From Thermaltake, the company that brought us PC upgrade components for Windowsgamers, comes sub-brand Luxa2 to deliver mobile computing gadgets like this Groovy W speaker.
The Luxa2 Groovy W is yet another Bluetooth wireless speaker, this one a portable block around the size of a packet of biscuits. There’s a rechargeable battery inside, said to be good for 15 or 10 hours of play time (depending whether you read the specifications online or from the printed leaflet); and another booster battery pack is included, with around twice the energy capacity again.
This added battery takes the form of a slim detachable plinth upon which the main speaker can sit. Luxa2 promotes all this stored power as good for charging your other gadgets.
The top plate of the box is populated with blue indicator lights, and finished in gloss-black epoxy-like plastic. These indicate battery level, mic operation, Bluetooth connection; and some of these lights are actually blue backlit touch-sensitive controls, namely a play/pause/hangup button, as well as – and + touch areas to control volume.
The mic and hangup controls betray this speaker’s other intended use, as a handsfree desk speaker for use with a mobile phone. Google Android users can also try the NFC chip hidden below the top surface, to make the initial Bluetooth pairing.
We tested by pairing the regular way though – here by pressing the tiny power button on the back until a disembodied George Takei voice resembling informed us, Sulu-like, that ‘Bluetooth mode has been on…’. The subsequent pause, as if for effect, was followed by: ‘Paired’.
Providing the sound are two little speakers, around 35 mm diameter, facing the front and behind a perforated metal grille that encircles the entire case. The manufacturer supplies no details about the acoustic design, although there is a passive radiator inside to help augment bass output a little.
For Bluetooth wireless audio connections, the Groovy W can only use the lowest-grade SBC codec from what is advertised as the unit’s Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) Bluetooth chipset; so do not expect to be able to stream audio using the preferred aptX or AAC audio codecs that are available from recent phones and some computers.
Our investigations also suggested that Luxa2 is not in fact using a CSR chipset, but a Bluetooth section from Taiwan fabless designer ISSC.
Build quality of the Luxa2 Groovy W is competent, using black plastic, metal grille and chrome-effect plastic trim. A rubber sheet underneath helps the speaker stay in place on the desk.
We’re not entirely sure what Luxa2 meant exactly by its marketing line to ‘chase that dream from being a suave classical maestro to a wicked rock demon with a kick ass bass’. The sound the Groovy W makes is functional for a telephone conversation, but overall music was mangled by poor audio design.
The speaker’s tone is relatively even in its essential tuning, with no strong emphasis to bass or treble for example, and thanks to a crossover-less speaker configuration the midband was relatively clear.
At low volumes, for background playback on the desk, the low-level details of music were lost, leaving a bland, featureless sound that encouraged us to turn it up to hear more into the music. As we did though, the sound became spikier and more annoying in its tizzy top. Background details about the music and instruments were still lost, leaving a cardboard cut-out version of the sound.
It was not an entirely thin or squawky sound, as some low-frequency effect from the vibrating passive membrane helped to thicken the sound a little.
Besides the monotonic glassy treble that was evident whenever we lifted the volume to normal levels, there was an annoying background noise always present, a rustling whispy crackling noise behind every sound. This noise was quickly gated whenever music was paused, making it less apparent when the speaker wasn’t actively trying to play music.
We heard it at its worst when playing classical violin, for example, as the noise was heard to clearly track the lead instrument in level, getting noisier as the soloist raised their playing volume.
UK distributor Beyond Technologies suggests its retail when it becomes available in late April 2014 will be £80. It is currently listed on Amazon UK for £100. In our view the sub-AM sound quality may be acceptable for a budget speaker priced closer to £30.
- Bluetooth wireless stereo speaker unit
- 2 x 35 mm drive units
- 70 x 25 mm passive radiator
- touch-sensitive controls
- Bluetooth 3.0
- SBC audio codec
- NFC for BT pairing
- Qi wireless charging compatible
- Micro-USB 2.0 for charging
- microphone for hands-free telephony
- 8.14 Wh internal battery, 14.8 Wh external battery
- 190 x 82 x 65 mm
- 603 g
The Luxa2 Groovy W has poor sound quality. The combination of lo-fi Class D amplifier and low-grade Bluetooth hamper any decent audio quality from this unremarkable speaker. In our tests it had a tiresome sound when tasked with playing music but it may be more suited to casual telephone conversation.