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Jabra Solemate Max review

Kat Orphanides
2 May 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
217
inc VAT

This rugged speaker has decent sound quality and pumps out plenty of volume

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The Jabra Solemate Max is a chunky and portable Bluetooth speaker with a sturdy carry handle and a jagged base. Unfortunately, its size means that you’ll want to move it from one room to another rather than throw in a backpack. The Solemate Max is water-resistant, too, so it won't suffer if it gets drizzled on during a picnic or splashed in the bathroom. Even better, the Solemate Max supports pairing via near-field communication (NFC), so connecting NFC-enabled smartphones and tablets is a cinch.

The Solemate Max has a rechargeable battery, along with a 3.5mm analogue stereo input, a USB port that you can use to charge other devices and a micro USB port that lets you connect the Solemate to a computer.

Jabra Solemate Max

If you connect your computer to the micro USB port you can use the Solemate as USB speaker with a 16-bit/48KHz audio processor that'll beat most built-in laptop speakers hands down. Although we could connect both PC and Bluetooth devices simultaneously, the process of switching between them caused problems occasionally. We sometimes had to disconnect our Bluetoooth device so that we could play music through the USB port.

As the Jabra Solemate Max is compatible with NFC-enabled tablets and smartphones, connecting those devices is easy. You can touch the devices to the Solemate Max to pair them and then stream music from your mobile device to the Solemate Max. Even if you don’t have an NFC-compatible device, pairing a phone or tablet with the Solemate Max is easy. You simply hold the Solemate Max's power switch to put it in manual pairing mode. Conveniently, the Solemate Max plays a loop of music while in pairing mode, so it’s easy to tell if it is really in pairing mode. As an extra convenience you can use the Solemate Max’s built-in microphone to take calls if you receive a phone call while streaming music to the Solemate Max from your phone. However, we found we had to be very close to the microphone to be heard clearly.

Jabra Solemate Max

Inside the chassis are two speakers at the front, each with a tweeter and a woofer, and a bass radiator at the back. If you're facing the front of the speaker, the sound has a surprising sense of space considering that there’s little separation between the speakers. Unfortunately, those sitting behind the speaker don't get to hear anything like the same level of audio quality as those in front of it.

The speaker did well with the clean vocals and acoustic instruments of our folk test tracks, while hip-hop vocals were also clear and easily discernible. Introduce electric guitars into the mix and the mid-range becomes a little busier. The speaker's surprisingly emphatic bass proved overwhelming on some of our old punk music. Rock and metal fares better, with power metal tracks particularly benefitting from the extra bass. We were pleased to find that, at lower volumes, the bass levels drop before other frequencies, so instruments aren't drowned out if you want to listen quietly.

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