Crystal Acoustics Bluebox review

Falls short of the high standards set by similarly priced rivals Tested at £45

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Falls short of the high standards set by similarly priced rivals


  • +

    Can control playback on handheld devices

  • +

    Clearish midrange


  • -

    Looks and feels cheap

  • -

    Operational issues

  • -

    Sounds bright and wholly unbalanced

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

The Crystal Acoustics Bluebox is definitely on the inexpensive side – something that’s unfortunately reflected in its fit and finish.

The Bluebox feels cheap and insubstantial and not really up to scratch even at this price; little things like the Crystal Acoustics logo being stuck on at a slight angle don’t help its cause.

Crystal Acoustics Bluebox review: design and features

To prevent the speaker from appearing like a plain black box, the speaker is angled 15 degrees to fire up towards the listener, while the case has also been slightly tapered at the sides.

The Crystal Acoustics Bluebox feature list is basic, with just a 3.5mm auxiliary input included for hooking up kit that isn’t Bluetooth-enabled.

On top of the unit are controls for playback from mobile devices. These left us feeling confused on a couple of fronts: first, the play/pause button would pause tracks on our Android smartphone (in this case a Sony Xperia Z), but you couldn’t resume playback from the same button.

MORE: JBL Flip review

Second, there’s a longer button that controls volume and the ability to skip tracks. Tap the left or right hand side and tracks are skipped, but changing volume requires you to hold the button down for a couple of seconds, after which there’s a small delay before the volume shifts up or down.

It’s not especially intuitive and you often find yourself wanting to change volume just by tapping, but end up skipping to the end or beginning of a song by mistake.

Pairing with a source device, achieved by holding down the button labeled Bluetooth on top of the Bluebox, is relatively quick and painless. Once connected, hit the button once more and you can swap between different paired devices (the Bluebox can remember up to eight).

Crystal Acoustics Bluebox

Crystal Acoustics Bluebox

Crystal Acoustics Bluebox review: performance

But it’s in its sound quality where the speaker really fails to woo. Streaming Bloc Party’s Vallis, the Crystal Acoustics Bluebox fires out a relatively clear vocal, but with a real bright edge, especially in the upper midrange and treble. Even when faced with a small increase in volume, the electric guitars harden up.

The speaker doesn’t kick out a huge amount of bass in open space, but it is rear-ported – put it close to a real wall and although there’s an increase in weight, the Bluebox now sounds boomy and uncomfortable.

Crystal Acoustics Bluebox review: verdict

Spend a few pounds extra and you’ll not only get a jump in design and build quality, but you’ll open yourself up to a world of speakers that sound significantly better than the Bluebox.

UPDATE: Originally reviewed at £65, the Crystal Acoustics Bluebox is now £45. The change in price doesn't change our verdict.

See all our wireless speaker reviews

See our wireless speaker Best Buys

Follow on Twitter

Join on Facebook

Find us on Google+

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test