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Tribit MaxSound Plus review: A small Bluetooth speaker grows up but maintains its value

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The Good For its size, the affordable Tribit MaxSound Plus delivers strong sound that's a nice jump in quality over the smaller XSound Go. It's fully waterproof, seems durable and has an attractive design with a more tastefully sized logo. Battery life is good at up 20 hours.

The Bad It takes a long time to fully charge.

The Bottom Line The well-designed Tribit MaxSound Plus is an excellent value and a strong contender in its mini Bluetooth speaker price class.

8.3 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Sound 8
  • Value 9

Last year I gave high marks to Tribit's XSound Go waterproof portable Bluetooth speaker, which sounded impressive for its small size and also had a decent design. 

That model's still around -- and is still a very good deal at a little more than $30 -- but now it has a big brother, the Tribit MaxSound Plus, which retails for $56 in the US and £56 in the UK. (It doesn't yet appear to be available in Australia, but the price converts roughly to AU$80.)

It looks very similar to the XSound Go, with the same rounded corners, but the MaxSound Plus looks to be about 30 percent larger and weighs 21 ounces (595 grams) to the XSound Go's 13.4 ounces (380 grams). This model is also IPX7 certified, which means it's fully waterproof and can be submersed in up to 3 feet (1 meter) of water for up to 30 minutes. We gave it a dunk and it survived.

The smaller XSound Go (left) compared to the MaxSound Plus (right).

Sarah Tew/CNET

Aside from its larger size, the MaxSound Plus has one small design change worth mentioning: The Tribit logo has been shrunk to a tasteful size. Needless to say, the large white lettering on the grill of the XSound Go looks a little garish.

As you might expect, the speaker's larger size -- and larger drivers -- help it produce bigger sound with more bass. Tribit lists the XSound Go as a 12-watt speaker while the MaxSound Plus gets a 24-watt spec. While there's no speakerphone functionality on this model, there's an extra bass button that rounds out the bass with a little more thump. You'll probably want to leave the bass boost on at all times, so it's a little silly that there's even a button for it, but it's one of those marketing gimmicks that companies like and apparently consumers fall for.

There's a fairly substantial jump in sound quality from the XSound Go to the MaxSound Plus. The new speaker just sounds more even and well balanced and doesn't strain to produce adequate bass. I say adequate because these compact speakers can only produce so much bass. In other words, don't expect the MaxSound Plus' bass to rattle the walls of your home. It can go deeper than the XSound Go, but it can't go that deep. (I don't want to raise your expectations too much).

With the smaller XSound Go, more rock-oriented tunes like The Smashing Pumpkins' "Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)" sound a little thin and don't come across so well. But listening to the same song on the MaxSound Plus you more apt to say to yourself, "Well, that sounds all right."

The MaxSound Plus adds a bass boost button (right) but leaves off speakerphone functionality.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The same goes for the baseline on The Police's "Tea in the Sahara" track. It seems restrained coming out of the XSound Go. But on the MaxSound Plus the bass has enough definition to sound like it's being produced by a bass guitar (you can visualize the instrument).

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