Another day, another BBQ. And another plea for the ones providing the bill of fare for me to take care of the music. My soon-to-be-hosts aren’t asking me to put playlists together, but want me to take care of setting up outside speakers that they can use. And which don’t require my having to babysit all night while everyone else has a good time. Okay, I’ll show them by going “old school” and eschewing Bluetooth for good old 900MHz wireless. And blow off having to do a USB recharge by using disposable batteries. That’s the day job of Grace Digital Mini-Bullets II 900 MHz Wireless Speaker System.
Start with a full disclosure: the Mini-Bullets II aren’t waterproof, they’re water resistant, so their being called Indoor/Outdoors is more a function of where they can be operated, not how the plastic encases the electronics. So as long as it’s dry, their use outside will be fine. Each of the two “bullet” shaped speakers (L/R=stereo) has its own wireless receiver built inside, as well as a battery compartment that takes “AA”s, should you decide against or not have access to an AC outlet for plugging in the removable power jack. A vertical strip runs down one side on each speaker — that’s where the touch-controls are located. There’s a power button, Volume Up/Down, a transmission sync and the “Mood” light control. This illuminates the speaker from within with a dim blue light that makes it look cool indeed.
So I set up the two speakers at two sides of the BBQ area and decided to make one of the tables Control Central. Distance from the table to each speaker, about 15 feet with nothing but air between, although later one there’ll be bodies moving around with food and drink, little realizing that wireless transmissions are zipping past and through their bodies. I’ve already put the needed set of batteries in the dock — although it’d be more accurate to call it a transmitter/stand since it doesn’t have any connections that you could plug an Apple phone into. What it does have is a retracting mini-jack that plugs into the headphone socket of any smartphone. The phone can then be placed on the stand, although there’s no reason that a MP3 player or an brand of tablet couldn’t be used instead — think of the transmitter’s shelf for a phone as an extra.
With my iPhone plugged into the mini-jack, I started it playing music from iRadio so that I didn’t have to concern myself with the music stopping. I pressed the transmitter’s “On” and went over to the speaker labeled Left. I first pressed against the power button until a blue LED illuminated. This was followed by my holding down the Sync button until it lit up, but since the music from iRadio started playing from it, I didn’t have to look for a visual indicator. I went over to the other speaker and repeated the process with the same results.
The Mini Bullets II uses the 900MHz band which, while old by today’s radio wave standards, is known for providing a stable signal, providing that there’s no heavy interference coming its way. Different people used the Mini Bullets later that night — once I showed them how to attach their phones, no further tutoring was required. I had raised the volume levels on both speakers almost to maximum and so the volume was controlled from the phones. The only thing I had to do with the Mini Bullets was to power up the internal lighting later in the evening when it got dark enough for them to make an impression. I realized that this would eat up battery power more rapidly, but all the batteries were fresh and they lasted the couple of hours without flickering out.
A lot of different music got played and since the resolution of the audio from the various people’s phones varied, I really could make any kind of quantitative judgement about the exacting quality of the speakers. Certainly they’re not the high-end that you’d find put outside by installers or found at a CEDIA show (professional installation), but the volume levels were more than adequate and the sound never got raspy or laced with hiss. Vocals could be understood with straining, whether hip-hop or rock, and since no symphonic music made an appearance, no judgements about nuance and subtleties needed to be referenced. I can say that when I used the Mini Bullets inside, plugging them into an AC outlet, the volume levels were more consistent. Additionally there wasn’t any concerns about using the internal lighting inside, since they weren’t any drain on the power feeding the receivers. I’d say the sound quality was that of a moderately priced boombox stereo unit, one that didn’t have access to any substantial bass and so made due mostly with the midrange. It sounded fine and did its main job — to provide background music amidst the talk and general milling around — well.
Bottom line: The Mini-Bullets II 900 MHz Wireless Speaker System combines the ease of a portable stereo playback system with wireless capabilities. They are well conceived for use indoors or outside for a sojourn to the park for pre-concert music or at a BBQ or party. $99.99 buys you good sound in a compact and not too fragile system that will work with any mobile device.
Auto scan wireless, 2 channel selector
Permanently connected audio input jack
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.