[dropcaps]I [/dropcaps]recently had the pleasure of spending the holiday weekend with the Packable Wireless Speaker System, or PWS, from Grain Audio and am thoroughly impressed. If you’ve read my reviews in the past, you’ll know that I hold the Jabra Solemate (and its big brother, Max) to be the touchstone by which I measure all other Bluetooth speaker solutions. While I certainly won’t be dumping the Jabra (more on that, below), it’s safe to say that a worthy competitor has surfaced.
While everyone has their own concerns, what I’m typically looking for in a portable speaker is quality of sound, volume, price, battery life and durability (in that order). The folks at Grain Audio have spared no expense at putting together this bad boy. By imbuing the PWS with MaxxAudio, an audiophile-targeted sweetening tool-set from the renowned folks at Waves, the quality of sound that you can expect is unparalleled. I owned and operated a recording studio for many years and Waves was the most trusted name in the industry when it came to plug-ins. They’ve brought that same integrity to the PWS and the impact is great. Rich, full, warm, round… whatever word you prefer to describe luxurious audio, PWS is that. To my ears, the entire spectrum is well-represented from bombastic bottom to sizzling high-end.
Let’s talk volume. For a unit that’s not much bigger than the boxes of candy you’d buy at a movie theater, the PWS delivers. I live in a fairly small apartment in Manhattan but I never even got to crank this thing to its max. The decibel level was perfect for my home, using just about 75% of its capacity, and I was blown away with the vibration isolation. Even with the bass rocking this little guy stayed perfectly still and didn’t rattle or transfer energy to any of its neighboring components. Pretty impressive. If you’re in a large home your mileage may vary but this is an ideal centerpiece to a living room or companion to a home theater.
At $249.99, this isn’t the cheapest speaker on the block. Unlike a bloated Beats By Dre line, however, you’re actually getting what you pay for with Grain Audio: Attention to detail, an artisan approach and audiophile-quality sound.
The rechargeable Lithium-ion battery is basically standard fare for this type of device and doesn’t merit much discussion. The spec-sheet shows an 8-hour playback duration but I’m not going to sit around listening to The Dark Side of the Moon on repeat just to determine the validity of the claim. I’ll take Grain Audio’s word for it.
Superior sound aside, the PWS is a beautiful unit. As if the name didn’t give it away, all of Grain Audio’s creations have a natural wood design. The Packable Wiresless Speaker System is no different, boasting a hand-oiled, FSC certified, Walnut finish. It’s really quite striking and would be a lovely addition to almost any decor.
That brings me to my only concern with this unit: durability. With its gorgeous wood craftsmanship, I would be hesitant to take this to the beach or the park for fear of scuffing or scratching such a pristine body. One of my favorite things about the Jabra Solemate is the rubberized water-resistant finish which lets me bring it into the bathroom during showers without batting an eye. I don’t know that I’d try that with this unit.
If you’re looking for premium acoustics and a classic design, the Grain Audio Packable Wireless Speaker System is a sumptuous little staple for any home or office… just make sure to bring the included carrying pouch if you’re headed for the beach.