Firstly, I’d never heard of Bayan Audio before I was asked to review this speaker, and I'm delighted I did. It's really impressive.
I’d already upgraded to Spotify Premium to get the 320 kbps quality, and it really shows on this device. Delivered in a beautifully designed custom made thick-card box to protect it during transit, it's great to see the wonderful attention to detail. Even the standard 3.5mm AUX cables is a top quality thick black cable with a velcro strap to keep it tidy.
The whole experience just says "quality" with remarkable attention to detail.
What is it and what's it like?
The Soundbook X3 a top-end bluetooth wireless speaker with an impressive sound-stage. At this price range it's one of the best speakers available, and has just leapt into first position, as the best I've tested to date.
Firstly, the build quality is excellent. Weighing in a reassuringly heaving 1.4Kg (about one and a half a bags of sugar) it has a reassuring heft, and appears to have been carved out of solid (cold to the touch) block of aluminium. As you can see from the photos it’s an unusual design based loosely around a book, and the front cover acts to both protect the front speakers and automatically switch on the device. Made from “a hard wearing ballistic nylon” material, (I do wonder whether it’d stop a bullet), you open it out and fold it under where it acts as a stand.
These nice design touches don’t stop there. Pair it with your smartphone using bluetooth (and NFC if your phone supports it), and a subtle orange LED displays briefly displays the word BLUE to indicate it’s in “bluetooth mode” when switched on, Across the top it has four subtly indented rubber buttons for volume, power and to scan for radio frequency on the built in FM radio. It also has a sequence of tiny white LEDs to indicate the volume. The designers clearly spent a great deal of time and effort agonising over the design of this product, and it shows.
Let me point out of few of the small but beautiful design features:-
* On the front cover (which also includes an integral arial for the FM radio), there’s a small leather “Bayan Audio” label - sewn into the cover like a clothes label on the designer tee-shirt.
* The solid heavy aluminium block to gives a feeling of stability, quality and a reduces acoustic energy loss
* The subtle fingertip shaped indented rubber buttons, so you can “feel” the buttons even with the lights turned down low
* The “smart cover” which automatically switches the speaker on when you open it up to act as a stand, and off when you close it providing both protection and function
* You can plug in a USB cable and charge your smartphone - great for an emergency (although admittedly a bit of a gimmick)
* On the rear, when you plug in the power cord, a tiny green light comes on to indicate it’s powered on
* The LED display indicates FULL when it’s fully charged up, LOW when your battery is getting a bit low and CALL when making a conference call (you can use it to answer the phone).
All this adds up to a device that’s had a great deal of attention paid to it.
And that’s before you switch it on.
What's the sound quality like?
Firstly, I'm no audiophile, so these are the opinion of a "layman" and I'll avoid any reference to frequency modulation, bright mid-range or harsh treble, but this really is an outstanding device.
I've listened to a series of test tracks including everything from the deep mournful voice of Nina Simone singing “Feeling Good”, to the raw energy and jangling guitars of The Rolling Stones. Pleased to say it handled everything I threw at it with ease. I think it really surprised me when listening to a track by “Elbow", and I heard the children playing in the background for the first time. Amazing.
For me, where it really came into its own was listening to “The Seldom Seen Kid” by Elbow. Not a track, the entire album. Listening to it again was like listening to it for the first time. I could hear detail I’d not noticed before. Lovely. Just lovely.
In short, this would be a great speaker to kick out a great soundscape for a party, but will equally work well providing the sound-track for a dinner party.
What's Good about it?
* Beautifully designed with great attention to detail
* Beautiful clear sound, impressive separation and almost no distortion, even when played at high volume
* Acts as a bluetooth “wireless” or wired speaker, FM radio and conference call centre if paired to your mobile
* Absolutely stunning build quality, and lovingly presented in the box. It’s a pleasure to open.
What you should be aware of?
Something I have noticed with these really top end speakers, is they need “running in”, and I think this may need to as well. When I first switched it on I was shocked that it didn’t sound anywhere near as good as I’d expected. To be honest I was really disappointed at first, but an hour or so later I noticed the sound was much warmer, and now you’d have to prise this out of my dead fingers. I love it.
Other than that it’s wonderful.
I've owned and tested a huge number of bluetooth speakers ranging from £20 to £260, and can say (with some confidence) this is one of the best I've heard, and certainly one of the best in its price bracket.
Don't faff about - just buy it!
Reminder: As I'd said at the start, I was given this speaker for an independent review. Having said that, it's a pleasure to test a device this well made.
on January 22, 2015
This is by far the best speaker system we have ever had! We previously had an iHOME speaker but it was a real pain to set up, and just trying to plug and play was not always effective. The Bayan X3 however was incredibly easy to set up. I took it out of the box, plugged it in and was able to Bluetooth to my iPhone right away. My 7 year old daughter’s little iPod shuffle can plug-in-play making it really easy for her as well. I also love that I can listen to the radio in the morning to hear the news! On top of that the sound is fantastic, it looks cool and doesn’t take up a lot of space and therefore can be mobile. As an added bonus, since I work from home I can use it as a speaker phone when doing conference calls. This was worth every penny!
on July 29, 2016
As the other reviews have stated, the sound is exceptional, depending of course on the bit rate of the audio you're streaming to the speaker. The integrated FM tuner sold me on this unit, as I wanted a small yet functional radio for my desk at work. The blue LED lettering to indicate the input selection is slick, and the aesthetics of this speaker and its packaging are beyond compare. My only (minor) complaint is the fact that the Soundbook charges off a mini-USB plug instead of micro-USB. This is somewhat frustrating as all my other devices (tablets, phones, etc.) exclusively use the now ubiquitous micro-USB standard and having to switch my default charging cable is a minor inconvenience. Not a deal breaker, but definitely a questionable choice in the design of an otherwise flawlessly sleek product.