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Monster SuperStar review: Monster's answer to the Mini Jambox

Monster's answer to the Mini Jambox is billed as the world's smallest audiophile Bluetooth speaker.

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, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
2 min read

Monster bills the SuperStar, a slim, splash-resistant wireless speaker, as "the world's smallest audiophile Bluetooth speaker."

6.9

Monster SuperStar

The Good

The Monster SuperStar has a compact, slim design, making it very travel-friendly. It plays loud for its size, has a built-in speakerphone, and is splash-resistant.

The Bad

Distorts at higher volumes, particularly with bass-heavy material, and is a bit overpriced at $130.

The Bottom Line

While it doesn't live up to its billing as "the world's smallest audiophile Bluetooth speaker," the Monster SupersStar has some nice attributes, including a slim, splash-resistant design and built-in speakerphone.

While that certainly catches your attention, I haven't run across too many tiny Bluetooth speakers that would impress audiophiles. And I'm not sure the SuperStar will either. That doesn't mean it's a bad little speaker. It's just not a superstar.

Available for around $130 online (£100, no Australian pricing yet), the 7-ounce (198-gram) speaker comes in a few different color options. I like its form factor and it has a nice, soft-to-the-touch silicone cover that wraps around its plastic body. You can prop the speaker up vertically or lay it down horizontally and the the two small drivers fire upward while the bass port on the back reflects off a surface.

Monster Superstar product photos

See all photos

With a built-in microphone, it has speakerphone capabilities (it performed pretty well in my tests), and there's a line input for non-Bluetooth devices. It charges via micro USB and offers about 5 hours of battery life, which is pretty average for this class of speaker.

There are volume controls on top of the speaker but no pause/play or transport controls (skip track forward/back). I had no problem pairing the speaker with an iPhone 5S and a Samsung Galaxy GS5 and it managed to hold a steady connection.

Like Jawbone's Jambox speakers, the SuperStar has an internal voice (it's female) that announces when the speaker is powered on and when it's powering off.

monster-superstar07.jpg
The speaker with its protective cover removed. Sarah Tew/CNET

Performance

As far as sound goes, the SuperStar's got some bass but not a ton of it. There's a reasonable amount of clarity at low to mid volume levels.

Like a lot of these little speakers it plays loud for its size, but it also distorts with certain tracks at higher volumes. With acoustical material it sounds good, but throw anything at it with a lot of bass, and it can get crunchy. Coldplay's "A Sky Full of Stars" distorted at about 75 percent volume, as did American Authors' "Best Day of My Life." The speaker really couldn't handle Tiesto's remix of "Clarity" and other techno tracks.

The long and short of it is that the SuperStar really doesn't stand out from the rest of the micro-Bluetooth speaker pack in the sound department. It's not bad, but it's just not great.

monster-superstar01.jpg
The built-in speakerphone offers decent performance. Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion

I like this speaker, particularly its design, but there are other speakers out there that sound as good or better, and cost less. The Jawbone Mini Jambox , for instance, which is built better and sounds better (and has come down in price). And the JBL Flip 2 , which can be had for around $99, £110, or AU$150.

And that's what Monster's SuperStar should cost. Or less.

6.9

Monster SuperStar

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Sound 7Value 6