Gravastar Speaker – GravaStar is a bluetooth speaker with robotic charm. A cool sci-fi vibe is a desk or bookshelf speaker with antique credibility.
In this article: AV, bluetooth 5.0, computer speakers, design, entertainment, futuristic, gadgets, gadgets, gear, GravaStar, indiegogo, JBL Link 300, mobile, robotics, sci-fi, Truly Wireless, UE Boom 2, UE Megaboom 3, Zoe
It’s this aesthetic that grabs me. Bluetooth speakers are commonplace, but tabletop sphere robot speakers with glowing lights? It’s interesting. Coming from a crowdfunding startup is sure to raise some skepticism, but after trying out Zoeao’s GravaStar, I figured out it’s not a cheap plastic toy. It has a sturdy metal case, bright green accent lighting, a Qualcomm chipset, and Harman Kardon audio components. If that design appeals to you too, you can grab one as an early bird backer on Indiegogo for $129+. If you move in quickly, you can have a home before May.
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.If GravaStar looks familiar, you probably saw it on Kickstarter late last year. The team behind it made rapid progress in funding the project, but quickly realized there were some production issues with their current plans. The project was pulled to refine the component selection and production process. It’s better than being caught selling a cheaper product to its backers. After trying both versions, I can say it was the right choice and it solved the problem. Appearance and feel have not changed.
Final product shortly after a successful funding round. At least the first 1,000 or so units.
As for Zoeao’s GravaStar itself, there’s not much to unpack: it can be used as a Bluetooth speaker or 3.5mm aux input, or paired with a second for true wireless stereo (TWS). There’s no microphone for calls, but it’s not a smart speaker. Inputs are located on the bottom of the device, including an auxiliary input and a fast USB-C port. Both cables are included and have a nice fabric mesh exterior, but are fairly short, about 3 feet long. The company claims the battery lasts up to 30 hours, although I haven’t had a chance to test it yet. When the battery is low, you should see a flashing light (on the back, opposite the Bluetooth connection light) and a voice prompt.
On the outside, it’s a tabletop decoration with a cool, futuristic, zinc-alloy casing and a weight of 3.5kg. The grill area of the speaker and some areas on the top, back, and legs glow green (can be turned off and on with the back button). Bright enough to use as a night light or to provide ambience when the lights are dim. That
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Bright enough that you can see the store’s workspace and find drinks, buttons, or whatever. Probably not smart enough to write your next novel.
When you move the speaker around the house or travel, the robotic legs fold in half when needed to help keep them safe. If you
Away from home, it has an IPX5 rating, so light rain should be fine. The design also allows you to tilt the speaker by folding a leg or two if it suits your needs. Each leg has a small pad to protect the surface.
At the top is a touch-sensitive volume control, which also has a backlight with green light. This is a convenient way to adjust levels, especially if you’re using a cable through the 3.5mm aux input to pass audio through an auxiliary device such as a monitor. Touch sensitivity is fairly responsive, and the surface illuminates sections of the arrangement to show the level.
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Three speaker control buttons are located on the upper rear of the speaker. This controls power on/off, Bluetooth or True Wireless Stereo (TWS), and a green light option on the device. The Qualcomm QCC3006 chipset allows the speaker to connect to two devices simultaneously using Bluetooth 5.0. These specific function buttons are mainly used to connect a second Bluetooth device or use TWS to connect a second speaker. Otherwise, GravaStar
When turned on, it is in pairing mode. An audio prompt confirms that you have successfully connected. For a single source device (smartphone in this case), the range is related to what you want from the Bluetooth speaker. Indoors, I can get around a corner or two with no problem.
When you search for bluetooth devices, you’ll see a small light board on the back right blinking. If you are not connected to the speaker, you will always have this little blinking light working, it
The 3.5mm aux input overrides any Bluetooth connection when plugged in, and I found that if you remove that input, the speaker quickly jumps back to any recently connected device nearby. If you have two GravaStars for a stereo experience, Bluetooth and TWS are ideal. Otherwise, with a single 3.5mm mini-jack output, you’ll need to assign a channel splitter to the left and right channels. Also, in this mode, you have to manually adjust the volume of each speaker, at least until the volume comes out.
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Audio components include 70mm (2.75″) full-range speakers from Harman Kardon at the front, with a polystyrene composite bass diaphragm and metal core at the rear. The Qualcomm chip runs with a TI 3118 amplifier that outputs 20W. For a relatively small 5.5″ diameter, this speaker produces good sound levels. As a computer speaker, a little distance seems to improve my sound experience at startup, and it seems better to keep people away from a central point (e.g., a computer chair) since it’s just a front-facing speaker.
I don’t have the same front-facing Bluetooth speaker to play with, but I compared it to the UE Megaboom 3 ($199), the JBL Link 300 ($200), and the older UE Boom 2 ($100). product. These are mostly designed for 360 sound, so it’s important to note that the output is different from the GravaStar. Essentially, the JBL Link 300 and Megaboom 3 have heavier bass, louder, and clearer sound performance. They’re also larger, with the JBL featuring two 25W speakers and a larger (though not as portable) bass diaphragm. However, UE Boom 2 is not up to GravaStar’s output.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t properly test the sound experience of the TWS as I only have one late model. I somehow managed to pair it with a previous version with fewer components. Typically, two or more Bluetooth devices can fill a room and provide spatially immersive sound. The quality contrast between the two is stark, but reinforces the decision to upgrade within the company.
Still, the GravaStar speakers are good, and deliver a very loud, clear, and heavy output for the speaker’s small size and shape. Plus, you get more than just speakers. The futuristic design and lighting decoration make it more of a collection and discussion. For those digging for style, I’d recommend starting with the shorter ones, especially if you start at $129. Those looking for hi-res audio with the best value for money and don’t care about the design might want to shop around because there are so many options.
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Zoeao’s Indiegogo page is live now, and you can grab one or more GravaStar speakers from a variety of early deals. Once the speaker hits retail, it should cost around $250.
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