Finally! Gravastar is the first speaker that looks as good as it sounds. I dare you to buy just one!
When it comes to Bluetooth speakers, there are often only a few shapes and styles available. You can have a tall or squat round or oval speaker or a variety of square/rectangular ones. The frequencies 20Hz-20kHz tend to be the same, the battery mAh size and playback duration may vary, some have the ability to receive phone calls, and some have True Wireless System (TWS) and can be paired. When I heard about the Gravastar speaker, I was excited to review the unique and visually appealing robot-style speaker.
The Gravastar speaker arrived in an 8 1/4 inches wide by 8 3/8 inches tall by 8 1/8 inches thick cardboard box. One of the side panels showed four Metroid-like icons, which detailed the “unique audio system, True Bluetooth 5.0, 24 hours battery time and eyeball light.” The front right corner had a 6 3/4 inches tall by 7 1/2 inches wide outline of the speaker, which wrapped around the front and right panels. I liked the design and the use of the wrapped images. The opposing side panel displayed a half image of a black speaker and a 1 1/4 inches wide black rectangle with “Gravastar” in the negative space. The left panel provided the product parameters along the top left, and a 1 5/16 inches tall black rectangle with the company www.zoeao.com website, www.facebook.com/izoeao, and www.instagram.com/IZOEAO. The company succeeded in capturing my childhood nostalgia, looking like a Brinstar, Metroid, and like Mother Brain herself. Additionally, for the movie buffs, the Gravastar speaker resembled the Doris hat robot from Meet The Robinsons, the Brainbot from Megamind, and Droideka from Star Wars.
The product parameters that were printed on the box were covered with a white updated specifications sticker. The sticker detailed the “Bluetooth 5.0, 30hours batteries time, 5V/1.5A Power in-put, 20 meters communication distance.” I removed the sticker and the box listed 15W Power and “24hours Batteries Time.” The back panel of the box provided a 6 3/4 square black GravaStar speaker outline and a lower 1 5/16 inches tall black rectangle with the product name in the negative space. The bottom panel was left blank and the top panel had half of the speaker in the negative space of a black background. Unfortunately, I was not able to read the words across the top panel due to the tape and shipping labels. I loved that the company used the corners of the box and that the images flowed/wrapped around the panels. I think that they did a great job with the overall presentation; Gravastar successfully turned a potentially boring design into a visually appealing package.
Lifting the top flap, I found a 1 3/8 inches thick black foam padding with a 4 1/8 wide by 5 7/8 tall cutout for the eighteen-page instruction manual. Before using the speaker, I decided to peruse the manual. The inside cover provided an image like those on the outer packaging and again reminded me of the Metroid enemies, Doris, and the Brainbots. The second page detailed the heavy bass, lighting effects, 2.5-inch 20W speaker, four 18650 batteries for >24 hours enjoyment, and the ability to pair multiple GravaStar speakers (True Wireless Stereo TWS). Since the speaker is still in the final stages of development, I suspect that there will be a final proofing to make sure that the specifications match. Page three and four of the instruction manual detailed the power on/off button and provided a labeled diagram of the speaker. To activate the device, press the power button and hold it for three seconds. The device will power on, will vocalize the status and the green LED will illuminate. Conveniently, a short press of the power button will also play/pause music. To pair the device with your smartphone/tablet, navigate to Settings, Bluetooth, select Gravastar from the list and the speaker will announce “Bluetooth connected.”
The following pages detailed the methods to connect to another smart device and to pair two speakers (TWS). The manual did not relate that if you walk away from the speaker and exit the Bluetooth connection range, the speaker will not automatically reconnect. You will need to either press the Bluetooth button on the speaker or to tap Gravastar in the Bluetooth section of your smart device. The top of the speaker has a touch-capacitive volume slider, which will increase/decrease the volume. Pages seven and eight detailed how to charge the device, how to utilize the speaker in AUX-in mode and how to turn off the lights. To charge the device, plug the included USB-A to USB-C cable into the device. To use the device via 3.5mm AUX cable, simply plug the included cable into the 3.5mm port on the speaker and on your smart device. Interestingly, the manual provided slightly different product “Speci x cation” than the packaging: 20W power, range >10m, and 10,000 mAh battery. I have reached out to the company to discover the true specifications and I was surprised to see a response within 24 hours. The product is in the final stages of development/packaging and a final list of specifications was provided.
Removing the outer foam, I was greeted by a large olive-drab-green robot shaped speaker, a 39 1/2 inch USB-A to USB-C cable, and a 41-inches long 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable. The 44.37-ounce speaker was resting in a lower foam cutout. The lower spider legs arrived retracted and easily folded out to rest on their points. Along the back of the speaker, there were six 1/4 inch square buttons, a centralized multifunction button, a stop button, a Bluetooth button and a light on/off button. Along the top of the speaker, there was a touch-capacitive volume slider. If you press the light button, the LEDs along each of the legs and along the side accents/centralized speaker illuminated or extinguished. The overall look and feel was something out of a science fiction movie. My four-year-old daughter asked me if it would bite her and my ten-year-old son asked if it walked on its own. Truly, how amazing would it be if the device actually crawled/walked?
I have tested numerous portable speakers and it seems that most of them were designed with the same rectangular/boxy shape. Functional and appealing, the futuristic design of the GravaStar speaker worked as a statue and accent piece for my desk. Utilizing the Voice Recorder App, I recorded a series of short phrases “Sit Down,” “Get Out,” “Speak Friend and Enter,” etc. It was fun to mess with people as they walked into my office and there was no speaker shaped object. I played a prank with my children using this as well, telling them that the robot was watching them. Watching them with a nanny cam, I was able to record a few things with the voice recorder App and actually had a bit of fun with them. As the weather improved, we took the speaker outside for a dance party. I lowered the tailgate on my pickup and placed the speaker just inside of the bed of the truck. The Tonneau cover amplified the sound and I was able to hear the speaker over about a half of an acre. The overall output depended on the original source quality. You can listen at 2-3 clicks on the iPhone to gain a good personal room/dorm speaker. 5-6 clicks worked well for a small group of people. Although not a deal breaker, I was unable to get sound out of the speaker at 1 click on the iPhone.
Even at full volume the speaker did not sound tinny or harsh. If inside of a smaller room, the sound was not pleasant, but this was not used as a negative for the speaker. I played Garageband and noted a weird vibrating sound when I played a C3 or C4 tone on the piano. Interestingly, when I navigated to the Blind Tests on the Audiocheck.net website, the C tones did not cause the speaker to rattle but the F3/F4 tones did. Utilizing the Low-Frequency Response and Subwoofer Audio Test (10-200 Hz), I was able to hear sound at 30Hz. Moving to the High-Frequency Response and Hearing Audio Test (22-8 kHz), I was able to hear the test tone starting at 15kHz, which was the upper limit of my hearing. My ten and seven-year-old sons were able to hear the high-pitched tones up to 17kHz, which was their upper range of hearing.
To further test the sound, we used Amazon Prime Music and listened to the Greatest Showman Soundtrack, “Get Back up Again,” Imagine Dragons “Believer” and “Natural,” Queen “Somebody to Love,” and Billy Joel “Piano Man,” and “The Longest Time.” I also wanted to test some of my own tracks, so I listened to “Purple Rain” by Prince and Adam Levine, “Locked Away” by Adam Levine, and numerous options from Alabama, Johnny Case, the Walk the Line Soundtrack, and the Beach Boys. I was pleased with the bass line of “Train Song” by Holly Cole, the thumping sounds of “Bright Lights Bigger City,” and with “Ring of Fire” by Home Free. With music testing completed, I watched Spiderman into the Spiderverse and Instant Parents on Movies Anywhere. There was no lag and I was able to comfortably enjoy the movies at 2-3 clicks of sound. I watched a few episodes of Knightfall and the Orville using my Xfinity App and I watched The Thomas Crown Affair on Prime Video.
The Gravastar speaker provided an amazing experience. The small speaker packed quite a bit of sound into the small metal shell and projected over a large wireless connection distance. The speaker lasted ~28 hours of regular use and was fully charged in just at 4 hours, utilizing the included USB A to USB-C cable. The touch volume bar could have a little more sensitivity and the lower volume could also be improved. Perhaps they will make a smaller version of the Gravastar, which may serve that niche. Artistic and functional, the outside of the speaker was covered with a variety of accents and labels like it was a D&D minifigure. With attention to detail, the on/off sequence, pairing sequence, and disconnected sequences appeared to be inspired by the robot sounds in the movies. Reading the comments on the Indiegogo website, I wish that I had a second Gravastar speaker to test the TWS. Additionally, I would love to have a larger speaker (Captain) or a subwoofer version. If you are tired of boring rectangular speakers, look no further than the Gravastar. Additionally, consider picking up a pair of speakers if you desire a cool Sci-Fi Speaker for your man-cave.