Lightweight and highly portable; Loud, relatively balanced audio; Good voice conferencing; Robust voice command features; Moderately customizable
Finicky volume/skip buttons
Monster Cable's wireless speaker combines big audio, customizability and voice command in a portable package.
Monster Cables and Beats by Dre have gone their separate ways, but Monster Cable continues to make a name for itself as a standalone audio brand. Its latest offering, the $199 Monster ClarityHD Micro Bluetooth Speaker, delivers big sound in a relatively small package. In addition to voice conferencing, the Micro offers voice command features, making this accessory a great choice for mobile professionals and music fans alike.
Our favorite part about the ClarityHD Micro's design is the pair of unassuming black metal grilles that wrap around the speaker's front and rear. The front plate has a small chrome Monster logo while the black plate is bare. The matte black covers are magnetic, making them easy to swap out for one of the other colored plates pairs (light blue, light green and pink, available for $19.95).
The top of the Micro is subtly recessed; at its center is a long button for volume and Bluetooth pairing, below a red-and-white ClarityHD Micro logo. The Micro's bottom has a soft-touch rubberized panel to keep it from slipping.
In terms of accessories, the Micro features a small wrist strap, an AC adapter with four alternate plugs, a micro-USB cable and a handsome velvet carrying pouch.
Set up and Ease of Use
After placing each phone in pair mode, we switched the Micro on and pressed a button on top of the speaker. Micro made a slight purring noise and the status light flashed red and blue to signal it was in pair mode. From there a pleasant male voice delivered instructions, including the speaker's pin code. Once we were paired, the speaker made a happy chirping noise. The whole process took about three to four seconds on each phone and we were ready to play music.
Syncing the device with a laptop was just as speedy. After making our Fujitsu LifeBook U772 Ultrabook discoverable, we pressed the pair button on the Monster and listened for the distinctive purr. Pairing took a little longer at five to six seconds.
We ran into a bit of trouble with the speaker's volume buttons. Instead of adding skip/rewind buttons, users must short press the +/- buttons to skip forward or back and long-press to adjust the volume. There were more than a few occasions where we accidently skipped a track while attempting to adjust the volume.
We liked that we could use our normal speaking voice and appreciated the Micro's speed of execution. However, we wished we could use voice commands while playing music instead of having to pause the track and wait a few seconds before issuing commands.
Chrisette Michele's soulful soprano exuded sweetness and power over the organ and keyboards in "If I Have My Way." However, we noticed a bit of flatness in the trumpets, bass and vocals on Jay-Z and Young Jeezy's "As Real As It Gets." Still, we could clearly hear the delicate sprinkling of piano throughout the track.
The Micro fared better on Eric Clapton's "If I Could Change The World," with crisp percussion, clear guitar and Clapton's signature bluesy vocal. Babyface's backup vocals blended nicely with Clapton's for a nice harmony.
When we played the same tracks on the competing Jambox, highs were consistently richer, but we did hear quite a bit of distortion on the Chrisette Michele tracks, especially toward the bridge when the singer belts out a beautiful solo. The Micro blew the Jambox away in terms of volume and bass.
On a side note, the Micro has a rather annoying habit of chirping every couple of seconds when we paused the music for longer than 30 seconds.
Our test calls to landlines, cellphones and Skype were loud and crisp. There were a few instances on Skype where we experienced some echo. Our callers reported clear, loud audio on their end across the board.
Battery Life and Bluetooth Range
Similar to other Bluetooth products, the Monster ClarityHD Micro has a range of about 30 feet. During our testing, we were able to use both the Samsung Galaxy SIII and the Fujitsu LifeBook U772 up to 26 feet before the sound dropped off. However, the signal faded a lot quicker when we put a few walls between the speaker and the connected device.
Monster conservatively rated the Micro for five hours of battery life. During testing the device lasted nearly six hours before the red low battery life status light began to flash.
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|Accessories Type||Bluetooth Device|
|Battery Type/Life||Lithium-ion battery/5 hours of battery life|
|Size||7 x 3.25 x 1.5-inches|