The Bluetooth speaker market is one which is seeing masses of growth of late. There is a Bluetooth speaker for just about every budget and every need. As a result, some speakers are starting to come with more unique and interesting features as a way to individualize themselves in what is quickly becoming a crowded market. One method certain manufactures are adopting is the use of light to accompany the sound and essentially turning a speaker into an all-in-one entertainment device. Sort of like a disco ball with a speaker inside. One of the more high-profile light show speakers came recently in the form of the JBL Pulse 2. However, that is one which also comes with quite a high price tag as well. If you are looking for something a little more friendlier on the pocket, but with a similar level of functionality, then it is worth checking out the Marsboy Orb LED Bluetooth speaker.
In terms of the specs, the Marsboy comes equipped with a 6.6 mm driver which is pushed by a 5-watt amplifier. Impedance runs at 4 Ohms, while the Signal to Noise ratio is >90db. The frequency range on offer comes in at 80 Hz at the lower end and 18 kHz at the top end. Powering the unit is a 3,000 mAh battery which is said to offer about 12 hours of usage and is said to recharge in 3-5 hours. Connectivity is established via Bluetooth 4.1 and is stated to offer a maximum connection distance of 49.5 feet. In terms of the dimensions, the Marsboy measures 150 mm in height, 148 mm in width and 138 mm in depth.
Design & Hardware
There is no escaping the design that is on offer with the Marsboy. The images clearly highlight that this is designed to be a ball-shaped speaker. Whether this is playing on a planetary design remains to be seen, although the name and general purpose of the speaker does indeed seem to suggest it is. As such, there is little to talk about in terms of the actual design. This is essentially a full ball looking speaker, which is made up of what seems to be reinforced plastic. The ball is split in the middle with what is a clear upper and lower half.
The top half is the light show element and this offers seven different visual display modes which can be activated by hitting the brightness button. Light is emitted thanks to the top half adopting a speaker grilled effect. The lower aspect of the ball (or 'orb' as Marsboy define it) is made up of a solid base, although this is where you will find a small rubber surface (which sort of looks like a display screen) which is designed to offer a resting point for the speaker. There is also a microphone for hands free calling and the main connection board. In terms of those connections, the Marsboy comes with an aux in, a microSD card slot, an on/off switch and a micro-USB charge port.
The only other noticeable aspect is the centralized rim. Around the center of the ball (joining the upper and lower halves) is a small rim which for the most part adopts the Marsboy branding. Although, you will also find the controls positioned here as well. These adopt small rubberized buttons which are extremely flat and essentially flush with the rest of the rim, which does mean you have to press hard to activate any of the buttons. Buttons on offer include volume up (track forward), volume down (track back), play/pause (answer call), a sync button (you can connect more than one if you have more than one) and the brightness button (this is the light show scroll through button)
Sound Quality & Performance
It probably would be expected that a speaker which makes an emphasis on its lighting ability and also adopts a round shape and design, might be a little more gimmicky and less able to deliver. However, that is not the case with the Marsboy. This does surprising provide a very good level of sound output. Now, to be clear, the bottom end only drops to 80 Hz and this is a ball speaker, so the bass is anything but pumping. However, this is probably to be expected and you are unlikely to be purchasing this sort of speaker if bass is your priority. That said, the level of bass on offer is not that bad. The bottom end is there, albeit a little flat, but it is still far more prevalent than what you are likely to encounter on other speakers in this price range. Where the Marsboy really does come to life though, is in the mids, vocals and tops. This is a really bright sounding speaker and for the price, offers a really nice and warm audio output.
What is the most surprising is the volume on offer with the Marsboy. For a speaker of this size and power, it is remarkable loud and you can really push the volume using the on-product volume controls. Of course, the louder it gets, the more you start to notice the flatter bottom end, but that aside, the volume is there when you do need it.
In terms of the performance, there is very little to complain about with the Marsboy. Generally speaking, this is a very good and solid performing product. As noted, the sound quality is reasonably good for the price bracket and it does come with the LED light show which does add an extra dimension. In terms of the light show, in truth, it is not the most responsive and certainly not the brightest you will find. Likewise, there is no app to help control the lights, like you will find with the JBL Pulse 2. However, the light show is there, works well enough and will add an extra level of functionality. The darker it is, the more effective the light show becomes and for those times when you do not want the lights activated, you can just as easily turn them off.
It is also worth mentioning that the Marsboy also comes with a microSD card slot. This is another level of functionality that you are getting and when tested, again was pretty good in terms of performance. As soon as the microSD card is inserted, the speaker advises that it has recognized the card and immediately starts playing. This is where the only real criticism will be noted as there is no means to control where the Marsboy begins to play from on the microSD card. The Marsboy simply starts from the first file found on the card. It would have been nice if you could have scrolled through and select a track, but that is not on offer. So if using the microSD card slot you will have to make do with skipping back and forth to find specific songs. Not so convenient if your SD card is full of songs. But again, when considering the price, the fact that there is a microSD card reader at all, it is a major positive. This is a speaker which can be linked as well. So if you decide to pick up more than one you can link them together to play in harmony
One aspect of the performance which was not fantastic is the use of the Marsboy as a hands free calling device. It was capable and calls could be made and heard, although, the quality of the calls was not the best. So although not a massive issue, it is worth pointing out that the hands free calling was felt to be one of the weaker aspects encountered during testing.
Battery Life & Connectivity
Battery life is almost never a major issue anymore with Bluetooth speakers as they all do seem to come with a decent level of battery and therefore, much of the comparison seems to come down to how long can it last - as they all generally last long enough. Using that yardstick to measure, then you might be surprised with the Marsboy as the battery life is excellent. The battery is rated as 3,000 mAh and during our testing was easily and repeatedly able to last and play for up to ten hours continuously. This included being played at a higher than average level of volume. It really was surprising as to how long the battery lasted and especially considering that this is also powering a light show and connecting over Bluetooth for the entire time. As such, the battery on offer here is a real winner.
In terms of recharging, it is said that this should be able to be fully recharged in about five hours and that seems to be in line with our testing. When fully depleted the Marsboy was able to charge in under five hours via a wall plug and USB charger (worth noting only USB cable is provided in the box). If you do decide to charge via a computer or external power bank, then you should expect the five hour figure to be increased.
In terms of connectivity, there were no issues noted at all with the Marsboy. During testing, this was a very stable device when connected over Bluetooth and throughout hours of continuous usage, the signal never dropped. Likewise, when playing directly from the SD card there did not seem to be ant notable issues either.
Overall, it is difficult to find fault with the Marsboy. On first impressions, it does look and feel a little gimmicky, due to its bright coloring and LED light show. However, once you start using the speaker for any prolonged period, you suddenly start to see the gimmicks as the actual feature they are intended to be. The bottom line with the Marsboy, is that for the money, this is a very good performing speaker. It is not the most bass heavy, but it is nice sounding, it does offer some unique features and does come equipped with a microSD card reader. This is a feature-rich Bluetooth speaker and easily competes in its relative price-bracket.
Should you buy the Mars Boy Bluetooth speaker?
In short, yes, it is definitely a speaker worth considering. The sound quality is good, the light show is an interesting and entertaining addition and the speaker performs really well. It is currently available for any $39.99 and for that price, it is hard to argue with the value that you are getting.