Friday, March 28, 2014

HMDX Jam Plus Bluetooth speaker review: Nifty feature set but expensive for mono audio

  A unique offering but too pricey for mono sound

Portable Bluetooth speakers are a rapidly growing market and an area where we witness constant innovation. While we’re spoilt for choice here, a few of them actually manage to leave a lasting impression. Today, we have the Jam Plus Bluetooth speaker set from HMDX. The unique feature which sets this apart from the crowd is its ability to pair wirelessly with another Jam Plus speaker for stereo sound. At Rs 3,990 a pop, the Jam Plus commands a premium, but is it worth it?

Design and Build
HMDX sent across a pair of Jam Plus units for this test and we must say, the packaging is really cool. The speakers are placed in jars which resemble an actual jam jar, a nice touch considering its name. The speakers easily fit in the palm of your hand and come with a microUSB cable for charging. You can choose from a range of shades as well and are not just restricted to one colour.
The single, full-range driver fires upwards
The single, full-range driver fires upwards

The speakers are built mostly of plastic with reinforced rubber padding on the top and bottom. Each speaker contains a single, full-range driver which fires upwards. There are air gaps just above the buttons so that air can move in and out. The buttons are rubberised as well and lets you control the volume, track playback and battery life indicator. The ‘Jam 2’ logo also lights up when powered on.

There's volume and track control on the speaker itself
There’s volume and track control on the speaker itself
A circular rubber ring on the bottom gives the speaker stability when you pump up the volume. There’s a single power button and a switch which lets you use it as a single speaker or as a set. The other ports include a microUSB connector and a 3.5mm stereo jack.

The Jam Plus doesn’t support NFC so you have to do it the old fashioned way. Pairing two of them together is as simple as switching each one to a channel (left or right)and then just letting them find each other. After a couple of seconds, an audible tune will alert you that the speakers are paired in stereo and are ready to receive input from a source.
A unique feature that's not seen often
A unique feature that’s not seen often

Straight away, we noticed that the Jam Plus handled high frequencies very well but the mid-range and low frequency sounds are severely lacking. This is especially noticeable when paired with just a single speaker. Adding a second one improves the volume level and audio fidelity by a little but not much.

The volume level is room filling however but when maxed out; the audio tends to sound a bit too shrill. Also, adjusting the volume on one speaker (when paired in stereo) doesn’t change the volume of the other as well. It would have been nice if the audio level would evenly change, at least when paired.

There's an option for auxiliary input as well
There’s an option for auxiliary input as well

Battery life is pretty good as well and the Jam Plus will easily last you about 5 hours, at medium volume. The speakers do have really good standby time though as they will retain a good amount of charge even when not used for over a week.

Verdict and Price in India
The HMDX Jam Plus speaker will cost you Rs 3,990 for a single jar, which is a too expensive for mono sound. The speakers have a great design and a novel feature of pairing two together for stereo sound and spending almost Rs 8,000 for a stereo setup wouldn’t have been so bad if the audio quality was outstanding, which it sadly isn’t. For about Rs 5,000, you can get the Jabra Solemate mini which has NFC, stereo sound and much better audio quality despite being smaller in size.

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