If you’ve ever placed a pair of speakers on a large bookshelf and noticed that they seem louder, with more bass response, then you understand the basic effect the Damson Twist portable Bluetooth speaker employs. However, the $69.99 (direct) Twist relies almost completely on the surface it sits upon to project its audio. The results can be quite exciting—the tiny Twist can create bass response you’d never imagine a speaker its size would be capable of. But there are limitations—it never seems to get very loud, and its entire sound signature depends largely upon the surface you place it on, which doesn’t bode well for, say, hikes and picnics.
Visually, the metallic, cylindrical Damson Twist resembles another Bluetooth speaker we reviewed recently, the 808 Audio Canz Wireless Speaker. Available in black, silver, red, or blue, the Twist is not terribly similar in any other regard, however.
Rather than a driver with a grille covering it, the Twist uses a type of sound projection that seems most similar to bone conduction audio. The cylindrical speaker rests atop a rubberized platform, and this platform sends vibrations to the flat surface it is placed upon. If the Twist is playing music and you hold it in mid-air, you’ll hear almost nothing. Set it down on the surface and suddenly, there is sound, and the entire surface is vibrating in concert with the music.
The name Twist is a perfect example of a manufacturer pulling the journalistic equivalent of “burying the lede.” Yes, the top portion of the cylinder twists ever so slightly—this is how you power the device on or off, or pair it. But the real feat here is how the sound is transmitted through tabletop surfaces, and it has nothing to do with the twisting mechanism.
There are three ports on the Twist—a 3.5mm Aux input, a 3.5mm line out, and a micro USB connection for charging. The speaker ships with both a 3.5mm cable and a micro-to-USB charging cable, as well as a small drawstring protective pouch.
Damson rates the rechargeable battery at nine hours for playback, but your results will vary, obviously, based on volume levels and whether you are always streaming wirelessly (versus using a connected source).
Normally, we’d talk about the bass response and the clarity in the mids and highs on the Twist, but these traditional talking points are more or less useless here. The sound signature relies, almost completely, upon the surface you place the Twist on. If you hold the speaker in mid-air while playing a track, you will hear almost nothing. Place it on a desktop, and like magic, you have sound. This is a neat trick, but it poses some unique problems.
First and foremost, you need to have a surface that the Twist sounds good on. Wood is your best bet, but not if it’s, say, old wood on an antique desk—if anything like a loose drawer could possibly rattle due to the vibrations the Twist creates, it will. And although it isn’t speaker distortion you’re hearing, it more or less ruins the experience.
So, you need a solid and stable surface. In your home, this should be a relatively easy thing to find, but this is a portable speaker. What about on a picnic? You can use a book, or even the bottom of a coffee cup, but the smaller and thinner the surface, the smaller and thinner the sound.
This presents us with our second problem, though it won’t be an issue for everyone. If you do find that ideal surface—say, a long wooden counter top or table—you can get a fairly powerful sound out of it. The Twist will project more bass response than you’d guess something its size could muster. Alas, it does so by vibrating and resonating the surface of your table. If you live in an apartment building or dorm, your neighbors below you might easily hear or even feel the vibrations—and this goes for office cube mates, too.
On an ideal wooden surface, the Twist delivers solid low frequency presence, and is distortion-free at moderate volumes. If this desktop happens to also be your workspace, prepare to feel the whole thing vibrate, which can be kind of fun, but might not be ideal if you have fragile things on your desk—a mug, perhaps—that could dance off the surface. In terms of resonance and sound projection, my favorite-sounding surface was the top of an upright piano.
Alas, despite impressive bass response, the Twist never got very loud, even at top volumes. And on tracks with deep bass, like the Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the Twist distorted at top volumes. Less bass-heavy genres did not have the same distortion issues, but rarely did it feel like the Twist was pushing out enough volume, despite pumping out some serious vibrations.
If the Twist were less expensive, I’d be more intrigued by its magic. But at $70, this is a more costly than useful trick. If you’re just looking for quality Bluetooth wireless audio in a portable speaker, the slightly more expensive Panasonic SC-NT10 has no magic tricks, but sounds pretty solid for $100. If it’s more bass response you’re looking for, you’ll need to spend considerably more—the portable Bose SoundLink Mini and the Ultimate Ears UE Boom are solid Bluetooth options for $200 each. And if all of these are out of your price range, the $35 808 Audio Canz Wireless Speaker is about as inexpensive as it gets without being a real waste of money—but don’t expect fireworks. You might be blown away by the surface projection employed by the Damson Twist, and I’ll admit it was cool to experiment with—it’s just not as practical as other portable Bluetooth speaker options.
|Wireless Remote Control||No|
|Type||iPod, Computer, Wireless, iPad, iPhone, Android|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc