Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sound Cylinder Sharpens Up Sound

Sound Cylinder
As one of the smallest portable speakers out on the market, Sound Cylinder makes sharing smart phone, tablet, and laptop videos and music a snap. The speaker clip provides several ways to share — attached to the top, sides, and bottom (with a portable kickstand) — or on its own.

Like most modern portables, it mostly relies on Bluetooth connectivity. But unlike most portables, the Sound Cylinder by Definitive Technology is remarkably iconic with its aluminum and magnesium construction. The cylindrical design also lends something to its mystique without sacrificing sound.

Sure, it doesn't have enough power to fill an entire room. But it is easily loud enough to expand your viewer or listenership. Specifically, the Sound Cylinder is a 2.1 channel bi-amplified audio system driven by two front-firing 32 mm mid-range/high frequency drivers and a 43 mm woofer driver.

This might sound small, but the sound isn't small at all. And considering it takes no time to unfold the retractable kickstand and set your smart phone or tablet in the clamp, this little speaker serves what could be its primary purpose well.

The Sound Cylinder is a great travel companion. 

With my primary speakers at home being Sonos and my favorite beach rugged rig being the Braven BRV-1, Definitive Technology seems to have done a great job at delivering something in between. The Sound Cylinder makes for a great hotel room speaker. Set it on a desk or dresser (or hold it in bed) and anyone in your room can watch or listen to whatever you have worth sharing.

Sound Cylinder
I can also see this as a smart choice for house guests or teens. It more or less turns a tablet or laptop into a desktop stereo or television rather than confining them to a life with ear buds and headphones.

The battery life is more than suitable. Definitive Technology estimates 10 hours. That seems about right, but I haven't tested this with a timer. Suffice to say that a full charge ought to cover an evening. If you want it to last longer, keep your volume in check.

Another nice touch by the designers at Definitive Technology is adding a 3.5 mm audio input jack as an optional alternative to Bluetooth. The jack connects easily to any non-Bluetooth audio source. As a long as it has an analog output jack (standard headphone jack), you can connect the device.

A few words of caution to reset expectations.

While the kickstand is one of the features that makes this speaker so convenient, it does require a stable surface. If the table or shelf you set it on isn't stable, you've placed your tablet at risk. One bump could send it sprawling.

Conversely, it makes for a surprisingly good presentation speaker if you happen to be holding the tablet up for someone. Or, as shown above, it enhances the sound without adding much weight.

Sound Cylinder
For laptop owners, of course, the kickstand isn't an issue. The speakers mount to the top of the screen, which is how the Sound Cylinder was initially designed to work with all devices. (I suspect the kickstand was added as an after thought. It's a good idea, but you're responsible for the stability.)

Another consideration is that the beauty is in the portability and not the power. Considering my BRV-1 has 40 mm drivers and a 70 mm subwoofer and isn't a powerhouse, I expected the Sound Cylinder to perform somewhere south of that.

The Sound Cylinder By Definitive Technology Raises The Bar. 

Where the speaker shines, however, is freeing someone up from headphones and expanding the sphere of listenership. That said, it does exactly what it set out to do — deliver wildly portable sound in a very stylish way without sacrificing sound quality. Mission accomplished.

Definitive Technology started developing better sounding speakers around 1990. The Sound Cylinder is one of its latest designs. You can find the Sound Cylinder on Amazon. Shop for it direct. It retails for about $200.
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