If you are familiar with this column, you are quite likely familiar with my obsession with Bluetooth noisemakers. This was a very good year for wireless speaker technology. The two that have been chosen for this gift guide are truly the best of the best of all the ones I’ve tested this year and for totally different reasons.
The Fugoo Tough is pretty expensive, but it is also bombproof and it has a rich, full sound that just cannot be beat. The Monoprice Portable Bluetooth NFC Brick Speaker (10949) will only set you back about 35 bucks, it pushes out a fair deal of sound and it is dead simple to operate. The Fugoo represents a no holds barred approach to making the best Bluetooth speaker out there while the 10949 is the perfect example of getting more for less.
The surprisingly hefty Core-X (13.65-ounces) is a thing of engineering mastery the likes of which I’ve yet to encounter with any of the Bluetooth speakers I’ve tested. Fugoo has packed four active drivers and two passive radiators into its airtight chassis to provide clean, bright highs and deep, rich lows, and since these speakers are mounted left, right, front, and back, you get an immersive, 360 degree listening experience. It is simply one of the best sounding Bluetooth speakers on the market today.
The great sound, though, initially seemed to come at the expense of giant volume. When I first started testing the Fugoo Tough, I liked everything about it except for its limited volume. For something designed to be used in the great outdoors, it seemed a little odd that it just would not get seriously loud. Thankfully, this issue has been resolved with a firmware update (version 1.00.36 – beta), and now the Tough really pushes the tunes, and since it also features a Digital Signal Processor that dynamically adjusts the bass, mid-range, and highs as the volume is adjusted, it never emits the dreaded bass fart noise that is common to so many Bluetooth speakers. Good job, Fugoo!
The 10949 isn’t touted as tougher than the average NFC (near field communication) pairing, 3 watts per channel, Bluetooth 4.0 wireless speaker, but it is. After a month of bouncing around in my bag, nothing has shaken loose from this little black brick. The sound quality is as good as it was on day one, and thanks to its grippy, soft-touch exterior, it has yet to show any signs of wear.
Pairing a mobile phone to the Brick using the NFC feature is about as easy as anything could be. All you have to do is turn on the NFC feature on the phone, then turn the Brick on, then touch the two together. Once that is done, you can wander about blasting The Cure feeling good about yourself while looking a little morose.
The overall sound quality of the 10949 is really good. No weird buzzing, hissing, wow, or flutter emanates from its two speakers, and it can handle everything but the deepest of bass notes at maximum volume. At the $35 ($34.83 to be exact) price point, you’d be hard pressed to find a better Bluetooth speaker.
For more information about Fugoo, click here. For more information about Monoprice, click here. As you would suspect, both companies are offering killer deals for Black Friday.