Gear4 Blackbox review: Gear4 Blackbox

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Pairing was a simple affair but needs to be done within the first three minutes of the system being switched on.

We started our performance stress-test with a fiercely heavy track by Dream Theater, Dark Eternal Night. The exceptionally loud twin kick drums and a variety of cymbals, layers of thick guitars and keyboards, combine together to make a difficult song for smaller systems to reproduce. As we expected, the Blackbox struggled to retain definition as the song progressed. Metalheads should probably look away.

Moving to some pop, however, We Get On by Kate Nash sounded much better. Her distinct London vocals were powerfully emitted from each of the 12W speakers and sounded fantastic over the mix of piano, quiet drums and tambourines. Similarly, the dirty club track Yeah Yeah from Bodyrox and Luciana was given a great reproduction and wouldn't struggle to fill a teen's bedroom.

Each 12W speaker is mounted on either side of the unit, creating a very wide sound. There's a good deal of separation between each audio channel -- quite unusual for small systems. Festival goers note: the Blackbox can hit a decent volume, and would fit well next to the beers and barbecues within the tent circle.

This isn't a product everyone should consider; it offers decent enough sound quality, but the lack of EQ options and extra functionality limit its usefulness. However, if you're fond of using your music phone, or if you fancy a portable and wireless audio system, perhaps for festivals and camping trips, the Blackbox is quite nice indeed.

A great alternative for iPod owners would be Griffin's superb Amplifi -- it offers a massive sound, solid build, a built-in subwoofer and it costs just £90.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday