Review: KitSound BoomBar 2 Bluetooth speaker

Dorset, England-based KitSound makes wired and wireless audio products including a variety of Bluetooth-equipped speakers. The BoomBar 2 is the followup to their original BoomBar and delivers powerful, clear sound that you can take with you and play all day.

If you're familiar with the original BoomBar, the BoomBar 2 will seem a bit strange. KitSound has done away with the oblong cylindrical construction and rear kickstand in favor of more squared-off look with a chopped-away corner. The angular design lets you rest the BoomBar 2 on the floor or another flat surface and throw sound upwards to fill the room at a 45-degree angle.

Inside the 11-inch wide speaker are two 50 mm drivers with a passive bass radiator in between. The BoomBar 2's audio reproduces full and rich mids and bass without a lot of muddiness or heavy bass distortion, as is the trend in some other speakers. The speaker has some weight to it — about two pounds or so — so it's not something you'll want to carry around with you all day.

Bluetooth pairing was easy, and a Bluetooth status button flashes to show you a working connection. If you have a source that just won't work or doesn't have Bluetooth built in, KitSound have included a 3.5 mm minijack input, so you can connect whatever as long as you have a cable.

The flat black matte finish of the BoomBar 2 looks good but also has a tendency to show up fingerprints, blemishes and dust.

An LED-equipped power button shows you when the unit is on, as well as when it's charging, using an included micro-USB cable. The speaker took about four hours to power up from a complete discharge and lasted well through 10 hours of sporadic use over the course of a week before I had to charge it up again.

You can make and receive calls on the BoomBar 2 using an integrated mic. Audio quality on receiving calls was fine. The mic picked me up as long as I was fairly near.

Three round buttons are on the right side of the BoomBar 2: They're marked as volume +, volume - and pairing (for Bluetooth). They also double as track control: if you "short press" them, you can play/pause, fast forward and rewind. I found that setup confusing; my tendency was to "short press" to try to control volume. I eventually just gave up and used the audio controls on my iPhone to manage speaker volume.

KitSound includes a zippered carrying case so you can protect the BoomBar 2 when you're carrying it. An inside mesh pocket gives you room to carry the micro USB charging cable (and included minijack auxiliary cable).

Overall, the BoomBar 2 has impressive and rich room-filling audio that should appeal to people whose tastes don't lean towards really heavy or artificial bass reproduction. The speaker's heft and size don't make it the most portable Bluetooth speaker. Hopefully, you'll have better luck with the confusing two-function buttons than I did.

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