Wireless speakers come in varying sizes and shapes, but tend to perform in similar fashion. But every now and then along comes a model that takes the expected and “bends” it to create a better platform for performance. Soundmatters’ foxL DASH 7 Wireless Pocket-Portable Soundbar and Speakerphone fits this bill, in fact so much so that reviewing it can only be done by taking on each of the separate sections that comprise a Bluetooth wireless speaker so that its uniqueness can be seen.
The DASH 7 is compact but long; a horizontal shape with a balanced feeling of weight. The metal construction is throughout, the exception being on the back where a rubber matt covers half the surface and has protrusions for holding it upright when placed down. The speakers behind the grill are omnidirectional so that it can sit with the speakers facing up, but there’s an accessory that enables it to stand up so that the grill faces forward (this being best for personal use, as opposed to a group listen). This portable soundbar can comfortably fit in a deep pants pocket, knapsack or bag.
There’s minimal controls on the DASH 7, since a smartphone can be used. Still, there’s a stacked vertical row on the right side with Vol Up/Down. Below is the Bluetooth button and an LED that lights up when Bluetooth pairing takes place: the DASH 7 pairs to one device at a time, but can remember and re-pair automatically to up to 8 kept in memory.
There are also inputs/outputs on the DASH 7’s side: a micro-USB input for charging and an AC plug to use with the included AC outlet (plugs provided not just for the US but also for European use). A special cable connects to the AC plug and there’s a good reason for using it over USB. Not only will it charge the DASH 7 faster, but the AC connection provides consistant power so the speakers can perform at their best.
There’s also an audio mini-jack input, which isn’t surprising, but there IS a surprise because there’s also a sub out. This lets the DASH 7 utilize a powered subwoofer. Soundmatters makes a compact sub to use with the DASH 7, but any powered sub can be used if attached. This is something that elevates the DASH 7 from just being like other “mobile” speakers. Also, instead of just a pair of stereo speakers, soundmatters equipped the DASH 7 with what they call “twoofers” — basically integrating tweeter frequency response in with the standard woofer response. This is why the DASJ 7 can be used in the lying flat position and deliver sound without it seeming to be muffled or dulled. This makes it well worth using if placed in front of a stand holding a tablet, for instance.
With the soundbar fully charged, I placed it on the kitchen table and began the pairing operation with my iPhone through a series of button presses. None of this is new stuff. Once done, the LED’s glow was a solid Blue — other colors emerge and blink depending on the operation, such as when there’s an incoming call or the battery is reaching a low state.
I pulled up The Cars Door to Door album (The Cars music is well-engineered for stereo), and started Strap Me In which has a good blend of hard rock guitar, upper range electronic organ and a deep bass drive. The first thing I noticed, past that of there being good stereo separation as I stood dead center in front, was that the sound-field seemed much wider than would be expected from such a small speaker. It seemed as wide as that of speaker docks 3X the size. The volume level was also pretty loud indeed for a miniature speaker and I could drive it up nearly 75% before the sound became muddled. There was also a very good clarity to the guitars and the lower register (i.e., the bass) came through with a lot more drive than I had expected since there wasn’t a sub inside. I could see how connecting the DASH 7 to an external sub would up the game even more — although realistically I couldn’t see anyone using a sub if it wasn’t soundmatters portable model (a compact speaker running wires kind of negates its whole purpose I think). I did a little digging and discovered that the battery did more than contain up to 12 hours of playback power (I got over 10 on average), but was actually designed to behave as a passive sub.
I played other tracks plus music from other albums, and they were all free of any hiss or distortion. I also gave it a few minutes with an audio book (“Three Hands in the Fountain”/Lindsey Davis) to verify that voice also was handled in a clean manner.
I also discovered, as should be obvious, that bass would be enhanced by placing the DASH 7 on surfaces where it can resonate– like that of a wooden table. A direct comparison with carpeting kind of drives this home.
Bottom line: Portable Bluetooth speakers either look good or work well. The foxL DASH 7 Wireless Pocket-Portable Soundbar and Speakerphone does both. While some might see the cost of such a small speaker ($249.00) as being high, it’s important to remember that it comes with options not found on most BT speakers. And that, most of all, it provides quality sound from a compact and attractive device that even comes in a choice of colors (black, red, white).
Built-in speakerphone capabilities, Auto-Power off to avoid draining battery
Proprietary AC power cable
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.