The Dreamwave Tremor is an all-terrain Bluetooth speaker with sturdy form, but can this one-man-band rock our world? We dive in with an in-depth review!
Here’s the thing about Bluetooth speakers; usually sold as accessory items more linked to one’s sense of style than one’s passion for music, portable speakers usually involve an economy of looks, portability, and sound – where that last factor all-too-often falls short of expectations. The Dreamwave Tremor, then, arrives on the market with but one solemn promise – to deliver on all three of those promises without expectation.
Arriving with the lofty price tag of R5999 ZAR ZAR, the Tremor is more set for audio enthusiasts who want to take their sound anywhere rather than those of us who might settle for a vanity speaker in our living rooms or vehicles. Read: Samsung is leveraging Harman Kardon to build a new smart speaker; will it run Bixby?
The question is, however, can this rugged speaker deliver on its promises? Is this a speaker that can not only withstand the elements, but our audiophile expectations?
Let’s dive in!
The Dreamwave Tremor ships with a design that sits in stark contrast to the simplistic or haughtily elegant offerings one may expect from the likes of Jawbone, B&O, Bowers & Wilkins, or other well-recognized audio brands – put simply, this is an endeavor that might at first glance seem better suited to a serving duty in a Humvee than in one’s dining room.
Wrapped in a rugged, army-color design with a large front-firing grill, the Tremor deploys two full range drivers, two tweeters, and a pair of subwoofers that are driven by a 50W amp.
For those seeking on-the-go performance, the Tremor packs in a 20,800mAh battery that Dreamwave claims will last an estimated 20 hours of music playback, and features a USB port for charging.
The design here isn’t just rugged by looks alone – the Tremor accommodates a shockproof chassis that can withstand drops and the occasional blast of water. Short of being submerged, the Tremor can handle both trips to the beach or to the pool in equal measure.
The Tremor accommodates numerous ways to deliver one’s favourite tunes – perhaps what will appeal most to those seeking a rugged, go-anywhere speaker is the fact that the device accommodates both Bluetooth and NFC setup.
Setup is both fast and reliable through either of these methods – tested with both an iPhone 6s and Samsung Galaxy S8, the Tremor adeptly recognized both handsets and streamed music effortlessly from either device – a relief from other Bluetooth speakers, which can either drop connection or refuse to recognize other devices over time.
The device accommodates three LED indicators which serve to provide the status of different functions. Housed beneath the large grill, a red indicator sounds off the alert for line-in input (through an auxiliary cable) and low battery charge, while a blue LED sounds off for Bluetooth status.
The Tremor lasted well into 20 hours of continuous playback during our review period at moderate volumes, and had enough power to provide some juice to either of our smartphones while on-the-go.
The Tremor’s longevity predictably relies on the volume at which one plays music – aggressively dialling up the volume can reduce the device’s effectiveness to around the 15-hour mark, while conservative users may eke out lifespans greater than 20 hours should they keep volume to a (relative) minimum.
Charging the unit can prove a long endeavour, as the device can take up to four hours to charge to full capacity – a small gripe to have in the face of a whopping 20,800mAh cell.
Though the Tremor may not have the smarts of Google Home or Amazon Echo, the unit does include a built-in microphone – meaning that users can summon their assistant of choice from their smartphone for quick queries.
With rugged looks and a large battery, it seems that the Tremor is destined to shake the ground outside rather than inside – and that’s a promise that followed through throughout our review period.
In terms of placement, the Tremor’s forward-firing grill necessitates some cleverness – the device is perhaps best placed when at an angle, where it can punctuate the airwaves with music of one’s choice. Fortunately, the Tremor’s case affords it the ability to sit at an angle, making this an easy endeavour to achieve.
At lower volumes, the Tremor tends to lose some of its unique character -hewing close to other Bluetooth speakers without sufficient presence nor depth.
However, when pushed to moderate volumes, the speaker develops a keen tone defined by a sparkly high-end and saturated, deep bass – mid-range only tends to improve as the volume is dialled up thanks to the presence of two large drivers.
Where the Tremor performs best is when the unit can be cranked out to maximum with no abandon – especially in an outdoor setting. Where the Tremor’s low end might fade in a confined indoor setting, those who push the speaker to its limits outdoors will be rewarded with frizzle-free audio thanks to the device’s distortion-free circuitry.
Since the proliferation of smartphones – and portable Bluetooth speakers with them – one’s experience may well be frustrated with products that fail in either delivering durable design or well-rounded music. The Dreamwave Tremor aptly delivers both.
The Tremor is a brilliantly designed slab of muscle, which can withstand shocks, bumps, splashes of water and even the aggravation of sand. Looking like something out of the United States Armed Forces’ latest requisition order, the device is more than capable of surviving terrain where other Bluetooth speakers might wither and fade.
For those of us who live for a day spent in the pool or at the beach, the Tremor seems uniquely designed to thrive when it can be pushed to levels of wanton abandon; fine, filling sound erupts from the device – which makes promoting one’s favourite summer soundtrack all the easier at high volumes.
For music lovers and those keen on the outdoors who are ready to spend the relatively pricey sum of R5999 ZAR on their latest musical endeavour, the Tremor is a difficult score to turn one’s eye away from – delivering crisp, clean sound at high levels while being durable enough to withstand even the toughest environments.
Score: 9/10 Read: Facebook is reportedly developing a smartphone, smart speaker for video chat
What are your thoughts? What do you look for in a portable Bluetooth speaker? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!
Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA