Perfectly portable, strangely flawed – Daily Report

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Classification:
6/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Trash
  • 2 – Sort warm garbage
  • 3 – Very flawed design
  • 4 – Some advantages, many disadvantages
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 – Excellent, but not best in class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with some footnotes
  • 9 – Shut up and take my money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $120

Andrew Heinzman

First impressions are important, and I was very impressed by the Tribit Stormbox Pro right out of the box. This portable Bluetooth speaker has a fun bass sound, blasts audio in every direction, and is the perfect form factor for outdoor activities. Unfortunately, I cannot base my review of the Tribit Stormbox Pro on first impressions.

This is what we like

  • Solid sound, volume and bass boost
  • Durable and waterproof (IP67)
  • Great battery life
  • can charge your phone
  • Perfect design for outdoor activities.

And what we don’t do

  • Multiple manufacturer defect reports.
  • Confusing pairing process
  • No 3.5mm “AUX” input
  • No equalization settings
  • Distorts at very high volumes

This speaker does a lot of things right. In some ways, it’s one of the best portable speakers in this price range. But after testing two Tribit Stormbox Pros for a few months, I ran into some frustrating issues every potential customer should know about.

specs

  • drivers: 3-inch subwoofer, 2 x 40mm speakers, 2 passive radiators
  • Output power: 2×7.5W + 25W
  • Frequency range: 60Hz – 20kHz
  • connectivity:Bluetooth 5.0
  • codecs: aptX
  • Waterproof: IP67
  • charging: USB-C
  • Power bank functionality: Charge phones through the USB-A port.
  • battery size: 10,000 mAh (two 5,000 mAh batteries in series)
  • 3.55 “AUX” input: Nope
  • built-in microphone: Yes, for hands-free and voice assistants.
  • party mode: Yes, you can pair two of these speakers together.

Solid audio with some footnotes

The sound quality of the Tribit Stormbox Pro is what I expected, considering the price and form factor of the speaker. It doesn’t sound like a full-size stereo setup, and the midrange is definitely missing a bit. But it’s loud enough for a pool party or cookout, it’s omnidirectional, and it packs a ton of bass.

and for when you want blackberries bass, there is a big button that says “XBass”. You won’t get the best sound quality when XBass is enabled, but hey, it makes music more fun, especially when you’re enjoying it with other people.

To be clear, I’m not trying to go after the Tribit Stormbox Pro for its sound quality. You will never find a speaker with incredible sound and beautiful stereo separation in this form factor, at least not in my opinion. That’s just the tradeoff for a speaker that weighs three pounds and can pump sound in all directions at once.

Two Tribit Stormbox Pro speakers in Party mode.
Party mode allows two speakers to work as a pair. Andrew Heinzman

Now, Tribit could have kicked things up a notch with preset equalizers (or a custom equalizer tool in a smartphone app). But I understand why Tribit omitted this feature. Most people wouldn’t bother messing with the EQ settings, so it might not be worth the extra R&D costs.

I should also point out that this speaker has a party mode. If you buy two Tribit Stormbox Pro speakers, you can pair them together for true stereo separation and all that good stuff. Tribit sent me two speakers and in my tests Party mode sounds really impressive! But in most situations, a single speaker was all I really wanted to use. Keeping two things loaded and close at hand is extra work.

Here is my only major complaint; while the Tribit Stormbox Pro can be quite loud, turning up the volume all the way can distort audio, particularly when XBass is enabled. If you’re a good, quiet neighbor, I don’t think this will be a problem, but it has been a problem for me.

Beware of manufacturer defects

The Tribit Stormbox Pro speaker hanging from a palm tree by its carrying handle.
Andrew Heinzman

Speaking of turning up the volume, I noticed that one of my Tribit Stormbox Pro speakers makes a loud “pop” noise at high volumes. Like a sudden, very loud “pop,” similar to what you hear when your car or home sound system has loose or crossed wires.

This only happens once in a blue moon, and again it only affects one of the speakers I tested. But I think it’s a symptom of poor wiring; speaker vibrations are doing something to the wires

I’ve come across dozens of customer reviews complaining of Tribit Stormbox Pro speakers not holding a charge and making a loud “pop” when trying to turn on, so this type of defect may be a common one. To clarify, I don’t think this problem is very scary. The loud “pop” noise is coming from the speaker drivers, not the battery. If I’m not mistaken, the speakers are going crazy due to an interrupted or irregular electrical signal.

Tribit seems to be very good at replacing faulty speakers and reimbursing customers, which is good. But I still have to deduct points for this issue – had I never encountered it, I would have rated Stormbox Pro 7/10.

Exceptional battery life and reverse charging

The USB-C charging port and the USB-A reverse charging port of the Tribit Stormbox Pro.
The USB-C port is for charging the speaker only. Andrew Heinzman

Apart from its price, the battery life is the main selling point of this speaker. It’s only a 10,000mAh battery, but it lasts about 24 hours on a charge (at a reasonable volume). That’s more than enough for a trip to the beach, a long cookout, a pool party, and most other social events. It’s also double what you’ll get from similarly priced speakers like the JBL Flip 6.

You can also use Tribit Stormbox Pro as a portable battery for your phone or any USB powered device. It’s a neat feature in a pinch, but if you’re going somewhere where your phone might die, just bring a separate battery. Batteries with a capacity of 10,000 mAh cost around $20 now.

My only complaint is that the speaker itself takes six to seven hours to charge. I’m not sure why a 10,000 mAh battery needs this long for charging via USB-C: cheap components? It’s not the biggest problem in the world anyway, but it’s a minor annoyance for people (like me) who tend to prepare for outdoor excursions at the last minute.

A design for rain or shine

The Tribit Stormbox Pro in a puddle of water.
Andrew Heinzman

Tribit earns a ton of points for the design of this speaker. It only weighs about three pounds and has a (surprisingly sturdy) rubberized carry handle. You can easily put it in a bag, hook it on a carabiner, and hang it from a hook in your kitchen, bathroom, or garage.

Plus, with an IP67 dust and water resistance rating, the Tribit Stormbox Pro is ideal for any outdoor activity. I dragged this speaker to the beach and floated with it in the springs. It has survived every trip, even in the rain.

And when the speaker’s cloth exterior gets dirty, I just rinse it off. Based on IP67 certification, it should withstand immersion in a meter of water for thirty minutes, so a quick rinse is fine.

You can also use Stormbox Pro in the shower. Just be aware that hard water and soap scum could build up on the cloth surface of the speaker after a few months. (Although I assume this is true for any Bluetooth speaker.)

The pairing process is horrible

The Tribit Stormbox Pro on a wooden bench.
Andrew Heinzman

Controlling a loudspeaker shouldn’t be rocket science. I just want to turn it on, pair my phone, adjust the volume and do whatever with no problem. But the matchmaking process of Tribit Stormbox Pro is a nightmare.

Initial setup is very easy. But once the Tribit Stormbox Pro is connected with a device, it just pretends that nothing else exists. I have to disable Bluetooth on whatever device is currently paired with the speaker every time I go into pairing mode. Otherwise, it just reconnects to that old device (which is very inconvenient when a friend or roommate is the last to use the speaker).

Also, the speaker doesn’t tell you things like “pairing” or “pairing complete”. It just makes a bunch of watery “bleep boop” noises. I’m sure this is to avoid language barriers in the international market, and that’s great. But I don’t know what “bleep bloop” or “wooOosh” means!

The Tribit Stormbox Pro’s lack of a 3.5mm jack only adds insult to injury. I would love to connect a new audio source without going through the pairing process. But I can’t, so I have to go through the “beep bloop” dance instead.

The gist: Well, this is a pickle.

A wet Tribit Stormbox Pro.
Andrew Heinzman

Of all the speakers in this price range, the Tribit Stormbox Pro has one of the best designs for outdoor activities, specifically small parties, camping trips, and beach days. The carrying handle is awesome, it’s waterproof, the battery swings, and the omnidirectional drivers make fun, bassy sound.

It’s a shame that Stormbox Pro suffers from such strange issues. I can overlook the lack of an AUX cable or customizable EQ, as these features are missing from a lot of Bluetooth speakers. But the pairing process is a mess and manufacturer flaws seem somewhat commonplace – these two things make the Stormbox Pro hard to recommend without a enormous asterisk.

So, I will say this; Amazon has a great return policy, and the Tribit Stormbox Pro goes on sale at least once a month (just check the price history). If its features or specs appeal to you, wait for one of those monthly deals and give it a try. Again, if I hadn’t come across so many defect reports, I would have rated this speaker a 7/10, and that rating would be even higher were it not for the pairing process.

This is what we like

  • Solid sound, volume and bass boost
  • Durable and waterproof (IP67)
  • Great battery life
  • can charge your phone
  • Perfect design for outdoor activities.

And what we don’t do

  • Multiple manufacturer defect reports.
  • Confusing pairing process
  • No 3.5mm “AUX” input
  • No equalization settings
  • Distorts at very high volumes