Tribit Stormbox micro bluetooth speaker review | MacSources
Enjoy on-the-go quality sound with the portable Bluetooth Speaker from Tribit.
Many people are currently self-distancing and waiting out the COVID-19 storm. My wife is homeschooling for the first time, our schedules are askew, we are not traveling, we are not eating out, and like many, our lives are markedly different than they were a few weeks ago. One thing that has not changed, however, is the love of music. While playing outside, while riding bikes, while coloring with chalk, while jumping on their trampoline, my children loved o listen to music. By happenstance, I received the perfect family speaker from Tribit, The Stormbox Micro.
The Tribit StormBox Micro arrived in a 5 1/8 inches square by 2 1/2 inches thick white/orange retail package. The clean white background served as the perfect backdrop for the emergency-cone orange title along the top left, the BTS10 model along the top right, “Portable Wireless Speaker” along the bottom left, and the oblique glossy image of the Tribit Speaker along the bottom right. Starting with the top panel and rotating clockwise, you will find Tribit in silver font, StormBox Micro in silver font, four 1/2 inch diameter Tribit icons (IPX7 Waterproof, Long Battery Life, True Wireless Stereo, Superior Sound), and Model BTS10 in black font. The orange bottom panel provided the company name, product name, SKU sticker, product manufacturing labels, Model/SKU#/FCC ID, and QR codes linking to the Tribit Facebook and tribitaudio.com website. I removed the top half of the box and found the 10.08-ounce speaker, 24 1/2 inches long USB-A to USB-C cable, and hexa-lingual instruction manual.
Before testing the speaker, I plugged the USB-A end of the charging cable into my Joto HUB and the USB-C end into the left side of the Tribit Speaker. While charging the speaker, I perused the instruction manual and examined the features of the device. I loved how Tribit utilized labeled black ink drawings to show the features of the speaker, as this provided an easy summary of the device. The top of the speaker had a 1 1/16 inches wide by 3/8 inches tall Tribit logo and three buttons upon the ribbed black felt surface: “-,” “MFB,” and “+.” The front panel had a 3/8 inch diameter power button, microphone, six-LED status indicator, and 3/8 inch diameter Bluetooth Pairing button. Along the bottom of the speaker, you will find four raised rubberized feet, and a 7/8 inches wide retention strap. While charging, the front battery indicator will slowly fill up. Eventually, the LED’s will turn off completely, alerting you to the fact that the speaker was fully charged (3.5 Hours). Interestingly, the battery indicators were not designed to represent an equal percentage of the remaining power. Instead, the first LED represented 0–30% power, the second 30–50%, third 50–70%, fourth 70–80% and fifth 80–100% with the six representing full charge. Neither the manual nor the packaging listed the mAH battery size or duration of listening. The box did state “Long battery life” but did not provide any information as to what that actually meant. The USB-C port was left open and did not have an included cover, despite the IP67 rating.
I was pleased with the button layout and the overall ease of use. To power on the device, press the front-facing power button and enjoy the two-tone jingle. When the blue LED is flashing, press and hold the Bluetooth button for two seconds to enter into pairing mode. You will hear a jingle and a water drip noise alerting you to the change in status. Navigate to Settings on your smart device, to Bluetooth, and then select “Tribit StormBox Micro” from the list. You will then hear a three-tone jingle, announcing a successful pairing. If desired, you can repeat this process and pair the speaker to a second device. You can increase/decrease the volume by tapping the +/- buttons or you can rapidly change the volume by holding the buttons down. I figured the volume buttons would have additional features, but additional features were assigned to the MFB button. If you tap the central button, you can play/pause the music, you can double-tap the button to advance to the next track, you can triple press the button to navigate to the previous track, or you can hold the button to activate Siri. During a call, you can short press to answer/end/pause/swap a call, or you can hold for call rejection. If you have two speakers, you can simultaneously press and hold the Bluetooth buttons on both speakers to pair them into Party Mode (I did not have a second speaker to test this mode). The manual noted that you could press the Bluetooth button and enter into stereo mode and have left/right stereo speakers as well. I did find a typographical error within the instruction manual, as the English version noted the device was Bluetooth version 5.0 while the other languages listed the device as Bluetooth 4.2. I had no issues with pairing, I had no issues with Bluetooth distance or with maintaining connection.
One of my favorite features of the Tribit StormBox Micro speaker was the included retention strap. The rear end of the strap was attached to the speaker, while the front end had a built-in, detachable rubber clip. While my kids and I were playing catch with a vortex football, we wanted to jam to some Imagine Dragons. I found a nearby tree, with a branch that was just a little bigger than my thumb, looped the speaker strap around it, and locked it into place. We enjoyed several rounds of pitch-and-catch before I decided to attempt to rotate the speaker toward us. Unfortunately, the rubber strap gave way before the rubberized clip released and the strap tore. I immediately regretted the decision and realized my error. I do not find this to be a fault of the device because it was my own error that led to the damage. Up until that point, the speaker remained securely affixed to the tree. If I were going to design the StormBox Micro V2.0, I would have created a removable strap, one that could be replaced if desired. The lightweight nature of the speaker paired wonderfully with the retention strap. The setup will allow you to attach the speaker to the horizontal handlebars of a bike, to the arm of a golf cart, onto a boat, four-wheeler, etc.
When it comes to Bluetooth speakers, I like to imagine the optimal location for their usage. The IP67 nature of the speaker would likely work well for the deck of a pool/jacuzzi, for use in the bathroom/bath/shower, or for a trip to the lake/beach. The lightweight size would allow you to easily add the speaker to a backpack for a camping/overnight trip, or to use in your bedroom or medium-sized dorm. I did not have a second device to evaluate the Party/Stereo modes but found that the single device worked well as a personal speaker. For personal listening, I found that the speaker worked well up to about 50% volume. Beyond that, it proved to be a little harsh and I needed to move it farther away. My children and I watched several of the new Power Rangers Beast Morphers on Netflix and we enjoyed the sound output. We watched several videos on Disney +, programs on Hulu, movies on Movies Anywhere and had no issues with the audio-visual sync. However, YouTube videos proved to be unwatchable due to the noticeable discordance. If you are looking for room-filling bass or for a cinematic full sound option, a personal speaker is not what you want. Devices like the Tribit StormBox Micro shine in those areas where your other speakers dare not venture.
I would compare the sound output of the StormBox Micro to the SBODE speakers or to the Tribit XSound Go, which remains one of my favorite Pill style speakers. While testing headphones/speakers, I like to listen to several tracks: “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Dark Knight Rises Joker Theme “Why So Serious,” (focus on the 3:30–4:00 mark), Radiohead “The National Anthem,” “Turn your Lights Down Low” by Bob Marley and the Wailers, “Train Song” by Holly Cole, “Caribbean Blue” by Enya, and “Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold” from the Hobbit. My children and I listened to several selections form Megan Trainor, Charlie Puth, Imagine Dragons, Alabama, CCR, Home Free, and Pentatonix. I feel that the speaker was tailored for a more pop/rock experience rather than R+B/deeper experience or for an instrumental experience. Do not misinterpret my statement, as the speaker sounded great for Acapella songs, and for fully instrumental offerings such as Holst’s Suite in Eb. For the 3.5 hour charging time, I was able to enjoy 10 hours of music playback at about 50–60% volume. Basically, I was able to listen to music for about 2 hours per day for my entire workweek. I loved the USB-C input but wished that they would have included a USB-C to USB-C cable.
The speaker provided a full vivid sound that was enjoyable to my wife, my children and to myself. To summarize the overall experience, I would give the speaker a 9/10 for sound, 9/10 for design, 10/10 for battery life, 9/10 for accessories, and 9/10 for packaging. I would have liked for the instruction manual/packaging to detail the battery size/mAh or the playback time, and I would encourage them to fix the Bluetooth version in the manual. The retention strap did break, but that was more from my own actions than from a defect. Perhaps a detachable option would help people to order another strap from Tribit. I would have preferred a USB-C to USB-C charging cable, but with other cables lying around, this was not a deal-breaker. In summary, there is little excuse to leave your Tribit StormBox Micro home.
Originally published at https://macsources.com on March 23, 2020.