There are so many Bluetooth speakers on the market that picking the best one can be a tough decision. Price, sound quality, portability - they all matter. Monster's approach with the SuperStar Backfloat is to add a two distinct selling points into the mix: it is water-resistant and floats.
So whether you want to listen in the bath, shower, or around the holiday pool, this floating Bluetooth speaker will bring the tunes whatever the weather. Those summer days with the family at the beach or with friends camped out at a soggy British summertime festival ought to be a lot of musical fun.
Which is a great idea. But in adding such features, has Monster negated the SuperStar Backfloat's sound quality and, therefore, its supposed superstar potential?
The SuperStar Backfloat, which measures 184 x 83 x 40mm, is a dinky portable, covered in a grippy silicon surface. It is lightweight and perfectly suited for chucking in a bag when heading to the beach or pool. A mesh tote bag is included to add extra padding when travelling.
To make it nice and easy to see the black chassis when it's bobbing around on the waves there are two bright coloured emblem options: neon blue or neon green.
Designed to sit upright when on a surface or float lazily on its back when in water, the SuperStar Backfloat is IPX6 rated - meaning it's both splash-resistant and shock-resistant. However, you can't fully submerge it for any length of time - something you should probably tell the kids.
On the top (or side depending on which way you look at it) is a control panel to access volume, power, and the multifunctional Bluetooth/pause/play button. The side houses a 3.5m audio jack for connecting non-Bluetooth devices, hidden behind a loose silicon seal, while a Micro-USB port offers charging (although the included charging cable is rather short).
There's also a built-in mic that adds speakerphone functionality when used with a smartphone: "Darling, I'm in the bath".
Beneath that floating shell the SuperStar Backfloat comprises two full-range drivers plus two bass radiators. Bluetooth includes aptX and AAC support for optimum sound quality and you get a 10m wireless range too.
Given the size, the Backfloat does a good job of dishing out the audio whether you're listening to pop, rock, dance, or another genre. However, what you're really paying for is the water-friendly approach rather than its prowess as a dynamic speaker. As, for the price point, there's bigger sound available from the competition.
We listened to everything from the pop tunes of Carly Rae Jepsen to some moodier Pink Floyd and the Backfloat performed well on all accounts. From the high notes in Rae Jepsen's I Really Like You, to the low tones of Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall.
There is an overall tendency to push the mid-range section though. That core sound can therefore mean some of the nuances at either the high- or low-end of the spectrum are lost.
Performance can also be affected when the Backfloat is floating in the water, mainly because speaker doesn't directly face you. It's a negligible performance drop, plus the fact it can float nearby rather than have to sit on the side is a welcomed feature.
What is frustrating is that there is no way to skip a track you don't like from the speaker itself. Yes, we've tried all the usual secret double presses we know, but every time you want to skip you've either got to either grin and bear it or locate your not-so-waterproof phone instead.
Volume controls on the speaker are independent to the source device, which if you get wrong can cause some distortion at high levels. Avoid having both sides turned up loud.
The battery life is also reasonable rather than great: 7 hours per charge compared to, say, the UE Boom's 10 hour offering is a lot less. That's even more surprising when considering that the Backfloat is also the more expensive device. Water-resistance really does come at a cost.
The Monster Superstar Backfloat Bluetooth speaker delivers ample audio in a water-resistant floating package, meaning your swimming pool or bathtub can become a haven of tunes.
But if you're not fussed about the water-resistance then there are more capable speakers on the market. And that's the clincher: better sound quality, longer battery life and more affordable price points elsewhere mean the Backfloat isn't quite the superstar it could have been.
Saying that, if you're seeking a good all-rounder for the pool or beach then the Monster SuperStar Backfloat has its moments of superstardom. It's just more front-crawl than butterfly.
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