"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain." - Bob Marley
Do you listen to music while you sail? Or perhaps you play tunes in the cockpit during sundowners. Maybe you like to kick some beats at the beach when you go ashore. No matter the circumstance, having a small portable Bluetooth speaker opens the possibilities for more time spent enjoying the music you like.
I can hear some of you asking, "Why do I need a Bluetooth speaker when I've already got a perfectly good stereo and fixed-mount speakers on my boat?" I can think of many advantages of a portable Bluetooth speaker for sailing. To name a few, try these:
- Beach music - You can bring a Bluetooth speaker with you when you go to shore.
- Dinghy music - Ditto. Now your dinghy has a sound system too.
- Dock music - Ever want to have tunes on the dock or up at the marina grill?
- Digital music library - Does your boat stereo have a connection for your phone or iPod? If not, a Bluetooth speaker allows you to play digital music from your device library and other sources like Pandora and Spotify
- Energy savings - Using a portable Bluetooth speaker saves your house batteries
- Non-boating uses - A Bluetooth speaker can be used at home too for backyard bbq's, etc.
The Fugoo (rhymes with "who knew") speaker is touted as being shockproof, snowproof, sandproof and waterproof to 3 feet for up to 30 minutes. Much of this "proofing" comes from the components being shock-mounted on reinforced case materials and protected by impact absorbing end caps on all eight corners. The speaker itself is essentially an internal core that is then covered with a choice of jacket designs, including the Sport model I tested. The base Style model lists for $199 and features a fiber/cloth shell. The Sport ($199) has a fiber-reinforced resin shell with rubber trim for added impact protection. And finally, the Tough model ($229) is crafted from resin and aluminum, creating the highest level of durability (I've seen a video of it being run over by a Jeep without issue).
I could go on about other technical features like dynamic EQ, magnetic ferrofluid, and passive radiators, but wouldn't you rather just see the results of Hannah and I dunking the Fugoo underwater?
Come Sail Away, indeed!
As you can see, the Fugoo is happy to swim and keep on playing music (and hold the Bluetooth connection) without much fuss. I'm not sure how Fugoo managed to keep water from entering via the open mini-USB charging port, but I'm happy to report they've done it.
Putting aside all of the ruggedness and suitability for a watery environment, the Fugoo also boasts really good sound quality, at least to my ears. Music comes through clear and crisp with no noticeable distortion, even at full volume. However, full volume may not be loud enough for some if you're hoping to share your music with the entire anchorage. For most, the volume range is plenty for what you'll require onboard.
The sound comes from two tweeters for highs, two woofers for midrange sound and two passive radiators for modest bass. Fugoo's press materials specifiy 95 dB, but the highest I attained was 91 dB using the Decibel 10th app on my iPhone. Another nice feature is that this speaker is set up for 360 degrees of sound, so you don't necessarily have to have it pointed in one direction or another to hear it. Omnidirectional!
Battery life is listed as 40 hours at 50% volume on continuous play. I didn't let it play for that long continuously, but we've been using it off and on now for a couple of weeks and still haven't exhausted the initial charge.
What about accessories? There are a few really cool accessories to make the Fugoo even more useful. The one I've been trying out is the Bike Mount, which actually is perfect for attaching the Fugoo to a stanchion or the steering binnacle, as long as your tube diameters are between 7/8" and 1 1/4". You can also get a wireless remote control and other mounts.
|Bike (stanchion) mount|
I really like the Fugoo speaker, but to be a true review, I've got to come up with some nitpicks too, right? First, the price. Starting at nearly $200 makes this one of the most expensive options for a portable Bluetooth speaker, so you've really got to value the rugged/waterproof design. And speaking of design, I felt like the form factor is a bit large considering some of the competition. Size for a Bluetooth speaker might be subjective, but it also represents a trade-off between portability and sound quality. So far I haven't run across a smaller speaker with better sound than the Fugoo, let alone the protection the Fugoo offers from the wet environs of a sailboat. So maybe the Fugoo's 1.1 lbs and roughly ~8" length strikes the proper balance.
In any case - Sport, Style, Tough - the Fugoo is a high quality choice for serving up sailing music.
Pros: durability, sound quality, battery life
Cons: cost, size (for some)
Bottom Line: A speaker that delivers music to the sailing experience in all conditions
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Find SFLF's other sailing gear reviews here.
Find SFLF's other sailing gear reviews here.