AudioSource’s new Sound pOp is exactly the sort of product I ought to hate. Or at least ignore. It’s a ridiculously inexpensive Bluetooth speaker with a cutesy shape that comes in a variety of colors and literally fits in the palm of my hand. It’s unapologetically monophonic, its Class D amplifier maxes out at an itty bitty three watts, and AudioSource doesn’t even publish the thing’s frequency response specs on its website.
So why is it that I can’t help falling in love with this ridiculous little Bluetooth speaker?
Mind you, I can probably answer that question for lot of people. The Sound pOp is absolutely adorable, and comes in your choice of seven colors (one of them camo, for goodness’ sake). It’s IPX3 water resistant, sports Bluetooth version 4.0 Class 2 connectivity, and its USB-rechargeable Li-Ion battery boasts up to eight hours of play time. All of which is very impressive if you’re into tiny Bluetooth speakers designed to connect to your phone. But by and large, I don’t fall into that demographic. Or at least I didn’t…
My heart started warming up to the Sound pOp mere minutes after taking it out of its tiny little box, though. Setup is a snap. You simply plug it into the included USB charger, hold the power button for five seconds to put it in pairing mode, and that’s it. You’re done.
Not long after I went through that seconds-long process, though, my dad called me on my iPhone, which was a bit of annoyance at first – because, seriously, who uses their cell phone to actually have a spoken conversation these days? – but soon after bopping the little Phone button on the Sound pOp, I noticed a curious thing. My dad’s voice sounded fantastic: utterly crystal clear, and utterly non-cell-phoney. “How do I sound?” I asked him from about four feet away from the Sound pOp.
“How do I sound? Does it sound like I’m on a speakerphone?”
“Why would it sound like you’re on a speakerphone?”
“Because I am?”
“[Expletive deleted], really?!”
Really. Audio quality of the conversation was leaps and bounds above what I’m used to when holding my iPhone 4 to my head. Not only is the audio quality fantastic, but the Sound pOp’s noise cancelation technology also means that you don’t get any annoying feedback or echo – on either end of the line. And for that reason alone, I’d say the AudioSource Sound pOp is worth the $38 or so it sells for on Amazon.
But that wasn’t the end of my love affair with the Sound pOp. Like most good affaires de coeur, things eventually led to the shower. After taking Bruno for a jog, I disconnected the Sound pOp from its ridiculously short charging cable (perhaps my only major complaint about the device), took it into the bathroom and shoved it – gently, of course – against the shower wall, where it stuck like glue and has been sitting for the past three days. Seriously, the suction power of this beauty is amazing, and the only way to get the Sound pOp off the wall is by pulling the little tab on the suction cup.
You wouldn’t think three watts would be enough power to overcome the sound of my jet-engine shower head, but the Sound pOp actually puts out quite a bit of sound in confined, reverberating spaces. Enough so that I actually had to turn it down a notch when rocking out to Fatboy Slim while soaping up. Not that the sound got harsh or anything – the Sound pOp relies on pretty sophisticated DSPs to protect the driver from over-excursion, so it sounds pretty good at any volume across its entire frequency range, which I measured to be useable from about the 80-85Hz point on up. Things do get a little weird and resonant between 12.5 kHz and the point where my hearing gives out at around 17.4 kHz, at least with test tones. I never found it to be too noticeable with actual music, though.
Of course, I don’t want to paint a picture of the Sound pOp as some sort of high-fidelity speaker. There’s still a rather AM-esque emphasis on the midrange, which really pushes voices forward in the mix. But for a sub-$40 device, it sounds quite nice. Granted, I might be more inclined to use it for podcast listening in the shower than with music, but still, when called upon to rock, it doesn’t disappoint.
The Sound pOp also has a lot of personality. Turn it on, and it greets you with a little “BOOP BAP BEEP,” which is echoed by a little “BAP BOP BOOP” when you turn it off. And the suction cup is good for way more than just sticking it to your shower wall. Promotional pictures show it being used as a little iPhone stand/speaker, and while that never quite worked for me (given that one of my iPhone cases is made of grainy bamboo and the other is a textured Otter Box), that could very well end up being your favorite use of the Sound pOp.
At any rate, I don’t see how you could help but fall in love with this little guy. If a cutesy little Bluetooth speaker could infect this old curmudgeon’s heart, there’s gotta be some sort of adorable voodoo magic built into this tiny package.