Cowin Cutebeat BT Vibration Speaker Review



Today we take a look at the Cowin CuteBeat BT Vibration speaker which features ‘Resonance Technology’. This speaker will let you play music from various external sources using either a 3.5mm audio cable or by streaming directly to the unit via Bluetooth. It will ‘vibrate sound’ from any hard surface and official ratings measure the sound output at 12W. A rechargeable battery means you can take music with you, anywhere you decide to go. But is it any good?


Manufacturer’s description:
The Cowin Cutebeat comes in a streamlined metal trimmed casing, in white with blue or red trim. Ideal for listening in the bedroom, the car and on the move.
12W Output.
Bluetooth and NFC wireless connectivity.
Stereo line-in.
iPhone, iPad, Smart phone, PC, Notebook, MP3, MP4 etc. compatible.
Built in microphone for calls.
Lithium battery or USB cable.



The Cowin Cutebeat BT (it stands for Blue Tooth) is a wireless speaker that you can link to a laptop, mobile phone or tablet to boost the feeble audio of these portable devices when you are listening to music or watching a movie.

Flip open the magnetic flap on the box and you’ll find the Cutebeat BT nestling in a foam block along with a USB cable.

The body of the Cutebeat BT is formed from shiny white resin while the two caps on the arms of the Y shape are coloured either red or blue. I received a sample in red however the photos of the blue model on the package look equally good.

These metal caps act as speaker grilles and also double up as controls; the left side is volume up/down and the right is next/previous track.


There are a couple of controls on the body of the Cutebeat speaker. On one side you’ll see the on/off button along with an auxiliary mini jack for plugging in your phone (or other device) and next to that is a jack for USB battery charging.


On the other side of the body of the speaker there is a play/pause button with a backlight that lets you know when the Cutebeat has established a Bluetooth connection to another device.

The base of the speaker is more significant than you might expect. Cowin makes resonator speakers that have a moveable plate at the base that is driven by the voice coil. This means that Cowin speakers use the surface on which the speaker is standing as part of the speaker. That, in turn, means that a vibration speaker need to be connected to the surface and cannot simply rest in place.

On the base of the Cutebeat BT there is a sticky gel pad that is covered with a protective plastic film. Peel the film and press the Cutebeat in place, ideally on a smooth surface such as a window and you are ready for action.

Alternatively you can use a suction cup mount that screws on the thread you can see above the gel pad in the photo.



Cowin lists the suction cup as part of the Cutebeat BT package however there is no space in the box for the gizmo and I received mine in a separate tiny package. It is clear from Amazon that the suction cup is an optional extra that costs £5 so I am confident you will pay £49.95 for the speaker and an extra £5 for the mount.

I consider this is money well spent but it is worth noting that the suction cup is quite fussy about the surface on which it is used.

You can forget about most tabletops or wooden surfaces and need to look for a flat, shiny surface if you want to lock the speaker in place. A window is perfect, and I also had success with a kitchen work surface and a glass Hi-Fi stand, however the dining table, office desk and a mantelpiece didn’t work well.



With the Cutebeat BT in place you can turn it on and let it seek for Bluetooth connections.


The short Cowin manual talks about default passwords and keying in a PIN but I didn’t have to worry about any of that nonsense. I simply enabled Bluetooth on my Nexus 4 phone and the two devices made a connection.


When I am traveling I listen to music on my iPod as I hate the idea of flattening my phone battery so I didn’t much like the idea of transferring a load of music from my PC to my phone.

Besides, that would fill the meager 16GB capacity of my phone in short order and that really doesn’t appeal to me.

Instead I installed the free Synology DS audio app from the Google Play Store so I could play music from the DS414j NAS I had installed on the network and within moments I had a list of music ready to play.


Watch the live demo here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zL9tfk8zUw

I cannot claim the Cowin Cutebeat BT is a Hi-Fi device however it is a dramatic improvement over the speaker in my Nexus 4, and no doubt it will make your phone sound better too.

I was surprised to find the Cowin Cutebeat BT compares tolerably well with my Sony in-ear headphones both in terms of quality and volume. Realistically the Sony’s come out ahead in every department, however I expected them to trample the Cutebeat BT under foot and that wasn’t quite the case.

You can hear the Cowin speaker in action on my video clip and right at the end you’ll hear the audio drop out for a fraction of a second. That happened a few times to me and could be an issue either with the link to the NAS or the Bluetooth between phone and Cowin speaker. It’s not the end of the world but did cause me some minor annoyance.

I cannot really put a figure on the volume of the Cowin Cutebeat BT as it clearly depends on the digital files you are playing. The loudest level I recorded was 67dBA and my overall impression was that the speaker was just about loud enough, provided you use it in a fairly quiet room or you want some background music.

When the volume is cranked to the max there is occasional distortion that vanishes when the volume is decreased one click.

The Cowin Cutebeat BT Vibration Speaker is an attractively designed product which will appeal to a very specific audience who need portability. Audio quality is reasonably good, although it certainly won’t attract an audiophile audience who will demand higher levels of volume, without any indication of distortion.

When I received the Cowin Cutebeat BT the price on Amazon was £65 and that was simply too expensive to appeal to me. The price has since dropped to £49.95 and that makes a world of difference to me as it has moved the Cutebeat into the territory of an ‘impulse buy’.

The 12W speaker has just about enough punch to play your music is a quiet room and the battery life gives you a decent interval between charging sessions.

While I cannot consider the Cutebeat BT as a serious piece of Hi-Fi, it does a decent job and will make a world of difference to your smart phone or tablet.

Pros
Audio quality is greatly improved over the speaker in your phone
simple Bluetooth connection process
very smart styling
good battery life
fair price.

Cons
The suction cup mount won’t attach to surfaces such as a wooden table
volume could be louder
audio link suffered momentary drop-outs.
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