I know it may feel too cold to even think about the prospect of summer, but at least in Texas the prospect of warm weather and poolside barbecues is mere weeks away. With that in mind, we set our sights on the Monster Superstar Backfloat portable speakers, a perfect companion for a day basking in the pool or tubing down the river.
The Backfloat is a compact Bluetooth speaker hub that measures a couple of inches longer than a Galaxy S4 on its side, roughly the same width, and not even two inches thick. It is also billed as not only waterproof, but buoyant as well. This feature is evident in the cover that hides the Micro USB charging port and the 3.5mm auxiliary input; for a guy without much in the way of fingernails, it was difficult to peel the thick rubber flap away from the main housing. It is double sealed, with concentric 1mm thick rings sealing in place to protect the inputs from water.
The unit comes packaged in a nice clamshell box with its own drawstring mesh bag, which combines well with its small size to stash easily in a backpack. The unit is fairly light weight as well, which not only helps it to float but also makes it a breeze to bring with you to any outdoor function. A wall charger was not included, but it does come with a two-foot-long Micro USB cable. The battery charges quickly and lasts five or so hours, like most speakers this size.
Powering up the unit is as simple as holding the power button for three seconds, and is accompanied by a satisfying “Power On” vocalized through the speakers. Bluetooth is much the same, using the Bluetooth button, and again the Superstar Backfloat will both signify its status with a light as well as telling you that you are connected. Audio after connection is set at max volume, and may need to be adjusted as this speaker hub is extremely loud for its size. Bass is fantastically low for such a small set, and the fidelity is great with no buzzing or raspiness at all. Even at max volume, Yes’ “Owner of a Lonely Heart” sounded amazing, the bass thumping from the center mini-woofer. Monster does recommend placing this unit standing up for the best audio, and there is an appreciable difference compared to having it laying on its back. Still, in either position, the Backfloat had none of the tinniness I have experienced with speakers this size in the past, and projected sound like a much larger boom box. But then, with a company known for its audio fidelity products, one would expect fantastic audio performance, right?
The speakerphone function works fantastically, with the small waterproof mic on top able to pick up voices from across the room over the din of a small heater and humidifier. The water resistance really works as well; it may be too cold outside to go test it in a pool, but in a full bathtub the unit does float on its back like the name implies. Audio sounds just as crisp as out of the water, and even the speakerphone still works, though the microphone hole sits almost underneath the waterline. The owners manual does make it a point to make sure that the headphone and charging jacks are covered, and after use near water to peel off the thick silicone case to dry the actual speaker unit. After its brief foray into the bathtub, however, it seems the case was fairly effective at keeping water out with the large lip that runs around the face of the speaker. This case comes with molded, 2-3mm thick edges at the corners to protect the unit from any shock it may come across from outdoor adventures.
The one-year limited warranty and the rugged, water and shock-proof design mean that these fantastic, compact speakers can stay by your side through almost anything. It’s loud enough for a backyard pool day with the kids, versatile enough to use as a personal speakerphone, and with a bevy of colors it makes the perfect gift for the outdoorsy audiophile in your life.
Me? I’ll be waiting for the warmer months to take this thing on a float down the river.