Gearbest sent one of their most popular products, the Original Xiaomi Bluetooth 4.0 speaker. It has a different form factor and much better sound quality than the Xiaomi mini speaker that we previously reviewed.
The Original Xiaomi Bluetooth 4.0 speaker comes inside a sleek, rectangular box which is slightly larger than the soundbar itself. Unboxing this speaker is extremely quick because you only get it packed inside the storage cloth bag and a small leaflet with instructions in Chinese. Who needs instructions anyway. It is clear, Xiaomi has only provided the bare minimum to get you started and that is likely done for cost cutting. Picking up the device for the first time and you will notice the strong metallic construction. On the front is the speaker grill and a nicely engraved Mi logo, the backside is completely flat with CE and FCC engravings. The device is quite thin and easy to carry and it does not weigh a lot either. The volume buttons are multi functional. Apart from changing volume they can also be used to change tracks by holding them down.
On the left end of the speaker we can find a micro SD card slot, micro USB jack and a 3.5mm Aux in jack. You will also find a tiny hole for the microphone right besides the Aux input. The device has no screws to open it up. The metallic grill casing must have been fixed permanently and hence, we cannot really look at what hardware sits inside. Looking at the information given by Xiaomi, we can see two mid ranged drivers on the sides with a huge bass driver sitting in the middle. The mid range drivers are circular in shape with a 36mm diameter whereas the bass driver is rectangular and much larger.
There is a 1500mAh battery packed inside which easily lasts over 10 hours if you play the music at medium volume. When the battery begins to die, you will see the battery level indicator turn on. The power button blinks red after connecting a power source and starts to blink white when the battery is full. The power button becomes a constant white when you turn the speaker on. All in all, the construction of the speaker is extremely simple looking and really solid. You should not worry about it breaking so easily.
Clean loud sound
Upon turning on the device, it will instantly pop-up on your smartphone or any other device you are using. The review unit that I got might be meant for sale in China, so the device name appeared in Chinese. Pairing with the speaker, it says something in Chinese which I failed to understand. Perhaps, it might be saying that it has turned on? Now, all you have to do is play music, watch a movie or do whatever. The audio will then stream on to the speaker.
The sound appears to be very clear. If you happen to hold the speaker in your hand while audio is playing, you will feel it vibrate. Turning the volume higher makes the speaker vibrate even more and that is because of the huge bass driver. You need not worry about the speaker rattling on the surface you place it upon. The weight of the speaker is enough to keep it steady. I also did not find any rattling noise coming from inside the speaker either, proving that everything inside must be wired and glued in properly.
If the speaker works well at high volume without any distortion, it means you are dealing with a very good speaker. So, I had to put the Original Xiaomi speaker to the test. I turned the volume to maximum and started hearing distortion and it left me disappointed. Listening closer, I realised it was my music track that was garbage quality. Playing a real HD audio track at the same volume gave me better results. There was some distortion but it was extremely minor. I believe that no average person would be bothered with such minor distortion even at maximum volume. The Original Xiaomi Bluetooth speaker can apparently reach 90dB(A) volume. Obviously it depends how far you are standing away, did a quick test using a decibel measuring app and managed to get up to around 80db. It’s not a perfectly accurate measure but you can see it can get pretty loud.
The frequency response of the speaker is something that makes or breaks the deal. Coming with a huge bass radiator, the low frequency response is excellent. The bass is deep and punchy. It does leak a little bit into the mid frequencies but that should not be too much of a concern. The treble is little on the weaker side. We can imagine the frequency response curve to start rolling off steeply at 11 kHz to 12 kHz and that causes the highs to be weak. I could not feel the sparkle that we hear after hitting the cymbals. Considering how modern music has leaned towards bass, the treble on these speakers should be “okay” for most users. The heavy bass reminds me of beats headphones which are known to have a similar frequency response.
The Original Xiaomi Bluetooth 4.0 speaker has a Avnera AV3102 DSP chip which takes care of the audio and it is the same chip that is used in the popular smartphone Xiaomi Mi4 and Mi4i (Now Discontinued). Not much is known about this chip since, Avnera does not publicly release its data sheets.
The microphone sounds average while answering your phone handsfree. Voice was clear and it did pick up background noise to some extent. Speaking in simpler terms, it is just as good as a microphone on any average smartphone. The best thing about this speaker is, even if your phone’s battery dies, you can still play music on this if you have your micro SD card with you.
Coming at $40 from Gearbest, it is a nice little speaker with above average sound quality that is really worth having while travelling. Adding the great battery life to the equation, it could be a nice travel companion for a day long journey. You could even place it in your car because it is really loud and really good.
As a note to Xiaomi, it is really difficult to distinguish between the various wireless speakers they have come up with. None of them have any real model name; I hope Xiaomi will conduct a naming ceremony for their future speaker products. For buyers looking for a more expensive portable speaker read the Bose Soundlink Micro speaker review that’s the same kind of size, but more suited to sports applications