Designed as a fusion between minimalist aesthetics and compact strength with durability, Nixon's Blaster Speaker stands as the accessory innovator's first step into wireless sound sharing products, but has already been laid claim as something "Bigger, Better, Louder." Designed specifically to be used on-the-go, the speaker was created with the skate or snowboard-eager user in mind, boasting portability and rugged usage as one its feature highlights. A portable speaker designed to be both shock-resistant and water-resistant, we tested out the Blaster to assess its ability to tackle the bump and grind of the active user while simultaneously investigating its ability to share quality sound.
Notably light and easy on the eyes upon first inspection, the Blaster's minimalist design concept is definitely a welcome development within the realm of portable sound-sharing devices. Free from loud and overbearing branding and logos, the speaker is secured all-around with a cushioned rubber that maintains tonal details throughout the speaker body. Perforated grilled details at the front and back of the speaker provide a cohesive finish, while the power and Bluetooth buttons are secured subtly in to the speaker sides.
Designed to withstand the bumps and tumbles that a user may come across in their daily outdoor activity, the Blaster is labeled as shock-resistant and water-resistant, meaning that although it may not be able to withstand a five-story fall or a deep-sea dive, it should still be able to handle a rough ride through a skate park or a basketball court. We brought the Blaster along with us to our lunchtime basketball antics at the HYPETRAK Headquarters to test its abilities, and were pleasantly surprised with how it held its ground. The Blaster's all-round rubber cushion absorbed any kicks and falls that came in its way while the sound stream remained clear and unobstructed, meaning that the speaker was noticeably durable when faced with collateral damage of an active surrounding.
One tends to be skeptical when investigating wireless speakers that have been signed off as user-friendly - largely because the concept of simply pulling a wire out of the equation rarely makes the user experience any easier, and oftentimes, the act of pairing a Bluetooth device with the speaker alone becomes a task in itself. Thankfully, with the Blaster, this was not the case. It took about three seconds for a smartphone and the Blaster to "discover" each other, with the Bluetooth icon conveniently displaying the speaker's battery life alongside the device's own battery life display. We tested the speaker's sound sharing ability from as many platforms as possible, via Safari, SoundCloud, Spotify, and the library of songs stored within the device itself, and the Blaster was able to keep up with the shift from platform to platform in a seamless manner that definitely puts it a step above other wireless speaker experiences. For the user who prefers a more old-school approach, an auxiliary cable plugs in to the side of the speaker dock, making the sound sharing experience even more straightforward. Volume control and song changing functions are located at the top of the speaker, while the inbuilt microphone aids in the smartphone user's switch from music player to telephone.
When it comes to reviewing an audio engineered product, quality of sound is usually one of the first things a user looks to address. With this review of the Blaster, however, we've purposely saved this for last. For a speaker that weighs a little over 100 grams, the Blaster's sound reach and volume definitely packs a punch. Louder than most compact Bluetooth speakers, it was quite fitting when placed in outdoor group situations that varied from 5 to 10 people, but once it was faced with slightly larger groups, the speaker just didn't quite hit the mark. During our basketball session with a couple of extra people, for example, the speaker's sound turned from a powerful flow to a gentle hum, and was eventually almost drowned out by surrounding noises. As a speaker that's marketed as a device to serve the outdoorsman, our expectations from the Blaster were definitely a little higher. In regards to the quality of sound itself, the Blaster isn't perfect, but it is definitely very nearly there. My only issue is the slight imbalance of the bass, which placed emphasis on unexpected drum rolls and taps, and in turn slightly reworked the track's instrumental stream and slightly switched up one's reception of tracks that they may have previously considered themselves familiar with. Although this kick in bass is admittedly barely noticeable, the tweak is definitely there, but as the Blaster is designed for outdoor excursions with friends rather than in solitary confinement with ones thoughts and music, we can honestly say we didn't really mind. Overall, it serves the purpose it was designed to meet: to add an extra sense of adventure to group excursions in the outdoors.
If you're interested in finding out more about the Nixon Blaster, head here.
Photography: To Cheuk Yin & Kenneth Deng for HYPETRAK