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

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.