Friday, Dec. 6, 2013
Roll: 1,5. Result: Review, Object.
I’ve got one of these little bluetooth speakers sitting on my desk here, so I might as well.
HMDX JAM Wireless Speaker
by HMDX Audio
I’ll start off with the only aspect I actually don’t like about this thing: The sound feels very localized. One of the reasons I love listening to music on good headphones is that it sounds like it’s coming from inside your head. The balance between the L and R speakers creates a world of sound, immerses you in it, and relieves you of the worries you inevitably have about where in the real world this music is coming from. It boils the experience down to pure musical experience. The JAM does the exact opposite. Due to its small size, it really cranks out the most pop-musically relevant frequencies, which happen to be high enough that they can’t help but cue you in to their point of origin. When I listen to the JAM, and I think about other better things I could be listening to music with, I am inexorably oppressed by its constant self-insistence.
Now, understandably, you could read all that and say, “But could you really be listening to the music on something better? Isn’t the whole point of the JAM that it can go places other audio equipment can’t?” You’d be exactly right. I guess my problem is that I don’t usually involve myself in situations where the JAM would be necessary. If I’m with people and we all want to listen to music, usually there is a stereo of some kind nearby, be it in a car (with an AUX-in as well as the appropriate cables) or living room or those are the only places I go. Now, supposing you’re out hiking or something, this JAM would be excellent, though high winds or too much open space would greatly diminish its capacity for aural amazement. Put it up against a tree, or just don’t bring one and enjoy the sounds of nature.
Purely in terms of value, portability, and sound quality, the JAM is a great device. You can charge it with a micro-USB for at least a few hours of completely wireless audio, and all at a very workable volume. Listening to the thing here, as I write this, I have had to turn it down a couple times because the music is just too loud. It has an AUX-in port if you don’t have bluetooth-capable audio players, an on/off switch, volume controls, and a pause/play button. These controls are basic, but you’ll really be interacting with your source device for everything aside from fine-tuning the volume and turning the speaker on and off anyway, so it has all the buttons it needs.
The audio never sounds muddled. Everything is clear and properly balanced. The device itself is aesthetically unobtrusive. There is one blue light that blinks just to let you know it’s on, but it is small and honestly necessary if you are having trouble with bluetooth connections. You can throw it (supposing someone catches it) and put it in all kinds of weird nooks, crannies, and strange containers, for some neat filtering effects. If you wondered what it sounds like to have music come from inside your fridge, here’s your chance.
I received the thing as a gift, and that’s the only way I would have come across one. Like I said, though, I never felt the need for music in places that don’t already have (headphones or) much better speaker set-ups than the JAM’s. It is nice if you’re out and about and you don’t want your ears smushed by your expensive studio headphones, though. There is definitely an audience for this object, but it is up to you to decide if you are in it.