music for testing small Bluetooth speakers




Play tracks

1 at high volumes

2 at moderate-to-high volumes

3 at moderate volumes

4 at moderate volumes


Fiddling with the output of your sound source's volume and the speaker's volume can help things—having an iPhone 5s at midlevel volume and the Altec Lansing Mini H2O speaker at high volumes sounded far better than the phone's volume being maxed out and the Altec Lansing Mini H2O speaker's volume set to low.


That may seem obvious to some, but we test plenty of budget speakers that don't need this workaround in order to avoid distortion—and we test very few speakers that distort on this track.


Notice audible distortion

due to



The Knife's

"Silent Shout"          


At maximum volume on both the BEM Mobile Speaker and the sound source (in this case an iPhone 4S), the Mobile Speaker tends to distort—mildly on songs that lack intense deep bass content, and more significantly on tracks that pack lots of sub-bass, like the Knife's "Silent Shout."


However, merely lowering the volume on the phone to roughly 85 percent eliminates the distortion, and what remains is still a very healthy volume level with surprisingly rich, robust bass presence.


Obviously, it doesn't sound like the BEM  Mobile Speaker is packing a subwoofer, but you probably wouldn't guess that this little cube can get as loud and deliver as much rich low-end as it does.



Jay-Z and Kanye West's

"No Church in the Wild"


This track would typically sound weak through a speaker this size, but the BEM Mobile Speaker puts the focus on the mids and low-mids—you get a basic sense of the sub-bass synth hits even if you don't actually hear the sub-bass range itself, and the drum loop is delivered with enough midrange thump to convey power. The high-mids allow for a nice attack on the kick drum loop, which helps it slice through to the forefront of this dense mix.



Bill Callahan's



On the BEM Mobile Speaker his baritone vocals are cleanly delivered,

with a smooth richness in the low-mids and enough high-mid presence to keep things crisp. The guitar strumming and the vocals take center stage here, while the drumming doesn't receive much in the bass department and remains a more subtle presence in the track.



John Adams'

"The Chairman Dances"


and like

P. I. Tchaikovsky -

Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35

Itzhak Perlman violin


On the BEM Mobile Speaker

there's not much in the way of boosted low-end
to help the lower register strings and percussion have more body,

but the crisp high-mids and highs don't overwhelm the mix too much.

Of all the genres,
classical and instrumental mixes probably sound the weakest through the BEM Mobile Speaker

—at least during quieter passages,
but even those sound far better than you'd expect from such a tiny, affordable speaker.



posted   2/26/2016 2:27 PM                 R07M