HomeTechnologyNewsA portable Bluetooth party starter

A portable Bluetooth party starter

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Ratings:
8/10
?

  • 1 – Doesn’t work
  • 2 – Barely functional
  • 3 – Very poor in most areas
  • 4 – It works, but has numerous problems
  • 5 – Good but leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 – Great and worth buying
  • 8 – Fantastic, approaching the best of its class
  • 9 – Top of his class
  • 10 – Borderline perfection

Price: $200

Hannah Stryker / Instructional Geek

Most Bluetooth speakers are designed for listening by yourself, or at most with a few friends. What if you’re looking to host an outdoor party and want to provide the soundtrack? That seems to be the exact environment that the Tribit StormBox Blast is designed for.

The StormBox Blast isn’t just a pretty face, it’s a monster of a Bluetooth speaker. From the 90 watts of power to the built-in LED light show, this portable powerhouse has all the volume and bass you need for a larger gathering. It even has battery power to back it all up.

Is the StormBox Blast the perfect Bluetooth speaker for everyone, or are the lights and volume just over the top?

This is what we like

  • Incredibly loud for the size.
  • powerful bass
  • IPX7 water resistance is ideal for pool parties
  • The lights add a fun element.
  • The handle makes transport very easy

And what we don’t do

  • Limited to Bluetooth SBC codec
  • lights are not for everyone
  • Not everyone needs a loud Bluetooth speaker

How-To Geek’s expert reviewers get right down to business with every product we review. We put each piece of hardware through hours of real-world testing and benchmark it in our lab. We never accept payments to endorse or review a product and we never add other people’s reviews. Read more >>

Build and Design: Big, bright and anything but subtle

Person carrying TriBit StormBox Blast speaker with purple lights
Hannah Stryker / Instructional Geek
  • Dimensions: 8.9 x 16 x 6.4 inches (226 x 406 x 162mm)
  • Weight: 11.6 lbs (0.45kg)
  • IP Ratings: IPX7

The Tribit StormBox Blast is big and heavy, measuring 16 inches wide and weighing over 11 pounds. Even looking at the specs before the review unit arrived, I was still surprised at how heavy the speaker felt. The integrated handle helps you carry it around, but you don’t want to take it with you everywhere.

There’s more than flashy branding to the StormBox name. Tribit says that the StormBox Blast is waterproof with an IPX7 rating. This means you can submerge the speaker in water for up to 30 minutes, not that you should. You should worry even less if you’re taking the speaker to a pool party.

As if the big, heavy speaker isn’t already eye-catching, it also has prominent LED lighting to help you stand out even more. There are a total of 32 LEDs, with 15 on each side of the speaker and another pair that illuminate the drivers in the center of the speaker.

These speakers automatically flash along with the music in two different modes. Fortunately, most of the time you can turn the lights off if you’re not a fan.

Connectivity: Barebones at best

TriBit StormBox Blast Speaker with its cable and box
Hannah Stryker / Instructional Geek
  • Bluetooth version: 5.3
  • Bluetooth codecs: SBC
  • Bluetooth protocol: A2DP, AVRCP

While the Tribit StormBox Blast has the feel of being a “more of everything” speaker, the company didn’t take this approach when it came to wireless connectivity. The speaker may have Bluetooth 5.3, but you haven’t done much with it, using only the basic SBC codec.

Already having Bluetooth 5.3 means it’s technically possible for Tribit to add Bluetooth LE Audio and the LC3 codec at a later date, but if the company planned this, it probably would have already done so. For this price I’d at least like to see AAC, and something like aptX or LDAC would be even better.

Fortunately, if you’re looking for a higher fidelity connection for your playback device, you can go the wired route. On the back of the speaker, under the waterproof surface, is a 3.5mm input that allows you to connect your MP3 player or other playback device.

There’s no microphone, which means no speakerphone functionality, but no smart voice assistant either. Personally, I’m never a big user of these features, but it still would have been nice to see them included.

Tribit app and controls: Let the light show begin

Top view of the TriBit StormBox Blast speaker showing the handle and buttons
Hannah Stryker / Instructional Geek

The controls are located just above the case, below the handle. You’ll find the power button on the far left, next to the Bluetooth pairing button. On the opposite side of the speaker, the XBass button sits on the right, with the button for switching between various lighting modes next to it.

The trio of main controls sits in the middle of the top panel. This trio consists of a multifunction button in the middle, flanked by volume buttons on either side. For anything else, you’ll need the Tribit app, which is available for iPhone and Android.

The app allows you to update the Tribit StormBox Blast’s firmware (an update was available for the review unit I tested), reset the speaker to factory settings, and turn the auto-hibernation feature on or off.

The real reason to use the app is the equalizer. You get a custom EQ option, as well as some handpicked presets. You’ll find presets for standard music genres like Jazz and Rock, but also more convenient presets like Audiobook.

Finally, whether you control the lights with the app or the integrated button, the modes are limited. Mode 1 uses white lights in the center and colored lights on the sides, while Mode 2 uses RGB lighting throughout. You can also turn off the auto-sync lighting, though the sides still light up whenever you adjust the volume.

Sound quality: Volume to keep the party going

TriBit StormBox Blast Speaker placed in a living room.
Hannah Stryker / Instructional Geek
  • Drivers: 2 x 4.2-inch woofers, 2 x 1.2-inch tweeters
  • Power outputs: 90 W (2 x 30 W woofer + 2 x 15 W tweeter)

The StormBox Blast combines dual 4.2-inch woofers with a pair of 1.2-inch tweeters, using a combined 90 watts of power. If that sounds like high wattage for a Bluetooth speaker, that’s because it is. And yes, it gets loud.

That being said, this speaker has more to offer than just volume. It fills a room like few other Bluetooth speakers do. Since it’s still only 16 inches wide, it doesn’t sound especially wide, but it sounds big, with a surprising amount of bass, even before you enable the XBass feature.

To test the range of the StormBox Blast, I listened to “Change” by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. This is a song that changes quite a bit throughout its running time, both in tempo and the overall sonic character of the music. StormBox Blast held up admirably, shining in particular when the song picks up near the end.

TriBit StormBox Blast speaker side
Hannah Stryker / Instructional Geek

Next, I played the lengthy “Il Mostro Atomico” by Fu Manchu. The song starts off slow, but StormBox Blast makes it sound colossal as the song kicks into gear. You can hear the bassist sliding a note down the neck several times during the intro. This is rarely heard on Bluetooth speakers, even large ones, so it was nice to hear.

After a while, I switched to “House on a Hill” by Inkswel. StormBox Blast handled the transition to hip-hop beats just as well as it did the previous songs. The transients in the percussion elements came through without sounding too loud, and the bass line has plenty of low-end depth.

I did not often use the XBass function during testing, nor did I change the EQ modes. One thing I did notice is that XBass works best as a solution when you place the speaker in a spot where bass response suffers. If you look at it as a tool and not a feature, it’s much more useful.

Ports on the back of the TriBit StormBox Blast speaker
Hannah Stryker / Instructional Geek
  • Battery capacity: 3.6V*9 2200mAh
  • External charging power: 5V USB-C

Tribit StormBox offers up to 30 hours of battery life. The problem is that this always varies with volume, and with how loud the StormBox can get, it’s likely to be even more variable here. During my test, I got around 25 hours, but this was after multiple listening sessions at high volume.

Because the battery is so large, it takes a bit longer to charge than a typical Bluetooth speaker. While many speakers charge in about two hours, the Tribit StormBox Blast takes about 4.5 hours to charge from completely empty to full. If you’re going out, you’d be wise to have a portable charging option on hand.

The good news is that you can put that battery to work elsewhere. Pull back the waterproof cover on the back of the speaker and you’ll find a USB-C port that you can use to charge your other devices. This obviously means less gaming time overall, but it’s handy to have a power bank with you when you need it.

Should you buy Tribit StormBox Blast?

The Tribit StormBox Blast is big, loud, and has surprisingly good sound. Sure, I can complain about the lack of Bluetooth codecs, but at least with Bluetooth 5.3, this is something Tribit could theoretically address in the future, and it sounds good enough that most won’t care.

Perhaps the key decision here has nothing to do with how good the speaker is, but whether it’s the right speaker for you. For example, I tend to use Bluetooth speakers for quieter listening, often alone or with a few other people. For me, as much as I like it, the StormBox Blast would be too much.

That being said, if you constantly want to have a more powerful portable Bluetooth speaker, the StormBox Blast is absolutely one of the best options you’ll find for the price.

Ratings: 8/10
?

  • 1 – Doesn’t work
  • 2 – Barely functional
  • 3 – Very poor in most areas
  • 4 – It works, but has numerous problems
  • 5 – Good but leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 – Great and worth buying
  • 8 – Fantastic, approaching the best of its class
  • 9 – Top of his class
  • 10 – Borderline perfection

Price: $200

This is what we like

  • Incredibly loud for the size.
  • powerful bass
  • IPX7 water resistance is ideal for pool parties
  • The lights add a fun element.
  • The handle makes transport very easy

And what we don’t do

  • Limited to Bluetooth SBC codec
  • lights are not for everyone
  • Not everyone needs a loud Bluetooth speaker

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