If you're looking for audio quality that doesn't disappoint in a nearly-indestructible waterproof package, my recent time spent in review of the DB2 shows that DemerBox has you covered in ways that almost nobody else can offer. Not only is this speaker great on the audio front, even at almost $300 per speaker. It also delivers a number of features simply not found elsewhere.
To begin with, the company built its DemerBox DB2 into a specially engineered polypropylene box. That's fully serviceable and not just for looks, although it looks just as rugged as it is. The box also helps advance the quality of audio, acting as a passive radiator or traditional speaker box for the included audio components.
In terms of versatility, DemerBox made the box with plenty of room for dry storage. That capability comes at the expense of some audio quality when that's needed but is bound to prove useful. But what really makes this speaker worthy of an editor's choice award is a combination of pricing, specs, build and design, and features. That makes this speaker well worth digging into.
Audio Quality is mostly on point with DemerBox DB2
It would be easy to start this review focusing almost exclusively on how rugged the DemerBox DB2 is. But even when toughness is the most important aspect of a speaker device, audio quality can't be ignored. That may even be even more pertinent here since this speaker isn't necessarily cheap. So it really needs to perform. And it does.
DemerBox did not design this Bluetooth speaker to be overly reliant on the specs of the speaker components. Those play a key role but all it takes is opening the speaker up during playback to realize that DemerBox has effectively used the entire interior as a passive radiator. When the speaker is open, its extremely weak.
That's because the company took full advantage of the fact that its oversized casing is designed to be a watertight box. So the speaker represented bass slightly more prominently than I thought it should on first listen — compared to my other Bluetooth speakers. But that also allows bass frequencies to come through that are often lacking in these types of speakers. It does that without drowning out the highs and the mids, which seem equally well-represented.
The balance between tones is fairly consistent, with higher tones only starting to become more well-represented at the top volumes. The audio never becomes tinny or distorted at high volume either.
Regardless, the bass tones remained the most impressive aspect. That held true even for the one or two songs I tested where the tones generally sink too low to be heard rattling through any kind of speaker. I will grant that those didn't growl quite as loudly as hoped — or at least not loud enough to hear clearly from another room through a closed door like other thumps. But those were clearly audible on this little box.
DemerBox built DB2 in a Pelican case, ruggedized is an understatement
Stepping past the design and aesthetics of this gadget momentarily, there isn't going to be much by way of competition when it comes to the ruggedization of the DemerBox DB2. In fact, the company all but dared me to break this speaker when it was offered up for review. That confidence isn't necessarily misplaced either. This speaker is embedded firmly inside a Pelican case.
That's likely to raise the question about what, exactly, a Pelican case is. Summarily, Pelican cases are USA-built, molded, hard polypropylene cases. Travelers and photographers often use these cases to protect equipment worth thousands of dollars or more. In this case, that the Pelican 1300 case, sans the typical protective foam since the speaker hardware is all built into the exterior.
The manufacturer of the Pelican case lid has already sealed that with an O-ring. DemerBox additionally worked to ensure components are sealed too. There's even an automatic pressure equalization valve at the top to keep pressure balanced inside while keeping liquids out.
That also means this case has a buoyancy (or floats) at 12.35 lbs, according to Pelican's site. The case typically weighs at 3.07 lbs, while this speaker and case weigh in at 5.44 lbs. So it's possible to fit quite a bit of stuff in the box before it really sinks and it's well-protected against the incursion of liquids.
The DemerBox DB2 is not going to die just because somebody knocked it off the party boat. That it floats means that it's possible to retrieve easily if that happens as well. And if it does sink, in many cases, it's still not going to suffer much by way of damage.
The speakers themselves are protected by further polypropylene bolted in a grid over the rubber. That means it's more difficult for that to become damaged by objects too.
The grate is not quite firm enough that I'd feel comfortable literally throwing the speaker around, but the casing on the outside is, with plenty of ridges and external features to prevent damage or puncture. DemerBox has ensured its well-protected enough that I never felt a need to really be careful with the speaker.
The hinges and handle are all fastened with 316 stainless steel. The case's clasps are durable enough and strong enough that they're actually a bit difficult to open.
In short, I wouldn't call this case indestructible. But I would say it's just about as close to that as it's possible to get from a portable Bluetooth speaker. If that's what anybody wants from a speaker, I am comfortable saying this is the speaker to buy.
Thoughtful design isn't lacking either
The design here is exactly what I'd expect for the price and with the stated goal in mind. It's minimal on aesthetics with plenty of thoughtful features.
There are a total of seven standard colors available for the DemerBox DB2 and the one used for my review was the "Barrow Black" variation. There are also no fewer than 22 specialty colors which cost between $50 and $150 more. That includes two-tone variations and USO variants of every stripe.
But the majority of the secondary colorations are inspired by various standard sports team color combinations. Those are only the colors instead of using branding or patterns to note a specific team. DemerBox sells them under the "Game Day" color-branding designation.
The color is, of course, not uniform since this is built from a Pelican case. Instead, that has flecks of white and gray throughout the grain of the polypropylene used to build the speaker. The only exception to that is the porthole, labels, and speaker cover. That gives the speaker a look that's as rugged as it feels and genuinely is.
In fact, everything about the design is fairly utilitarian, down to the slightly raised buttons on the front. DemerBox tucked those behind a rubbery covering and "rubbery" also describes how those feel to push fairly well. The buttons have some click too. That stacks on top of the ruggedization, giving off a real sense that it's been built to last on that front.
The company did intend this speaker to last a long time and to be easily fixable if something does break. That extends to the entire box. It bolted in the peaker components, for example, making them easy to pull out and fix or replace.
On the inside, there's a butterfly-style nob. That holds a port plug in place, offset from an opening built into the device to allow cables through. DemerBox included a dedicated charging port, secondary phone or device charging USB-port, and a 3.5mm audio jack for auxiliary inputs on the inside. Those are accessible via that front porthole.
To seal off the porthole, the butterfly style knob needs to be turned to the left or counterclockwise. Turning the knob the other direction after putting it in the front porthole expands the central piece of rubber, creating a seal again. So it only takes seconds to go from a somewhat water-unsafe speaker to one that's completely waterproof and dustproof.
Battery life long enough to almost be a bad thing
Using and charging up the DemerBox DB2 is, put simply, easy. But the battery life is long enough without accounting for the features we'll be getting to, that it could become easy to forget this speaker needs to be recharged at all. That's because the company rates usage at well over 40-hours.
Now, testing a speaker for 40 or more hours of usage would have been a struggle. But this speaker does work as a battery bank too, via an internal charging port. DemerBox centers the design of its latest speaker box with a battery that's only rated at 2,600mAh. So using that feature dropped the battery life significantly. Because of that, it's impressive the DemerBox DB2 lasted as long as it did during the battery portion of my review.
Including just over an hour and twenty minutes of smartphone charging, at a range of between 70-percent and 75-percent volume, the speaker lasted a total of 14-hours and 10-minutes. That also includes a variety of factors such as distance from the source device, which was generally tested at a range of between 20 and 30 feet. The total working range is at 100-feet or just over that within line-of-sight.
Going back to the size of this battery and the fact that I was charging a modern flagship — a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+, that can only be described as superb. Especially with consideration for how much volume and power the speakers put out. It's also easy to see how a more reasonable volume, source range or aux-plugged source, and not using it as a charger could extend that.
40-hours should be easily obtainable.
For charging, the plug is located on the inside of the Pelican case. Users gain access to the plug through the front port or by opening the speaker up entirely. The latter solution does make the device sound much weaker and there is one other caveat to the charging — which also applies to the use of auxiliary cables for the audio source. Opening the port or speaker eliminates waterproofing to a substantial degree.
Charging here was as advertised with the speaker off, which is the ideal charging method — and not a bad thing, given its battery life. That took right around four hours and fifteen minutes to fill from completely drained.
Any extra features for the money?
As noted above, one of the biggest advantages to the decision to use a Pelican case for these speakers is that it allows for storage. There's also a drawback to that. Audio tends to get quite a bit less punchy and quality drops depending on what is stored inside. Specifically, that depends on the acoustic properties of the items and the shape or space taken up by the items changes the dynamics of audio.
Obviously, that means this speaker not only floats best when empty — although it does tend to float face down — it sounds best when empty. Regardless, it was still nice to have when I was carrying things I didn't want to get wet.
Also alluded to above, the DemerBox DB2 delivers the ability to charge up external devices and to plug in via an auxiliary cable for audio. On the former front, that's not going to happen at "fast charging" speeds. My test involved charging at an even slower rate since the charging didn't occur all at once. I also charged the phone when it was already mostly, where phones typically charge at their least demanding rate.
What's more, the speaker drains the somewhat small battery very quickly. So it doesn't quite live up, with the extra feature used, to the expected 40+ battery life.
When it comes to plugging in with the included aux cable, that also comes with a caveat. Users are effectively forced to open up the front porthole. The significance of that is that there's no protection if this device falls in the water, gets rained on, or otherwise splashed while that porthole is open. At that point, only luck prevents damage.
But there is a fairly big secondary feature here that doesn't necessarily make the DemerBox DB2 unique but would be useful. Despite how loud and punchy this speaker is, at truly large gatherings or in extra loud environments, it's not quite going to be as loud as might be hoped for.
Now, DemerBox only provided me with a single speaker for my review of the DemerBox DB2. But the company says it can be directly paired with others — up to six at a time.
Doing that is going to make for extremely loud or well-dispersed music or other audio. And that's going to be a big advantage. Especially for those who don't want to or can't spend several thousand dollars but need that kind of solution.
Demerbox DB2 specs are surprisingly modest, connections are solid
There is also a small caveat to the Bluetooth connectivity. Namely, it doesn't perform well without line-of-sight at a distance. That's due in part to the fact that secondary signals seem to interfere with transmission. But was never a big issue unless I had a lot of other Bluetooth devices laying around between the source device and the speaker.
For the most part, this speaker performed without failing at all.
Now, I expected this would be a fairly powerful piece of hardware based on the audio experience throughout my initial review of the Demerbox DB2. And to a certain extent, it is. But the power mostly seems to come down to the build of the box rather than the speakers themselves. The sound quality and build hide an arrangement of specs on the inside that's just not quite as strong as I thought it would be. That's a good thing since it probably helps keep the cost down.
For those who like a more technical readout of specifications, here they are as laid out by Demerbox.
|Case||USA-made military spec Pelican 1300 case|
|Hardware Materials||All metal fastening hardware – 316 stainless steel.|
Grills, port cap, and inner plate – USA molded ABS.
Pelican Case – USA molded Polypropylene.
|Audio||Two 3 inch, 8ohm, aluminum cone with rubber surround drivers.|
[email protected] 11w per channel RMS. Class D audio circuitry.
Input: 3.5mm audio jack in addition to Bluetooth.
|Charging||40+ hours playtime between charges.|
2600mAh Lithium-Ion @12.6v
4 hours to charge when the battery is depleted.
|Connectivity||Bluetooth: 100 feet (30 meters) range. Real-world tested at over 100 feet, line of sight.|
|Standard Colors||Fraser Tan, Uyuni White, Paniman Yellow, Pesaro Green, Barrow Black, Roseau Blue, Haast Orange|
|Dimensions||Width: 10.62 in (270.0 mm)|
Height: 9.68 in (250 mm)
Depth: 6.87 in (180 mm)
|Weight||5.44 lbs (3.37 kg)|
Is DemerBox DB2 really worth $300?
If my review of the DemerBox DB2 shows anything, it shows that this speaker is worth its price tag. From a durability standpoint, this speaker is worth the cost. It's also worth the price for its battery life standing almost all on its own. The quality of the speaker may not scream "I'm for the audiophiles" but it is definitely good enough that most users will love it.
The design, build quality, and volume are each great aspects of the DemerBox DB2 as well. Throughout my review, there was only one moment where I felt unsure about using the DemerBox DB2. Summarily, that was when I worried it might float away while taking photos of the box at the lake. And that's because it was windy and I didn't have a boat, rather than because of some problem with the speaker.
The DemerBox DB2 isn't just good enough, at least on the ruggedization front its good enough that there's really no contest.