Creative, a company known for its PC audio products, has recently introduced their new portable Bluetooth speaker, the Woof 3. Instantly the product stood out in our minds, for not only the looks but also the fact that it’s a Bluetooth speaker for calls and boasts WAV/FLAC/APE playback. FLAC? Are we talking of audiophile grade output in a *gasp* Bluetooth speaker? Let’s find out.
Build and Design: 8/10
Woof 3 is a small speaker; Creative themselves call it “Micro-sized”. In comparison to a regular 200 ml tea/coffee cup, it is actually smaller, so much so that you can fit this little speaker in it.
One look at the speaker and you know this is a speaker that stands out. The upper sturdily designed grill gives it a masculine look.
This is a much-needed shift from the previous Woof and Woof 2 designs which while not bad, looked more like inverted teacups out of a B-grade sci-fi movie.
The speaker itself weighs 237g with most of its weight being dead centre. By no means heavy but you’ll notice the weight if carrying in say your purse or bag.
Pairing the speakers is simple and straight forward as long as you follow the guidelines suggested. The speaker’s ON/OFF switch is below and out of the way so as not to break the design sense. When the speaker comes on, it makes the familiar Creative products start-up sound (similar to the sound of Creative CD-ROM drives back in the day) with a female voice indicating pairing or searching for a device. Voice feedback has now become a common feature in premium Bluetooth speakers.
Behind you’ll find the micro-USB port, aux 3.5mm jack, microSD card slot (inserted) and a little red light above to indicate charging.
What’s in the box?
The box comes well-packaged. You have all the essentials, the product, micro-USB cable that doubles for charging as well as for data, product registration and the manual; but no aux cable. Do note, due to the aux-in capability and USB host audio support, the speaker essentially doubles up as a PC/Mac speaker too.
The manual is a special mention as it’s quite well designed. It doesn’t bore you with lines of text to tell you where what is; it just points you through line drawings across several pages. A few things on the Woof 3 aren’t obvious (like the volume control) which one look at the manual clears it for you. Bad design or obvious effects of over-simplification? I leave that up to you.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the speaker is loud and clear at the same time. Speakers of this size are notorious for being loud but having muffled sound, Woof 3 stays far away from this problem.
Being the minuscule size that it is, instantly expectations are set. The speakers can handle highs and mids well, but not deep bass. However, this doesn’t mean bass sounds bad, quite the contrary. I was taken by surprise as to the capability of this tiny little speaker to handle bass admirably well while playing Flo Rida’s - Right Round track without distorting or jumping (from the desk) to deliver sound.
Funnily when it comes to deeper sounds, the speaker vibrates but cannot produce audible enough sound; however you can feel the vibration on the table which honestly adds to the experience. The vibration can be pleasantly therapeutic when listening to calming western classical music like Canon by The London Symphony Orchestra.
The vocals are the sweet spot of these speakers; midrange is where the speaker does shine well. This serves really well not only in vocal heavy tracks such as Corrs - Everybody Hurts (unplugged) but also when speaking on the phone through the speakers. Creative Woof 3 has been smartly designed keeping these two primary things in mind well.
The highs are good though not super crisp. You’ll not see the speaker unnecessarily creating harsher sounds which irritate the ear, especially when listening to Rock and Heavy Metal genres. The tracks such as Eagles' Get over it, Metallica's Enter sandman and Megadeth’s Almost Honest sounded right but did leave me wanting more rounded sound which only bigger speakers can deliver.
One thing of note in these kinds of portable speakers is that where you place it is equally important. As placing it in a corner will enhance sound output while placing the speaker facing away from you or among soft cushions (that absorb sound) will muffle your sound experience. Remember where you place it creates a sound enclosure like a speaker box for it.
I was very curious at first what the FLAC, APE, WAV support that this device claims is about. Basically, Woof 3 can play all these formats easily which is a nice touch but really speaking it’s just marketing, as once you do mention these formats, you would instantly associate audiophile grade-ness to this speaker which isn’t the case. Honestly, the support of these formats is a nice convenience to have but will not reflect in sound output. With this grade of speaker, you will not be able to tell MP3 sound from FLAC apart.
The only way one can play, pause, skip tracks is via these three keys. It plays just like iPod shuffle; it randomises tracks without knowing which track is playing due to lack of display. What is nice is that it starts from where you left off when you switch on the device.
There is no way to fast forward tracks, which isn’t a biggie. However, the only way to play with the volume is to press and hold previous or next track key. This can get quite annoying as you or someone else unacquainted with the speaker can mistakenly skip tracks instead trying to increase or decrease volume.
Call Quality: 8/10
The microphone is in front of the device and does a good job of catching the speakers’ voice. However, if by chance the listener cannot hear loudly enough, go closer but not directly in front of the mic, this only makes things muffled to the listener. When testing we found the voice clarity clear and good, though sounded a little distant to the listener.
Since the speaker is loud and can handle voice well, it doubles up as a great accompaniment for conference calls.
This little wonder houses a 500mAh battery, which lasts about six hours. That’s plenty for playback time. You’ll notice a red light indicator when the battery is running low otherwise, a healthy blue means everything’s good to go. You needn’t carry the micro-USB cable as your phone charger can easily charge this in a jiffy.
Verdict and Price in India
So who let the dogs out? Most certainly Creative did with the Woof 3. This little unassuming speaker is small but yet sufficiently loud and clear in sound for its size. It is definitely recommended if you are looking for a good portable Bluetooth speaker that can double as a conference call device with additional microSD card support. However, the asking price of Rs. 3,999 may not suit everyone’s pockets. However for a killer price of Rs.2,500 (online), it’s a fantastic bluetooth speaker.
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