Rarely has an audio firm emerged from obscurity to wow us with a great-sounding and inexpensive Bluetooth speaker quite like Tribit did last year. So, when another one of the company’s driver-filled boxes of tricks arrives, we’re keen to find out whether this innovative Chinese wireless audio specialist is a one-hit-wonder, or whether it can repeat its success of 2020?
The new flagship Tribit Stormbox Pro doesn’t boast much in the way of features on the surface of it, but Tribit has been known to undersell its products before. The product’s packaging displays a simple picture of the tower speaker with its rubberised handle, along with the words ‘Unbox the storm’.
It’s not until you turn it to its side and see ‘Bluetooth 5.0 and Qualcomm aptX’ that things become interesting. We suspect there are more perks and features to be had once we get our hands on the Pro.
At 980g, the Stormbox Pro is probably pushing it for ultra-portability, but it’s only like packing another bottle of wine in your bag when heading out to a picnic.
Output power 2x 7.5W + 25W
Bluetooth version 5.0, aptX
Battery life Up to 24 hours
Charging time 7 hours
Dimensions 9.6 x 9.6 x 18cm
The rubberised strap, which can swing down so it is not pointing directly up for storage, is thick and sturdy enough to support its weight, completing a solid build and finish, though it does perhaps lack a little in unique character and flair.
Aesthetically speaking, imitation seems to be Tribit’s game. The rubber top plate has large ‘plus’ and ‘minus’ sign buttons for volume, much like Ultimate Ears’ offerings. A central, circular multi-function button handles play/pause, skipping tracks, call handling, Siri activation and the stereo pairing of two Pros.
Beneath these are smaller buttons for power, Bluetooth pairing and XBass, Tribit’s bass-boosting tech. Underneath are five small LED lights for battery life, which is a claimed 24 hours, thanks to its two 5000mAh batteries.
Under the fabric jacket, which reminds us of the Pro’s smaller (and very good) Stormbox Micro sibling and helps both products achieve IP67 water- and dustproof ratings, is a promising 2.1 configuration: a pair of 40mm speakers and an 8cm downward-firing subwoofer, complemented by two passive radiators. Built-in amps drive each speaker separately, delivering two 7.5W and single 25W outputs.
We suspected there may be a few neat features here that Tribit hadn’t let on about – and a quick look under the charger cap reveals one. Next to the USB-C charging port is a USB output. We grab our Lightning cable and plug in our iPhone, which starts charging. Nowhere on the box is this feature listed, despite the considerable value it adds to the product.
JBL’s Charge line-up is one of the cheapest portable speakers to offer charging and its Charge 5 (£160, $180) currently costs a fair bit more than the Tribit Stormbox Pro. The new Charge is also bettered by the Stormbox Pro for stamina, by four hours.
A more price-compatible five-star comparison, the JBL Flip 5 (£80, $90), comprises a solo driver powered by 20W of amplification (rather than a 2.1 configuration and 40W of power), Bluetooth 4.2 (not 5.0) and no charging feature – so things are looking positive for Tribit.
On that Bluetooth chipset, there is support for the aptX codec (for up to 8:1 compression of 24-bit resolution digital audio streams), which is impressive at this price. There’s no app and therefore no scope for EQ optimisation other than that XBass button, but after noting the Tribit Stormbox Pro’s build and feature set, we have high hopes for the way it sounds.
We cue up Kyrie by Mr. Mister on Apple Music and the twinkling intro is initially well-handled, but as the track soars through the synth passages, it comes off a little harsh at the top end. The mix comes through the Stormbox Pro omnidirectionally and with enough volume to fill even large rooms. Vocals are textured and centrally placed, however the midrange is a little congested and we’re missing some detail.
Switching to something a little more sombre, the harmonica at the outset of Bruce Springsteen’s The River is relatively three-dimensional and given due diligence alongside The Boss’s mournful guitar. That said, as this pared-back track intensifies, we note the marginally muffled presentation in comparison with the class leader at the level, particularly through the midrange.
Through heavier tracks such as One True God’s Move Slow, we become aware of a further shortfall through the bass registers. A speaker of this size is naturally limited in terms of bass weight, but here it sounds poorly defined rather than simply lean. Deploying the bass enhancement button on the Stormbox Pro gleans an extra ounce of grip and depth through the low end and helps lower the floor somewhat, but to the further detriment of the definition of bass notes.
The leading edges of the track’s heavy house beat are cleaner, weightier and more impactful through the JBL Flip 5. We stream Fontaines DC’s Sha Sha Sha on the Stormbox Pro and it’s a similar story: the song’s trademark angry bass drum intro lacks the necessary rise and fall of each stick crash dynamically, failing to fully deliver a balanced and truly enjoyable listen.
Tribit has offered a likeable, affordable, dependable and sensibly proportioned larger wireless speaker here. It feels unbreakable, offers aptX Bluetooth streaming, class-leading 24-hour battery life and a USB port to charge your phone during lazy afternoons in the park.
With these features, the Pro should be up against bigger Charge speakers made by JBL, but because it is cheaper than the Charge, it sits squarely in the class leader’s smaller Flip territory – a model devoid of such extras.
While we can applaud Tribit for the Stormbox Pro’s innovative driver configuration, aptX connectivity and affordable pricing, the sonic recipe needs a little adjustment to promote a more interesting, balanced, defined and enjoyable listen across the frequencies.
- Sound 3
- Features 5
- Build 5
Read our guide to the best speakers
Read our JBL Flip 5 review
Read our JBL Charge 5 review
Read our Tribit Stormbox Micro review