Introduction

Review: Sound Cylinder™ from Definitive Technology

Review: Sound Cylinder™ from Definitive Technology

This is a combination stand and speaker. Or it is a clip-able speaker. In either case, it is the Sound Cylinder™ Bluetooth® Portable Speaker System.

Link: Overview and specifications for the Sound Cylinder

Sound Cylinder: Packaging container (front view on the left; rear view on the right)
Sound Cylinder: Packaging container (front view on the left; rear view on the right)
Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: View 1
Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: View 1

This would be considered the “front view” with the “D” logo on the left channel side of the unit (the perforations around the logo, on this left side are for the woofer output, I believe). The speaker is probably not meant for bouncing about but seems to be sturdy overall. The provided information indicates that the unit is a “rugged aluminum/magnesium alloy construction. The rubberized clamp definitely feels sturdy.

In my car (I have a carpeted dashboard cover in my Honda Accord), I found that this position/view – using the Sound Cylinder™ as a non-attached wireless speaker – was useful as an alternative to my sound system, which doesn’t have a regular working BT receiver (the Kanex AirBlue didn’t work out over time…). The rubberized clamp limited its moving about on my dashboard but it was far from secure.

Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: View 2 (Back/Stand - Folded)
Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: View 2 (Back/Stand – Folded)

This view shows the “back side” of the Sound Cylinder. The right channel audio is on this side, with the power/pairing button. In most of the left-right channel audio tests I accessed on the web, the mix seemed to be well-balanced. Playing various web-based right-left channel tests, as well as playing the intros of Shania Twain’s “I’m Gonna Getcha Good” and of Madonna’s “Vogue”, helped demonstrate the audio separation for us.

While there may be many who favor other units for audio quality, I find that the Sound Cylinder™ produces a great sound. There is robust sound output that more than exceeds what I have can produce from the built-in speakers from any of my current devices. If I max out the volume, some of the higher notes, we observed, were a bit on the tinny side. The bass came from the “Side Firing High Excursion ” woofer at the “D” logo end of the unit. The bass sound produced isn’t overpowering but one of the team thought it needed more depth on some of the hip-hop and R&B tracks we tried out.

Pairing is straight-forward: power the unit on, make sure your device is in “Discover” mode and wait for the “Definitive Cyl. Stereo” to show up in your collection of Bluetooth® devices.

In the time that I was completing the basic testing the speaker I didn’t once have to recharge it. I estimated that I put at least 8.5 hours on the speaker for the initial charge so I think that gets me fairly close to the advertised 10-hour battery life.

Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: View 3 (Back/Stand - Extended)
Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: View 3 (Back/Stand – Extended)

I have extended the magnesium alloy stand in this view. This stand, while matching the overall look of the Sound Cylinder™, looks more lightweight than the rest of the construction of the unit. I’m going to be more gentle when extending and then putting away the stand.

Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: View 4 (Front/Stand - Extended)
Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: View 4 (Front/Stand – Extended)
Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: Accessories
Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: Accessories

Note that the included Micro-USB and 3.5 mm audio adapter cable have right-angled plugs. The positioning of the jacks requires this. When the unit is in the “typing position” with an tablet inserted into the clip, these cables allow the unit to lie flat. If you lose these and have to use other cables while the unit is in use (sometimes you don’t need to do wireless), the setup will likely be tilted. Keep track of these cables!

The weakest part of the package is the accessory microfiber carry bag; while functional, it doesn’t seem to bear the stylish sleekness of the Sound Cylinder™ itself or the cylindrical container in which it was shipped. It doesn’t really offer any protection for the unit other than protecting against scratching.

Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: Right-angled Micro-USB & 3.5 mm adapter
Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: Right-angled Micro-USB & 3.5 mm adapter
Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: Stand position, tablet in landscape orientation
Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: Stand position, tablet in landscape orientation
Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: Stand position, tablet in portrait orientation
Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: Stand position, tablet in portrait orientation
Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: typing position
Sound Cylinder BT Speaker: typing position

While I could certainly use the iPad-and-Sound-Cylinder in the typing position, I found that I had to be more directly above the iPad as the angle was as steep as when I am using my folded SmartCover or another case in a similar position.

Video of basic setup and use (the BT pairing was completed off-camera):

You can see the original “cylinder” packaging in the background between the Sound Cylinder™ and me.

Using the Sound Cylinder out on the patio:

In addition to these uses, you can clamp the Sound Cylinder™ on the top of a laptop display. I was concerned about the weight of the unit when applied to my 2008 MacBook but it was fine during my tests. Again, the unit provided richer and louder output that the comparatively meager built-in speakers on my laptop. The advertised range of 10 meters was confirmed time and time again, as moved the speaker around my office and home and then the transmitting device (iPhone, iPad 3).

The wired signal is continuous as expected. A press release provided by Definitive Technology alerted me to the possibility of some audio issues with iOS 6.0, 6.0.1 and 6.0.2 devices. This was indeed the case. Audio dropouts, some skipping and the delay of some audio some effects were some of the concerns that I experienced. No problems with Mac OS X 10.8.2 and Bluetooth® playback.

I do not wish to compare the Sound Cylinder to its competition so I won’t. Having said that, I feel that the Sound Cylinder is at the upper end of its price point and represents decent performance for what it does do. The sound was strong and warm for most of the music and audio tests we sent its way. The stand and clip make this a unique offering among similar devices in its price range and I found that this made it even more useful than I had originally imagined.

Definitive Technology has been known for its more traditional offerings and the Sound Cylinder™ Bluetooth® Portable Speaker System is a worthy entry into the mobile sound output arena.

I am giving the Sound Cylinder a 9 out of 10.