The new Plugable Bluetooth Speaker Stand puts out at least four times more sound than the iPad’s built-in speakers.
Testing with a dB meter clearly shows how and why the BT-STAND sounds so much better than the tiny speakers in most phones and tablets.
Maximum dB and Frequency Response Testing Methodology:
- How we measured dB: SL-824 Digital Sound Level Meter @ 12 inches away from the source.
- Ambient room noise: 34dB in our lab.
- Sample song: “Coldplay – Paradise”, Source: Youtube
- 20Hz-20000Hz sweep: “Hearing Test HD”, Source: Youtube
- Playback Device: iPad Retina
Q: What exactly is a “dB”?
A: Gain (volume/loudness) is typically measured in Decibels (dB). They are expressed on a logarithmic scale, where a 3dB increase sounds twice as loud. This means 96dB sounds twice as loud as 93dB, and 99dB sounds twice as loud as 96db. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decibel)
When testing the average dB (loudness) from the BT-STAND we wanted to use a popular sample song that had a good range of volume and really flowed from deep bass to high treble. We chose “Coldplay – Paradise”.
We set the iPad at its maximum Bluetooth audio volume, and found the average dB for this song at that setting was 95dB with a peak of 103dB. We repeated the test using the 3.5mm auxiliary input. Both methods peaked at identical volumes. However, Bluetooth had much less distortion than the 3.5mm aux cord. We recommend using Bluetooth unless your playback device doesn’t have it.
When played through the iPad Retina’s built-in speakers only, the average volume from our sample song was 80dB and peaked at 95dB. It sounded OK, but was very quiet in comparison.
When testing maximum dB levels we learned that the BT-STAND is capable of sustained outputs of up to 112.5dB at around 8Hz-8.5kHz on a 20Hz-20kHz sweep with almost no distortion at all. This is extremely impressive for such a small device. The volume was so loud, I had trouble staying in the same room during the test.
During the 20Hz-20kHz sweep on the iPad, a peak of 104.8dB was recorded, but with heavy distortion. We stopped the test early to avoid permanently damaging the iPad speakers.
In this comparison of volume, going back to the dB scale for reference, our BT-STAND is at least four times louder than the iPad Retina!
The frequency response from the BT-STAND can be “heard” (vibrations can be felt from the internal 1.5″x0.75″ passive radiators more than heard) as low as 20Hz but usable audio starts at 45Hz and ends at about 14kHz (this may just been the limit of my ears). This is on par with our manufacturer’s specs of 50Hz to 20KHz, assuming my ears aren’t very good in the higher end of the spectrum.
When we tested the iPad’s frequency response, we were not surprised when we discovered it was severely lacking, with usable audio starting at just over 100Hz. No low-end bass response at all! Again the range ended around 14kHz, which might just be my ears.
Battery Life and Charge Testing:
Over the course of a few days in our office, the BT-STAND got almost 12 hours of on-and-off medium volume playback over Bluetooth on a single charge. In our opinion, this was extremely impressive, especially considering the small size and lightweight design of the unit.
Charging the BT-STAND from its low battery warning beep to a full charge takes about 5 hours using any USB charger. While charging we found the BT-STAND only pulls about 0.2A, so it won’t matter if you are charging from a USB port on your computer, a USB hub, or a dedicated charger. We suggest you plug it in at the end of the day and let it charge up overnight. It will be ready to go in the morning!
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