Whether you are listening to music through a phone, tablet, MP3 player or computer the quality of the sound being produced is for the most part reliant on the headphones or speakers used. Now you could spend thousands on top quality audiophile equipment in order to get the best sound possible and that often involves extra hardware such as DACs to make the signal as clean and clear as possible, but that’s not the direction we’re headed in for this review. No, today I’m looking at a cheaper, highly portable device to see what kind of sound reproduction and functionality you can expect when you reduce the price tag to just £40.
The Audio Dynamix X05-UE3, or Ultimate Experience 3 if you don’t like the code name, is less than a span in length and weighs slightly over 1lb so it’s one of our more portable speakers. It comes with Bluetooth and a handle but is that as high tech as it goes? Well, let’s look at its specifications and then we can start to uncover any secrets that this aluminium-wrapped budget speaker has to hold.
- Power Output 2 x 5watts RMS (2 x 12watts max)
- Drivers: 2 x 50mm Kevlar diaphragms with 16 core neodymium magnet system.
- Bass enhancement – Each driver is sealed in it’s own acoustic chamber with a 70 x 35mm oval Bass radiator.
- Bluetooth version 4.0 using the CSR8635 chipset
- Bluetooth range ≤20mtrs
- Battery type: Lithium-ion grade A
- Battery capacity: 2600mAh, 3.7volt
- Playtime: up to 10hrs via Bluetooth and 20hrs via AUX
- Frequency range: 50Hz to 19KHz
- SPL: 107DB at a distance of 0.5metres
- Dimensions: 202mm x 59mm x 89mm (with handle up)
Read on for the close-up inspection of the Audio Dynamix X05-UE3.
As we dip our toe in the figurative reviewing pool, we will take a close look at the aesthetics speaker. We start with the front view and what an impressive view it is. The striking blue grill, thin rubber border and thick aluminium band all coming together to make – in my mind at least – a very smart object. On that grill is printed the Audio Dynamix logo and through it, we can just make out the pair of 50mm Kevlar and neodymium drivers, fairly large considering this is a portable speaker. Below the grill is a gap of a few millimetres where the passive bass drivers are situated, ensuring the sound produced isn’t blocked or muffled.
As we move to the top of the X05-UE3, that contrasting rubber black panel hosts the buttons but the colour scheme up top doesn’t grab my attention in the same way the front does. It’s pretty challenging to see which button does what at a distance, and even close up unless you are in very good light, the only real ‘visible’ component is the blue/red LED that indicates charging status, Bluetooth pairing etc.
With a better look at those buttons we can see that from left to right they are on/off, track forward/back control, play/pause, volume up/down and M. More about M later…
Around the back of the X05-UE3 and we are again greeted with that blue on blue colour scheme, though the inverse proportion to the front panels. The first and perhaps most obvious feature is that dark blue stripe is actually the AUX cable with 3.5mm jacks that is fitted neatly into the main panel. Pull it out when you need it, fit it back when you don’t. This is the first time I’ve seen such a solution for avoiding missing components and it’s a brilliant one. Also on show are the ports… A 3.5mm socket and a microUSB socket for charging. Sadly there’s no carry-around solution for the USB cable but who doesn’t have a million of those things spare around the house nowadays?
The last thing on show in this image (almost) is the carry handle. It’s made from blue rubber and lifts and can be draped over the front or back or just left on top.
On the base, we return to the unwelcome aluminium and black colour scheme, with the black being a huge rubber pad to hold the speaker in place. This is in some way an indication of how powerful the speaker is since they chose not to go with four small feet in the corners. There is also model and manufacturer info printed in small text in white but there was nothing I could do to get my camera to pick this up clearly.
Now that we’re acquainted with the speaker, it’s on to Performance and Testing.
Performance and Testing
With the appearance of the speaker already dealt with, let’s move on to the build quality. That thick aluminium band is a solid indicator of the materials used and it moves on with the tactile rubber used for the handle and back. You are really meant to enjoy the Audio Dynamix X05-UE3 in all sorts of ways, not just with your ears but also your eyes and fingers. It looks stunning as an object on a bookshelf, it feels great when you hold it and it gives the impression that it could withstand a wallop or three.
Being built with a pair of 50mm Kevlar drivers with neodymium magnets as well as two bass radiators I expected the X05-UE3 to be powerful above all else, perhaps even as a priority to the listening experience. After all, this is a £40 speaker so if all the budget is spent on looks and specifications how much is left over for tuning the thing? I’m happy to say that there is enough to give a good experience. As good as any other at this price and better than most. If you turn the volume up full then things get messy. The sound is really distorted and the whole unit jumps up and down like an excited Yorkshire Terrier when the vicar calls, but at anything lower than 80% volume the whole thing pulls together with great sound output at still very high volume for its overall size.
I tested the Audio Dynamix speaker on a number of different audio tracks, from spoken word with audio books and classical music through to all genres of popular music trying to find the strengths and weaknesses. Across the board, the results were the same, strong support from mid range and good top end with reasonable bass. I didn’t find a single track that suffered that couldn’t be resolved by adjusting the volume slightly so that the bass wasn’t too overpowering and that could simply be down to the different output levels from the sources. When listening via the 3.5mm AUX input we lose the track control but aside from that there was no difference in the performance as far as audio goes, the sound was just as good as with Bluetooth.
I said during the close-up look at the buttons that I would get to the ‘M’ button and so here we go. A built-in graphical equaliser setting. Just one setting that changes the output of the X05-UE3 from great to terrible no matter what seems to be playing. I didn’t seem to matter at all the source as the result was the same, muffled rather than muted midrange, limited showing from the top end and distorted bass. I quickly learned not to press the button if I wanted the best experience. Other buttons perform much better thankfully; volume interaction between the speaker and Bluetooth device works a treat as do the track command buttons and putting the speaker into pairing mode was simple and straightforward too. Speaking of pairing, I successfully paired the device with my phone, tablet and desktop without any drama at all.
The advertised play time for the 2600mAh battery of 10+ hours is fairly accurate, I’ve been getting anywhere from 8-11 hours depending on volume and standby time between listening. With the AUX cable connected instead of Bluetooth, we were able to stretch the battery to around 18 hours. Sadly, as is so often the case, if you run out of juice you can’t just plug in the USB cable and carry on listening as you need to first charge the battery to power the device.
I always like to take my time when reviewing speakers and headsets as it can take quite a while for the speakers to settle and produce the best sound they can but alas, I can’t delay any longer and my time with the Audio Dynamix X05-UE3 has come to an end. What did I learn along the way? Well, for one thing, the unit is gorgeous, not just good to look at but the texture of the rubber used for the handle and back is really nice to touch.
The build quality is spot on, no dramas occurred during testing and with my partner and our kids taking turns to drag the X05-UE3 around the house I expected some damage but there wasn’t even a scratch on the aluminium band.
The listening experience was also remarkable for the price, apart from the distortion when using the graphic equaliser and the overenthusiastic bass when the volume was cranked up to 11 it gave nice rich sound across the board through a full range of audio types.
There is plenty of choice of speakers at this price bracket, it’s really quite crowded in fact and so finding the right product is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. You can do a heck of a lot worse and frankly not much better without spending a lot more cash so I am happy to recommend this to family and friends, as a result the Audio Dynamix comes away with our Recommended Award.
I would like to thank Audio Dynamix for providing us with the X05-UE3 for review and congratulate them on producing a solid product with a well earned award.
- Great sound
- Gorgeous looks and texture
- Pairing was painless
- Neat solution for storing the AUX cable
- Graphic equaliser spoils the sound
- Too much power to contain, the speaker jumps all over the place at max volume