Top critical review
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Quite good sound, but poor controls and cheap plastic construction
on November 22, 2012
The TDK Sound Cube V513 is a slightly strange niche product: it's compact but not super-portable, and it needs to be plugged into the wall, but plays audio wirelessly via Bluetooth. (It also has a mini auxiliary audio port, and a USB jack that only charges but won't play audio from iOS devices -- a strange and frustrating omission.)
The unit's build quality is not impressive for the price (it's made entirely of cheap black plastic) but it gets the job done and feels solid. Setting the unit up is the most obnoxious part of using it: its control knobs are cheap, mushy-feeling and extremely unintuitive, and a complex series of turns and pushes is needed to make Bluetooth pairing work. (Windows also has some difficulty sending audio to the V513, which isn't TDK's fault, but Mac OS X and iOS set up with it pretty easily.) And it's also annoying to have to switch the unit back and forth between already-paired devices and computers, rather than it knowing enough to switch dynamically to the one streaming sound to it at the moment.
The sound quality once paired, however, is pretty good for a compact plastic device. The unit has one 5-inch driver (the other two sides of the cube that appear to contain large speakers are actually "passive radiators," i.e. fake speakers; all three are worryingly unprotected against dust or damage) and four small tweeters, one on each corner. This has the effect of making its bass (which is full but not subwoofer-caliber) and lower midrange a bit more direction-sensitive and its pleasant high end a bit more omnidirectional. In general, though, the sound quality is pretty decent, approaching the quality of a decent (but subwooferless) home theater in a much smaller package. There's obviously no stereo separation at all.
The Sound Cube is not perfect by any means, but it does produce good sound. For a buyer shopping in this specific niche -- looking for a compact, semiportable Bluetooth wireless speaker -- it's worth considering. But for general listening, especially if you don't care about wires, there are many vastly better choices at this price point: start with the AudioEngine A5, which delivers far superior sound and build quality.