Needless to say, Pioneer’s Steez Boomboxes, are not your traditional portable speaker system. They come in three sizes and I received the biggest of the trio, the Steez Crew. Pioneer has developed this product with dancers in mind. So suffice to say, it’s not really designed for anyone that is looking for a simple boombox, as further emphasized by its bold design and bright finish. But are its features enough for it to be a top-rated Bluetooth speaker?
At the core of the Steez Crew is 40 watts of power, backed by a 135mm subwoofer, two 25mm tweeters, and two 75mm woofers. The look and feel of the Steez Crew is somewhat rugged and although the iPhone dock is padded and seals shut, it’s not designed to be tossed, dropped, or kicked around, though I’m relatively confident it could survive a good thrashing. The handle, which extends the full length of the boombox houses the controls that are finished in rubber and glow blue when pressed. If an electrical socket isn’t available you can drop in 10 D batteries. While I didn’t test the battery life, I’m gonna guess at least 5 hours at a decent volume. Fortunately, there is a battery life indicator to tell you when you’ll need to plug in as well as a few power saving options to cut back on power drain.
There is a myriad of settings and options to choose from with the Steez Crew. To be candid, I just listened to music from my docked iPhone. I’m not a dancer, but despite that, I’m a bit taken back by the variety of music playback options that the Steez Crew offers. Before you can use most if not all of them – you can only playback tunes from your iPhone in a traditional fashion – you’ll have to download some PC-only software that works in tandem with Steez Crew called MIXTRAX. MIXTRAX crawls through your music, determines the beats per minute, and then when that music is added to the Steez Crew’s 4GB of built-in memory, or via the boombox‘s USB port, it allows you to influence tempo without affecting the pitch, automatically playback music by genre, setup an 8-beat skip and dance cue and place emphasis on the instrumentals, which supposedly helps dancers cue up their movies bit more efficiently.
The 3.5-inch LED screen simplifies the music selection process as well as the settings. Though settings on this device, despite the aforementioned dance options, are somewhat limited. And by that I mean to say you can tune the EQ according to the music you’re listening to on the fly. There are however a few functions to enhance the sound, such as loudness which increases bass and treble at low volumes; auto level adjusts which evens out the volume of all songs; and sound retriever which supposedly recovers the portion of the song that is deleted during compression and improves cadence and sound closeness.
A credit card-sized remote is included, allowing you to skip songs as well as mess with tempo and beat without having to physically stand in front of the Steez Crew. Other than that it’s your garden variety infrared remote. You may want to go through our Philips ShoqBox SB7200 Portable Bluetooth Speaker review for a much more portable Bluetooth speaker that can fit in your pocket.
Last year I tested out many boombox-like devices. There were the Beats by Dre Beat Box and the Fluance Boombox. The Steez definitely keeps pace with both of these aforementioned devices, though in the looks department, despite being the same price, it’s not as quite as reserved in appearance thanks to the candy red apple finish slapped over the plastic body. And speaking of which, the lack of wood, which is found in both other products, results in a less than warm sound. In other words, the Steez Crew is a tad bit trebly or shrill at higher volumes despite the presence of 3 woofers. I tested it with a wide variety of music and achieved virtually the same results regardless. So I can’t say the sound quality by any account was disappointing. I was simply expecting more given the spec’d hardware and 40 watts of power. If you travel a lot and want something that you can easily carry in your bags then you should go through our Razer Ferox review.
All in all the Steez Crew feels like a bit of a tease for those who aren’t dancing for a living. It boasts some pretty rocking sound, though it was a bit bright for my tastes. The iPhone/iPod is clearly a must-have, but don’t be fooled, because you won’t be able to influence tempo or instantly modify any of your tracks as Pioneer requires you to run your music through their MIXTRAX software in order to utilize these features. Aesthetically, the Steez Crew is a bit funky for anyone of a conservative ilk, but again, this boombox is not geared for anyone that adorns a tie or skirt to work. Ultimately, Pioneer’s Steez Crew stacks up against the competition and piles on top a set of dance tools that are sure to fulfill any crew that needs to throw down and get their boogie on.
Bottom Line: The Steez Crew is a genre-specific dance boombox that will keep the dance competition going well into the night anywhere you roam. Just make sure you own a PC to take full advantage of the Crew’s features.