When I went to the #HarmanDads event, the nice PR Team gave us a JBL Soundfly BT to keep and review. I’ve had mine for a few months now, so feel in a fairly good position to offer a review of it.
In the box you have a manual, the JBL Soundfly BT, the plug adaptor and foam support pads (these pads stick on the bottom to offer support to the unit when plugged in.
First off, it’s a doddle to use – you plug it into a wall socket, and power it up. The robot lady voice booms ‘JBL Soundfly is in Pairing Mode’, you pair it with your Bluetooth device, the robot lady says ‘JBL Soundfly is Connected’ and then it’s ready to go!
The idea of the JBL Soundfly is to give you quick and convenient access to your audio, if you want to listen to podcasts in the kitchen, or have some background music at a party, it could also be packed away for travel giving you music in your hotel room / apartment.
So what does it sound like? It’s a pit of a mixed bag really, there’s a fair bit of bass for such a compact unit, and it can actually go up to a very impressive volume. The sound is very focused on the mid range, anything above that feels a little ‘smudgy’, it’s hard to describe really, it’s definitely suited for a bit of mood music rather than for the serious audiophile.
Its form factor does make the device wonderfully simple to use, but it is a bit of a pain. If you put it in a double socket, the second socket is rendered useless as demonstrated below..
Also in older builds where skirting boards are tiny, and plug sockets are practically at floor level, you’ve no chance of getting this plugged in!
That said, it was pretty awesome last weekend when I had my barbecue, and with an extension lead I could have some tunes outside via my phone, and despite being out in the ‘big wide world’ it sounded very good, and could probably reach ‘neighbour annoying’ volumes. Something that I have found very annoying are the robot lady voice prompts – they are SO LOUD and you’re unable to turn them off or down. So if you wanted to listen to some quiet music while the rest of the household sleep, you’re probably out of luck with her shouting..
‘JBL SOUNDFLY IS IN PAIRING MODE’
….. when you’ve just switched it on – it’s really something that needs addressing.
Also I was lead to believe there was some sort of JBL ‘App’ you can download to tweak the sound from the device. It looks like this doesn’t apply to Android users like myself, because all I could find was this one, which just seems to help with pairing – which isn’t actually an issue!
All in all, the JBL Soundfly BT does leave me a little conflicted, I love the simplicity, and it’s been fabulous to have in the kitchen whilst cooking, and when we’ve had guests over for some background music. The shortcomings in the form factor, the LOUD voice prompts and the average sound quality are a bit of a downer, I’m sure the last two could be tweaked with a software update. As it stands though, whilst I do like the product, would I spend £149 on it? Probably not.
The Soundfly is available in an ‘Airplay’ friendly variant for Apple-fiends – you can find that here.
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