Portable Speaker Sound Comparison

iHome iHM79BC , Headphonies, Music Monsters and BoomBotix BB1 go head-to head
Over the past year, the question that has been ringing in our ear has been, “How LOUD are these speakers?” Fortunately there is a metric of sound called the decibel by which we can conduct this controlled experiment. Naturally, most humans are not blessed with a digital readout, so we invested in a Decibel Meter from Parts Express With a .1dB resolution and a price tag we could swallow, this was just the right tool for the task. (There’s also an App for that on your iPhone or Droid in case you were wondering.)

NOTE: In this experiment, the ONLY thing we are testing for is volume. Each of these speakers is unique in shape, features, size, weight and price. What each of these products have in common is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and an internal amp. As a side note, we purchased the Hello Kitty Edition Headphonie at Best Buy for $24.99, the iHome speakers for $49.99, Music Monsters for $28.50. The BoomBot sells for $39.99 off our site. There are a number of features that could convince someone to buy one speaker or the other, but we are trying to focus our efforts on RAW audio performance.

Experiment Design

We set up our experiment from a fixed distance of two feet which was verified by highly reputable tape measure. Why two feet? Because thats about as close as we’d want any of these speakers to be from our face at full blast. We downloaded an App called ToneGen which allowed us to generate a variety of frequencies. For this experiment, we focused on tones that were within the audible spectrum of 200Hz to 16000Hz. We chose this frequency range because anything below 200Hz didn’t really pick up on any of these small speakers, and frequencies greater than 16000Hz we couldn’t even hear.

We tested seven different frequencies including (200, 500, 1000, 2000, 4000, 8000, and 16000 Hz). This provided us with enough data to plot out some curves and give us a decent representation of the actual frequency response of these speakers in their final form. This is what YOU would hear, and that’s exactly what we wanted to show.
The Decibel Meter features a nice capturing function where it will record the loudest sound over a single session. We used this feature to ensure that every speaker got to make its best effort to impress the judge.

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