There are hundreds of portable Bluetooth speakers available online and offline in India. There were two things that caught my eye about the Pebble BassX Extreme - firstly, an IPX rating and secondly and more importantly, a promise of ‘Heavy Bass’ in a speaker this size. Raising expectations and not living up to them can be dangerous. So let’s see if this speaker rocks or gets rocked in this review.
Rugged build and splash-proof
This Pebble speaker is square-shaped measuring 15 cm x 15 cm and 5 cm thick. It has a rubberised finish, rounded edges and comes with a silicone handle. The build quality is quite solid, thanks to which, it is a bit on the heavier size at around 950 grams. It is certainly not pocketable but one can easily carry it around. I received the black variant for review which is pretty much entirely black. The monotony is broken only by a couple of metallic studs that hold the handle in place and a hint of blue on the speaker grille if you look through the pores at the front. Overall, no complaints about the looks.
You get buttons for play/pause, previous/next track, volume control and power embossed in a strip of silicone at the top along with a power LED. The connectivity and charging ports are at the back, again covered by a rubbery flap. All the silicone coating that the speaker is draped in makes it water-resistant to a point. The company specifies that the speaker is IPX4 rated splash-proof. In simple terms, IPX4 rating means that the product is either sweat resistant (in case of earphones) or can survive the odd splash (not dip) in this case. Given the amount of silicone used here, it wouldn’t be wrong for one to expect the Pebble BassX Extreme to be at least IPX6 rated water-resistant, but it isn’t.
‘Jack’ of all trades
This portable Bluetooth speaker has a pair of 2-inch drivers that delivers stereo sound and a passive radiator for bass. The total output is rated at 10W RMS. It has a 2200 mAh battery that claims to last up to 6 hours of music playback. It has a rated frequency response range between 90Hz to 20KHz and SNR >= 80dB. At the back, you also get an Aux input and a headphone out. I wasn’t surprised to see the Aux-in but having a headphone jack is somewhat unusual. However, it can have an interesting application.
You can connect the headphone out of the Pebble BassX Extreme to the input of a more powerful speaker system that lacks Bluetooth connectivity. Thus, you can connect your phone over Bluetooth to this Pebble speaker and have the output on the other speaker system. This is one of the applications that I can think of. Use your creativity for more. An Aux cable is bundled in the package along with a micro-USB cable for charging this speaker.
Punches above its weight, I meant size
Let’s start with syncing this speaker with your phone over Bluetooth. All you need to do is turn on the speaker, find it in the list of Bluetooth devices, select it and you are good to go. The Pebble BassX Extreme supports Bluetooth v4.2. You can see the battery level of the speaker on your phone once you sync with it but there are no indicator LEDs on the speaker itself, something I prefer to see on wireless speakers. Speaking of battery, the company claims a battery life of up to 6 hours, and during my testing, they comfortably lasted over 5 hours on a single charge which is above average for a speaker this size. It takes about 3 hours to charge this speaker completely.
Moving on to its audio performance, I quite liked what it offered for its price. I have been reviewing audio products for several years and know perfectly well that one needs to take the marketing jazz with a pinch of salt. Despite words like Heavy Bass, Massive Sound, Beast Mode On on the box, I kept my expectations in check and hence wasn’t disappointed with its overall output. I would advise you to do the same if you plan to buy the Pebble BassX Extreme. Another piece of advice, don’t keep this speaker right in front of your face or on a desk. Ideally, keep it on the floor for best results.
Coming back to the bass, to the company’s credit, this speaker does manage to deliver a reasonable amount of thump in sound. The amount of bass here is noticeably higher than speakers this size and in this price bracket, but don’t expect your furniture to tremble. What’s even better is that the speaker can get fairly loud to fill up a mid-sized room and does not crack even at peak volume. However, the bass starts to feel inadequate beyond 75% volume level. Going into the finer details of the sound output, the highs are decent and the vocals are clear for the most part but can sound a tad muffled in bass-heavy tracks (oh, the irony!).
The overall soundstage is fairly narrow but that’s the case with most wireless speakers in this segment. All and all, there’s a good amount of warmth in the sound output that I liked but nothing extraordinary that blew me away. The company specifies a Bluetooth range of up to 10 metres. The Pebble BassX Extreme worked seamlessly when kept 7 metres away from the phone without any obstruction in between. With a concrete wall in between, I could still connect and play without a stutter till 4.5 to 5 metres. These figures are perfectly acceptable.
This Pebble somewhat rocks
The Pebble BassX Extreme is priced at Rs 3,499 with 6 months replacement guarantee. You can get it for 20 percent lower on Amazon India. At that price, you get your money’s worth if you are looking for a rugged portable Bluetooth speaker with decent battery life that can produce fairly loud sound with some thump and can survive more than a few drops of water.
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