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Xounts Up hands-on preview: Two parts wireless speaker, one part objet d'art

Michael Brown | July 13, 2016
Looking for something different in home audio gear? This speaker/light show fits the bill.

We usually don't cover crowd-funded hardware, if only because so many Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns fail to reach full retail fruition. But when we can get our hands on a fully working prototype, as we have with the Xounts Up speaker system, the hardware becomes more difficult to ignore. This product’s unique design piqued our curiosity, and the company agreed to send us a beta version to evaluate.

Designed in Germany, the Xounts Up is a combination wireless speaker and LED light show. The square base houses an 80-watt amplifier, a 6.5-inch subwoofer, an RJ45 ethernet jack, an electrical outlet, and an E26 light-bulb socket. An obelisk-shaped frame with four plastic panels, two of which have transducers mounted to them, sits on top of the base. You can drape a variety of form-fitting slipcovers over the obelisk to customize the speaker’s design.

Xounts Up vertical
Xounts Up

The Xounts Up stands about 40 inches high.

During the campaign, you can pre-order one Xounts Up for between $269 and $499, depending on the options you choose. The prototype we received had everything, which includes a Bluetooth module that plugs into the AC outlet; a multi-color, dimmable smart LED bulb with a remote control; and two different covers (a warm-white LED bulb is standard, or you can use any other smart bulb with an E26 base).

Why would you need a Bluetooth module if the Xounts Up has an RJ45 port? Because the RJ45 port isn’t a true ethernet port. If you want to add the speaker to your network, you’ll need an AC-powered travel router (or something like an Apple AirPort Express).

Being designed to sit on the floor, the Xounts Up handily solves the problem of where to locate the speaker. You don’t need to worry about finding a shelf or a piece of furniture that’s not too high or too low, or that’s just the right distance from a wall. Apart from having the power cord trail across the floor, you can put this speaker anywhere. And since you can light it up independently without ever having to use the speaker, it becomes an instant conversation piece, with no audio required.

The 32-button remote control that comes with the smart LED bulb lets you set a variety of brightness levels; pick different shades of red, green, blue, and white; memorize up to three settings; and program three buttons. The Kickstarter page says the light can be synchronized to music, too, but the designers must be using a very loose definition of the word synchronize. Yes, the lights can be set to pulsate and change color while the music plays, but the patterns had little relation to the rhythm of the music. The light pulses are triggered by sound of any frequency, but, for example, it would be much more interesting if they followed just the bass line. 

 

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