Fugoo Portable Wireless Speaker Review

The Fugoo Portable Wireless Speaker, in the Tough jacket.

Yes, I’m talking to you. Go ahead and pry those earbuds from your cranium and listen: You can have portable tunes that sound great without plugging your aural canals with dirty, waxy deaf-makers.

For deep, resonant and crystalline sound that still allows you to converse with others – no matter how far from an outlet you might be – the Fugoo Portable Wireless Speaker series is the correct, cool and durable answer.

I’ve been trying to find false notes with the Fugoo speaker and accessories I’ve been using for the last several weeks. Any faults are few and far between. The refrain is that Fugoo speakers produce rich, immersive sound that’s great for indoors and out. They have a ridiculous battery life. They’re easy to set up and connect via Bluetooth. They look cool. And they’re virtually indestructible. Plus, they save us from seeming antisocial because our ears are plugged with little pieces of plastic at all hours.

Fugoo Portable Wireless Speaker Sound Technology

The sound and the fury of Fugoo comes from six symmetrically-oriented drivers. These include a pair of tweeters for crystal high-range notes, a couple of mid/subs built for mid-range power, and two passive radiators for bass. All told, maximum output is 95 decibels, which is roughly equal to the sound output of a military-spec Chinook helicopter taking off. In other words, the speaker is party-ready and can suit just about any gathering that won’t result in a police cruiser stopping by.

The Fugoo speaker core, stripped of its stylish jackets, shows the drivers that produce rich, immersive sound.

In my own existence, which doesn’t often involve Chinook choppers or police drive-bys, the speaker sound output is always sufficient. In the house, I found a little nook for the speaker to reside from where it easily fills several rooms with streaming sound. Outdoors, barring strong winds or chainsaw assaults on nearby trees, tunes are always strong and resonant but never competitive with voices.

Perched at one end of the living room, the Fugoo easily fills about 1,200 square feet with clear, rich sound. And the little speaker doesn’t even seem like it’s working that hard.

The magic of the Fugoo is that, despite its diminutive stature (it’s only about 6 inches long by 2.5 inches tall and 2 inches deep), its sound is big. By that I don’t mean “loud.” Music comes out confident, expansive, never pitchy or uncontrolled. This balance, I understand, comes courtesy of Fugoo’s “Digital Signal Processor” dynamic equalization. The little guy optimizes tunes as they’re played so even Kenny G. sounds good.

The speaker strapped to a tree. The sound is big enough to fill an entire backyard with great tunes. Strapping to a tree elevates the speakers so sound travels farther. Plus it looks kind of badass.

This optimization, along with the orientation of those tweeters, mid/subs and passive radiators is what allows for what Fugoo calls “360 degree” sound. The speaker sends out tunes not just in one direction like most speakers, but in all directions. This way, everyone gets to enjoy the Kenny G.

There’s some other technology built into the speaker that I admittedly don’t have the technical training to comprehend. Something about “magnetic ferrofluid” in the tweeters that forms a connection between the speaker and the “permanent neodymium magnet” to use as a “heat sink” and to dampen the “voice coil.” Intergalactic flight has less confusing vocabulary. Whatever: The bottom line is the little thing sounds fantastic. Whether I’m listening to instrumental jazz at dinner or getting the Led out on the weekends, Fugoo delivers.

Fugoo Portable Wireless Speaker Aesthetics

If you thought the whole story of the Fugoo was audible, your eyes have something to tell you. The Fugoo is pretty.

In the Style jacket, the Fugoo looks clean and modern. (But it’s still tough.)

Sure, it’s durable (and we’ll talk more about that in a minute), but it’s darn pretty, too. It can be all souped up with the “Tough” exterior body or go Sporty Spice with the “Sport” body, but regardless, the Fugoo’s exterior is always aesthetically pleasing. It’s kind of like a diesel-powered 4×4 built for shredding mud and plowing over rocks that just happens to be shined and waxed and glistening with chrome. Pretty tough.

The Tough jacket looks like it could take on a monster truck.

This pretty toughness comes in three flavors: the aforementioned Tough and Sport styles and the basic Style style. You know how in Mission:Impossible the movie, the characters are always stripping off those prosthetic masks? The Fugoo does that same thing. The Tough, Sport and Style outsides are all interchangeable around the Fugoo speaker core.

The Sport jacket is shown here, along with various Fugoo accessories that come with the speaker: USB cable, audio cable, AC adapter, and tote bag.

Regardless of the mask it wears, the Fugoo retains its durability, but the masks help make it look appropriate in different settings. The Style works great when Fugoo wants to appear civilized. Sport’s nice for the home gym or beach. And Tough is good for when you’re stranded out in the woods after your fancy 4×4 throws a rod in the mud.

The Tough jacket opens into two parts for easy swapping.

Swapping looks is simple and quick. Press on a little underbody tab and the speaker core slides right out of Style. Sport and Tough require removal of two little screws – but there’s still virtually no effort.

Removing the various jackets is quick and easy. The Sport jacket pops open so the core can slide right in.

When the masks come off, the speaker core looks a little funny. But like the Terminator looks funny when his skin gets peeled away to reveal some awesome machinery. Still cool, just different cool. And a little less pretty.

The speaker core being ejected from the Style jacket. Kind of like the Terminator.

Fugoo Portable Wireless Speaker Durability

Fugoo claims it’s the world’s most rugged Bluetooth speaker. This seems a fair claim since the little speaker can be dropped, submerged, probably even used as an impromptu hockey puck, without quitting.

How? Well, according to Fugoo, it’s because the speaker body is air-tight and because the speaker uses those “neodymium magnets” I mentioned earlier (whatever those are). Anyway, the durability is top-notch.

The speaker has an IP rating of IP67, which describes resistance to dust and water. Dust resistance is a 6 out of 6, and water resistance is a 7 out of 8. So, even if your blingy 4×4 bogs down in the mud, your Fugoo won’t. And the thing evidently still can wheeze out Bob Marley if you drop it in the hot tub.

I didn’t test the claim that the Fugoo will play music when submerged in water 3 feet deep. But I did drop the speaker a couple of times. Once on hardwoods, the other on slate. The little guy’s fine.

The speaker in Tough jacket clipped to my backpack. With the durability of the Fugoo, you don’t have to worry about rain, dust, or drops interfering with your tunes.

More even than this bit of testing, it’s worth noting that the Fugoo just feels solid. There are lots of products out there that are built just well enough to stand up to a drop or two. But, still, in your gut you know those things are one slip away from paperweight status. Not so with Fugoo. It is built to last. We’re talking MMA-levels of put together here. I wouldn’t run it over with a car. But pretty much anything else is probably fair territory. (Note: My unwillingness to pit the Fugoo against a Michelin is evidently a reflection of gross conservatism. There is a YouTube video of a car driving back and forth over a Fugoo in the Tough jacket. The speaker is completely unscathed.)

Fugoo Portable Wireless Speaker Function

The Fugoo is wireless, portable and battery-powered. Tunes get pumped via Bluetooth 4.0 to a max distance of around 30 feet. Using my Moto cell phone, I was able to keep the Kenny G. on up to about 35 feet with no impediments before the Bluetooth gave out.

The Bluetooth connection is great, so long as the 4.0 standard is found in the device sending the tunes. I also tried my laptop, which has a Bluetooth 2.1 spec. I was able to connect and play via the speaker, but randomly and without warning, the connection would get screwed up and a deafening static sound would screech out of the Fugoo. I thought that, if you don’t have a Bluetooth 4.0 device, the Fugoo ain’t for you. But – great news – there are firmware updates available on the Fugoo website that enable interoperability! Get yourself connected.

The bike mount features some clever engineering. Stability with the mount is excellent. For those so inclined, the speaker could ride shotgun on mountain biking downhills without worry.

Portability is excellent. The Fugoo is small enough to fit most anywhere, and it’s light enough to be clipped onto things and people. Some Fugoo accessories include a strap mount for strapping, a bike mount for biking, and a multi mount for clipping just about anywhere else. They’re all color-coordinated (especially with the Sport skin) and work well.

The Fugoo battery could give Tesla a run for its money. Run time is 40 hours on a single charge. Full-time employees don’t even give you that kind of endurance. I found battery life to be outstanding. A single press of the power button on the device gives you a spoken update on remaining power. My only gripe here is that a more useful visible power indicator would be better. There’s a small LED light on the device that, when the power button is briefly depressed, illuminates green when the battery’s charge is ok and red when it’s not. The trouble is this indicator is only binary, and you have to prompt it. For me, a bit more information would be helpful, and a little less work would be welcome. It’s a small gripe.

That voice, by the way, is an almost too-cool male vocalization that announces “Speaker is on,” when the device is powered up and tells you “Powering off” when it’s shutting down. “Connected!” sounds when the Bluetooth syncs. Some synth-y beats accompany the talking. It’s all pretty futuristic seeming, in a Back to the Future II sort of a way. It’s really cool at first, and then a little weird, like having a fax machine print out onto toilet paper. It could be just me, but the voice is not my favorite feature of the speaker: less talking, more not talking, Fugoo. The speakerbot can be turned to a lower volume or off through some simple presses of a couple buttons on the speaker or via the nifty Fugoo app loaded onto my laptop. It’s nice keeping the speaking to a minimum because it leaves the Fugoo to do what it does best: playing those beautiful tunes. Which it’s so good at.

Speaker Core + Style Jacket (includes charging cable, AC adapter, and audio cable): $179.99.

Sport Jacket: $39.99

Tough Jacket: $79.99

Strap Mount: $29.99

Bike Mount: $39.99

Multi Mount: $29.99

For more information, visit fugoo.com.

Steve: Steve runs, lifts, bikes, hikes, and swims, but never at the same time. He's currently based in central Oregon, where he lives with his wife and dog.
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