It’s clear that Altec Lansing set out to build a badass boombox-style speaker for the modern party: it has Bluetooth wireless capabilities, can go anywhere, has booming sound, and they added some fun features for good measure. With its rocking sound, solid but lightweight structure and sturdy handle, the RockBox XL will remind you of a classic boombox. And you may be tempted to hoist the new RockBox XL on your shoulder as your walking into the next party to let everyone know you’ve arrived! We had a blast testing this new speaker, and here’s what we found:
- 50 Watts of Booming Sound with Dual 3.5″ Ferrite Woofers, 30mm x 2 Mylar Tweeter, and dual 160mm x 83mm Passive Radiators
- Waterproof Rating: IP67; Waterproof, Dirtproof, Shockproof and it FLOATS!
- Battery Life: Up to 20 hours + built-in smartphone charger
- LED Illuminating Light: Beat to Music, Solid, Gradual Fade, Multi-Color
- House Party Pairing: Pair up to 50 Speakers
- Just Ask: Siri and Hey Google Voice Assistant via Bluetooth through your smartphone
- Wireless Range: 100 Ft
Boasting its waterproof and physically secure design, you can take this speaker with you virtually anywhere. Actually, with the exception of fire, this speaker has all of Captain Planet‘s elements covered! The RockBox XL will be the center of your pool party when you drop it into the pool (unplugged, obviously) and let it float around while you pick out the jams from the sun deck. Or for people like me that love enjoying the snowy months, this speaker is snowproof which makes it the perfect companion for unpredictable weather, winter chores, and those slopeside tailgates (looking at you Colorado). Of all the features this speaker offers, the versatility provided by its waterproof and dirtproof technology is easily our favorite.
To give the RockBox XL a more fun factor, Altec Lansing added a neat LED party lighting feature. Initially, it was fun to cycle through the different lighting options. Having the light beat to the music was my personal favorite setting, but after the first few uses the novelty of the LED lighting wore off and I typically would use the speaker without the lighting. However, I can see how this would be a fun if the speaker was floating around in pool or hot tub during an evening party.
As you would expect, Altec Lansing has made the Bluetooth connection process easy and the speaker remembers connected devices. The stated Bluetooth range is 100 feet, which is reasonably accurate when using the speaker in an unobstructed space like the beach. However, once the connected device (the phone in your pocket) is separated by 1 or more walls, the wireless range drops off dramatically. When testing the Bluetooth range, we found that the reliable wireless range was about 20-40 feet when the devices were obstructed by 1 or more walls.
The USB charging ports are often an understated feature on a speaker, but you’ll be really happy they’re there when you need them! I love being able to keep the phone charged while I take the speaker out of the house. These USB ports (and power cord plug-in) are secured by a waterproofing cap which we worked perfectly for the new speaker we tested. Time will tell if wear and tear from normal use might jeopardize the seal of the cap, thus causing the speaker to lose it’s waterproof status.
For those with multiple Altec Lansing speakers, the house pairing is a great feature that allows you to connect multiple speakers to a single music source for simultaneous music play throughout your property.
One feature that I could live without is the “Powering on: Welcome to Altec Lansing” chime every time the speaker is turned on. For a product that might be frequently turned on and off, the verbal chime became a little annoying. A simple ding or chime to let me know the speaker was powered on would have been sufficient for me.
As the name implies, the RockBox XL is the big brother to the RockBox, a smaller and less powerful speaker with a similar overall design. One of the first things you’ll notice about the RockBox XL is that it’s far from a ‘box’ shape, rather a triangular prism. We’ve seen many speakers in recent years in cube, rectangular, and cylinder shapes but this is the first triangular prism shaped speaker we’ve come across. However it soon became clear that the shape was intentional to allow for one of the its most fun features – it’s waterproof, floats, and stays up right! We’ve tested other waterproof speakers in the past that had trouble staying upright. This sometimes caused the other speaker to project sound into the water and caused the speaker to sound muffled. But the triangular shape of the RockBox XL leaves at least one of the two projecting speaker sides buoyant unaffected by the water.
This speaker is portable in the sense that you can take it anywhere around the house, or easily toss it in the car for a trip to the beach. But this isn’t a speaker you want to throw in your backpack or try to take with you on your bike. With a weight of about 9 pounds and measuring about 22″ x 11″ x 11″, this speaker isn’t necessarily a take-everywhere speaker. But that’s probably OK – if you turn this speaker to the max, the party is sure to come to you.
Outside of the overall shape of the design, there isn’t much else unique about the look and feel of the speaker. It is nice that there are two color options available: grey/black and red/black.
The RockBox XL packs a serious acoustic punch. The added features discussed above are nice, but the sound quality and volume levels are what is critically important to any Bluetooth speaker. The RockBox XL did not disappoint. Without getting too tech-nerdy on the Ferrite Woofers and 50 watts of sound, trust us when we applaud this speaker’s clarity and overall sound power. To test the max sound (and wake up our neighbors) we used a free app to gauge the decibel level provided at max volume. The result: consistent measurement near 95 decibels at 1 to 2 meters, which is consistent with a high quality boom box. Bottom line, that’s plenty of sound power to rock your next party!
The manufacturer specs call for 20 hours of battery life, sure to give you enough battery life to make it through the longest parties. We monitored the battery life with consistent daily usage over the course of a month. In multiple experiments, it took about a full week with 1-3 hours of usage per day to fully drain the battery. We actually had to go out of our way to leave the RockBox running in an empty room to run down the battery. After each full battery drain, we simply plugged in the charging adapter to fully charge the RockBox XL overnight. Simply stated, this speaker has ample battery life for nearly any scenario. I would feel comfortable taking it on camping or skiing weekend and leaving the charger at home.
Keep in mind, the battery life will be reduced based on how the speaker is used. Blasting the speaker at full volume, using the LED lighting feature, or using the USB charging ports will decrease the current battery life. And over time, like all rechargeable batteries in speakers/phones/etc., the run time will slowly decrease.
Based on the sound quality alone, the RockBox XL is an great value at $249. Then when you factor in the added features: waterproof, long battery life, party lights, USB charger; it makes this speaker an excellent overall value. Compared with numerous other boombox-style speakers our team has reviewed in the past few years, like the JBL Boombox , the RockBox XL has killer sound quality and ample the bells and whistles to stand out as one of the best speaker values at only $249.
- Excellent, booming sound!
- Versatility for all weather
- Floats upright for great sound
- Bluetooth range is adequate, not great
- "Welcome" chime at power-on