When using a Bluetooth speaker outdoors, it’s vital to ensure that the speaker can withstand the environment you’re putting it in. Some speakers excel indoors but lack the qualities needed for a versatile outdoor speaker. Treblab’s FX100 is explicitly built for adventures, incorporating several protection measures to provide a long-lasting, rugged Bluetooth speaker.
We have thoroughly tested and reviewed most of Treblab’s products over the years, allowing me to accurately compare this speaker’s performance, build quality, and features with the rest of the Treblab lineup and note how it stacks up against competing manufacturers.
The Bottom Line
The FX100 is a durable, easily portable Bluetooth speaker that features drop resistance, 360-degree sound design, and a massive battery capacity. It has its flaws, however – with only moderate water resistance and a fairly shallow sound.
In The Box
- Treblab FX100 speaker
- Micro-USB charging cable
- Auxiliary cable
- User manual
- Warranty Card
Build & Design
Durability of Finish: 8.9/10
Feel of Buttons: 6.7/10
The FX100 is a similar size to the popular JBL Flip 6 and to Treblab’s HD7 and HD77 speakers. Its compact size makes it easy to travel with. Additionally, using the included carabiner adds another dimension of portability to the speaker, allowing you to hang it from stationary objects around your campsite or clip it onto your backpack.
I initially had some concerns about the durability of the carabiner clip, so I tested the durability by applying significant force to the carabiner and latch area on the speaker. I saw no weakness, and the carabiner and latch area were unscathed.
The speaker has a unique diamond design meant to increase sound dispersion. The way it lies makes it a little less stable than speakers with wider bases, but you’ll still need to bump it quite hard to move off its base. Additionally, the speaker is wrapped in a rubber material that protects it from impact. This is one of the key points of the FX100, as even the most thoroughly waterproofed speakers can fall victim to drop damage.
I wouldn’t recommend intentionally dropping the FX100, but it offers peace of mind that it is more likely to survive if you accidentally drop it.
Some Early Concerns
There are two main areas of concern I have about the FX100. The first is the fact that it only has IPX4 water resistance. This is no doubt an artifact of its release era. In 2017, it was more common to find IPX4 water resistance. Since then, the market standards have changed, and in today’s market, this speaker would come with an IP67 rating. Water resistance and dust protection are two of the most important factors when considering an outdoor speaker, and only to see splash protection offered by the FX100 is disappointing.
Secondly, the choice of a plastic control panel contradicts the rugged design expressed across the rest of the speaker. A rubber control panel would prove more durable and lend itself to the rugged dynamic Treblab has focused on. Instead, these controls are a point of weakness, particularly during transport. If placed inside a camping bag, sharp metal objects, for instance, could damage this control panel.
Finally, the outer rubber protection, while extremely useful for shock resistance and preventing scratches, is extremely prone to collecting dust and dirt. Granted, it’s fairly easy to wipe off in most cases, but I feel it’s worth mentioning.
Bass Performance: 4.6/10
Mid-tone Performance: 7.2/10
Treble Performance: 7/10
Balanced Sound: 5.7/10
Microphone Quality: 5.5/10
The FX100 has a maximum power output of 10W, and when we tested the SPL, it produced 78dB. While this isn’t a terrible performance, it falls short of the JBL Clip 4 despite the Clip using half the amount of power. If anything, this shows us the advances that have been made in speaker efficiency over the last five years.
This speaker has excellent vocal clarity, with a particularly good definition in the upper midrange and treble. The details in these frequency ranges outperform the slightly smaller Treblab HD-Mini and the JBL Clip 4. It has a frequency response range of 80 Hz – 20 kHz.
One area of sound that could be improved is the low end. The bass is noticeably shallow and can leave some songs sounding thin. The lack of low frequencies is one of the reasons that the speaker sounds so bright.
Despite a design intended for wider sound dispersion and a claim of authentic 360-degree sound, the speaker’s direction has a noticeable impact on the sound quality, with a lot more detail when the speaker faces directly toward you. It is listenable from all directions and still sounds good from behind the speaker, but as mentioned, there is a distinction one can hear. Still, the dynamics are pretty good, and it can get quite loud before you notice any degradation in quality. Even towards the upper limits of the volume, the clarity is retained well.
The microphone tests were less impressive, though I found them slightly clearer than the HD-Mini ones. I’ve added the audio recordings on the HD-Mini review for a direct comparison.
Connectivity & Controls
Aside from concerns about the durability of the controls, the FX100’s control wheel has five buttons. A prominent central button lets you turn the speaker on and off. Additionally, you can play and pause music, adjust the volume, and skip tracks backward and forward. The track skip buttons double as the volume control. Holding the buttons down will skip tracks, while a single press will adjust the volume. These buttons feel pretty good, but the center button (power) is a little loose.
On the opposite side of the speaker are the connection ports, sealed with a rubber flap with the Treblab logo on it. This seal could be stronger and lets us understand why the FX100 has a limited IPX rating. Popping the cover open exposes the micro-USB charging port and USB port. Additionally, there is a battery indicator showing your current battery charge. To toggle the lights on, simply press the red DC out button.
I spent more time than I’d like to admit searching for the line-in port. I had assumed that it would be in the same connectivity panel. Instead, the line-in is located on the speaker’s side near the control panel.
It uses Bluetooth 5 for its wireless connectivity, and despite seeing some claims online of insufficient range, my experience was the opposite. I could comfortably move over 25 feet from the speaker with a couple of walls in the way before encountering issues. It performed better in this regard than most speakers I’ve tested.
Charging Type: Micro-USB
Estimated Playtime: 35 Hours
Playtime: 32 Hours +-
Charging Time: 10 Hours
Treblab’s approach to the FX100’s battery setup is fascinating. Because battery performance was more limited when this speaker was released, it compensates for the inefficiency by providing more mAh, using a 7200mAh battery. The benefit of this large battery is that the FX100 gets a truly impressive playtime of up to 35 hours. During testing, we used the speaker for around 8 hours. In the end, the battery indicator was still at 75%. It features an auto-off feature that saves battery when the speaker is not in use.
The downside to having a large battery instead of an efficient one is that it results in more speaker weight and takes longer to charge. While a charging time of three to five hours is standard in modern speakers of this style, the FX100 has a 10-hour charge time.
Despite being a somewhat old release, the FX100 still has a reason to exist. It produces a clear sound that is particularly well-suited to podcasts and most genres of music. However, the lack of low-end means it doesn’t sound great for electronic music, where deep lows are essential to the experience. The mediocre water resistance is a weakness that can’t be ignored. For a speaker designed for the outdoors, I’d suggest having IPX7 or IP67 protection.
Compared to similar speakers, the FX100 is a lot cheaper than the JBL Flip series, and when compared with the Clip 4, something closer to its price range – the FX100 has better clarity and dynamics but lacks the deep low-end.
Disclosure: We received the FX100 from Treblab to review. However, we received no monetary compensation for our review and maintained a non-biased and transparent approach.