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Soundfreaq Sound Kick SFQ-04 review: Soundfreaq Sound Kick SFQ-04

Most of the buttons are touch-sensitive, and there's a dedicated pairing button.

Soundfreaq doesn't include a remote control with the unit, but it doesn't need one: your smartphone or tablet will suffice. Soundfreaq does offer a free remote app for iOS and Android devices. It doesn't really do anything but put a skin on your music player. But hey, it's free, so who's complaining.

As for sound, I thought it was quite decent for a compact speaker that's priced at $99, but it does have its limitations. The Sound Kick can play louder than smaller speakers like the Jawbone Jambox and Logitech Mini Boombox, plus it delivers slightly richer sound. Also, it can handle more volume without distortion so long as you engage the UQ3 "spatial enhancer" circuitry, which essentially optimizes the performance of the speaker. You'll want to keep it on all the time, which makes you wonder why Soundfeaq didn't just bake it into the speaker and do away with the button.

Overall the speaker's sound is pretty detailed. Like a lot of these compact speakers, it's strongest in the midrange and sounds best with acoustical material and lighter fare, particularly ballads. As I said, you can play it fairly loud, but it's really best not to push it too hard. I left the volume high on the unit itself, then tended to ratchet back the volume on my iPhone, playing a variety of music that included lossless tracks and tracks streamed from Spotify. The sound was pleasant at around a 60-70 percent volume level.

While Sound Kick offers some bass, it doesn't offer much kick. Hip-hop and electronica tracks sounded thin and restrained and the unit doesn't deliver near the same amount of bass as the Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile Bluetooth speaker. The SoundLink isn't much bigger than the Sound Kick but starts at $300 and produces much better sound. No, that's not a fair comparison, but I thought I should throw the Sound Kick up against the best and see what it could do.

Other options in this general price range are the Creative D100, which costs less but is less easily portable, and Logitech's Wireless Boombox for iPad, which is larger and costs a little more but sounds better.

The Sound Kick does have a better design than both those models and in the final analysis it offers a good balance of design, performance, and price. In short, I recommend it.

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