Rock-It vibration speaker system review [ Video ]
As a self confessed audiophile I literally live for innovative audio products. As it so happens, my very first audio review for BGR.in is a very unique product – the OrigAudio Rock-it – a portable vibration speaker system, which claims to convert any surface into a sonic boom siren! On the face of it sounds very interesting, but the truth about the product will only come out once I put it through the BGR testing hoops. Read on for more.
Build Quality and Design
I have been a guitar player all my life and have seen all kinds of audio products – large studio monitors, iPod docks, headphones, amplifiers – the whole nine yards, however the OrigAudio Rock-it is a one of a kind product and it looks like no other audio product I have seen. Looks wise it’s closest kin would perhaps be a headphone pouch. It’s that tiny. The tiny speaker module is housed inside a squarish plastic enclosure where we can install AAA batteries, or AC power by way of USB and also the 3.5-mm audio port, which can plug into literally any audio source. The speaker module sits in the enclosure but when the time comes to pump it up one has to remove it from its comfort zone and attach it to desired surface through a sticky. Having said that the speaker module remains connected to the main enclosure through a cable that keeps dangling, which to me is highly inconvenient and a recipe for disaster. On the whole, the Rock-it feels extremely plastiky which is not very reassuring. The package also contained an extra 3.5-mm extender cord, USB charger and four extra stickys.
Now OrigAudio claims that the Rock-it can convert any surface into an audio source via its vibration technology. This claim is not entirely true. The sound quality is subject to the acoustic quality of the surface. This is elementary physics. I tested the Rock-it on a wide array of surfaces, sometimes the results were just stunning and sometimes there was no result, I mean no sound.
I started my test with the most obvious surface my bedside table, which was made up of teak wood. The results were not very inspiring. I played my usual test songs – Sweet Child O’ Mine, Hells Bells, Shoot to thrill, Wish you were here and Voodoo Childe. The thick wooden surface of my bedside table was blunting the amplification produced by Rock-it’s vibrating speakers. The volume was not audible, but when I closely tried to analyze the sound quality the dark nature of the teak wood produced a very sweet mid-range honk, resulting in very clear distorted guitar sounds albeit at almost in-audible volume levels.
Next up was an empty cardboard box that was lying around in my room. Again I was testing the above-mentioned songs for the sake of uniformity. The results turned out to be very good. The hollow nature of the cardboard box generated decent volume levels, that surprisingly matched the top range of my MacBook Pro. Now this being a papyrus based surface I was never expecting sonic performance on the scale of a wooden surface, nonetheless it fared very well. The mids were balanced, the output was good, the treble never sizzled our ears and low-end thump was what we would get out of any laptop speaker.
Exploring further, I decided to test the Rock-It with an empty plastic container. The results were very similar to the cardboard box except for the fact heard a quite a bit of buzz, and bit of undesirable top end sizzle. I am guessing this will not be a major issue for most people, I am an audiophile and have the tendency to pick up sonic nuances that many people don’t hear. Suffice to say a hollow plastic container can be turned into your portable boom box with Rock-It.
Now after testing it on so many surfaces I had a fairly good idea how to coax a sweet and loud sound from the Rock-It. It had to be on an acoustically receptive surface and there can be no better surface than a spruce top of an acoustic guitar. Boy, it sounded good! While most people will never use it like this, it would not be a bad idea if one made a soundbox specifically for it. A carpenter could do it for less than 250 bucks. One can easily use it to pump out a meaty yet clear sound from Rock-It as I discovered while I was using my guitar as a surface for it. Whether harmonically it is the rich intro of Sweet Child O’ Mine or the crunchy riff of Shoot to thrill, the sound was superb. At the end of the day, more than the sonic qualities of the speaker module itself, the Rock-It is highly dependent on the acoustic quality of the surface. You have a good surface you will get good sound and vice-versa.
Practically speaking, most people will only use commonly available surfaces, like cardboard boxes or plastic containers, but if you thinks your coffee table will turn into a soundbox then you are sadly mistaken. For enthusiasts, I will recommend custom wooden enclosures similar to the way car audio experts install woofers in wooden boxes. Surfaces made up of Spruce, Alder, Maple and Mahogany would work very well.
The OrigAudio Rock-It is perhaps the most unique product I have ever reviewed. The company touts something very unique. They claim that the product can turn any surface into an audio source, which is something, not entirely true. If the user is willing to fiddle around with surfaces immensely satisfying sounds can be produced, however it will be foolhardy to think any surface would churn out a clear and audible listening experience. Another facet I like about the speaker is its impressive two daylong battery life with two AAA batteries. At Rs 2,850, it is more an enthusiast purchase than a value for money purchase, simply because good results are not instantaneous one has to experiment a lot. But once one goes through the song and dance routine, the Rock-It provides a very compelling proposition.
The OrigAudio Rock-It is available at HitPlay.
Video credit: Rohit Sharma