Music makes me better

All about controls

My most-used app is Google Play Music. I never leave the house without my Bluetooth headphones if I can help it. Safe to say that I'm a heavy Bluetooth user and a somewhat picky Bluetooth user. I've used the Nakamichi Bluetooth Speaker with NFC heavily over the last month and a half with my Moto X and while I love most aspects of this speaker, and while I have loved that time, there are also some times when I have found myself at odds with some of the design choices made here. You may think these choices are fine, and this speaker may fit nicely into your life.

Just don't expect it to play nicely in your bag.


The Nakamichi speaker is a stout, simple speaker with few controls and fewer buttons. It comes in gray, red, and blue — and while I wish I had that nice bright blue to show off for you, we've got the gray here. The plastic and rubber brick is rounded on one side, meaning that even in the dark or rummaging around in your bag you will be able to tell with side faces out for the speaker. On bottom, we have two short, log-like legs to give the speaker a little bit of clearance, and to allow you to thread auxiliary or power cords through the bottom if need be. Don't be deceived by the small size, the Nakamichi can easily put out enough music to fill your apartment, an empty classroom, or in my case, an empty television studio. Just be careful not to walk out of the room without it, Once I got two or three walls between the speaker and source, things started to cut out, which is expected with the Nakamichi's listed range.

Speaking of cords, they all plug in on the back, where the auxiliary power and the micro-USB charging ports keep the LED-embedded on-off switch company. We'll come back to that switch in a moment. Up on top, we have three buttons: next/volume up, previous/volume down, and a pause/play/talk button. Next to the talk button is a pinhole microphone and the NFC symbol signaling where to tap your phone to pair.

The Nakamichi is a sturdy little box, and I had no fears about throwing it in my bag — and maybe I should have.

Day-to-day use

This little prick sticks out too far

See this little switch? This little switch sticking out this far is nice when you're reaching around to the back of the speaker to turn it on. It's not so great when the Nakamichi is in your bag and it catches on everything to turn the speaker on. I got to Colorado for my family's vacation and pulled out my speaker to listen to music — only to find it had turned on and run itself dead in my bag. I've also gotten into my car and driven off expecting music to come from the head unit, only to hear my tunes muffled in my backpack. Again, not great. But if the Nakamichi isn't something you intend to stuff in a bag and carry around a lot, it's a great little speaker with a perfectly average sound that borders on tinny every now and again. I'm not someone who listens to a lot of deep bass, but the Nakamichi kept up well enough with the deeper end of the orchestrations I listened to.

Press and release, press and hold

My only other grief is a small one and something that has more to do with my habits than what logically makes the most sense. The volume buttons play double-duty as playback controls, which is good because all Bluetooth speakers/headphones/whatever should have playback controls. Problem is that the implementation can make it hard to make subtle volume adjustments. If you press the plus/minus buttons once, the track changes. If you press and hold, the volume will change. So if you just need a little change, you're better off turning it down on your phone instead of trying to finesse the volume down press-and-hold. That's a minor flaw, but one worth mentioning for all the times I tried to turn up the volume and ended up going to the next track.

When it comes to duration, the only time I've ever run the completely speaker dead is when it turned on in my bag. I've only had the low warning tone come on once or twice in a month, so it's a speaker that'll last for more than a few random dance parties or study sessions where you need to just block out the morons outside. There's no battery gauge here, just a low battery tone that'll come on when it's time to find a charger. At least since it's microUSB, your go-to phone charger will see it through.

The bottom line

At the end of the day, if you're looking for a Bluetooth speaker that's easy to carry around your apartment and will give you basic media controls and a drop-dead simple pairing method for your Android-sporting friends/family to get in on the action, then the Nakamichi Bluetooth Speaker with NFC will fit the bill nicely. You can pick up the Nakamichi Speaker here.

And if you're going to be going on trips with it, pack it carefully.

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