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Time for an age check – when I was a kid, if you wanted to play your music portably and play it loud enough for the rest of the neighborhood to hear, you had to use a “boom box” – a radio that at times could be so ungodly huge that you literally had to carry it, and do nothing else until you set it back down. Times have changed though, and now to listen to music we have tiny things like iPods, smartphones, or tablets – the problem with each of these tiny devices though, is that their speakers are usually pretty much garbage, and only designed for personal use; gone are the days where you could tell people “this is what I like” just by turning up the volume so much that two blocks over knew. While the NOVA speakers from Tego Audio (pronounced Tay-Go) aren’t that loud – they do satisfy a need to play things loud. And if quality sound makes you feel satisfied, you should definitely check out some of the best speakers around.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from these little things – they looked like something out of a science fiction movie, or maybe a sticky mine from a video game (another age check – does anyone remember “burple”? It was a drink that you added water to, then popped up the center to mix it. These things reminded me of it). They’re small, sleek, and have lots of rounded edges – a very unassuming design. It’s when you get close, however, and see the circle area that pops out that the design brilliance shines through. Grab ahold of the centerpiece and twist, and a hidden baffled chamber emerges.
This center chamber is where your bass comes from, and while I was at first skeptical that something like that would produce clear sounds; I have to say that in the end, I was quite impressed. I ran the gambit on it, listening to every music style from bluegrass to rap to operatic – and the bass was always clear and crisp, with no distortion even at the highest levels. The highs were not always as rich as I would have liked them (especially when listening to some Bocelli), but that’s not what these speakers are designed for. The fact that they came through as well as they did with the bass so high really impressed me.
See also: Our Tivoli Audio Model One review.
As far as control goes, the NOVA speakers have all their buttons as touchpoints on their “legs”. One has the power button (hold it for two seconds to turn on or off), another has the volume up button, and a third has the volume down. It’s nice because not having buttons stick up everywhere really keeps the design flow looking as it should. I would think that stray things popping up on the body would have ruined the aesthetics of the whole thing. Along the base is the UBS jack that you use to charge it – it holds around an eight-hour charge on its lithium-ion battery – and an audio jack.
Related: Also check out our Sony RDP XA 700IP Airplay Speaker Dock review.
The audio jack is there because you can daisy chain these things together to create an entire line of speakers; each one adding itself to the sound matrix of the first, and further increasing the depth and complexity of whatever you pump through them. Tego Audio sent me three of the speakers, and I was quite happy to use all three at once. The only caveat I’ve found is the incredibly short cord that they have – it’s only about four inches – which means you can’t space them out very well to create a pseudo “surround” feeling. This might be an opportunity to make an amplifier to boost the sound. But, I understand that the cord needs to be stored around the base to make it more portable. Yet, I would have really appreciated it if it came with a separate speaker extension cord so I could have moved them around a bit.
However, if you want completely portable speakers, you’ll want to read our JBL Flip 4 review and our JBL JBLCHARGE3BLKAM waterproof portable Bluetooth review.
The NOVA speakers come in three different colors – red with black highlights, white with red highlights, or black with chrome highlights. They’re unlike the iMainGo X, which is only black and silver. It’s nice to have some variety, because you’re sure to find one that doesn’t clash with the color of whatever you’re using to supply the beats. Now I’ve been so saturated with audio devices as of late, that it’s been really hard to impress me – these did the job in spades. Other than the cord, there really isn’t anything else I would change.
The Bottom Line: The NOVA Mini Portable Speakers from Tego Audio are an extremely well designed and imagined idea to solve the problem of garbage speakers on portable audio devices nowadays – while the short cord limits where they can be placed, the sound they put out more than makes up for that.
You can buy the NOVA Mini Portable Speakers by Tego Audio from their own website for the price of $39.99 each – and that’s for any color choice. Or you can save a few bucks and get a three-pack for $99.99.