a lot of noise, like washing the dishes or while taking a shower, I was able to boost the volume on the SC high enough to listen to music and podcasts, and enjoy the full range of sounds.
The only drawback to the device is that it suffers from problems common to Bluetooth; when watching video, the sound can fall out of sync. This problem was intermittent, however, most video synced perfectly, but while watching the premiere of Game of Thrones on HBO GO on an original iPad, the actor’s voices were just a tiny bit behind. Whether this was a problem with the iPad, the app, or the Bluetooth connection (or a combination of all three), I can’t say.
Minor quibbles aside, the Sound Cylinder is an amazing addition for portable sound. If your computing systems are small and mobile but you need to fill a room with lifelike sound, this is the device you need.