Tribit Stormbox Blast: Two-minute review
Let’s address the elephant in the room: the Tribit Stormbox Blast looks about as unsubtle as a brick wrapped in Christmas tree lights coming through your (closed) window. It’s a big black plastic cuboid, and to say that the branding, RGB lighting panels and flashing LEDs around the drivers are a little too much for our liking is an understatement. But that’s where the harsh criticism ends.
The Stormbox Blast is the biggest and most powerful Bluetooth speaker in Tribit’s ever-growing arsenal of portable speakers and it sounds every inch as detailed – even at higher volumes – as models from better-known audio specialists at three times the price.
It’s heavier than most of the best Bluetooth speakers out there (5.45kg, to be precise), but, unlike some of the best wireless speakers we’ve tested, Tribit is unconcerned with multi-room support, voice assistance or accessing your Wi-Fi for higher-quality streaming – although you can pair two of them in stereo, and there is a companion app.
Oh how we wish Tribit’s talented audio engineers had run the finished article past a design team a few more times, to ask if all 32 LED lights should really flash at every beat (or were even necessary at all), but close your eyes and its 90W output, handled via two 4.2-inch 30W woofers and two 1.2-inch 15W tweeters, is not far off the performance you’d expect from a set of decent entry-level bookshelf stereo speakers.
It shouldn’t sound this good for this money. It shouldn’t sound this good given its appearance. It shouldn’t have made us smile, nod our heads in time to James Brown’s The Boss before looking up and exclaiming, “Wait, that’s the Sonos Five playing… right? Right?!” But, what can we tell you? It did. And it wasn’t the Sonos.
If you can bear the idea of bringing it into your home (although, with an IPX7 water-proof rating and a 30 hour battery, you’ll rarely need to charge it. It could live in the shed…) and you want a good dollop of fuss-free music, you need to know about the gifted room-filling sonic capabilities of the Stormbox Blast.
Tribit Stormbox Blast review: Price and release date
- Costs $199 / (around £163, U$290)
- Available from July 6, 2022
The Tribit Stormbox Blast is available to buy now (although, only just), costing one dollar less than $200. Other available regions include Germany (€230), Canada ($260 CAD) and India (₹16,999).
In the UK however, it doesn’t seem to be immediately available and indeed, our sample came with an EU two-pin charging cable, so it remains unclear whether we can expect it to launch in Britain. And that would be a shame.
The Sonos Five is considerably pricier (and a Wi-Fi only home speaker) but the JBL Boombox, probably the closest product in this list for design and feature-set, would set you back $450 / £400 (around AU$650) upon its release in April 2020.
What we’re saying, however you look at it, this Bluetooth 5.3, 90W beast is an awful lot of speaker for the money.
Tribit Stormbox Blast review: Features
- Bluetooth 5.3 for dual device connection
- USB-C external charging port for your phone
- XBass boost button
Let’s begin with physical connections, because you’ll find three ports on the back of the Tribit, shielded by a rubber cap: power cable (the Stormbox Blast does not need to plugged in to function, but 3.5 hours is the time it’ll take to fully charge if fully drained of its impressive 30-hour battery) a USB-C out for charging your device, and a 3.5mm aux in for wired listening.
Elsewhere, Bluetooth 5.3 is onboard for dual-device pairing and a wireless range of 40m (which is helpful if two of you are organising the playlist from the dancefloor, say) but sadly you’re not getting aptX or AAC codec support; according to the spec sheet your protocols here are A2DP and AVRCP, aka the more basic Bluetooth streaming standard.
Surprisingly for today’s market, the Stormbox Blast might not be the best candidate for beach listening either, since it’s IPX7 rated – ie. waterproof only, rather than water- and dust-proof (you need to look for IP67 if you want both). Good for a pool party, maybe not if dirt is involved. And there are no mics and no built-in voice assistance either, unlike the Sonos Move, for example.
What you do get, whether you want it or not, is 32 LED lights – 15 either side of the metallic grille and two behind the dual woofers, which are flanked by the two tweeters, placed in the top corners of the baffle as you look at the speaker. There are three ambient light profiles in total; one scrolls through colors for both the speaker LEDs and the volume-effect side panels, another keeps the speaker LEDs white and gives a rainbow effect to the side panels, and a third turns off all beat-driven light effects, but still fires up those side panels every time you alter the volume. It’s not possible to turn all lights off, all the time, even via the Tribit app – more on this in a minute.
The top plate is where you will probably alter this most of the time, (volume and playback can also be handled from your phone) where the seven buttons for power, Bluetooth pairing, volume, playback, ambient light show profiles and XBass are fairly self-explanatory, but we feel the need to say something about that last one. Although XBass can be deployed by pressing the button on the top plate, we would not recommend it – you can do better in the app. This button is supposed to pump up the bass, but for us it simply draws a slightly tinny veil over the otherwise talented sound. And you can do so much more!
In the Tribit app, which feels a little sparse initially but adds value nonetheless, you can also choose from jazz, audiobook, party, classical or music EQ presets and tweak them using a five-band EQ tab – or you can customize your own from scratch. We like the jazz and music presets a lot, and although the bulk of this review is written using the pre-existing music profile, there’s a lot of scope for tailoring things to your liking here.
Tribit hasn’t shouted much about its app, and perhaps it should. Although a relatively simple affair, it allows you to see the remaining battery in the speaker, which is a huge help if you’re planning a shindig.
Sonos Ray review: Sound quality
- Meaty, zealous and musical sound
- Regimented and impressive bass floor
- Vocals textured and resonant
Want a shy, retiring sound for personal listening so as not to irritate your neighbor? You will have to tread carefully here, and it’s important to note that during our tests, we found the difference of two to three volume increments was enough to go from too quiet to too loud indoors. But Tribit has made no secret of wanting to bring the party to both your ears and your body, and it has delivered. This thing can go loud. If you’re worried whether one speaker will be enough for the garden party, it will here.
Compare it to one of Ultimate Ears’ bigger options such as the Boom 3 and there’s no contest in terms of bass weight: we stream Snoop Dogg’s Lay Low and the stop-start hip-hop riff is full, regimented and snappy through the Tribit and actually makes the UE sound lightweight and treble-centric in direct comparison – and although we realise that’s not a fair comparison for size, for price, there’s only about $50 in it. For our money, the smart money goes on the Tribit here.
Our playlist continues to Poison by Bel Biv DeVoe, and vocals are textured and celebrated within a wide soundfield, where everything from the percussive riff to the walking bass is given enough space to be impactful. At this level, it’s a lot – in a good way.
Kristin Chenoweth’s Taylor, The Latte Boy proves that the Stormbox Blast isn’t just a one-trick pony and a bit of kit for avid for bassheads, though. Keys are three-dimensional as Chenoweth’s stunning mixed belt comes through with oodles of fun and emotion. She sits a little close to the microphone here, and the fact that you can tell is a huge compliment to Tribit.
Ghetts’ Know My Ting is one of the most challenging tests of timing we could suggest for a speaker intended for Bluetooth streaming at a party, and the Stormbox Blast doesn’t disappoint. Leading edges of notes are crisp and held resolutely in check. Juicy bass registers leave as quickly as they arrive, too, never muddying the layered and often intense dance mix.
Tribit Stormbox Blast review: Design
- A heavy black plastic design
- Actual speaker configuration is inspired though
- Lights and branding may not be to your taste
This speaker is heavy – it’s a brave soul that takes it on public transport because if you drop it en route, someone’s foot is going to be sore for days.
Look, as we’ve said, we’re not big fans of the light-up feature and general aesthetic here, plus it’s only available in black and the branding and buttons are a little big. The big chunky plastic handle seems to lack a bit of finesse, too.
Then again, this is a speaker built for a party, it’s not intended to merge into your lounge like the plethora of demure fabric-covered spheres, cushions and oblongs currently on the market.
And if you’ve got younger family members who want a house party, it may well appeal. Does the return of the original boombox sound novel and interesting to you? Well, you’ll certainly be able to feel the weight of one here, and the passive rubberized radiators on the side of the unit are actually a nice feature. They don’t move as much as those on the JBL Flip 6, but they’re fun and they certainly seem to aid the sound dispersion and accuracy.
What you need to know is that its innards are spot on; the four-driver configuration provides a nice wide soundstage and we wish that those drivers had taken a little more of the limelight rather than the LEDs – but each to their own.
Sonos Five review: Value
- A huge dose of good quality music and bass for the money
- No voice assistance or mics
- For solid, room-filling sound though, it’s a no-brainer
Sonically, the Tribit Stormbox Blast isn’t just good value, it’s simply unbeatable value. But this is no shy and retiring speaker you can slip into the water bottle holder on your bike. When you listen to it, people will not just hear it, they’ll see those lights too.
In terms of feature set, there are a few holes on the spec sheet (no mics, no scope for multi-room integration) and the app is standard rather than exhaustive – but then again, those detailed, customizable EQ presets are something few propositions boast at the level.
And we hope we have truly impressed upon you how good it sounds – for a cheap one-box speaker design it’s truly surprising. We thought we might hate it and what we actually feel is light years away from hate. In fact we love the sound.
We might hide it when not listening to it, you understand, but it can always be a guilty pleasure, for those nights when you’re hosting a party of one – ie. you, and no guests.
Tribit Stormbox Blast review: Should I buy it?
|Features||The useful EQ presets, dual-connectivity and device charging atone for the lights||4.5/5|
|Sound quality||Wide, energetic soundfield and oodles of snappy bass||5/5|
|Design||Not the most finessed design – but if you want a boombox, here it is||3.5/5|
|Value||A stone cold sound-per-pound steal||5/5|