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Tribit XSound Go review: An excellent mini speaker for the money

While its name makes you think of those lovable critters from Star Trek, the Tribit XSound Go distinguishes itself in a crowded field of generic mini Bluetooth speakers.

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David Carnoy
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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 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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What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word "Tribit?" Maybe a travel app. Or a fridge-friendly Alexa device. Or a critter from Star Trek. But probably not a portable Bluetooth speaker.

tribit
8.2

Tribit XSound Go

The Good

The Tribit XSound Go is a budget-priced Bluetooth speaker that sounds good for its size and price. It's attractively designed and is waterproof.

The Bad

It has trouble with complicated tracks. There's some bass, just not a lot.

The Bottom Line

For an inexpensive Bluetooth speaker, the Tribit XSound Go is hard to beat.

But that's just what the Tribit XSound Go is -- and a cheap one at that, going for $36 on Amazon for the black version and $40 for the blue one. It's £36 in the UK, but not yet available in Australia (the UK price converts to about AU$65).

From the pictures you see online, there isn't much to distinguish the Tribit from other generic Chinese speakers. But in person it feels sturdy enough and has an understated matte-finished exterior that seems like it should hold up well over time. It weighs in at 13.4 ounces (380 grams).

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Unboxed.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The speaker is fully waterproof (IPX7 rated) and comes with a lanyard that allows you to hang the speaker from a shower head, a tree branch or anything that has a hook. It has an auxiliary input and a built-in microphone for making speakerphone calls. (Don't expect business-grade performance, but it works acceptably well.)

Battery life is rated at an impressive 24 hours at medium volume levels, so it's packing a fairly large battery that probably contributes a fair amount of weight to the overall package. The only downside is that the speaker takes around 4 hours to fully charge via Micro-USB.

Part of the Tribit XSound XS's claim to fame is that it's Wirecutter's pick for best budget Bluetooth speaker, a fact that's been shamelessly incorporated into the speaker's name on Amazon.

Does it truly merit such a distinction? Well, I haven't tested every cheap portable Bluetooth on Amazon, so I can't definitively say it's the best budget Bluetooth speaker out there. But I can say that, for the money, it's certainly one of the better ones I've tested.

It manages to play loud for its small size and more importantly, it sounds pretty natural, with decent clarity. We threw the new David Byrne album, American Utopia, and Lindi Ortega's Liberty at it and came away reasonably impressed when it actually sounded OK.

For kicks I had Steve Guttenberg, who writes CNET's Audiophiliac blog (about high-end audio) sit in on the listening session with me. He usually cringes when I play music through one of these tiny Bluetooth speakers, but his face remained fairly placid as I played the tracks.

"Not bad for $35," he said.

Actually, $36, but close enough.

We both agreed that the company's assertion that the speaker had "stunning rich bass" was a bit of an exaggeration. When I played some Weeknd, Drake and various electronic dance music selections, the bass punch was a little weak, but at least it was there -- not enough to knock anybody out, but just enough to give it a fighting chance with a tough critic.

Like most of these small speakers, it had some trouble with complicated music, in which a lot of instruments are playing simultaneously. And at higher volumes you'll get a touch of distortion so you'll be better off keeping the volume below 80 percent. But that's par for the course for compact Bluetooth speakers.

Other speakers I've liked in this price range include the Oontz Angle 3 Plus and Anker Soundcore 2. The Tribit's right there with the Oontz in terms of sound quality, and some might say it sounds a touch better, but the Tribit gets the nod for looks and design.

While you can nitpick about a few small shortcomings, and its claims of stunning bass, it's a terrific little speaker for the money.

tribit
8.2

Tribit XSound Go

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Sound 7Value 9