Review: OSD German Shepherd outdoor speaker

When I was wandering through websites looking for speakers to review in this test, I found companies I'd never heard of. Most were selling generic outdoor speakers, but one - OSD Audio - offered something with an unprecedented mix of cool and creepy: an outdoor speaker styled to look like a life-size German Shepherd."Special purpose," indeed.

I requested the German Shepherd thinking it'd be something I could make fun of, but I was shocked to see how realistic it looked. When my UPS guy - who himself owns a German Shepherd -saw the speaker from a distance of about 20 feet, he asked, "Does that dog bite?" When a friend brought over Winnie, a schnoxie (half schnauzer, half dachshund), she immediately attacked the speaker. I kept placing it down, turning my back for a few minutes, then turning around again and being scared out of my wits when I saw a dog staring at me. It's that good.

BTW, if you're no fan of German Shepherds, check out OSD's almost-huggable new labradoodle speaker. Can a hamster-shaped Bluetooth speaker be far off?

The plastic enclosure is impressively stiff and non-resonant. Inside is a 6.5-inch woofer with a coaxially mounted tweeter - much like the guts of a typical in-ceiling speaker. The speaker fires forward through a grille that's cleverly shaped and painted so it blends in with the look of the dog. It's a mono design, with a single wire hanging out from the bottom, so you'll have to feed it a mono signal or get two dogs for stereo. (For an easier, more affordable way to get stereo, we suggest OSD's FS550 frog-shaped speaker.)

I couldn't connect the dog to my testing switcher because it has only four inputs, and I needed to use a little Yamaha mixer to mono-ize the signal anyway. I also didn't bother covering the dog with black fabric, since Geoff and Lauren had seen it before and would have known what was under the fabric.

Performance

Geoff and Lauren both thought that the OSD German Shepherd fell into the "uncanny valley" occupied by some androids and by semi-realistic animated movies like The Polar Express. In other words, it's not realistic enough to look genuinely real, but it's enough to be creepy. What did Geoff and Lauren think of the sound? They both replied: "It's staring at me!" Clarified Lauren: "It's like those sci-fi films where the character suddenly turns out to be a cyborg. I'd rather it be more like a statue, finished like faux stone." But she found that putting her sunglasses on the dog to obscure its stare made her more comfortable.

Geoff's comments were filled with dumb puns, such as "The treble doesn't bite." When I got him to be a little more serious, he noted that the sound was midrange-heavy, with just okay bass extension and not a lot of treble. Still, he loved the idea. I found voices a little coarse and the treble a little emphasized, but overall it was listenable. Lauren agreed.

The Verdict

Obviously, we don't recommend the OSD German Shepherd for serious listening, but as a backyard novelty, it's incredibly well executed - so well that it might even deter a burglar or two

Test Bench

Frequency response of the German Shepherd measures 41 Hz to 20 kHz ±7.0 dB on-axis, ±6.0 dB avg 0°-30°. Measured impedance is 6.3? minimum, 8? average. Sensitivity from 300 Hz to 10 kHz averages 86.6 dB.

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