When big just isn't big enough.
Whether you're trying to make the most of limited time out in the wilderness or just need hardware that can take a beating from every day life, there's definitely a market for extra-sturdy speakers. We've had a look at a wide range of rugged Bluetooth speakers to complement such rough-and-tumble environs, but the Fugoo Tough XL is easily one of the most impressive we've seen of the bunch.
It's a system that consists of two parts: a waterproof speaker and a removable sleeve that provides hardcore impact protection. The exterior bears a gruff design, aluminum and stainless steel construction, big hardware playback buttons, and a collection of mounting options.
A dedicated key on the top lets you activate Google Now commands that'll work well with the included noise-cancelling microphone. A sealed plug on one short side hides the DC charging port, USB charging port for your phone, and Micro-USB plug for firmware updates. The other short side hosts the power key, Bluetooth pairing key, and 3.5 mm port if you'd rather wire your tunes in.
This thing is seriously big ... and tough
The front and back each feature a 62 mm mid/sub driver and two 28 mm tweeters, while either short edge has a 105 mm x 66 mm passive bass radiator. Combine that with an 8 degree upward tilt all around, and you've got an even spread of 360-degree sound. The sound quality on this speaker is quite good. The maximum volume you can reach is altogether startling, and a special outdoor mode makes that sound travel even farther. It produces a lot of bass, at times enough to cause some buzzing.
Generally when cranked up all the way, I didn't hear a lick of distortion from my music. Fugoo lists the speaker as having 39 watts of audio power, with 19 watts per speaker, and create 97 decibels of sound pressure. This is powerful enough to fill a campsite, compete with noise of a speedboat, or the engine of an ATV, or whatever other crazy situation you may find yourself in.
This bad boy is rated IP67 for protection against dust and water, which translates to being submerged up to 3 feet for 30 minutes. I don't exactly go skydiving every day, so a lot of the Fugoo Tough XL's ruggedness is lost on me. Most days it just lived in my shower, where the most punishment it had to sustain was shampoo residue. Still, I tossed it into shallow water at the beach about a dozen times.
It has a sandy bottom, but plenty of loose rocks. This scuffed some paint, left a few dents, and the USB port cover slipped open at one point. After removing the sleeve, I noticed the cone on one of the tweeters was partially pushed in. To be fair, the Fugoo Tough XL is tested for 3-foot drops, and I was chucking it farther than that, but everything still functioned perfectly well. I have no doubt this thing could survive a few rowdy outings.
The Tough XL sleeve splits in two town the middle once you loosen 8 screws with the included Allen key. These secure four bars along the short sides. The longer ones along the bottom provide plenty of room to be attached to, say, a carabiner. The top ones are a bit skinnier, but provide room for a strap to be threaded through.
35 hours of use is downright bananas.
To that end, Fugoo offers a Hand Strap and Shoulder Strap which uses these top bars for easy carrying. Soon they'll have an Anywhere Strap to facilitate flexible mounting using the bottom bars. Unfortunately, accessories available to the smaller Fugoo Tough aren't out for the XL version, such as replaceable sleeves for more low-key occasions and extra mounting options.
The 37 Wh battery is rated at 35 hours of use at 50% volume, which is downright bananas. I've easily gone a week of casual use without needing to charge it. Even then, a full charge only takes 35 minutes with the DC plug. If for whatever reason you need the battery to last longer, you can set it to automatically turn off after a period of inactivity. The USB-A port can pump out a charge to your phone at 1 amp, which is handy, especially if you're streaming your music. In many instances I'm plenty happy to leave my phone next to the speaker, so use the wired 3.5 mm connection instead of Bluetooth.
As great as the Fugoo Tough XL, there are a few caveats that would stop me from jumping on a purchase. For one, it's pretty expensive; at $330, you need to be equally dedicated to music everywhere and the adventurer lifestyle. Secondly, the Fugoo Tough XL is big (13 inches across) and heavy (over 4.5 pounds). Those qualities are largely out of necessity for impressive sound and protection, but it does limit your ability to bring it around casually. My outdoorsiness is limited, but I can easily imagine road warriors going out every weekend of the summer who would get good mileage out of the Fugoo Tough XL, regardless of the amount of space it takes up.
The Fugoo Tough XL is the hardest Bluetooth speaker I've come across.
Lastly, there's a distinct lack of software tie-ins. Supporting phones can apparently show the battery level, but I've only had luck doing that with iOS. By comparison, Jawbone's companion app lets you do all sorts of customization to their speakers wirelessly. Needing to install a PC app to sideload updates over the micro USB port is a hassle (though not uncommon with Bluetooth speakers).
Those are minor nitpicks in the grand scheme of things. The Fugoo Tough XL is the hardest Bluetooth speaker I've come across, and delivers clear, high-quality sound. Anyone who qualifies their life as "high-octane" will want to give this a shot.