I haven't used an alarm clock since I got a smartphone. I was never a big fan of using my dumbphone alarm clock, but I haven't had an alarm clock on my nightstand since I stepped into the smartphone world all those years ago. When Soundfreaq emailed us about reviewing their updated Sound Rise SFQ-08 Bluetooth speaker/alarm clock, I thought, "What the heck? Let's see what this thing has to offer."
I got the package in the mail, opened it, and immediately smiled. Soundfreaq is a really happy company, it seems. Take a look:
And then I tweeted this picture and had a fun conversation with their social media crew:
.@Soundfreaq haha, hi! Friendliest manual I've ever read. It put a smile on my face. Thanks!
â€” Jeremiah (@V3RDICT) April 16, 2014
These folks are the best! Now let's get to the review. Soundfreaq's previous Bluetooth speaker/alarm clock was the SFQ-05, which had a dedicated iPhone dock and a USB port on the back for charging any other device. With the SFQ-08, they've ditched the proprietary garbage and offered up a compelling alarm clock in a much smaller package. The price is considerably less on this updated model, too, which is always a good thing. The Sound Rise SFQ-08 is almost half the size of its predecessor, so it takes up much less space on your nightstand. The unit is plastic and has a fabric covering over the speaker, lending a higher quality feel. The clock face is large and has a five-point dimmer button on the back. This was key for me, as I like my sleeping area to be as dark as possible. The new Sound Rise alarm clock has a USB charging port on the back with a 1A output. It will charge any device you want to plug it up to. The Bluetooth standard has been updated to Bluetooth 4.0, so the wireless connection requires minimal battery power from your device. There's an FM radio built into the box, too, with an additional antenna that you can run up the wall if you need additional reception. I had no issues picking up all manner of FM radio stations. There's even a small back-up battery in the bottom of the unit that keeps the clock running and all of your settings stored, just in case the power supply is interrupted. It's very convenient.
So how does the Soundfreaq Sound Rise SFQ-08 work? The clock settings have an option for 12- and 24-hour time formats, so you can set the clock to display in whichever one you prefer. Pairing your phone or tablet to the Sound Rise is incredibly simple. There's a 'Pair button that makes the procedure practically idiot proof. You can set two separate alarms, and each alarm can be completely different from the other. There are options to have an alarm go off every day, every weekday, only on weekends, or just on a single day. You can set the alarm sound to be audio played from your phone via Bluetooth, from the built-in auxiliary port, from the FM radio, or an actually not obnoxious standard alarm beep. You set the max volume and when the alarm goes off, the volume is gradually increased to your max setting. This saves you from having that freak out moment when the super loud beeping suddenly wakes you from your beauty rest. Soundfreaq is friendly, and thoughtful!
The speaker is small, and the low-end of your music will suffer for it. Like most compressed Bluetooth audio, you lose a bit of quality when streaming to the Sound Rise wirelessly. The Sound Rise does have a three setting EQ that lets you choose from Bright, Using the aux-in port on the back provides better sound. I was a little disappointed that there is only the one speaker on the front of the box; the fabric wraps around three sides and made me think there were three speakers until I pressed play. Even so, the sound quality is decent enough for an alarm clock, and having a Bluetooth speaker conveniently placed on your nightstand or dresser means that you can fire up the tunes anytime you like.
The Soundfreaq Sound Rise SFQ-08 is perfect for anyone looking for a Bluetooth alarm clock, or even just a clock with a built-in Bluetooth speaker. I have officially converted back to using an alarm clock instead of using my phone (or my children) to wake me up in the morning, and that's saying something. You can find the updated Sound Rise alarm clock on Amazon for as little $79.99, which is a heck of a deal. You can find Soundfreaq on their website, and their awesome Twitter team is worthy of a follow, too.