Tangled Up in Bluetooth Page 2

Soundmatters FoxLv2 Bluetooth

$199 soundmatters.com
Best for: travelers, audiophiles
Worst for: bass freaks

THREE YEARS AFTER its debut, there’s still nothing quite like the FoxL (soon to appear in an even more improved "Platinum" edition). Its compact metal enclosure contains two “Twoofers,” or high-excursion 1-inch drivers. On back is the BassBattery, a mini-woofer that uses the rechargeable battery for extra mass and deeper bass response. A kickstand in the back provides a secure footing. The rear-mounted controls are simple: a power switch and volume up/down buttons. You also get a 3.5mm sub output and a mini-USB input for charging.

The FoxL v2 feels like it was designed for use by infantrymen or mountaineers. The metal housing is as tough as it looks; the original survived a fall off my 6-foot speaker measuring stand without a scratch. The slim design fits easily into a pants pocket.

When I played Indian musician Raghunath Manet’s Veena Dreams — a recording that sets Manet’s aggressive veena playing against percolating Indian and Western rhythms — the FoxL v2’s detailed treble captivated me. Same with the midrange: Voices sounded ultra-clear, like what I hear with my Genelec recording monitors.

Where the Jambox sounds sweet, the FoxL v2 sounds pristine. Which you’ll prefer, I can’t predict, but they’re both great. The big difference is in the bass: The FoxL v2 has more than you’d expect but much less than the Jambox. I recently spent a delightful afternoon in San Francisco with the FoxL v2, sitting on the window bench of my room at the W Hotel and streaming classical Indian music from the Sunaada Radio channel. When business called me away, I just turned off the FoxL v2 and tossed it back into my computer case, confident that it would survive the trip home. That’s what the FoxL v2 Bluetooth is all about — for my money, it’s the ultimate travel sound system.

Measurements

The FoxL v2 has impressively flat response up to 9.7 kHz; up to that point, the frequency response is an honest ±3 dB, which is better than most conventional speakers offer. There’s a big peak at 15 kHz, which is probably a resonance in the Twoofers. The off-axis treble roll-off is heavy but well-mannered, with none of the zigs and zags seen in some of the other off-axis measurements presented here. Don’t get too excited about that 63 Hz close-miked response; the BassBattery isn’t big enough to deliver substantial output at such a low frequency.

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