Around three years ago I reviewed the SOUNDBOKS 2, a true monster of a Bluetooth speaker. The description was no exaggeration: the company actually sold an optional backpack attachment to make it a little more plausible to lug the 33 pound, 216 Watt speaker around. The SOUNDBOKS 2 delivered on performance and battery life, but the size and price ($899 at that time) made it a little impractical. The company has another option I tested through the final weeks of the summer, and it just may have hit the sweet spot as a portable Bluetooth performance speaker. This is the SOUNDBOKS Go.

Still Big, Still Expensive, But More Reasonable on Both Counts

Looking back on my review of the SOUNDBOKS 2, that speaker was 25.6 x 17 x 13-inches, with a birch plywood case, an aluminum frame, a metal speaker grill, a 40-hour battery, and three Class D amps pumping a total of 216 Watts through two 10-inch woofers and a 1-inch silk dome tweeter. It tipped the scales at 33 pounds and was priced at $899.

It was pretty amazing, but not cheap and I felt like a roadie lugging it around.

The SOUNDBOKS Go gives up a few features (it loses one of the woofers and has a total of 144 Watts of power), but this results in a more reasonable size and price point: 20 pounds and $699, respectively. It’s “light” enough that the optional backpack accessory has been replaced with an optional shoulder carrying strap.

Instead of plywood and aluminum, this speaker is constructed of ABS and polycarbonate with silicone rubber bumpers, but the family resemblance is strong. You aren’t giving up much in the way of ruggedness, and the SOUNDBOKS Go is still a powerful portable speaker with 40-hour battery life. And it has a new trick for those with deeper pockets — or a friend who also shells out for one of these speakers.

Audio Performance

The SOUNDBOKS Go is designed as a performance, portable speaker. If it was meant to primarily sit on a table or bookshelf in a room, it would have a DSP that does faux stereo and surround sound effects, an array of drivers, some stylish accents, and it wouldn’t have an 18-inch x 10-inch footprint.

However, this speaker is all about being outdoors or filling a large space with sound.

The cabinet design is focused on being rugged as opposed to blending into home decor. It houses two drivers that pump out sound straight ahead, with plenty of power on tap. There are audio presets, but they are are focused on three primary use cases:

  • Bass+ is a loudness boost for when you’re outdoors and want to take full advantage of that big 10-inch woofer and its ability to pump out bass
  • Power for a balance between thumping low end and battery life
  • Indoors that tones down the bass and allows the one-inch tweeter to bring more high-end nuance to the mix

The SOUNDBOKS app also has a custom EQ that lets you tailor the sound to your preference.

Overall this is a speaker that can put out a lot of sound, with a maximum rating of 121dB when using the Bass+ mode. You don’t buy a speaker like this for subtlety, you buy it to pump out entertaining music and to do so at loud volumes without distortion. The SOUNDBOKS Go certainly succeeds at this mission. It was frequently employed to blast out tunes in my back yard during pool season.

I did use it on occasion in my office as well, with the Indoor setting. It sounds fine in this application, but not as good as you would expect a $699 speaker to sound.

If you’re looking for a big, high performance speaker primarily for indoor use, I would probably skip the SOUNDBOKS Go and pick something like the Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM instead (read my review here). It has half the footprint, it’s equipped with more drivers and pretty convincing stereo sound simulation, offers 24-hour battery life, and it will save you a few hundred dollars.

However, for powering an outdoor party, the SOUNDBOKS Go is tough to beat.

Double Up For True Stereo Sound and More

Like many Bluetooth speakers these days, the SOUNDBOKS Go offers the ability to double up (or more) for enhanced sound using the TeamUp feature.

You don’t even need the mobile app to pull this off — SOUNDBOKS includes a button on the top of the speaker that lets you wirelessly connect to another in either Host or Join mode.

Part of this multi-speaker support is use of SKAA Pro mode (2.4GHZ wireless) for reducing the latency in a multi-speaker setup. With two SOUNDBOKS Go (or SOUNDBOKS Gem. 3) speakers, you can assign the speakers to left and right channel for true 2-channel stereo. You can also wirelessly connect up to five supported speakers if you really want to dominate the outdoors.

Battery Life and Portability

The SOUNDBOKS Go is more portable than the company’s other performance speakers. Its built-in TPE handle makes it easy enough to carry for short distances, and there is the optional shoulder strap if you need to hike a distance with it. However, even at its reduced size, this is still a large speaker compared to most.

It is pretty rugged and you’d have to really toss it around to do any real damage. The internals are protected by IP65 water protection — you can’t drop it in a pool, but it can survive splashing or rain.

Battery life of up to 40 hours also makes the case for the SOUNDBOKS Go as a great portable speaker, although that drops to 10 hours at maximum volume and Bass+ active.

Speaking of battery life the battery deserves a little more detail. SOUNDBOKS is unusual in that the company powers the SOUNDBOKS Go with a removable battery pack. You need to plug that pack into a jack to deliver power to the speaker (don’t worry, everything is hidden inside a compartment so wires aren’t hanging out). Charging requires disconnecting the battery from the speaker, connecting it to a charger cable, then having the duo connect to the battery input port. During charging, you are warned not to play music at high volume. In addition, you can’t leave the charger in place for more than six hours, and you can’t power the speaker using the charger alone — the battery always has to be connected.

It’s a little confusing at first and the arrangement is definitely inconvenient.

However, it has a huge plus. That battery is replaceable. The company sells it as a $149 BATTERYBOKS. Portable speakers have a limited lifespan due to their rechargeable battery. When the battery eventually dies (and they all do), the speaker is no longer portable. With the SOUNDBOKS Go, you can buy a replacement to keep the speaker going — an option that most portable speakers lack. You could also buy an extra battery or two to keep charged and swap out to keep the speaker playing for extended sessions.

And with up to 40-hour battery life, charging shouldn’t be a frequent event so the hassle is limited.

SOUNDBOKS Go Key Specifications

  • 10-inch woofer, 1-inch silk dome tweeter, 3 bass reflex ports
  • Merus Audio eximo amp switching, 2 x 72-Watt continuous Class D amplifiers
  • 40Hz to 20 KHz effective frequency range
  • Three sound modes including Bass+ loudness (plus app-based EQ)
  • Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5mm AUX input
  • TeamUP connectivity to wireless connect up to five supported speakers
  • IP65 rated electronics coating
  • 7.8Ah removable LiFePO4 battery with 5-LED battery life indicator and battery management system
  • Up to 40-hour battery life (at mid-volume)
  • Reenforced unibody case constructed of ABS + polycarbonate with silicone rubber extruded bumpers and TPE handle
  • Integrated pole mount
  • 18 x 12 x 10-inches, weighs 20 lbs
  • Mesh loop strap for optional shoulder strap
  • On-speaker buttons for power, volume and TeamUP
  • SOUNDBOKS mobile app includes custom EQ and firmware upgrades
  • MSRP $699

SOUNDBOKS Go Recommendation

If you’re looking for a high-powered portable Bluetooth speaker for home use — in place of a home stereo system, for example — this probably isn’t it.

However, as a performance portable speaker, the SOUNDBOKS Go is a great choice if you have the budget. It’s big, loud, with tons of bass on tap thanks to that 10-inch woofer. It also offers long battery life, water resistance, and a rugged cabinet. This is a portable Bluetooth speaker designed to dominate outdoor events.

Built-in support for wireless multi-speaker use and a battery that can be swapped out are the icing on the cake.

Disclosure: SOUNDBOKS provided go speakers for evaluation purposes but had no input into this review.

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