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Monster SuperStar BackFloat review: A buoyant Bluetooth speaker with a thick skin

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The Good The Monster SuperStar BackFloat is a portable Bluetooth speaker with a tough outer shell that protects it from water, dirt and dust. As the name implies, it can also float on its back with the speaker pointed up to add music to a pool party. It also includes a well-padded play-through case and features speakerphone capabilities.

The Bad It's more expensive than competing waterproof speakers, it can't handle deep bass well, and the sound distorts at higher volumes.

The Bottom Line The Monster SuperStar BackFloat's sound quality won't blow you away, but its travel-friendly design and unique ability to float on water makes it a fun accessory for your next pool party.

6.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Sound 6
  • Value 6

I've reviewed a handful of ruggedized portable Bluetooth speakers in the past, but the waterproof Monster SuperStar BackFloat is unique, thanks to its ability to float on its back with the speaker firing up in the air -- the company makes it a point to encourage users to throw it in the pool.

It comes with an acoustically transparent mesh case that protects it even further if you're playing it in rough environments, and I like how it easy it is to remove and clean the silicone skin that wraps around the speaker.

The price is ambitious at $150 (no UK or Australian pricing available right now, but it converts to roughly £95 or AU$207) for a speaker that distorts at high volumes, but if you can find it for less, the Monster SuperStar BackFloat could be a fun addition to a pool party, camping trip or even the bathtub.

Design

Unlike the nonrugged Monster SuperStar speaker , the BackFloat has both speaker drivers and the passive bass radiator on the front of the unit. Most of the speaker's casing is matte-black, but you can choose between neon-green or neon-blue trim, which seems like slim pickings compared to the UE Roll , another waterproof Bluetooth speaker that comes in a variety of bright designs.

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The speaker gets its waterproofing from a removable silicone skin that surrounds the bottom of the unit and snaps into a lip around the top edge. Monster receives a toughness classification from the International Protection Marking standard that rates the degree of environmental protection for electronic devices. The BackFloat earned an IPX6 rating, which means it can officially withstand a powerful jet of water for at least three minutes.

In our anecdotal tests, the speaker survived a handful of sustained underwater dunks and streams of water from a showerhead with no issues, but we wouldn't recommend you keep it submerged for more than a few minutes at a time. If you decide to play music on dry land, you can also prop the speaker up vertically and aim it wherever you please.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The right side of the BackFloat has a pull-down window that covers a 3.5-inch auxiliary port for connecting external devices directly to the speaker, as well as a Micro-USB port for recharging the internal battery. Monster rates the battery life at seven hours on a full charge, and the unit will automatically power off after an hour of inactivity.

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