Before we start, you should know that I don’t have much of a fondness for expensive speakers. In my experience, expensive speakers are either mediocre and are priced based on name, or are awful and are priced based on features and gimmicks that I would consider useless. Hence my strong dislike for the original Jambox.
So when I was offered to review the Grain Audio Packable Wireless Speaker, I was honestly not sure what to expect. I thought it would be another speaker that’s way too expensive and doesn’t sound as good as the price would suggest, though it looked nice. Boy was I wrong.
Battery: 8 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth 3.0 + A2DP with aptX, 3.5mm aux
Dimensions: 7 x 2 3/8 x 3 1/8 (W x D x H) inches
Charging port: Micro USB
In the box: speaker, wall adapter, USB cable, 3.5mm cable, pouch
Where to buy: Grain Audio
Instead of throwing feature after feature at this speaker, Grain Audio made it as simple as possible. The body is clean, with few buttons and nothing that catches your eye. It doesn’t have many features other than speakers that play music. All the money went into sound design, which I love. The only feature that was added was audio alerts for power on and off, as well as pairing mode. It’s a nice touch, and not annoying like other speakers can be.
This speaker takes on a minimalist theme. The front is a plain grill, no logos. Around the edges is beautiful, finished walnut.
The top features three rubber buttons. The volume up and down buttons, and a G button in the center. This button turns the speaker on and off, plays and pauses the music, and displays the battery level via the LED inside.
The right side features just a 3.5mm aux jack and the microUSB charging port.
The left side features an engraved logo.
That’s it. There’s nothing else to see, the speaker is as simple as can be.
This speaker is built exceptionally well, as it should be for the price tag. It’s hefty without being heavy, and there is absolutely zero flex in the body. The gray rubber edges are smooth and perfectly finished, the metal grills are simple and attractive, the buttons feel great, and the wood is absolutely beautiful.
This speaker is surrounded in walnut, both for an expensive build and for its audio capabilities. The wood is finished, but all the grain is visible and the wood is slightly rough. This gives the speaker a very natural look instead of the glossy fake-looking wood you sometimes see.
Everything about this speaker feels fantastic. The rubber feet are grippy and solid, the logo cut into the side is subtle but nice, and it just feels every bit as expensive as it looks.
A speaker would be nothing without good audio, and this is where many expensive speakers just don’t impress. And for the first few seconds I turned it on and listened, I wasn’t sure what to think. At full volume, it wasn’t very loud. There wasn’t punchy bass. It just didn’t seem like this is all a $250 speaker could put out.
But I kept listening, and it dawned on me: This speaker sounded absolutely unlike any other Bluetooth speaker I have ever heard. While I usually rate speakers on their clarity and balance in sound, this one is on a whole different level.
There’s something about the sound that is just pleasant. The sound is warm and deep, a sound that fills the soul with music. All the highs are perfectly clear and have absolutely no shrillness, something that is quite common with Bluetooth speakers. The lows aren’t thumping, but they’re powerful and well-defined. Every different note can be distinguished, and the bass guitar in metal just comes alive. And the mids, they’re just so warm and deep and rich. I guess that wooden enclosure really does its job! Plus it’s loud enough to fill a medium sized room. It’s not very loud, but it’s no slouch in the volume department
Yeah, it’s not an everyday speaker. It isn’t the kind of speaker that can do it all, like the Sound Kick 2 managed to achieve. But what it’s made for, it blows away the competition. It’s made for listening, for paying attention to the music. It’s made for letting yourself go for a ride, and the sound quality does exactly that.
There is one small quirk with the sound though. When the bass goes away in some songs, the speaker gets a bit louder. When the bass comes back, it gets quieter again. It only happens when all low instruments go away, like during a vocal only segment. It’s a very minor and rare annoyance.
The battery life is rated at 8 hours, and you’ll get somewhere around that depending on the volume. At full volume, it lasted quite close to 8 hours, which is a good thing. 8 hours is pretty good battery life for a Bluetooth speaker, though maybe a few more hours should have been offered for the price.
The device charges quickly through the microUSB port, which is excellent.
The actual speaker has no extra features. It’s not splash-proof, it doesn’t have a mic and speakerphone capabilities, and it doesn’t charge other devices. But the accessories it comes with are nice. It comes with a long gray microUSB cable and even a Grain Audio USB wall adapter, which is nice. There is also a 3.5mm cable and a pouch. Surprisingly, the pouch was the most disappointing part of all this, as it feels pretty cheap. But it snugly holds the speaker and that’s what matters.
The box it comes with is also very nicely designed, which adds to the good experience.
I know it seems like I’m raving about this speaker. It’s because I am. Everything about it is focused on audio quality, no frills and no distractions (and no equalizers). Just a beautiful speaker with beautiful sound. The audio quality of this speaker is like no other I’ve tried, and it makes the seemingly ridiculous $250 price tag worth every penny.
Let’s be fair here. If I were to rate it for the everyman, my rating wouldn’t be nearly as high. It’s not the speaker most people would find useful. It’s not super portable, it’s not super long lasting, it’s not super loud or bassy. Most people just wouldn’t value it. It’s for the audiophile.
If you are an audiophile and want a Bluetooth speaker, give this one some consideration. It’s expensive, but the feeling the audio gives you is amazing.