Need a small speaker system for your bedroom, cube at work, dorm, etc? How about one that is powered by batteries, AC or via USB? The RAPHA SurroundXi is a portable speaker that plays music stored on a USB flash drive.
Two 1.5 inch 4 watt mini aluminum vibration film speakers
Frequency 150Hz to 18kHz
Powered by 4 AAA batteries, included AC adapter or included USB cable
USB AC adapter
3.5mm extension cable
The SurroundXi is available in six different colors including Pink, Silver, Black, Green, White or Blue. I was sent the Pink version. It is shaped like a long cylinder approximately 7.5 inches long, by 2 inches tall.
On the front, there are six buttons with a Blue status LED in the middle. From Left to Right, there is a button to Reset the speaker’s volume, Play/Pause/Stop, Volume up, Volume down, Previous track and Next Track.
On the back side, you’ll find a power port for the included AC adapter, a 3.5mm line in jack and the power switch.
The base of the speaker is where the battery compartment is located. The nice thing about the SurroundXi is that it can be powered by three different methods. You can install 4 AAA batteries to allow the speaker to be completely portable. Or you can use the included AC adapter and USB cable to power plug it into a wall socket. You can also run the speaker from the included USB cable plugged into a free USB slot on your PC or Mac.
On the top of the speaker is a USB slot. This is where you plug in a flash drive full of music. RAPHA also makes a version of the SurroundXi that has an iPod docking connector built into it.
On each end of the SurroundXi, is a 2 inch speaker.
To listen to music, just load up an everyday run of the mill flash drive with .WMA or .MP3 files. You can even load folders of music files. Then, insert the drive into the USB slot on the top of the speaker and flip the power switch on the back of the speaker to the On position. The first music file saved to the drive will immediately begin to play. You can navigate the files by using the Previous and Next track buttons.
If you want to use this speaker with another audio device like an iPod, just plug the included 3.5mm extension cable into the earphone jack on the audio device and then into the line in jack on the back of the SurroundXi. The only caveat to using the speaker this way is that the control buttons on the front will have no effect. You’ll have to control volume and track navigation directly through the device itself.
Audio quality is surprisingly good for such a small speaker and can easily fill a small room. That said, there are three ‘gotchas’ with the SurroundXi… One of the first things that I noticed was the fact that volume settings are reset when you toggle the power switch. This isn’t a deal breaker, but the default volume setting is a bit louder than I would like. I can live with the volume issue, but the other issue is something that is a bigger problem. The speakers have a distinct hissing noise during playback and also when nothing is playing. If you’re right next to the speakers, you’ll hear the hissing, but if the speakers are at least a few feet away or across the room, you probably will not notice it. Last but not least, I have to complain about the price; $70 for this small speaker seems very high. I’ve read elsewhere that you can find the SurroundXi at Target for around $40. That’s more in line with what I’d be willing to pay – if they didn’t hiss.