If you’re familiar with Balmuda products – like, viral Roasted Palmoda — you know they have a certain elegance that screams expendable income. The Tokyo-based innovation and technology company that’s on a mission to turn home appliances into great experiences, and the thing is…they’re good at it. I’ve had my eye on Kettle Balmoda for a few months now, so that’s when I got a chance to try out the new one Portable speaker(Opens in a new tab)I was excited — and a little nervous — to put it to the test.
Yes, Balmuda products are beautiful and luxurious, but could the company behind a popular online toaster really make a premium portable Loudspeaker? This is what I decided to find out, and the answer surprised me.
How is the Balmoda speaker different from other speakers?
If you doubt a home appliances company can create a great audio experience, you’re not alone…but it actually makes sense. Balmuda CEO and founder Gen Terao was once in a Japanese rock band and created the speaker in an effort to emulate the live music experience. Unlike many Portable SpeakersBalmuda’s speaker points upwards to create three-dimensional sound—so you get the same experience no matter where the speaker is facing—that’s “sound-driven” and lacks the distortion that many portable speakers suffer from. Designed to simulate the experience of live music, you can connect to the speaker via bluetooth or AUX input.
For an extra immersive experience, the speaker also features three light tubes in the center chamber that sync to the music in three different modes: Rhythm Mode (with full sync), Ambient Mode (a more subtle version), and Candle Mode (for a steady, gentle glow). Designed to represent three members of a band on stage, the result is a speaker that looks – and sounds – unlike any other portable speaker you’ve seen before.
Balmoda Speaker Experience
Right out of the box, the Moda speaker(Opens in a new tab) Visually breathtaking. It has a simple, beautiful design in a matte black finish that feels intentional and luxurious, without being over-done. It’s heavier than I expected – especially compared to someone reliable JBL charge — but she navigates the balance between the strong and the delicate in a truly unique way.
After charging the device, it only took a few seconds to pair it with my iPhone, and the sound quality was simply amazing. The Palmoda speaker lives up to its promise of delivering pure, sonorous sound, and I loved being able to hear my favorite artists sing without any of the distortion that came with my JBL speaker. It was easy to switch between the three light-sync modes at the touch of a button, and I found myself gravitating toward “Rhythm Mode” for a more robust lighting experience.
The speaker features buttons for power, volume, and three lighting modes.
Credit: RJ Andersen/Mashable
Now, it’s important to add the caveat that when Balmuda says this speaker is driven by sounds, it will change the way you experience some of your favorite music, especially if you’re used to other portable speakers. The depth of sound isn’t nearly as strong – on some songs, the bass is almost completely gone – but the resulting experience isn’t bad…it’s just Different.
However, it does mean that there was some learning curve in selecting the music I was going to listen to on the Balmuda speaker. When I wanted to listen to songs with stronger bass line or play along with dance party music, this speaker was not the right choice. However, it is clear from the design that this is not the case attempt He is.
I’ve found myself using the Balmuda speaker during quiet mornings as I start my day, but my primary use has definitely been while relaxing after a stressful day. It was great to sing along to my favorite songs, but I often felt that something was “missing” from the tracks. Sometimes, you want to get carried away as much from music as from singing, and some songs I thought would be great to listen to on Balmuda fell through. Yes, the sound is crystal clear, but it didn’t quite live up to the promise of a live music experience for me.
There are some other downsides
While I loved using the Balmuda speaker, there are a few things I wish were different. It’s a little heavier than I’d like—especially given how bulky it is around the middle—which means I’m a little nervous about dropping it. It’s nothing terrible, but it’s a portable speaker so I’d like it to be…you know…portable.
The battery life is also a bit shorter than I’d like, clocking in at about seven hours, so I’ve had to charge it several times. Considering most portable music speakers offer at least 10 to 20 hours per charge, seven hours on a single charge seems incredibly low.
My only other complaint is that it’s designed for indoor use only, so it’s not quite as portable as I would like it to be. Is this a deal breaker? Certainly not, but it’s a little disappointing—especially when the speaker sounds like it’s meant for quiet evenings around a campfire with friends.
The best outdoor speakers
Is Palmoda Speaker Worth It?
At $399, the Moda speaker(Opens in a new tab) It is definitely a luxury buy. If you are a music lover and interested in experiencing sound-driven 3D sound, the answer might be yes. I can also see this being a great buy for someone with an eye for design, especially if you’re looking for a portable speaker that looks as good as it sounds. But your opinion of the sound quality is likely to be a matter of personal preference.
For the average shopper? You may want to skip this. The speaker wasn’t quite as immersive as I’d hoped it would be, and while delivering a lot The sound is miles cleaner than the JBL Charge – it’s just too expensive for my taste. I absolutely loved using it, but when it comes to rich, immersive sound, I think I’ll stick with my headphones.