Review: Matrix Audio Qube portable speaker (vs the HMDX Jam)
The Matrix Audio Qube Universal Pocket Speaker is a portable powered rechargeable speaker that provides three watts of sound output in a speaker a little over the size of a US quarter. I’m going to compare it to the HMDX Jam, which we’ve covered before on Pocketables. I’ve loved the HMDX Jam, and consider it what a portable speaker needs to meet or beat in order to win me over. The ratings listed are for the Qube, as we’ve already reviewed the Jam.
Coming in at 38mm cubed and weighing in at 78 grams, the Qube speaker is a solid piece of technology. It’s beautifully constructed, it feels solid, and it can produce some serious sound, but I didn’t quite love it – and I feel the need to explain why.
The Qube comes in at a MSRP of $49.99, while the Jam comes in at an MSRP of $49.99. You can get them from Amazon for $37 and $34.10, respectively. The Qube is wired, and the Jam is not (or it can be, your choice). Winner: Jam
The Qube lasts for up to eight hours, and the Jam works for four wirelessly, or up to twelve wired. Winner: Jam
The Qube weighs 78 grams, the Jam 272. Winner: Qube, by far
The Qube wins in overall portability, as it slides easily into a pocket, and it would be a very large pocket required to port the Jam around. However, you also have to keep up with the audio and charging cord if you want to use it. It’s not a simple 1/8 inch plug-in, but rather a 1/8 inch to custom micro SD cable, so you’re not going to randomly find one of these laying around if you forgot to bring yours.
Sound reproduction is hit or miss. Almost any product I own beats the bass and overall volume that the Qube produces. On bass-intensive music on my HTC EVO 4G LTE, it sounded like a small speaker farting. On treble it ruled though, and was potentially painful. Nothing I have could rival its high notes.
On my friend’s iPhone, it sounded pretty much all right, like a small radio playing Enter Sandman, but didn’t give me that full sound feeling that I’ve come to expect from slightly larger speakers in the same price range. I understand that smaller speakers produce a more tinny sound profile, but it was not producing to what I hoped it would.
It may have been due to Beats audio or XLoud, but it just didn’t sound like it was capable of delivering the full audio experience on my EVO. It also didn’t sound hugely better to me than an unpowered speaker did (louder yes, better no). Compared to the Jam or even headphones, it mangled the audio in many places when volume was applied.
I will say the thing is solid. It’s one of those devices that you feel like you could konk someone in the head with and escape an attacker. It also feels like you could probably stand on it without damaging the thing. It’s absurdly well built for a device that really doesn’t have to be this well manufactured. In terms of sturdiness, the Qube beats the Jam.
I guess in the end it comes down to if you need something on you that fits in your pocket, or if you need something that you can easily carry that fills the room with sound. The Qube and the Jam are on opposing sides of that coin, so it all comes down to what you need in terms of portability. As with the Jam, I feel that the MSRP for the Qube is a bit pricey for what you get, or perhaps I’m just a cheapskate and feel that for $50 I should be getting a powered portable speaker capable of making my ears cringe from the volume.
Don’t get me wrong – I think the Qube is a great little product, and it sounds decent on vocals, classical, and books on tape, but when it came to pushing bass to a room, I didn’t get what I was hoping for.
The Qube is available for $49.99 from Matrix Audio.