Almost every cellphone doubles as a jukebox these days. But the list of phones sporting decent speakers? It’s a lot shorter. Sony’s solution is the MBS-100, a tiny Bluetooth speaker meant for bumping music on the go.
First, the good news. Getting the MBS-100 connected to my Bluetooth gadgets (cellphones and laptops mostly) is idiot-proof due in no small part to its excellent synchronization ability. In short, the device defaults to “search mode” when first powered on and the passcode is “0000.” Want to add another device? Just hold down the sync button on the bottom of the speaker, wash, rinse and repeat. It’s that simple. Also, at 4 x 4 x 4 inches, it’s travel-friendly and the space-age-meets-hornet’s-nest chassis looks cool (if not a little Matrixy) on my desk. But the real fun lies in taking the MBS-100 on the road with your Bluetooth gadgets. My favorite prank? Sneaking its eight-ounce frame into a bag and bringing music to verboten places like movie theaters, the get-gadget cafeteria and public restrooms. After all, who doesn’t like having a disembodied orchestra playing their theme song when they enter a room? (In case you’re wondering, mine is Bring da Ruckus by Wu-Tang Clan)
So, Sony obviously got the wireless/portable part right. Sadly, audio was another story. After busting out some raaawk by Rise Against, it was clear that the MBS-100 was doomed. I cranked up the volume but between the relentless kick drum and the mid-range of the frantic guitar work, the MBS-100 sputtered surprisingly distorted audio even at medium levels. R&B and classical music performed much better at comparable and higher levels, but even those sounded anemic when it came time to deliver low frequency bass. Don’t get me wrong – the novelty of busting out my phone and the bite-sized MBS-100 for impromptu dance parties is awesome. But with audio quality this bad/expensive, you’re probably better off tuning out.