It's fair to say that you're not going to be interested in the BoomBlaster unless its particular mix of 80s Ghetto Blaster style with modern inputs visually appeals to you. After all, at 666x231x 240mm and a hefty 6.8kg carrying weight, it's not exactly a subtle music option. It does have some aspirations to being portable, with the capability to run from a whopping 10 D-Cell batteries, although they'll also add to the carrying weight.
The one thing that we expected to find on a box like this was an easy top-mounted carrying handle. No luck, though; where a handle might have been placed is the pop-up CD tray, locked down with a circular dial. Instead, the unit comes with a single "guitar-strap" that hooks onto the sides. Around the front, under another circular dial, is the cover for the iPod dock, while at the back you'll find inputs for external audio sources, including a selectable switch for guitar or microphone input, along with a level control. It'd be feasible, therefore, to use the RV-NB70B as a small portable amp.
The RV-NB70B's total output for its size is 40W, spread across two 5W main speakers and two 15W subwoofers; as such, it's not surprising that JVC's touting the RV-NB70B as a bass-thumping machine.
In terms of input formats, the RV-NB70B supports iPods of all types, and is shielded for iPhone audio, although the cassette deck-style dock makes it tricky to operate any touchscreen iPod or iPhone with any degree of finesse. Video outputs on the back make it feasible to run video from an iPod or iPhone over composite connections. CD audio is also supported, and the top-mounted tray will also read MP3 and WMA files, as will the front-mounted USB host port. Radio is also supported, but only FM, with no inbuilt DAB+ facility.
With two dials — one each for volume and bass control — we were expecting plenty of fine control over the output of the RV-NB70B. On the volume control front that's true, with thirty different volume settings, meaning that you can twirl the right-hand knob to your heart's content — or at least until your eardrums bleed. The left-hand bass-control knob, by comparison, is something of a letdown, with only six different bass levels. Not only does this rob you of fine control, but it also means that you'll flick through all six settings in less than a quarter turn of the dial, making it a little on the pointless side. You could avoid both with the provided remote control, if that's more to your taste.
Audio quality was fair for the kinds of music that are most likely to appeal to BoomBlaster owners. It's less compelling to run strings-heavy classical music through a unit like this than heavy metal, in other words. It neatly avoids the issue that plagues many smaller iPod docks when playing bass-heavy music; the unit itself is large enough to absorb notes rather than rattle with them at higher volumes.
The front casing for the iPod dock makes the RV-NB70B a little tricky to use with iPhones and iPod Touches, but what surprised us was that despite the rest of the RV-NB70B being solidly constructed, the front-locking catch for the iPod dock was rather loose. Crank up the right bass-heavy tracks as we did, and you may find it popping open at inopportune times. It was a surprise to us that this happened so often; otherwise, the RV-NB70B is very solidly built, and for the kind of core market that'll pop for this kind of bass-heavy player, it's very well suited.