Tribit's Versatile, Long-Lasting New Bluetooth Speaker Has a Weird Flaw

Illustration for article titled Tribit's Versatile, Long-Lasting New Bluetooth Speaker Has a Weird Flaw
Photo: Catie Keck/Gizmodo

There’s a lot to like about Tribit’s new flagship Bluetooth speaker. At just 7 inches tall, the StormBox Pro is highly portable. It also sits in that sweet spot between being big enough to have some solidly loud sound, but also small enough that you could definitely fit it in a backpack or tote bag. But for some of its best features, at $120, the Tribit is a little expensive for what it offers. And depending on what you need from your Bluetooth speaker, you might be better off with something else.

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The thing I immediately liked about the StormBox Pro is its clean, minimal lines, and a handle that can flip up for easy carrying. That makes it a decent choice for something that could look nice on a bookshelf, but thanks to its durability features, can also handle outdoor use as well. I think this speaker could be the right choice for the right shopper, but that depends heavily on how you plan to use it.

The good news is that the StormBox Pro has a Bluetooth range of up to 100 feet and can get up to 24 hours of battery life—though that will depend on how you’re listening and will likely be less at top volumes. At just three pounds, it’s also light, and Tribit said the speaker can be paired with a second StormBox Pro. It comes equipped with a single sub and two mid-high frequency drivers. An on-device button labeled XBass will boost the bass (obviously), which I did almost immediately while I was testing. Without it enabled, the sound didn’t quite bump as much as I’ve come to expect from many Bluetooth speakers in this category.

As for durability and portability, Tribit makes a pretty solid case for itself. In addition to its extended battery life, it’s got an IP67 waterproof rating, and based on my testing, it can definitely be dropped—particularly on softer surfaces like grass or indoor flooring—without fear of it suddenly shitting the bed. That’s a bit of a bare minimum win for this speaker, though. Similar speakers in this price category can similarly take tougher handling and produce better sound.

For example, if I had to choose between this speaker and the slightly more expensive Boom 3 (priced at $130 at Best Buy at the time of this writing), I’d without question go for the Boom 3. The Boom 3’s sound blows the StormBox Pro out of the water across the board, particularly for genres like hip hop and electronic.

Illustration for article titled Tribit's Versatile, Long-Lasting New Bluetooth Speaker Has a Weird Flaw
Photo: Catie Keck/Gizmodo
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I found that at top volumes, the StormBox Pro would sometimes give that absolutely awful popping sound, and that’s frankly unacceptable for a speaker at this price point. You will not have this problem at mid-volumes. But as someone who generally pushes their speakers to the limit, this was a huge issue for me during testing. You will not get the same battery life longevity on the Boom 3, as that speaker gets up to 15 hours depending on your listening habits. The Boom 3 also lacks the handle that I actually quite liked on the StormBox Pro. But the Boom also weighs half as much as the Tribit, so there’s that.

If the Boom 3 exceeds your budget and you’d like to spend a little less than the cost of either of these speakers, then I’d recommend the Anker Soundcore Flare 2 ($70), which will give you as good if not better sound than the StormBox Pro. That speaker has 360-degree sound, absolutely impressive bass for its price and size, has a waterproof rating of IPX7, and can be paired with more than 100 other Flare 2 speakers (just in case you find yourself in this extremely niche situation and decide to, I guess, blast your entire borough). Plus, that speaker has great EQ features and on-unit light show settings. But again, you’re compromising on battery life, as the Flare 2 only gets up to 12 hours of playtime on a single charge, meaning it’s trumped by both the StormBox Pro and the Boom 3.

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Ultimately, I do not think the StormBox Pro is a bad speaker. I think it’s actually a pretty good Bluetooth solution. I just didn’t love the sound handling on this speaker as much as I’ve heard and tested on similarly (or even cheaper) speakers, as was the case with the Anker. But I do think if battery life and portability are important to you—I can’t stress how nice it is to have the option to clip this speaker onto a backpack with a carabiner for, say, camping or hiking—and you’re typically a mid-volume listener, this could be the perfect speaker for you, even if it wasn’t for me.

DISCUSSION

I can’t stress how nice it is to have the option to clip this speaker onto a backpack with a carabiner for, say, camping or hiking

And I can’t stress enough how annoying it is to head out into the great outdoors to enjoy nature only to have that wonderful experience ruined by being subjected to someone playing music on ANY speaker.

If you can’t live without music (or podcasts) no matter where in the world you happen to be, kindly stick to using earbuds or headphones, and at a volume that I can’t hear.

I don’t subject you to my tastes in music, please don’t subject me to yours.