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Klipsch Groove review: This mini Bluetooth speaker packs some punch

With a 3-inch driver and two passive bass radiators, Klipsch's latest mini Bluetooth speaker delivers a sonic wallop. But don't turn the volume up too high.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy

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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 e-reader and e-publishing expert. He's also the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks and Nook e-books, as well as audiobooks.

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Klipsch calls its Groove mini Bluetooth speaker "insanely powerful" and there's a little bit of truth to that statement -- relatively speaking, anyway.

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7.2

Klipsch Groove

The Good

The Klipsch Groove is a compact, durable mini Bluetooth speaker that's splashproof and sounds good for its size, with a 3-inch driver and two passive bass radiators.

The Bad

Distorts at higher volumes; somewhat expensive; no speakerphone capabilities; a bit too heavy for easy travel.

The Bottom Line

While the price should be about a third lower, Klipsch's Groove mini Bluetooth speaker is well designed and packs a punch.

The 4-inch tall Groove is equipped with 10 watts of power, a large 3-inch driver and two side-firing passive bass radiators. Weighing 1.7 pounds, it has some nice heft to it (though you wouldn't want to travel with it), seems durable, and has a splashproof design (IPX4 rating) that makes it suitable for outdoor use. It lists for $150 in the US. (It isn't available yet in the UK or Australia, but that price converts to about £103 and AU$211.)

Compared to other very compact Bluetooth speakers, the Groove indeed plays loud for its size and produces a surprising amount of bass. Hide it in a room and chances are people will think the sound is coming from a much larger speaker.

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The Groove has a single large 3-inch driver and two passive bass radiators.

Klipsch

I like that Klipsch didn't make this a stereo speaker. As it is, these types of small portable speakers never have any stereo separation, so having a single driver is OK by me.

On the feature side, the one omission is the lack of speakerphone capabilities. That's a little strange, considering this speaker would look right at home on an office desk (I can also see it on a nightstand, in a bathroom or a kitchen), but it's hardly a deal-breaker. But it does have a pause/play button and volume controls on top of the speaker, as well as an audio input and Micro-USB charging port on the back behind a gasket that keeps out any moisture.

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Top view of the speaker.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Battery life is rated 8 hours, which is pretty much the standard these days for small Bluetooth speakers, and I had no problem getting through the day at moderate volume levels. Using it at the office and at home I did a little better than the typical 10 meters/33 feet for the wireless range and managed to hold a steady connection once I paired my iPhone 6S with the speaker (I also tested it with a Samsung Galaxy S6).

Performance

Like with most of these small Bluetooth speakers, the Groove sounds quite good with some tracks but runs into trouble at higher volume with other tracks. With a ballad like Mr. Probz' "Nothing Really Matters," which features mostly vocals, strings and piano, the speaker sounded impressive for its size and particularly strong with vocals (midrange).

But move on to Chairlift's bass-heavy "Show You Off" and crank the volume, and you get some noticeable distortion and things start to sound pretty crunchy. The Chemical Brother's "Wide Open," which doesn't seem like an incredibly demanding track, also distorted pretty bad at high volumes. Roger Daltrey's "After the Fire" sounded fine at mid-level volumes but when I pushed the volume up it got a little raspy.

The moral of the story is these speakers can play loud -- and be "insanely powerful" for their size -- but they have problems when you push them. Klipsch could limit the distortion by programming the DSP (digital signal processor) to limit the top volume of the speaker. But then it wouldn't play as loud.

Sounds good, but should be cheaper

Despite its distortion issues at high volumes, which is par for the course for most of these tiny speakers, I liked the Groove -- and liked it better than Klipsch's earlier Gig speaker (which started out at $200 but is now as low as $100). It does sound very good (for its size) at more moderate volume levels and seems well designed. But as crowded as the Bluetooth speaker market is, the Groove will probably have to get closer to a $100 price point to find its groove in the marketplace.

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7.2

Klipsch Groove

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Sound 7Value 7