NudeAudio has got a brand new speaker to share with us all, and like many companies these days, NudeAudio is using Kickstarter to fund its new product and create lots of buzz in the process. The Super-M is NudeAudio’s latest portable speaker offering that promises super-high sound performance in a very small and waterproof package that you can slip inside your back pocket. It’s reasonably priced too. Per NudeAudio’s brand philosophy of creating good looking speakers that sound good and not much else without the premium price, the Super-M is the first $100 ultra-portable speaker we’ve come across that is reasonably priced, yet still features a surprisingly promising 6-speaker driver array capable of outputting a compelling 360-degrees worth of audio – all packed into a resilient IPX5-rated waterproof construction that is hardly over an inch thick. This might be NudeAudio’s best speaker yet. If you’re looking for an inconspicuously strapping pocketable Bluetooth speaker this might be your lucky day. Be sure to get filled-in with our full review down below!
Step aside Boomphones Pocket Speaker (formally known as CarbonAudio), there's a new pocket speaker entering the ultra-portable speaker market with just as many drivers and a seriously sharp-looking design. Because in as little as three weeks, NudeAudio's Super-M has raised over half a million dollars on the popular crowd-funding site Kickstarter. A lot of people seem to have taken a liking to the unusually slim Bluetooth speaker, and for good reason. The Super-M is an inexpensive $100 Bluetooth speaker that promises to deliver a premium dose of fulfilling audio using its front and back-facing quad full-range neodymium drivers and two passive bass radiators. It weighs just 180g and it can fit nicely into your front or back pocket thanks to its flat shape, which only measures 5.74-inches wide by 3-inches tall and 1.1-inches (28mm) thick. I don't have the biggest hand among men, and the Super-M comfortably fits on it with some room to spare. In other words, this is hands down (no pun intended) the smallest and most compact portable speaker we have tested that packs as much as six drivers and an 8-hour rechargeable battery inside a pocketable enclosure.
An enclosure that is waterproof mind you. We didn't expect such a mark up in durability out of NudeAudio, but the Super-M indeed features a much welcomed IPX5-rated protections. That means it is fully waterproof, rain, dust and sand-proof like all of the high-ranking and more expensive portable speakers on the market. Underneath those perforated grilles is a protective acoustic membrane that keeps the bad and harmful stuff out, yet it lets audio thought as if it weren't there at all. Just like $200 Ultimate Ears' UE Boom, which we really like. As of the publishing of this review, you have less than a week to pre-order a Super-M in as many as 8 different color combinations including this stealthy, all blacked-out flavor we have here.
The Super-M we have here is a near final pre-release unit packaged in a special press box that we have been secretly testing for as long as it has been up on Kickstarter. You won't find this fancy metal USB thumb drive in your box. This one simply contains press material about the Super-M. We appreciate NudeAudio's thoughtfulness and can't wait to see what the final retail packaging turns out like.
Let us remind you of NudeAudio's simplistic mission of not wasting its product development budget on extras you don't actually need so that more attention can be put into making a premium speaker at a not so premium price. And not surprisingly, there isn't anything inside this box other than a very basic and generic-looking micro-USB charging cable. Although we don't know what will change in the consumer release of this speaker, suffice it to say that the Super-M will most likely not ship with a USB wall power adapter or a standard 3.5mm audio cable.
A super slim portable speaker keeping it sexy
At first glance, the Super-M rocks an attractive and super modern design that's essentially a refined and slimmed down version of NudeAudio's not so portable Move L speaker. From the very first moment it saw this speaker online I knew I would really like it in person. And indeed the Super-M is the sort of speaker you'd easily think has come from one of the household names in the Bluetooth speaker market such as Jawbone, JBL and even Ultimate Ears. The quality of design is excellent. Even more so than any of of NudeAudio's current offerings. You can expect to find it at sitting on a shelf at your local Apple and Best Buy retail stores.
And unlike NudeAudio’s Move series of portable speakers, the Super-M feels like a more updated portable speaker with up-to-date features like a waterproof enclosure and technology like Bluetooth 4.0 low-energy to compensate for the power hungry hexa-driver hardware allowing it to squeeze the same 8 hours of battery life from its built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery - which all of NudeAudio’s speakers boast.
That arguably dreadful silicone separation is no longer a nuisance. Thankfully, NudeAudio has stepped up its manufacturing game with the Super-M without raising the cost or cutting corners. The build quality on this is great. Far better than the Move M and Move L we've reviewed earlier. There's more of a solid rubberized feel to the Super-M that makes it a very pleasing speaker to pick up and carry with you. And because of the extra layers of protection underneath the dual-sided metal grilles, the whole speaker is extremely durable. It also sports larger grille perforations which I think look better than NudeAudio's previous models.
What thrilled me the most when I first fit my hands on the Super-M is it's improved construction. The rubber that runs along the outside edge like a tire encasing an alloy rim is now seemingly expertly conjoined with the rest of the Super-M's body to form a rigid and enjoyable build that's reminiscent of the metal and rubber material composition of the Jawbone Jambox, Ultimate Ears UE Mini Boom and other finely made portable devices. The difference is subtle, but noticeably better made than the flexible silicone used around all other NudeAudio speakers. That being said, this rubbery material seems to attract greater amounts of lint and other debris to its smooth and highly tacky surface.
Even though the Super-M still has that same NudeAudio look to it with those smooth rubbery rounded edges all around the perforated speaker grilles, which softly bevel near the edge, it's undeniably the most refined speaker NudeAudio made. One if those improvements are easy to visually spot. There's a pill-shaped rubber piece in the shape of the NudeAudio logo embedded on the front and back if the unit that not only give the Super-M its tasteful branded identity, but also provide a protective barrier on top of the dual-sided speaker grilles which will help keep them from bruising from impact. Something we thought was an issue with the Move M and Move L models.
That thick shoelace-like grab cord, which is now an inseparable part of NudeAudio's brand identity and design language, makes a lot of sense being attached onto the side of Super-M. It makes pulling the speaker out of your pocket and other deep dark places...flawless. As well as giving you the option of attaching it onto stuff. We like it a lot actually.
Regardless of its slimline profile, the Super-M was intended to be used upright because of its dual front and back-facing speaker drivers. And so the bottom is flat instead of slightly rounded like the entire body of the speaker in order to provide a steady base for the Super-M to stand upright. The base is seamlessly made using the same rubberized material that encases the outer perimeter of the device.
Unlike the mushy button controls on the Move M speaker we reviewed, NudeAudio greatly improved the button responsiveness with the Super-M's superior build quality. On top, you'll find highly tactile button controls embedded into the rubberized exterior cladding including volume controls flanked by the speaker's power on/off and Bluetooth pairing buttons. Right beside those is the Super-M's noise-canceling microphone for hands-free speakerphone use. You can use the Bluetooth pairing button to also answer/end a call when you have your smartphone paired with the Super-M. However, there are no play/pause and music skip controls.
Bright status LEDs illuminate through the rubberized material when powered on. And like the Move speaker series, both the green (power) and blue (Bluetooth connection status) LEDs constantly remain lit when paired over Bluetooth. During charging, a green LED light on top of the Super-M's button control interface will blink and turn solid when it has fully charged. Conversely, the green LED will blink when the battery life reaches below 30%. Not as super useful as the informative battery status LEDs on the JBL Flip 2 speaker, unfortunately.
Over on the left side of the speaker, there is a 3.5mm auxiliary audio input connection should you need to plug in an external audio source the old fashioned way - as well as a micro-USB charging input. Both are covered and protected by a water-tight port flap.
The tested the Super-M's speaker functionality against the UE Mini Boom by leaving a controlled recording message on an answering machine, and we found that the Super-M performed poorly compared to the clear sounding mic of the UE Mini Boom. Both did a good job at reducing background noise though. But for what it's worth, you're better off speaker directly on your smartphone instead of putting your caller through a miserable, muffled conversation.
We were happy to find that NudeAudio has fixed the issue that caused its Move series of speakers to automatically turn on whilst charging and forcefully remain powered on during the process. Thankfully, the Super-M does not turn on when you just want to charge it up all on its own – as you'd expect out of a high quality Bluetooth device. The speaker itself is also designed to automatically shut itself off in order to save battery when no audio is being played for a certain period of time. Meaning that it you forget to turn it off and walk away or put it back into your gear bag, your battery will not be uselessly drained.
The Super-M's sound performance is unexpectedly underwhelming. NudeAudio has gone through all the trouble of outfitting its latest and greatest wireless speaker with as many as four dynamic drivers and two passive bass radiators that would otherwise have been more than enough to produce some very convincing sound quality, alas it doesn't sound all too impressive. It really does, and unfortunately so, fall short in terms of other similarly priced portable speakers. But not by a considerable margin. Don't get me wrong though, the Super-M is still quite an impressive little speaker considering how slim and pocketable it is. It's so incredibly thin that it almost struggles to stand upright without flopping over. At near full volume the Super-M can fill a large room quite easily with 360-degrees worth of sound that'll require you to raise your voice if speaker to someone in the same area. That's what I call impressive, big audio coming out of such a small package.
What disappointed me the most is the Super-M's bass performance. Bass sounds weak and shallow. Not nearly as punchy and deep as NudeAudio's equally priced Move L. Although granted the Move L is a much bigger speaker with larger drivers. For $100 you’re getting far greater portability and outdoor durability compared to NudeAudio’s Move L. But with that also comes sacrificed audio quality. On a scale of 1–10, I'd have to give the bass performance of the Super-M a mediocre 3. Fortunately, when it comes to highs, the Super-M produces a similarly pleasing and controlled vocal clarity as the Move M and Move L, while retaining that warmth throughout the spectrum. The midrange can be heard as somewhat murky at times, however it pulls through with acceptable detail and presence.
But let’s not forget that we are unfortunately reviewing a pre-production Super-M unit. NudeAudio assured us that they will tune the drivers and further improve the sound performance by at least 30% before shipping to customers. If that will actually be true, the Super-M will have the necessary boost it needs to impress us with its sonic performance. NudeAudio is expected to use more expensive drivers in its final production unit with fine-tuned radiators that should rectify that unimpressive low-end we've experienced. Overall and despite not being at its full potential, the Super-M still produced an arguably likable audio quality that is simply light on bass.
We’ve recently been using Logitech’s X300 as a noteworthy benchmark when comparing other similarly priced portable Bluetooth speakers because how of good of a performer it is at a surprisingly inexpensive $70 price tag. So how does the Super-M fare against it? Not surprisingly, the X300 has a brighter sound signature which is appealing, but the Super-M is more on the richer sounding side, which again is also a pleasing quality. Not only that, but we find the soundstage on the Super-M to be a lot more defined and more immersive partly thanks to the fact that the Super-M has twice as much full-range drivers than the X300 that are set to deliver a 360-degree soundscape as oppose to the directional audio output of the X300. This really does make us prefer the Super-M a lot more as a super portable speaker solution that's capable of impressively large sound despite its slim, pocket-sized form factor. Thumbs up to NudeAudio on that.
Having said that, the X300 still fares better when it comes down to deeper bass performance, but not by much. And hopefully that will change and improve when NudeAudio ships the Super-M to customers. Because we do think that the passive radiators are in desperate need of tuning/upgrading. The same can be said when putting the Super-M against the equally priced UE Mini Boom from Ultimate Ears. It pushes noticeable superior sounding bass despite only having a single passive bass radiator, albeit supposedly larger than the ones found inside the Super-M. We're pretty disappointed with the capability of the Super-M's rather impressive set of drivers. With all that junk in its trunk, the Super-M fails to blow us and other fully featured $100 speakers away.
The Super-M is NudeAudio's best and truly portable Bluetooth stereo speaker
All in all we found the Super-M to be on par with the X300 despite differences in sound signatures, if not more richer sounding. And on top of that, the Super-M undoubtedly offers more versatility for $30 more. To put it simply, the Super-M is marginally a more compelling performer overall. And if you really can't live without deep thumpy bass but can't spend more than $100 on a portable speaker, the UE Mini Boom would be the best choice for you. It's still a very compact option with a superior battery life. However, NudeAudio's Super-M is amazingly pocketable and a lot more resilient than any similarly priced offering we know of. We really like the full and rich audio experience that the Super-M affords considering its sexy slim form factor.
It may not have a more convincing bass response than the UE Mini Boom, however, in a way it does make up for that with its significantly more immersive and wide-range audio quality and durable waterproof design. And we like the Super-M more than higher priced offerings such as Jawbone's Mini Jambox and Beats' Pill. Alas, added features like speakerphone functionality are utterly useless due to poor mic quality on the Super-M in comparison to the UE Mini Boom. Hopefully that will also improve in the production model.
With a more than acceptable 8-hour battery life, great water and sand-proof build quality and reasonable sonic performance (subject to improve), NudeAudio's Super-M is charming enough to make us accept its $100 price tag despite falling short of class-leading sound quality. We like it enough to give it a relatively good rating for now. With all that being said, we should be getting the finalized production model of the Super-M in a few weeks, and we will be sure to update this review including our initial rating with any new improvements. As for all of you early adopters, we think that Kickstarter backers will be very pleased with the Super-M once it ships so long as NudeAudio pulls through with their promise.