I am not a fan of Bluetooth speakers primarily because sound reproduction just didn’t represent what music was supposed to sound like. For this reason, I haven’t reviewed one before today. It is definitely not for lack of opportunity as these are the most popular gadgets seen at any tech event and there are 7-8 of them floating around our office at any given time. I have never been one to write a report on hardware without merit however, so for each my communication return to the companies discussed my concerns and an offer for us to return the product. My first official review of a BT speaker occurs in this report which, in itself, says something for the Bayan Audio Soundbook BT Speaker.
The Bayan Audio Soundbook is constructed of aluminum and contains a ballistic aluminum cover that automatically turns the device on when flipped into place as a stand. This was the first thing that caught our eye. It connects by way of BlueTooth 4.0 or NFC if your mobile device is Near Field Communications capable. If it is, simply touch your device to the back of the Soundbook and you are good to go!. The Soundbook is very compact measuring 160mm long x 88mm wide x 38mm deep, provides up to 15W stereo sound with a frequency range of 40Hz to 20 kHz, and its battery can last up to 10 hours. In all actuality, it is a great side-kick to have if you travel often with an ultra, or MBA by your side as I do.
The Audio Soundbook contains two 1″ long throw neodymium speakers , along with a 2″ passive bass radiator. For our testing, we have the Bayan Audio Soundbook connected to our Samsung Galaxy Note II and tested it with both audio and wireless conversations. As it sits in this picture, music is being streamed wirelessly from the Note II and, in fact, the song playing at the time of this report is by a new band in our repertoire; Guns and Ammunition by July Talk. It is also available in silver or black, and if your media device supports aptX, the output is a higher quality sound yet.
The Banyan Audio Soundbook comes in an attractive package and contains universal plug attachments, instructions, as well as USB amd 3.5mm stereo cables.
The Banyan Audio Soundbook has a power switch top center which turns the device on and off, as well as switching modes from Bluetooth to FM Radio, and then to Line In. The FM radio has a built in antenna and having USB and Line In ports on the back enables the connecting of external devices.
Loving music as I do, I will be the first to state that nothing gets an honest grading without at least 50 hours of music being pumped through it. This unit was no different and, just for example, the bass in I walk The Line by Johnny Cash was distorted when first listening to this device, yet fine once the machine settled a bit. Having said that, the Bayan Audio Soundbook is no full fledged stereo system, but I have to concede that the sound reproduction was reasonably crisp and clear… I still found the mids a bit tinny and bass was as good as it was going to get with a speaker only 38mm deep. In comparison, this is the first that succeeded in getting a published report in my hands and it has taken permanent shelter on my desk, at least until we get a good look at the X3.
A feature I never expected from this device was the fact that it could be used for hands free calls and conference calls. Lastly, the built in antenna of the FM radio is adequate but we were never happy with the sound reproduction from the radio itself. It just wasn’t there, even with a radio station sitting less than 5 miles away.
REPORT SUMMARY AND PRICING
Overall, we were very impressed with the overall quality of the Bayan Audio Soundbook along with its ability to surpass that of just a Bluetooth speaker. The build is beyond reproach and enabling the device to turn on automatically when the nylon ballistic cover is flipped into position as a stand was an unexpected bonus. Connecting to Bluetooth or NFC is a snap and sound quality is well above that of what you might expect from such a portable speaker. Calls are great in hands-free mode, although the one suggestion we might make would be integrating at least the ability to answer the phone on the Bayan itself….quick press of the power button might work.
At around the $200 price point, the Bayan Audio Soundbook is a premium item but, then again, if you want terrible sound in a thin plastic case that will break in a few weeks, you can cheap out and answer one of those mass marketing campaigns you hate so much. This Soundbook is built well, looks very clean, has great features and sounds great!