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Divoom Voombox Outdoor review: A Bluetooth contender but not quite a champion

While it falls short of greatness, the sub-$100 Voombox Outdoor is water-resistant and puts out a lot of sound for its small size.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
3 min read

The Divoom Voombox Outdoor is a compact, water-resistant, wireless Bluetooth device that's designed -- you guessed it -- for outdoor use. With a list price of $100 USD or £100 (you can find it online for 10 to 20 percent less), it's the step-up model to Divoom's hockey-puck sized Voombox Travel, and produces good (though not great) sound for both its size and price point.

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7.9

Divoom Voombox Outdoor

The Good

The Divoom Voombox Outdoor is compact, rugged wireless Bluetooth speaker that's splashproof and plays very loud for its size. It's equipped with Bluetooth 4.0 and has a built-in speakerphone. It's well suited for casual listening outdoors.

The Bad

While it sounds good with many tracks, it can also have a harsh edge to it at higher volumes.

The Bottom Line

While Voombox Outdoor doesn't quite knock it out of the park with its sound quality, it plays very loudly for its size and offers a sturdy build quality for an affordable price.

This ruggedized model comes in a few different trim colors, including the red you see pictured here, as well as blue, olive green, and all black. Weighing in at 1.6 pounds or 726 grams, the speaker seems sturdily built and has a set of sealed, rubberized buttons on top of the unit, including a pause/play button and volume controls.

To prevent water from entering the Micro-USB charging port and audio input on the side, there's a rubber gasket that seals everything off. Unlike some speakers that are completely waterproof, this one is only rated as being splashproof.

As far as other extras go, there's a built-in speakerphone -- it worked well so long as I stayed close to the speaker -- and the speaker is equipped with Bluetooth 4.0, which makes pairing with your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or tablet that much easier.

Battery life is rated at 12 hours at moderate volume levels, and on iOS devices, a battery-life indicator is shown in the top-right corner of your screen.

Performance

That 12 hours of battery life is above average for this type of mini speaker. I thought it sounded good for what it is, but critical listeners will find fault with it. It's got a pair of combo mid/sub drivers and a single tweeter, along with two passive bass radiators. It's rare to see that many drivers in a speaker this size, and it does produce a lot of volume for a mini speaker.

For the average listener, it's easy to be initially impressed by the sound. For starters, it offers decent clarity, and the bass has some kick to it. As I said, it plays loudly, which seems to be the element that most impresses people when dealing with a very compact wireless speaker.

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The buttons on top of the unit are sealed off and repel water. Sarah Tew/CNET

However, the problem with judging these speakers is that they often sound quite respectable with certain music tracks and not so good with others. And that's the case here, too.

Where a company like Bose excels with its Bluetooth speakers is that they manage to make everything sound OK, which is a feat unto itself in the Bluetooth speaker arena. Simply put, a more expensive speaker like the Bose SoundLink Mini ($200) is a more consistent speaker. So, too, is Sony SRS-X5 ($200). They both sound smoother and more natural, and they are more pleasant to listen to.

The Voombox Outdoor serves up its share of good moments, but sometimes I found myself turning down the volume because it exhibited a harsh edge (it's not a warm speaker). For instance, I had to turn down The American Authors' "Best Day of My Life" because the speaker was distorting, and I found the sound grating.

I fired up Coldplay's "Sky Full of Stars" and liked what I heard for about the first 45 seconds or so (the speaker filled a bedroom at around 70 percent volume). But when the chorus kicked in with a harder bass line, I had to turn the speaker down -- once again, the harsh edge reared its ugly head.

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A rubber gasket covers the Micro-USB charging port and audio input. Sarah Tew/CNET

After listening to the speaker for a few days, I came away feeling a little torn about its performance. On one the one hand, it sounds as good as or better than many speakers in its size and price class. But it also exhibits some flaws. Namely, it distorts with more complicated and bass heavy-tracks at higher volumes and at times sounds canned (it tries to mimic larger, fuller sounding speakers, but doesn't quite get there).

Conclusion

Divoom's Bluetooth speakers are typically decent value propositions and I think their build quality has gotten better. While they exhibit some performance flaws when pushed, they still manage to sound comparatively decent for the money.

I also liked Divoom's smaller Voombox Travel ($50 USD, £35) and think it's a better choice -- certainly a better value -- for people who want a speaker to carry around in their laptop bag or luggage in general. But this Voombox Outdoor, while a little generic looking, is the better choice if you want a speaker that can output more volume to a larger space.

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7.9

Divoom Voombox Outdoor

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Sound 7Value 8
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