Soundmatters' Sound Matters
Promoted as "the first pocket-sized portable speaker good enough for the audio purist,” the Soundmatters FoxLv2 has had endorsements from renowned speaker designersincluding Michael Kelly (Aerial Acoustics), Gayle Sanders (MartinLogan), and Peter Tribeman (Atlantic Technology)and a rave review by Michael Fremer on AudioStream. There are three models, the price ranging from $149 to $229, the basic model accepting analog input only, the other two connected with Bluetooth (including aptX technology) as well. The top Platinum model has a longer battery life (20 hours vs 12 for the other two) and includes an AudioQuest interconnect. I have some interest in portable speakers, and have listened to a fair number of them, including the audiophile-oriented offerings from B&W, Arcam, and B&O, but somehow the FoxLv2 was not among them. CES 2013 gave me an opportunity to remedy this omission. The Soundmatters booth was in the iLounge section of the Convention Center, and when I got there it was surrounded by a full TV crew. There is apparently a lot of interest in this product.
After the TV crew left, Lee Adams, Soundmatters’ VP Marketing, gave me a demonstration of the FoxLv2 Platinum (shown in the photo with a glasses case to provide a sense of scale) in a makeshift booth-within-a-booth. Although the setting was far from ideal, with too much ambient noise, it was immediately obvious to me that this is a rather special product, with a very pleasing tonal quality and ability to play surprisingly loud.
Lee Adams gave me a FoxLv2 to test in a better listening environment, and the first thing I did when I returned to the Mirage was to plug in the FoxLv2’s charger/AC adapter. Playing some Apple Lossless music filesincluding some opera and show musicfrom my iPhone 4, I was blown away by how good the sound was: smooth and well-balanced throughout the frequency range, and showing little strain at high levels. Voices sounded very natural, with Rod Gilfry’s baritone (My Heart Is So Full of You, Narratus 07, one of my last year’s R2D4 picks) having the proper weightquite amazing, given the size of the device. Predictably, the analog connection sounded better than Bluetooth, but even the latter sounded acceptable. An amazing product, providing a much-needed counterpoint to the high-end esoterica on display at the Venetian. I’m buying one.