BOOM is generally good at picking very descriptive names for their products, but thankfully the Urchin’s name is more suggestive than realistic. This portable Bluetooth speaker is evocative of the shape of a sea urchin (sort of a coherent blob, or like a well shaped river stone), but instead of sharp spines for protection it features a ruggedized construction and removable silicone outer skin to protect it from bumps, drops, and water.
Packing two speakers and a mic, it’s a great option for sound and the occasional conference call on the go, and it features a handy trio of accessories that let you clip it, stick it, or hang it just about anywhere.
The Urchin is is all about big sound, though its resistant design does force some tradeoffs. There are two high quality speakers packed into this little enclosure, but the ruggedized construction and silicone skin mean no bass ports or venting. This dual-speaker setup ensures plenty of power in a tiny package; to test out the water resistance I slapped the Urchin on the wall of my shower—it was easily loud enough to drown out my singing (for which I’m sure my neighbors gave thanks).
Overall, the Urchin’s bass is slightly weak, but present. It’s not necessarily dance party inspiring, but not completely missing like laptop speakers. Mids are bright but not brash, while treble reproduction is clear but not overbearing. High quality speakers involve very delicate components that don’t mix well with water, dust, or the abuse of an active lifestyle; despite this, BOOM has still managed to finesse a well-balanced overall sound. I have a feeling that absolute audio purists probably don’t take their speakers to the places BOOM designed the Urchin to go. And boldly going just happens to be one of the Urchin’s strengths.
The Urchin is part of BOOM’s R4A (Ready 4 Anything) series, and its rugged construction means you can take great sound with you just about anywhere. To help you out, BOOM has included three accessories that let you bring along your beats.
Frst up is the loop built into the silicone skin, which lets you attach the included carabiner (or one of your own) for hooking onto just about anything. The included carabiner is pretty small, so BYO if you intend to latch onto something like a bike frame. The skin’s loop is also a mount for the suction-cup peg that’s included; just stick the suction cup on any smooth surface, then slide the loop onto the peg for an easily moveable vertical mount.
Want to mount your Urchin somewhere that doesn’t accommodate a suction cup? No problem! The back of the Urchin features a threaded mount that matches a self-adhesive screw mount disk. Just attach the disk to any surface (in virtually any position), and you can attach your Urchin anywhere you need music. As a testament to the level of design BOOM invests in their products, there’s a protector that you can screw in to keep dust out of the threads on the bottom of the Urchin; when in place, this protector completes the joined O’s in BOOM’s logo.
The screw threads are even the right size for most tripod mounts, so if you have something like a Gorrillapod, you can really get crazy (or just make some desk art, your choice).
BOOM advertises up to eight hours of battery life for the Urchin’s built-in rechargeable battery, but in testing I easily got to 10 hours. Charging is via the included micro USB cable, and the Urchin’s helpful audio feedback (which is best described as “splunks” and “sploit,” for you fans of onomatopoeia) lets you know when the device has been paired or needs to be recharged. Pairing and Bluetooth controls are both simple, and the Urchin’s included microphone allows you to turn it into a pretty funky teleconference solution. The built-in controls function the same as a headphone remote to answer/end calls, though sadly there is no Siri integration.
Overall, the BOOM Urchin offers a great set of speakers that perform well no matter where you take them. If you want speakers that you can clip onto a backpack, belt loop, or bike frame, there aren’t many options that sound this good and can withstand environmental stresses like mud splatters or being dropped onto concrete. Messier activities are even a breeze to clean up, as you can pop the silicone skin off, wash it, then keep on going.