It’s not often that you pay less and get more, but the OontZ by Cambridge SoundWorks is a USB rechargeable Bluetooth speaker that offers audio performance far better than speakers costing twice as much. That’s not just hype either, as at the time of our review, we had four other speakers to compare it to, one of which was three times the price.
Cambridge SoundWorks designed the OontZ to be easy to use, with excellent sound in a highly portable package. At only 10 ounces, it’s similar in weight to the other models we tested, and the 1100mAh battery provides around ten hours of run time, which is comparable to its competition. On paper, they seem fairly equal, despite the price differences. It’s the giant passive radiator that takes up most of the back of this 5.2″ x 2.8″ speaker which puts it far above the rest when hitting the low notes. We’re not claiming that the OontZ somehow defies physics – we know that there is a limit to reproducing low frequencies with small speakers and enclosures. But Cambridge SoundWorks has clearly optimized the size and shape to deliver as much bass as possible, down to 60Hz. And they didn’t stop there. It clearly (no pun intended) offers crisp sound for vocals and instruments up to 20kHz as well. We don’t have a lab full of fancy testing equipment, and instead rely on real-world testing by our team of contributors. And every one of them gave the OontZ high marks for sound quality.
Surely this speaker can’t win on every front, right? Well, the audio controls are clearly labeled, and it pairs almost instantly. Phone/Play/Pause are in the middle, with volume +/- , forward/back, and Source all arranged in a circle around the central button. They even printed pairing instructions on the underside. And it’s available in a wide range of colors too. Between the power switch and 3.5mm stereo jack on the back is a USB charging port, but it’s a mini, not a micro. Cambridge SoundWorks includes a cable, but we’d prefer to see the micro, since that’s pretty much standard. It works well as a speakerphone, although it sounds so good you may be tempted to ignore callers that are interrupting your music. So what is the only weakness we could find? We’ve been spoiled by the rugged, overbuilt speakers that are splash-proof, drop-proof, and nearly indestructible. With its rubberized housing and light weight, the OontZ is built for use indoors or out, but probably requires a bit of extra care around water and dusty conditions. Yes, bring it to the beach, camping, or your next cookout. Just limit its exposure to the unfriendlier elements. Other than that, it’s a win. theoontz.com (At the time of publication, the OontZ was on sale for $49.99, down from the usual $69.99 price)
MSRP: $69.99 | Run time: 10 hours | Sound quality/quantity: excellent | Build quality: good
Disclosure of Material Connection: We received the OontZ for free from Cambridge SoundWorks, in consideration for review publication