If you're looking for a speaker to play music from your phone, you're not short of choices. There's currently a huge variety from which to choose, with which phones can connect using wires, docks, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and so on. The Favi Audio+, which launched in February, takes an even simpler approach. We got our hands on one, and had a play.
The Audio+ uses what Favi calls "Set to Connect" technology. This means that users don't need to plug their phone into the speaker or pair it via Bluetooth. Instead, they just need to turn the speaker on and set their device down on it for it to work. In short, Set to Connect is Favi's trademarked term for electromagnetic induction.
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There are a number of induction speakers on the market. They work on the principle that electric currents produce magnetic fields around them, which in turn can be used to induce a current within a nearby circuit. As a result, it's possible to create a speaker that effectively duplicates the signal from the source device.
As you might imagine, this approach has its drawbacks. Naturally there's some quality loss, and the signal can be easily interfered with by other electrical devices, which is easily done in today's world of laptops, tablets, routers, wireless peripherals and such. On the flip-side, induction speakers are simpler to produce and therefore cheaper to buy. With this in mind, the Audio+ comes in at US$39.99, which will hardly break the bank. But is it worth it?
The Audio+ has a distinct triangular design with a lip on which to rest a phone. The device is formed of plastic with metal speaker grills on each side. It's light, at 0.35 lb (160 g), and measures 3.6 x 2.9 x 3.4 in (9.1 x 7.4 x 8.6 cm), so will just about fit in your hand. It almost feels a little cheaply made, but could probably just get away with calling itself simple and functional.
The speaker is provided with a short USB cable with which it can be connected to a computer or USB power adapter and charged. Other than the USB port, the only additional features on the device are the sliding power switch and some bottom-facing blue and red LEDs that indicate when the power is switched on, and that flash in time with the rhythm of the music being played.
And so to the main event – does the Audio+ sound any good? Well, for the price, it's actually pretty decent. It certainly delivers on Favi's promised amplification. The difference between playing music through a phone speaker and then using the phone in conjunction with the Audio+ is dramatic. Volume is changed on the user's mobile device rather than on the speaker itself, and unless you're somewhere very noisy, it's unlikely you'll need the volume maxed out.
You probably won't want the music maxed out either. At the top end, the shortcomings in sound quality become very noticeable. There's a tinniness to the sound with high frequencies becoming quite piercing, as you might expect with a budget speaker, whilst the lower range is a little washed out.
Don't let that put you off, though. At more ambient levels, the quality is quite listenable. There's no thundering bass, of course, and elements aren't picked out with crystal clarity, but that's not really why you'd be buying the Audio+. As a speaker to pop on your desk at work or to throw in your bag when you go to the beach, it's more than adequate. It knocks out a decent sound, it's loud, it's compatible with virtually all phones, it's highly portable and, critically, it's cheap enough not to worry about being broken. For the price, it's a great little piece of kit.
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