Urge Basics Soundbrick Bluetooth speaker review: A simple but solid wireless speaker

My only serious gripe about the design is the blue light on the front of the speaker. It goes on when the speaker goes on (along with a short beep) but then pulsates after you've paired the speaker with your smartphone (or other device). Some people won't mind that flashing light, but others will find it really annoying. Ideally, of course, you should be able to turn it off.

There's a Micro-USB port for charging along with an audio input and output. Sarah Tew/CNET

While the Soundbrick doesn't have a USB port for charging devices (with some speakers, you can use the unit's built-in battery to charge your smartphone and other portable devices), the feature set is pretty solid. I though the speakerphone worked OK not great -- you do have to be fairly close to the microphone for callers to hear you well -- but at least the capability is there for those who need it.

Beyond the reasonably good design and feature set, the real reason to consider this speaker is that it sounds OK. No, you shouldn't expect fantastic sound, but it does sound less tinny compared with some other speakers in this price class. It's got a bit more bass (the bass port is on the bottom of the speaker), and while you'll get some distortion when you crank the volume on the speaker and your device, the sound holds up pretty well and has a reasonable amount of detail.

The pause/play button doubles as a call answer/end button. Sarah Tew/CNET

It's not going to sound as good as the Jawbone Jambox (the Jambox delivers more bass), but then again it costs less than half the price. Speakers such as the $99 JBL Flip will produce bigger sound (the Soundbrick plays fairly loud, but not as loud as the Flip). The $50 Oontz by Cambridge SoundWorks sounds slightly better (the Oontz sounds slightly smoother with a touch less harshness in the treble), though I did prefer the Soundbrick's design. Smaller speakers such as the Divoom Bluetune Solo and Philips Soundshooter Wireless don't deliver quite as much bass, but most of these inexpensive mini speakers sound comparatively thin.

Conclusion
I wasn't able to compare the Urge Basics Soundbrick to every no-name speaker out there, so I can't tell you whether competitors like the $39.99 Photive Cyren or Kinivo BTX270 sound better for less. All I can tell you is that the Soundbrick has a simple, decent design, a solid feature set, and has a bit more bass and sounds better than some of the other "budget" Bluetooth speakers. At $60, it's priced pretty well, but I do think that with all the competition, it will have to dip below $50 to be considered a true bargain.

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Urge Basics Soundbrick (white)

Part Number: UG-SNDBRCKWHT Released: Mar. 7, 2013
Low Price: $34.95 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Mar. 7, 2013
  • Color White
  • Wireless Technology Bluetooth 2.0
  • Connectivity Technology Wired
    Wireless
  • Speaker Type Portable Bluetooth speaker