Soundmatters foxL v2 Platinum Bluetooth loudspeaker
Input: 3.5mm stereo mini-jack, Bluetooth Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) codec v2.0
Output: 3.5mm stereo mini-jack for subwoofer
Dimensions: 143 x 55 x 35 mm (5.6 x 2.2 x 1.4 inch)
Weight: 269 gram (9.5 oz)
Availability: Direct Online
Price: MSRP $279, street price $229
Manufacturer's Website: www.soundmatters.com
This pocket-size (5.6" by 2.2" by 1.4"), 9.5-oz, Bluetooth-enabled powered stereo speaker with “subwoofer” is guaranteed to blow your mind. Even the usually deaf gadget writers for mainstream publications—the guys who go gaga for Bose—sat up and took notice when they heard the original foxL a few years ago. The Soundmatters publicist waited for the Platinum version to be released before contacting me for a possible review. I’ll take that as a compliment.
The foxL v2 Platinum is the single most astonishing piece of audio gear I have ever heard. Designed by Soundmatters CEO and a/d/s/ founder Godehard Guenther, who has three PhDs (which is three more than I have), this physics-defying little wonder manages a frequency range of 80Hz–20kHz—eight octaves—and plays louder than you can imagine (97dB). It has a 4Wpc amplifier (2Wpc on battery power), a pair of multi-patented 25mm dome speakers called Twoofers, and a BassBattery: the foxL’s lithium-ion battery, encased in rubber and suspended via a surround, becomes an acoustic-suspension “subwoofer.” It comes with a full range of accessories, including a carrying case, a rubber mat to keep it from creeping on hard surfaces, and a high-quality stereo miniplug cable from AudioQuest. A subwoofer output jack lets you turn it into a full-range system.
The foxL can wirelessly stream music from Bluetooth-equipped devices, and, via a built-in microphone, can be used as a speakerphone with automatic switching to and from music. To use v.2.0 of Bluetooth's Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) codec, you need to use an outboard Bluetooth transmitter connected to the device like Sennheiser's BTD300i (ca $80).
All of this has a list price of $279, but can be found online for $229. That didn’t stop some of the computer a-hole writers from saying “such quality doesn’t come cheap.” Something is wrong with those geeks.
The sound produced by the foxL v2 Platinum amazed me. A low end that goes down to 80Hz means that human voices sound convincingly right. I took the review sample to the house of a music-loving friend, the owner of a wine shop, and played him Jacqueline Du Pré performing Elgar’s Cello Concerto. “It does cello!” he exclaimed in amazement. The comment by my next-door neighbor, an audiophile, though incredibly positive, is unprintable.
The foxL v2 Platinum does do cello. It goes deep enough to rock out reasonably well. It will just plain amaze you, no matter your musical tastes. Along with the physics-defying low-end extension, it sounded clean and linear. Its sound was marginally better when plugged into the wall than when running on battery power, but if you can stream Bluetooth music, as you can with an iPhone, the convenience makes the wired option unnecessary. If your player isn’t Bluetooth-enabled, you can add a Sennheiser BTD300i adapter and go wireless.
I’m not saying that this little wonder performs better than a big system—I’ll leave that kind of hyperbole to the “B” company—but after playing with this thing for a month, all I can say is what I said the first time I heard it: The foxL v2 Platinum is the single most astonishing piece of audio gear I’ve ever heard. It belongs under every audiophile’s Christmas tree or Chanukah menorah or Ramadan fanoos or Kwanzaa kinara or agnostic question mark.