MusicMan LED SoundBlaster is a portable music player that works with your phone, USB thumb drives and on its own as an FM radio. Here I crank up the volume and take it for a test drive.
This is a multifunction music player that can play audio from several sources. It is battery powered and portable speaker and once charged up, you can listen to your favorite music anywhere. It has LEDs at both ends of the cylinder shape that change color and pulse with the music, which makes it fun to use in the evening as the sun goes down.
The box and manual both show a usage scenario envisioned by Technaxx, the company behind it: Someone lying on a beach with it with waves splashing over them both. Yes, this is not only battery powered, but splash proof too. It cannot be submersed in water, but splashes will bounce off and will not do any damage. The water protection is IP X6, so maybe you could have it in the shower with you, or at least in the bathroom. It would also be OK next to a swimming pool.
Other possible uses include camping and caravanning and other places where there isn’t mains power. It has a long strap, so you can even sling it over your shoulder and carry it with you. Mind you, it is a weighty 1.74 kg.
Stream music from your phone
The feature I like best about this gadget is that it can connect to your phone and act as the speaker system. It connects using Bluetooth and I used it with Spotify on an Android phone. You must pair it in the usual way for Bluetooth gadgets and then it works brilliantly.
Start Spotify playing music on the phone and the audio comes out of the MusicMan LED SoundBlaster. It goes even further and there is no need to touch the phone. Simply turning on the SoundBlaster’s power automatically starts Spotify on the phone if it is within Bluetooth range (10 m) and the music continues playing where it left off last time.
The music quality can be adjusted on the phone using the equalizer from within Spotify and you can choose a preset or adjust the frequency sliders yourself. Add some more bass, a bit more treble, or whatever you prefer.
It worked perfectly with Spotify on my Android phone, streaming music from the web to the speaker. I did not try it with other music players on other phones, but I would expect it to work just as well.
When the SoundBlaster is connected to your phone using Bluetooth to play music, incoming calls are routed to it and you hear it ringing. A microphone is built in and you can answer calls using the device.
Music via USB thumb drives
There is a rubber flap on the rear of the device and opening it reveals a standard USB socket of the type found on computers. Insert a USB stick into your computer, copy a bunch of MP3 audio files to it and then insert it into the SoundBlaster. It automatically scans it and begins playing the tracks.
With the rubber flap open and a USB thumb drive sticking out, you have to be more careful with it. It cannot be splashed and you have to be careful not to roll it over, knocking out or breaking the USB stick. If you still have music collections on your computer, you could copy them to some cheap USB sticks (32 GB max) for playing on the SoundBlaster.
Music via FM Radio
Digital radio would have been nice, but FM is OK and it automatically searches for stations and adds them to its memory. You can then browse forward and back through the stations until you find one you like.
One minor irritation is that there is no station indicator, so you don’t know which station you are on until the radio announces it. People often have one favorite station, so once you have found it, you can stick with it, but an indicator would have been useful.
Sockets and battery
In addition to phone, memory stick and radio, there is also an auxiliary input socket to connect it to other sound systems, like a music player. It is the same size as a standard headphone jack socket and a cable is provided.
The battery can be charged using a phone charger and it is a Micro USB style socket. A cable is provided with a Micro USB plug at one end and a standard USB plug at the other to go into a phone power supply. It takes about four hours to charge the battery and it plays for around four hours at 50% volume. Turn up the volume to full and it will use the battery a bit faster.
There is a cluster of four buttons and these are Play/Pause, Mode (Bluetooth, radio, USB), Next/Volume up and Previous/Volume down. There is a rocker button with plus and minus on either side and this can either change the volume level or change tracks or radio stations depending on whether you long or short press it.
The buttons are easy to see on a bright day, but in the evening when the light is dim, you can’t tell one from another and you have to rely on your memory what each one does. The plus/minus rocker switch also requires you to memorize what it does. The controls work fine, I just wish they had a bit of white paint on them so I could see them more clearly in dim light.
The MusicMan SoundBlaster is a great portable battery powered music player and it sounds good. I like the way it works with a phone and you can stream music over the internet and to the device. It can also play FM radio, audio files on a USB thumb drive and there is an aux input. It works very well, but I would just like some paint on the buttons so I can see them better.
Where can you buy it? You will find the MusicMan SoundBlaster at Amazon UK and last time I checked, it was £51.99. (A MusicMan SoundBlaster was provided for testing, the cat is my own!)