Bayan Audio is a United Kingdom based provider of Bluetooth speakers and other audio accessories that primarily use your phone as the transmitter through Bluetooth. Like any quality company, Bayan has decided to start selling their products here in the United States and I couldn’t be happier that they’ve chosen to make that move. First I will tell you that I do not consider myself an Audiophile by any means. I once did a review on a pair of Bluetooth headphones that I really enjoyed and the internet got its shorts in a bunch because they didn’t like my opinion. So let’s just remember that like any review it is just an opinion and everyone’s expectations of what things should be will be different. I can only give you my experience and what I think this products does and doesn’t do well. And anyway, I think most of us fall under the blanket of Non-Audiophile. First let’s get the tech specs out of the way.
|Amplifier Power Output||20W Stereo|
|Drive Units||4 x 1.5″ long throw neodymium, 1 x 3″ passive bass radiator|
|Frequency Range||60Hz to 20 kHz|
|THD (total harmonic distortion)||< 2%|
|Power input (charger) voltage||100V – 240V ~ 50 / 60 Hz|
|Battery Life||> 10 hours continuous wireless play @ 50% Volume|
|Inputs||3.5mm Aux audio jack input, Bluetooth 4.0 aptX (built in), FM radio (built in), microphone (for hands-free calling)|
|Outputs||3.5mm audio output for connection to speakers or headphones, USB A for charging mobile devices|
|Auto Connect / Pairing||One touch connect and disconnect with integrated NFC|
|Dimensions||235mm wide x 120mm tall x 40mm deep|
Design & Packaging
As I often do I lead this part of the review off with some commentary on the packaging of the review product. To me packaging and presentation is an important part of the buying experience, especially when you spend a good wage on something. Bayan does not disappoint in the packaging department. The box and graphics on the box are extremely well done, clean, minimal, crisp and not overdone. I am a fan of simplicity done right. The presentation is just as wonderful, and the materials and box are top notch. This is definitely not a blister pack you take off a peg at your local Target store, this is quality stuff.
Here’s what Bayan says about their Design:
Produced using high-grade aluminium, this not only produces a beautiful finish, but also ensures that less acoustic energy is lost, producing rich, accurate sound. The hardwearing nylon cover gives Soundbook X3 an unrivalled level of strength and Soundbook X3 has an innovative integrated aerial to the cover, eliminating the need for an external extendable aerial.
As Bayan states above, the Soundbook X3 is composed of very beautiful high-grade aluminum that looks absolutely amazing, especially when combined with the hardwearing nylon cover (the review unit came in orange/black). The speaker itself is not extremely heavy, there is some weight there but it’s not unbearable. The stitching is precise and reminds me of quality luxury cars seat stitching, it’s that good. Bayan has really combined their packaging and product design well. Design and packaging are top notch and I give them 5 stars here. So what about the rest of the experience? Well the potatoes are out of the way, let’s get into the meat, where I believe the Soundbook X3 shines.
Sound and Function
I’ve used a few Bluetooth speakers and for the most part they’ve all been very decent pieces of hardware with good sound. But Bayan takes it to a whole new level from my experiences. First let’s see what Bayan says about their sound from their own website.
Here’s what Bayan says about their Sound:
Soundbook X3 defies its size with smooth, defined bass, pronounced, clear vocal range and detailed high note reproduction. It delivers quality audio playback from a number of devices including smartphones, tablets and laptops and also offers both a speakerphone feature and integrated FM radio. Soundbook X3 is designed with advanced audio compression technology aptX to maintain quality audio over the Bluetooth connection, allowing you to lose the wires without losing the audio quality.
The genre of music I tend to listen to is Rock/Blues and Progressive Rock (think Pink Floyd/David Gilmour). The latter of styles mentioned tends to have a lot of things going on within its structure and (I believe) is a good test subject for sound equipment. So you know the very first thing I played was David Gilmour’s Live in Gdansk album from my iPhone. I was amazed at how rich the sound was. As recommended by Bayan, I turned up the volume on my device to the max and tweaked the volume on the Bayan. With the volume level just under the half way mark I was able to fill the room with a deep rich tone. The first track “Speak To Me” just lit up like I’ve only heard on higher end stereos I used to play with. As mentioned above, Bayan uses aptX audio compression to help enhance playback over Bluetooth and to my ears it sounded brilliant. Check out the video on aptX below.
As I continued to use the Soundbook X3 I was impressed at every turn. I took it outside while I grilled dinner for the family and it lost none of it’s punch even in the outdoors. This thing can easily be used for a patio and outdoor entertainment speaker. I had the volume just over half way and you could hear the music three houses down and hear it clearly. I even brought the speaker in the car and tested it there, for those with older cars whose stereos have long been dead. Using the Soundbook X3 in the car is a pleasurable experience, it fills the cabin with the same rich and balanced sound. As I stated early in this article, I don’t consider myself an Audiophile and it’s probably safe to say that most people will fall into the non-Audiophile category. So to my ears the Bayan Soundbook X3 is easily the best Bluetooth speaker I have ever had the pleasure of using. Everything is just balanced here, I don’t feel overwhelmed by the bass, yet the bass is evident. The highs and mids are all balanced and the vocals are crisp, again, everything in balance nothing overwhelming the other. Even under high volume I didn’t experience any cracking or distortion, as a matter of fact I had to turn it down after a few seconds because it was so loud (I did take it to max volume a few times). So what do I think of the sound? Amazing, balanced and clean, a 5 star experience like none I’ve had before in a Bluetooth speaker.
One quick feature that’s very useful, functional and esthetically pleasing is the flip cover. The cover protects the speaker when not in use and also acts as a stand when in use. It’s integrated very well into the whole design, which is a huge plus for Bayan and part of the reason I am heaping praise on their design. One thing I will say concerning the flip cover, when you have it deployed as the stand, be sure to clean it off before closing it. The portion it stands on also covers the speaker so you might get small grains of sand in the speaker itself if you don’t give it a quick cleaning before packing up your Soundbook. Otherwise, I love the cover, puts the speaker to sleep and wakes it up.
So the last thing I want to cover is the Soundbook X3’s function. The Soundbook X3 can be connected a few different ways, AUX, Bluetooth and NFC. The AUX input is the most direct way and will yield the highest quality sound, because you know, wires. Bluetooth is another option and it works well, very well. But as with any Bluetooth connection you can’t stray too far from the Soundbook without experiencing some sound loss, it’s just the nature of Bluetooth. NFC is much like Bluetooth and yielded similar results to the Bluetooth connection. If you want to learn more about Bluetooth and NFC connections Android Authority has a great piece you should check out HERE. The Soundbook X3 also serves as a backup battery able to charge your smartphone or iPod with its built in USB A charging port, that’s a pretty handy feature. The Soundbook X3 also features an FM tuner which I was a little disappointed in. I can’t blame the device for all of this as I live well outside the city of Chicago and sometimes it is hard to get radio stations out here. But I did experience issues in holding an FM signal with the Soundbook X3 and while disappointing, it didn’t degrade the experience for me that much. Mostly because I stream all my music anyway and using the FM tuner was simply to see if it worked, it is a feature I would never likely use.
It’s safe to say that I absolutely love the Bayan Soundbook X3. It has so many winning elements it’s nearly a perfect package. From the wonderful minimally designed packaging and the elegant use of materials and design to the amazing, balanced and clean sound the Soundbook X3 is in a class all its own. This isn’t one of your normal Bluetooth speakers where you get acceptable sound and quality. No this is a Bluetooth speaker that delivers exceptional sound and quality. With that exceptional quality comes a price of course, the Soundbook X3 will run you $299 over at Bayan’s Amazon store. It’s a high end price yes, but this is a high end device. I rate the Bayan Soundbook X3 4.5 stars out of 5, it loses a half star for a finicky FM tuner which didn’t really make a difference to me. And I suspect won’t make a difference to most as most will stream or play music from a device anyway. Hit the Amazon logo below to get your Bayan Audio Soundbook X3.