I’ve reviewed a couple of Motz Tiny Wooden Speakers in the past, and I’ve always found them to sound amazingly good for such tiny speakers. Pyramid Distribution offers several versions of the Motz speakers, and they graciously provided The Gadgeteer with two more of the Tiny Wooden Speakers for review. We’ll be looking at the Tiny Wooden Speaker with Built-in FM Radio and the Tiny Wooden Pet Speaker.
Before we look at the differences, let’s look at the similarities. Both speakers are handcrafted from apricot wood. They both come with little manuals, 3.5mm-to-3.5mm audio cables, and 3.5mm-to-USB charging cables. They have 3.7V Lithium-polymer rechargeable batteries. Each has a status light that blinks while charging and goes off when battery is charged. Charging takes about 2 hours for these speakers.
You’ll get about 5 hours of playback time when used as auxiliary speakers. You can get 10 hours from the acorn-shaped speaker when listening to the radio through headphones instead of using the speaker. They can be used as external speakers for MP3 players, computers, tablets – anything with a 3.5mm headphone jack. There is no information about the frequency range reproduced by the speakers.
Motz Tiny Wooden Pet Speaker
This is the simplest of the Motz speakers that I’ve had the opportunity to try. The dog-shaped wooden speaker is about 2.5” long, 2” tall at the ear, and 0.5” thick. The website shows some different colors, but you don’t have a color choice when ordering. I assume the colors are a result of the natural variation of the apricot wood. In addition to the previously mentioned accessories, the dog comes with an elastic “collar” that you can attach to your keyring or MP3 player’s lanyard connector.
There are no buttons or controls of any type on the Pet Speaker. The dog was wearing a little cardboard “sweater”, but I removed it because it had some sort of greasy discoloration on the back. After the sweater was removed, I could see an “i-de@r” branding on the back. The headphone jack is in the dog’s hindquarters. A circular pattern of holes in the head marks the speaker location.
No power switch is needed; the speaker powers on when you plug in the headphones. Use the volume control on the audio device to control the speaker volume.
Motz Tiny Wooden Speaker with Built-in FM Radio
This tiny acorn-shaped speaker is about 1.4” long with a 1” diameter. Like a real acorn, the speaker is two-toned with a darker cap and lighter “nut”. An eyelet screw at the top serves as the attachment point for surprisingly decorative cord that can attach to your keyring or MP3 player’s lanyard connector. This screw is surrounded by small holes that serve as the speaker grid. A 3.5mm headphone jack is drilled in one side of the “nut” and a small status light is inserted opposite it.
The bottom of the acorn has a multi-purpose control button. You control volume and tune radio stations with this button. You press and hold the button to power the radio on/off. You don’t have to use the power button when you use the speaker with an audio device; simply plugging in the headphones turns on the speaker.
The radio doesn’t display any information about the radio station, so you’ll only know what station you’ve tuned in if the DJ tells you. It’s FM only, and it receives 87.5 – 108MHz. Documentation says you have to attach an antenna before you can use the radio. For a second I had an image of the tiny acorn attached to a rooftop aerial, but then I realized a headphone cable would probably serve. It did work, which is great when you want to listen with headphones. I also discovered that simply plugging in the little 3.5mm audio cable works as an antenna when you want to listen with the external speaker. Scanning for stations works quickly and quietly. The stations come in clear and clean.
Just like the other Motz speakers I’ve tried, these little guys have amazingly good sound. You won’t think you’re at Carnegie Hall, and the bass won’t rattle the fillings in your teeth – even if you’re clutching the speaker between your teeth. It’s a single speaker, so you won’t be listening in stereo.
Despite these things, these little speakers sound warm – never tinny. They both certainly sound better than the speakers in my MacBook Pro or the speaker on my iPod touch (2nd gen). They sound better than the speaker on my iPad 2, and I don’t ever have to cup my hand around one of the Motz speakers to redirect the sound toward me as I do with the rear-facing iPad 2 speaker.
I listened to a variety of music – classical, Beatles, Peter Gabriel, Josh Groban, Queen – and it all sounded pretty good. I noticed a little crackling if I pegged the volume on the acorn speaker. Reducing the sound by the smallest amount possible removed the crackle. The volume setting on your audio device also controls the speaker volume.
As I’ve said before, I love these little Motz speakers. They have a surprisingly good sound for such tiny packages. The Pet Speaker is the simplest Motz speaker I’ve tried, and it’s a great way to add an external speaker to an MP3 player. The acorn speaker is a nice external speaker, and it adds a radio. Both have their own batteries, so they don’t drain your MP3 player. They are a bit expensive, but I like them anyway.