Lyric Speaker Box review

GeekDad Review: Cotodama Lyric Speaker Box

Audio Gear Products Reviews

I have the opportunity to try out a lot of interesting audio equipment, so it’s hard for a product to really stand out as being unique. The Cotodama Lyric Speaker Box is one of those products that manage to leave a big impression. This is a premium Wi-Fi streaming speaker with seriously good sound. So far so good, but nothing really groundbreaking there. What sets the Lyric Speaker Box apart is the show it puts on while playing your music. The system is equipped with a transparent LCD panel. As you play music, the Lyric Speaker Box displays the lyrics in a variety of moving patterns—sometimes accompanied by artwork that moves to the beat.

It’s not karaoke, it’s not a flashing RGB light show, but it’s pretty impressive.

Lyric Speaker Box unboxing
Yes, that is a very orange box… (Photo by Brad Moon)

First Impression and Setup

The Lyric Speaker Box is not a small speaker. It measures roughly 15-inches wide, 5-inches deep, and 10-inches tall. It weighs just over 9 pounds. Mind you, it’s lightweight compared to the original. I tested that first Lyric speaker in 2018. It was significantly larger in every dimension and tipped the scales at 24 pounds.

The appearance is very unusual. The sides, top, and bottom of the review unit are black ABS resin. There’s a bezel of about 1/2-inch in front, but the front face is a clear acrylic panel, with two drivers mounted on the right side. The back is also a clear panel, but this is a clear LCD. When the system isn’t running, you can see right through the Lyric Speaker Box.

There is a power button hidden around back and a port for the power supply, but that’s about it. No volume or track controls, no logo, not even pads on the bottom. It is minimalist to the extreme.

I tested with an iPhone, and the setup was easy. This is an AirPlay 2-enabled speaker, so it’s the standard process of going to iOS Wi-Fi settings and selecting the “set up new AirPlay Speaker” option. It also has built-in Chromecast for Android users. There is no Bluetooth option, and there is no physical audio input.

Lyric Speaker Box review
From this angle, you can see the clear acrylic front and the driver placement with the LCD panel at the back. (Photo by Brad Moon)

Audio Performance

Music sounds very good on the Lyric Speaker Box, which is a two-way bass-reflex design. Those two drivers on the front are a 3-inch woofer and a 3/4-inch tweeter. They are driven by a 32W amplifier and offer a frequency response of 60Hz to 20kHz.

The result is music with considerable bass thump without sacrificing clarity. I was actually surprised by its low-end performance. It almost feels like there’s a subwoofer at work. It keeps refined at high volumes as well. For example, I blasted “Forever Now,” a Psychedelic Furs track with a wall of sound approach that can completely overwhelm many speakers. The Lyric Speaker Box handled it without issues, with vocals and instruments each clearly defined—plus pounding bass with a bit of rumble to it. This is very much a premium audio setup despite the unusual appearance.

All the Lyrics

The Lyric Speaker Box’s audio performance is just part of the story. What makes this speaker unique is its proprietary “Lyric Sync” technology. Basically, the speaker draws from a database of millions of songs to display the lyrics of any song you play on its transparent LCD monitor, in real-time. The need to access the database for lyrics explains the lack of Bluetooth. I spent hours going through tracks (including some fairly non-mainstream Canadian new wave music from the early 1980s), and never stumped it.

Lyric Speaker Box review
A static photo doesn’t do it justice, but this shows the lyrics in action with iPhone 13 Pro Max for scale. (Photo by Brad Moon)

Lyrics get a wide range of dynamic treatments. They don’t just scroll passively. There are a number of effects and treatments, some with black text on white, some with white on black. Different font sizes are used. Sometimes there is an animated graphics accompaniment (geometric shapes and lines). The panel is backlight and can be seen in daylight, but has more impact in low light. There’s no color, but it’s fascinating to watch. It turns this from being “just” a speaker to something more interactive, and even a bit of home decor.

It’s pretty amazing just how quickly it fires up with each new track. There is a pause of a fraction of a second where the track name is displayed, then the lyrics (and/or graphics) start up. I’ve been using Apple Music, but Cotodama says Spotify, Amazon Music, and YouTube Music are also supported.

Be Prepared to Open Your Wallet…

Here’s the tough part. Tech like this doesn’t come cheap. The Lyric Speaker Box I tested goes for $1,000. There are more expensive versions (same features but upgraded cases), including a $1,450 stainless steel model.

That being said, prices have come down from when I tested the first version in 2018—that went for $4,500.

Cotodama Lyric Speaker Box Recommendation

The Cotodama Lyric Speaker Box is obviously not an impulse purchase. It’s not a portable speaker, and you can buy wireless speakers that offer great audio performance for considerably less than its $1,000 price tag. However, the real-time animated lyrics display makes this a real showpiece. If you’re looking for a wireless speaker that wows, you might want to check it out.

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