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Tree Labs Astro Bluetooth Speaker Review: Lightweight, stylish, and sounds good too

Theo Nicolakis | Jan. 29, 2016
There is a seemingly infinite number of portable Bluetooth speakers on the market. Do we really need one more? Tree Labs seems to think so with the Astro.

I think what Tree Labs means by the term “full range” is that they are playing the speaker’s on-board drivers at their full range. This can be very confusing for the average consumer.

How does the Astro sound?

The Astro plays larger than it looks. Listening to Junkie XL’s soundtrack for Mad Max: Fury Road, I was able to play the bombastic soundtrack to very loud listening levels with relatively little strain or distortion—a key feature for backyard, beach, or poolside listening (thought the Astro is not waterproof).

Even though there were clear compromises to the top and bottom end, most music through the Astro surprisingly good. Overall, Fury Road came across nicely. R.E.M’s “Orange Crush” and “Turn You Inside-Out” from the classic album, Green were great to jam to. Album after album, track after track there was decent detail and dynamics, but there was no real bottom end at all to the music. Drums especially were robbed of their visceral impact and the overall weight of the music was thinned out.

Now, as long as I stayed on-axis, things were good. However, if I moved off-axis by about 15 or 20 degrees, I started to get some noticeable coloration to the music. It was readily apparent with vocals. Playing Sarah McLachlan’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River” from Wintersong cast a dark veil over Sara’s voice. Male vocalists didn’t fare any better. Imagine Dragons’ lead man Dan Reynolds suffered the same fate on just about every track from Night Visions.

While this little David of a speaker won’t slay any Goliath’s it did admirably well for its footprint.

The bottom line

The Astro is a nicely-designed, fun little speaker that’s easy to carry around. It sounds great for its size. However, the need for a 12v power adapter instead of USB recharging limits what could have been a much more practical portable speaker system.

 

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