Bluetooth Speakers Back-Country Tested - FoxL V2 APTX
SoundMatters FoxL V2 APTX ($199)
By far the smallest speaker of the bunch at a mere 5.6" x 2.2" x 1.4", the Soundmatters FoxL had a tough time keeping up with the larger speakers for outdoor use. Its diminutive size just doesn't allow it to fill Montana's big sky like the other speakers with larger drivers. So, it didn't find much duty around the campfire.
On the other hand, once we were inside for the evening playing Farkle (a dice game) by the light of our headlamps, the FoxL performed well beyond its size. The unit is fairly directional and doesn't fill a room very well, but when you're in the near-field and on-axis, the FoxL did seem to have a sense of coherence and accuracywithin its frequency response rangethat actually exceeded that of the other players. The FoxL V2 does have a passive radiator, and does deliver substantially more low frequency response than I had expected, but the small size makes it very had to get much bass. Once accustom to the lack of low frequency response though, the FoxL V2 delivered a very pleasing listening experience.
Soundmatters does make a sub-woofer companion for the FoxL, the FoxLO ($129) that I have at home but did not take on the trip as it's A.C. powered only. Adjustment of the FoxLO is a bit touchy as the volume control is quite sensitive, but once adjusted it did a fairly good job of filling in the lows. The FoxL V2 does remain fairly directional however, and while the paired with the sub I still find I needed to be on-axis for best listening. For filling a room with sound the other speakers in the test would be preferable.
The FoxL is available in three flavors: FoxL V2 Purist ($149) is analog input only; FoxL V2 APTX ($199, the unit tested here) for Bluetooth operation; and the FoxL V2 Platinum ($229) that includes AudioQuest premium cables and longer battery life. Bluetooth versions of the FoxL do act as a speaker phone when attached to smartphones. All three units accept analog line inputs via a 3.5mm jack.
Testing the FoxL V2 APTX against these other units in the wild is a bit unfair to this fine little gadget. While it really doesn't do well as an outdoor speaker filling space, and its very small size makes low bass response poor, it does a really fine job in intimate settings. When listening on-axis it produces a coherent and competent listening experience for its very diminutive size. I think the FoxL V2 is an excellent choice for business travelers and folks who want to pack along tunes when space is hard to come by.
Vacation Photo Interlude