Bluetooth Speakers Back-Country Tested - Infinity One
Infinity One ($299)
Substantially larger, heavier, and $100 more expensive than the other speakers in this review, the yet-to-be released Infinity One is just on the edge of being small enough to consider for a motorcycle adventure...except for one little thing: This speaker ROCKS!!! Yeah, I'll make room in my bag for this thing every time.
As I was looking for product for this review and Googling stuff like "ruggedized weather-resistant water-proof Bluetooth speakers" I happened to stumble upon some of the early press from CES this year and the initial Harman press release for the Infinity One. Much is made of Harman naming Linkin Park as brand ambassadors in their effort to invigorate the brand, but actual technical details are scant as yetthe Infinity One is slated for availability later this month. Here's a few things I can offer:
- Four 45mm (1.77") drivers (two front-facing, two rear-facing), and two passive radiators (~60mm, ~2.3") mounted at either end.
- 25 Watt output power.
- Up to 10 hours play time.
- Frequency Response 70Hz-20kHz
- Max SPL 80dBspl
- 5000mAh 7.4V Lithium polymer battery.
- Dimensions 98.5mm X 242mm, 1.3kg; 3.87" x 9.52", 2.8lbs.
- Has NFC pairing.
- Has USB port for charging external devices.
- Has large power supply for faster charge, but can charge from micro USB connector.
Durability, of course, is a difficult thing to judge in a short period of time, but the Infinity One is confidence inspiring. It's ceramic coated aluminum body appears very well built; I just wrapped it in a t-shirt and threw it in my duffle bag. Never skipped a beat.
The sound quality of the Infinity One was astonishing, primarily in terms of how much bass extension and sense of power it had in open spaces like around the campfire. Even at relatively low volumes, the Infinity One delivers a satisfying sense of thump. Mids and treble were also nicely articulated, but possibly a bit recessed relative to the basswhich is really odd for a small speaker. The treble also seemed a little artificial at time, drawing a bit too much attention to itself. The unit has four drivers all of the same size, and no tweeters; I'm wondering if this may be why it has a bit of difficulty up top. The treble oddness and bass emphasis were most apparent when listening to the Infinity One at close quarters, but when filling a room or around the campfire and listening at a distance, the problems significantly diminished.
Most small Bluetooth speakers end up seeming a bit mid-forward due to lack of bass; the Infinity One seemed slightly "U" shaped relative to the other speakers due to the bump in the bass and slightly odd treble. Despite the slightly uneven response ('cuz they all do that to some extent) the Infinity One delivered a terrific listening experience outdoor and when filling a room with its lively sound. I did have the chance to exchange a few emails with the engineers responsible for the product. Like the Fugoo on the previous page, the Infinity One also makes significant use of digital signal processing (DSP) techniques for improving the listening experience. Again, there are no doubt a whole lot of proprietary details left out, but I was informed the bass performance of the Infinity One is aided by DSP algorythms. I'd also guess we'll be seeing firmware updates on the Infinity One (pretty certain the unit I have is from the very first production run) to improve sound quality over time.
For more information see the Infinity One product page.
Just on the verge of being too big and heavy to consider it a viable portable speaker for a motorcycle trip (space is very limited when moto-camping), the extraordinarily potent sound of the Infinity One tip the scales in its favorthis speaker sounds terrific outdoors. Mids and treble are good, but the sense of thump in the bass is unique in my experience for a speaker this size.
Add to that the apparent durability of an anvil; 10 hour battery life; analog input; speakerphone operation; water resistance; and the ability to act as a storage battery to charge other devices, and you've got a very nicely functional and all-around good sounding portable speaker. If we had a "Wall of Fame" for Bluetooth speakers, the Infinity One would be on it. Chances are, when I do start that WoF category, it will be. Love it!
Vacation Photo Interlude