In my opinion, when it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers, rugged is the way to go. After all, being portable is a little limiting if you have to stay in the house, or be hovering around the speaker so it doesn’t get bumped or accidentally sprayed with water. There are some very good options to choose from—including a popular line-up from Ultimate Ears (you can read my latest review for that company here)—but I just wrapped up testing on an option that only recently showed up on my radar: the DemerBox.
This might just be the most rugged Bluetooth speaker yet, as well as being waterproof and able to run up to 50 hours on a charge. It’s also capable of keeping your lunch dry and sand-free… More on that part shortly.
Waterproof and Virtually Indestructible
One look at the DemerBox and you’ll recognize that this speaker is built like a tank. In fact, the housing is a Pelican case—and Pelican has a pretty solid reputation for making virtually indestructible travel cases. Mine was in Haast Orange, which definitely stands out in a crowd. Other options are Barrow Black, Pesaro Green, and Roseau Blue. Parts like the grills covering the drivers are in contrasting black ABS plastic.
The only external control is a sealed power button on the front. Everything else is safely sealed inside. Undo the latches and you can access the power jack, the 3.5mm AUX input, and a USB-B out port for topping up a smartphone’s battery. There is also a port plug secured inside and this needs to be removed, then inserted in the bass reflex port in order to waterproof the unit.
I verified the DemerBox is completely waterproof and even floats in water, although my review unit did so with the drivers facing down, so don’t expect it to be bobbing around a pool playing tunes while you swim. But for outdoor use and applications like camping, fishing, or boating, there is no fear of this speaker taking a knock, getting caught in a downpour, or falling in the lake.
And It Has Waterproof Storage…
The DemerBox looks more like a lunchbox than a portable speaker, especially with its handle up. And in one of its more unique features, it actually has storage space. Room enough for a wallet, keys, smartphone—even a sandwich…
Open the DemerBox case and you’ll notice that the “speaker” itself has been built into one half, leaving considerable free space. Normally, that provides room for air to move when the drivers are working hard, but you can take advantage of it to stash a few things, keeping them out of sight and protected from the elements. You do pay a penalty in sound quality if you fill it up, but it’s a nice option to have.
DemerBox Key Specs
• 2 x 3-inch aluminum cone drivers
• 11w per channel RMS Class D amplifier
• Bluetooth, 3.5mm audio jack
• Housed in a crush-proof, Military spec molded polypropylene Pelican 1300 case
• 100% waterproof
• 2600mAh Lithium Ion battery rated at up to 50 hours of play time, with USB charge output
• Available in a variety of colors
• Includes port plug, AC charger, 3.5mm stereo cable
• 10.6 x 9.7 x 6.9inches, weighs 5.4 pounds
• MSRP $349
Audio Performance and Battery Life
With its two driver setup and closely placed configuration (the centers of the drivers are just five inches apart), the DemerBox is designed more for portability than high fidelity. That being said, music sounds pretty good and the company used high-quality aluminum cone full-range drivers. Bass response is especially strong for a speaker of this size—with that extra space in the case and the bass reflex port helping there. The 11w per channel digital amplifier does a great job of pumping out plenty of volume, even when used outdoors. It does get a little harsh at maximum levels, though.
What’s lacking is a sense of depth—no surprise given the configuration. The audio is also missing a little high-end energy. However, it makes for entertaining listening.
I should mention that the high positioning of the drivers because of the unusual form factor helps the audio to carry outdoors compared to a typical “candy bar” form factor where the drivers are located very close to the surface the speaker is sitting on. Despite its upright position, the DemerBox is quite stable.
Battery life? The 2600mAh Lithium Ion battery takes roughly four hours for me to charge fully using the included AC charger—a little longer (maybe five hours) if the battery is fully depleted. But that’s not likely to happen, because the DemerBox can get up to 50 hours on a charge. Shave 10 or 20 hours off that if you like your music loud or plan to use it in really cold temperature, but it’s still enough for multiple days of music. That’s pretty tough to beat.
Celebrity Endorsement? Yup… And Made in the USA
If you care about celebrity endorsements, DemerBox has that box checked. Grammy winner Zac Brown isn’t just a fan, he’s now a part owner of the company. What many people may care more about is that the DemerBox is made in the USA. The company also points out that this speaker is not a sealed unit, and you’ll see a lot of screws instead of glue, making it serviceable instead of landfill should a component fail.
If you’re in the market for a portable Bluetooth speaker that’s waterproof, rugged, with exceptional battery life and good audio performance, the DemerBox is a great choice. At $349, it’s a little pricier than many competitors, but the company is releasing a new speaker later this month and as a result, the current DemerBox is discounted to $279 while supplies last.
That makes it a much more compelling option. But if you have plans to take advantage of that pricing, I wouldn’t wait too long. I’ve watched over the past few weeks as the limited edition versions have sold out.
Disclosure: DemerBox provided a speaker for evaluation but had no input into this review.