I’ve seen a lot of interesting and inventive audio products since I’ve been writing for this site. While I am certainly no audiophile, I have developed an interest in some of the more unique audio products that we get in. When I saw that we had a contact vibration speaker up for review I jumped at the chance. I had seen similar devices before but had never actually heard one. I was definitely impressed with some aspects of the UbiRock, but was let down by others.
What’s a Contact Vibration Speaker?
A contact vibration speaker produces sound by putting energy that is generated via its voice coil into a plate that in turn makes contact with and vibrates a hard surface. The idea is that without having to account for the sound projection medium (the cone of a traditional speaker) more attention can be paid to the quality of the driver, resulting in a high-quality portable speaker.
So How Does it Sound?
Uninspired is ultimately how I would describe the sound quality here. It is not at all terrible and indeed as good if not better than many of the portable speakers I have used before. I say uninspired because I can’t exactly call the audio flat or tinny. It simply lacks depth. When listening to anything with even a modicum of bass the audio just completely washes out – you might as well listen to randomly generated white noise. It’s also worth noting that since this is a single speaker we are only getting mono sound.
I found that thick glass and solid wood surfaces produced the best sound. As might be obvious, metal surfaces produced enough reverberation as to be actively irritating. I may find the sound uninspired, but that does not mean that it was bad, it just doesn’t have a lot of range. I found the UbiRock to be quite enjoyable when playing games on my PC or watching many older television shows on Netflix, particularly those that were recorded before stereo was commonly used.
Design & Functionality
The unit draws power from a standard USB port. This comes in the form of an all-in-one cable that connects it to your USB port as well as a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. This offers a limited degree of portability that would really only prove useful with a Laptop. I would really have liked to see an internal power source with this to make it a truly portable option. The device is certainly easy to use though, as all you require are a device to connect it to and a hard surface to set it on.
This little device is definitely an attractive one with its rounded triangle shape and white on silver colors. It lives up to its namesake as well, with a nice heft and a resemblance to a smooth white rock. I really would have liked to see a pouch included to protect the device from scratches and dust though.
Overall I am impressed with the UbiRock. It does a decent job of producing audio at the mid-to-high range but the audio just lacks the richness that you might get from a decent pair of headphones unfortunately. The same can be said for most devices in its market though. It’s highly portable and would be a good option for anyone who needs to be able to play audio just about anywhere and it should stand up to a fair amount of travel. At $49.99 it is definitely not a bad deal.