I’ve used very good and very expensive Bluetooth speakers before, but there’s one type of person that Bluetooth speakers never seem to satisfy: the bass head.
Bass heads doesn’t care about balanced, accurate sound. They just want good sound and a body-shaking bass to accompany it.
High-end Bluetooth speakers tend to offer the best bass, none that I’ve tried so far come close to the Belle by Podo Labs.
Indeed, the Belle projected the most bass I’ve ever heard in a Bluetooth speaker, and it sounds great, too.
Podo Labs also added a few features that sets the Belle apart from other high-end Bluetooth speakers. For one, you can connect your old Bluetooth speakers to it, no matter what brand it is, and you can even turn the Belle into a dedicated subwoofer for your existing Bluetooth speakers.
It’s nearing the end of its Kickstarter campaign at the time of writing, and it’s cleared its $US50,000 goal with over $US170,000 in funding. Pre-orders for the Belle on Kickstarter go for between $US219 and $US269, which is a stellar price compared to high-end Bluetooth speakers that demand north of $US400.
Check out the Belle by Podo Labs:
The Belle Bluetooth speaker by startup Podo Labs has a sleek, portable design that's not too heavy and not too large.
I only saw a prototype when I met with Podo Labs' founder Eddie Lee, and it immediately made me think of the $US3,000 Devialet Phantom speaker. But unlike the Devialet, the Belle's full retail price will start at $US350 for the 'Lite' 80-watt model without a handle, and $US400 for the 100-watt model with a handle.
The Belle isn't made of any special materials, save for the fibreglass handle, but its design makes for a premium look. Podo Labs says it's splash resistant, too.
Inside the Belle are two bass drivers, a five-inch woofer, and two two-inch full range drivers. I tested out the Belle outdoors, a tougher environment to sample speakers than indoors, and I was floored.
I sampled the 100-watt model Belle, which has great-but-not-stellar overall sound quality that would please most people, and it's loud, too. But its main goal is to deliver bass to the bass-heads out there -- and boy, does it deliver. I've never heard so much bass and volume come out of a Bluetooth speaker before. At one point, I felt self-conscious that we were bothering the surrounding buildings across the street in the already-noisy New York City. There were a few people working where we were testing the Belle on the outdoor terrace in BI's office building, and we certainly got looks of intrigue.
The dual bass radiators on either side of the Belle visibly and significantly vibrate while delivering bass. It's also the kind of bass that you can feel when you're standing nearby. It has a firm punch to it that I've never experienced with other Bluetooth speakers, too.
You can connect Bluetooth speakers you already own to the Belle, and you can turn the Belle into a subwoofer for your existing Bluetooth speakers, too.
You can wirelessly connect up to six Bluetooth speakers of any brand to extend and deliver your music evenly or more loudly across a space. I've seen other Bluetooth speakers with this daisy-chaining feature, but not ones that can connect to any brand of speaker. I think that's a great feature, as you don't need to ditch Bluetooth speakers you already own.
Then, there's the subwoofer feature. You can switch the Belle to subwoofer mode while it's connected to your other Bluetooth speakers, and it will do just what the feature's name implies: act like a subwoofer while your other connected Bluetooth speakers deal with the highs and mids.
Podo Labs says the Belle has an eight-hour battery life and it can charge your smartphone. Using Bluetooth instead of WiFi also has its perks.
Some wireless speakers like Sonos' speakers use WiFi to play music, which let you play music in any room with WiFi. But Podo Labs decided to go with Bluetooth, and I think it's the right move.
Most WiFi speakers require their own apps to play music, which is fine, but I'd personally prefer to play music from the source app, like Spotify or Apple Music. And if Podo Labs used WiFi, it wouldn't be able to connect to other wireless speakers from other brands. Plus, unless they come with Bluetooth, WiFi speakers only work where there's WiFi available, which could be limiting if you want to use the speakers outside. By using Bluetooth, the Belle works like any other Bluetooth speaker and you can take it out of WiFi range.
The Belle's Kickstarter campaign still has a three days to go at the time of writing, where you can pre-order it for less than the full retail price.
You can snag the 80-watt Belle Light for $US219 and the 100-watt Belle for $US269 on its Kickstarter campaign page, and pre-orders should be shipping by July 2018.
Even at its full retail price between $US350 and $US400, the Belle makes a great case to be your Bluetooth speaker of choice. It's in the same price range as other premium Bluetooth speakers that have fewer features.
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