Soundboks Gen 4 Review: The Life of the Party!

Published On: April 19, 2024
Last Updated on: April 22, 2024
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Soundboks Gen 4 Review: The Life of the Party!

The SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4 is a powerful, pro-grade portable speaker whose concert-level sound quality and volume make it perfect for outdoor events and mobile DJs.

Soundboks Gen 4 Review: The Life of the Party!

As an audiophile and home theater enthusiast, I recently had the pleasure of attending AXPONA, the premier high-end audio trade show in Chicago. There, I had the opportunity to listen to some of the finest speakers in the world, marveling at their incredible sound quality and craftsmanship. However, upon returning home, I found myself faced with a different kind of audio challenge: reviewing the SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4, a new wireless party focused speaker that promises to deliver powerful, high-quality sound in a compact and portable package.

At first glance, it might seem odd to compare a party speaker to the higher-end hifi offerings at AXPONA, but I was intrigued by the SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4's interesting specs and the glowing reviews it had already received from other reviewers. Could this speaker bridge the gap between somewhat audiophile-grade sound and the convenience of a portable, battery-powered system? Let’s find out!

TLDR:

Soundboks Gen 4 closeup

The SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4 is a powerful, pro-grade portable speaker that delivers concert-level sound quality and volume in a rugged, battery-powered package. With its impressive 126 dB max output, long battery life, and versatile connectivity options, this speaker is perfect for outdoor events, mobile DJs, and anyone seeking an immersive audio experience.

While its mono design may be a drawback for some, the SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4's unparalleled performance and build quality make it the best battery-powered party speaker on the market, justifying its $1,000 price point.

Pros:

  • Pro-grade build quality
  • Long battery life (up to 40 hours)
  • Impressive output and sound quality (126 dB max)
  • Versatile inputs and outputs for expandability
  • Swappable battery for extended playtime

Cons:

  • AC adapter can't be used as a power source at high volumes
  • Stereo sound requires a pair of speakers

Unboxing and Design

The SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4 arrived in a well-designed box with good packing all around, it arrived without a scartch. The speaker's design is both rugged and stylish, with a poplar cabinet, powder-coated aluminum frame, and steel handles. The silicone ball corners not only allow the speaker to stand securely but also provide protection against bumps and scratches during transport.

Soundboks Gen 4 frontal view

One of the first things I took note of was the speaker's size for being a portable speaker – at 25.6 x 17 x 13 inches and weighing 35.5 pounds, it's just barely portable in my opinion. However, SOUNDBOKS offers an optional backpack attachment for easier carrying over longer distances. The snap-on steel grill is a nice touch, as it allows for better protection when using the speaker at parties, though my first thought was just to flip the logo if you had a stereo pair so the tweeter and woofers would be properly aligned.

Before jumping into the speaker's performance, I decided to charge the battery and update the firmware using the SOUNDBOKS app. The charging process was straightforward, although I was surprised to learn that the AC adapter couldn't be used as a power source at high volumes. This means that even when using the speaker near power, you'll still be relying on battery power. However, the swappable battery design is a major plus, as it allows for extended playtime and the option to purchase additional batteries for even longer sessions, but it does come at a cost. 

Features and Specifications

The SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4 boasts an impressive array of features and specifications, as outlined in the table below:

FeatureSpecification
Amplifiers3 × 72W RMS Infineon MERUS Audio eximo® class D amplifiers
DSPNext-generation adaptive DSP with proprietary Bass Enhancer
Frequency Range40 Hz - 20 kHz
Max Volume126 dB
Woofers2 × 10" 96 dB / 1W / 1m
Tweeter1 × 1" 104 dB / 1W / 1m compression driver
Battery Life40 hours at mid-volume, 6 hours at full volume
Recharge Time3.5 hours
BluetoothVersion 5.0
TeamUP ConnectionKAA connection for up to 5 SKAA-enabled speakers
Pro Panel Inputs2 × Combo (XLR, 1/4") balanced inputs, 1 × 3.5mm stereo input,
1 × 3.5mm stereo output
App FeaturesUpgradeable firmware, custom sound profiles with customizable EQ,
Pro Panel configuration
The SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4 is a powerful, pro-grade portable speaker whose concert-level sound quality and volume make it perfect for outdoor events and mobile DJs. Soundboks Gen 4 review ae72f6b1 pasted image 3

The speaker's 2+1 configuration, with two 10-inch woofers and a 1-inch compression driver tweeter, is powered by three 72W class D amplifiers. This setup, combined with the next-generation adaptive DSP and proprietary Bass Enhancer is a well balanced design with modern audio tech built-in.

One great feature of the SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4 is its connectivity options. In addition to Bluetooth 5.0, the speaker supports SKAA TeamUP connection, it allows users to wirelessly connect up to five SKAA-enabled speakers for an even bigger sound stage when needed. The Pro Panel inputs offer pro grade flexibility for connecting external audio sources, such as microphones, instruments, or mixers, making the speaker a versatile choice for events and performances.

The SOUNDBOKS app is another key feature, enabling users to customize their sound experience with adjustable EQ settings and sound profiles. The preset EQ settings were appropriately named and changed the character of the sound, and also allow you to set each speaker to Left, Mono, or Right channel. I upgraded the firmware to 2.3.6, which had a number of fixes and improved Android connection stability.

Performance

The SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4 is not your average portable party speaker that you buy at Costco; it's a powerhouse designed to deliver concert-level sound in a wireless footprint. In fact, a pair of these speakers on pole mounts could easily power a small to medium-sized event, making them an excellent choice for mobile DJs looking to create a wireless SKAA-based rig. The speaker's maximum volume of 126 dB is at the human threshold of pain, which should really knock the socks off your next party!

Soundboks Gen 4 rear view with connectivity options

During my testing, I found that in a normal living room setting, playing music at a volume of 7 or 8 was more than enough to fill the space with energitic sound. However, I couldn't help but notice that the volume knob doesn't stop at ten – it goes to eleven, in a subtle nod to the classic "Spinal Tap" reference. Curiosity got the better of me, and I briefly tested the speaker in the 9-10 range, pleasantly surprised to find no distortion even at these extreme levels. The tweeter's horn design likely contributes to its increased sensitivity, allowing for sharp, intense highs at high volumes.

The dual 10-inch woofers had no trouble handling low bass, as tracks like "Talk to Me" by Casmailia provided satisfying thump. To get the best performance out of these woofers, they need to be pushed, and I found that the EQ presets for "Stage" offered a good starting point, boosting the bass while preventing the tweeter from overpowering the mix.

Listening to Wild Ones by Jessie Murph & Jelly Roll showed off the speaker's ability to handle both male and female vocals. The tweeter is sharp and bright, but it can be at times harsh, while the woofers fill in the rest of the track with authority. Further testing the custom EQ I finally discovered a setting for ear-level listening that balanced out the speaker. With the tweeter horn aimed right at my listening position, the default tuning really emphasizes the highs. While it might look aggressive, once I tuned the Custom EQ with the bass aggressively boosted compared to the rest of the frequencies, the speaker really opened up.

Soundboks Gen 4 custom EQ

Having recently spent a weekend listening to a pair of Perlisten R18s, high-end 18-inch subwoofers, I was curious to see how the SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4 would compare in terms of low-frequency performance. While the SOUNDBOKS didn't quite pressurize the room like the $4,999 Perlisten subwoofers, it did better than I expected. Listening to "Queen Mary" by Francine Thirteen was a genuinely satisfying experience, with the speaker delivering impressive low-end depth and power.

However, this brings us to the main drawback of the SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4: to achieve true stereo imaging, you'll need a pair of these speakers. As an audiophile accustomed to evaluating high-end two-channel systems, it was challenging to assess the sound quality of a mono speaker in the same way. Comparing the SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4 to other high-end portable speakers, such as the JBL Partybox 1000 and Partybox Ultimate, reveals that while the Partybox Ultimate may play deeper and louder, it lacks the SOUNDBOKS' battery-powered convenience. Similarly, the Sony XV900 Portable Bluetooth speaker, priced at $899.99, falls short in terms of SPL and low bass performance, with its output dropping when unplugged.

When considering the SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4's $1,000 price point, it's essential to think about the speaker's intended use and target audience. For a party speaker, $1,000 might seem steep, but when viewed as a pro-level system capable of powering events and performances, the value proposition becomes much more attractive. While large venues would still likely require a dedicated subwoofer, the SOUNDBOKS would offer plenty for many small venues.

Final Thoughts

While the SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4 may not be the most accessible option for casual listeners or even hifi enthusiasts, it's clear that this speaker was designed with a specific purpose in mind: to provide an uncompromising audio experience in a event or party setting, whether you're hosting a backyard party or providing sound for a professional event. The fact that it achieves this goal so effectively is a testament to the passion and expertise of the SOUNDBOKS team.

Soundboks Gen 4 power button

Throughout my testing, I found myself consistently impressed by the speaker's ability to handle everything from delicate acoustic passages to thunderous bass drops with thunderous finesse. The customizable EQ settings and sound profiles offered by the SOUNDBOKS app allowed me to tailor the sound to my preferences, while the Pro Panel inputs opened up a world of possibilities for connecting external audio sources.

Of course, no product is perfect, and the SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4 is no exception. The need for a pair of speakers to achieve true stereo imaging may be a drawback for some users, and the inability to use the AC adapter as a power source at high volumes could be an inconvenience in certain situations. However, these minor quibbles do little to detract from the speaker's overall performance and value.

In a market saturated with portable audio solutions, the SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4 stands out as a true innovator, pushing the boundaries of what's possible in a battery-powered speaker. Its combination of power, clarity, and versatility is unmatched, making it an easy choice for our "Highly Recommended" award.

If you're a professional DJ, or simply someone who refuses to compromise on sound quality at parties, the SOUNDBOKS Gen. 4 is an investment that will not disappoint. While it may be a bit of a splurge for some, I firmly believe that the joy and satisfaction this speaker brings will more than justify its price tag.

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