Under the Radar

Sound Spot: The Attractive & Reliable Bluetooth Option

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The Sound Spot is the latest Bluetooth speaker from Soundfreaq, a more budget-friendly alternative to its popular Sound Kick stereo speaker. The Sound Kick has been the portable speaker of choice at my house for the last couple of years, giving surprising good stereo sound in a sturdy package. The Sound Spot turns out to be an excellent option if the Sound Kick is out of your price range.

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The Sound Spot retails for $69 and it's available online for up to $10 less. For the lower price, you get a mono speaker that's a little larger than a stack of 4 or 5 CD jewel boxes. You can get up to seven hours on a single charge (via the included mini-to-USB cable) and plug your smartphone into the USB power out port for on-the-go charging.

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What's impressive about this speaker is its clarity at high volumes and how solid the Bluetooth wireless connection is compared to other devices at this price point.

So what are you giving up? You're losing the left/right channel separation you'd get from a stereo speaker, but here's the truth about most of the sub-$200 "stereo" speakers on the market: without a certain amount of distance between the left and right channels, no one's getting much stereo effect anyway. The Sound Kick does a better job of delivering a stereo experience than most, but a lot of listeners will be impressed with the clarity the Sound Spot delivers and not miss the left/right separation.

If you are concerned about stereo, you can add a second Sound Spot speaker and connect them with an audio cable. If you forego the wireless option and connect your audio device via the Aux In jack, you can create a stereo speaker setup with a pair of Sound Spots (if you use the Bluetooth option, you're just going to have a pair of mono signals). At $140, that's starting to get into the price range of some of the higher-quality Bluetooth devices but the option to create some speaker separation via a cable makes a Sound Spot setup an intriguing option.

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The Sound Spot has an appealing mid-century design. The White/Wood look that we tested and the all-black version are readily available from a wide variety of retailers (including Amazon and Target) but you can also get a wider variety of colors from the Soundfreaq online store.

While extremely portable, this is definitely an indoor speaker for a bookshelf, kitchen counter or bedside table. If you're looking for an under-$75 speaker and aren't planning to take it into the field or on a camping trip, the Sound Spot offers solid value and clear sound.

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