With my Bose SoundDock finally giving up on me a few weeks ago, it was perfect timing to be sent this Polk Audio Camden Square Bluetooth wireless speaker – even though I have to give it back. It is great to be able to review this portable speaker, as it is another reminder that there is no need to physically dock your iPhone to a speaker anymore. It’s all about wireless these days, and Polk certainly embrace that.
When the speaker was delivered it was surprising just how heavy it was, although not too heavy for it not to be portable, and there is always the fact that when it does have some weight behind it, you know the sound quality and bass levels should be rather decent.
The box is very understated in design, although this is keeping with its old-school theme, something that Polk pull off very well with most of its products. This certainly is not one of those cheap speakers that you see young teenagers taking with them to a friends house or the beach, and so it is more than obvious you will have to pay a premium for such a device, although prices have come down a lot since Polk Audio’s Camden Square speaker was first released, which we will get to a little later
What’s in the box – You get the Camden Square wireless speaker, power adapter, along with various plugs to fit your power outlet, as well as a quick-start guide. That’s all there is, but what more do you need?
Taking the speaker from the box was filled with mixed opinion because it really was heavier than what I assumed, although the build quality and its old-school metal surrounding to the front and cutout grille, along with the luxurious black leather sides put a smile on my face. Talking of sides, there is one speaker on either side, which don’t seem large enough to deliver the kind of sound we have been promised. As for connections, these are very minimal, you get just the power and a 3.5mm jack plug, although what more do you need considering it is Bluetooth after all?
Setting up – I have lost count of how many wireless speakers I have tried to connect to via Bluetooth, but one thing is clear, not all of them are easy, and more often than not, you cannot connect to them a second time without a great deal of hassle. However, this was not the case with the Camden Square. There is no button to press in order to make it discoverable, all you do is turn the device on and a light in the centre below the Polk logo appears and turn Bluetooth on your phone, the iPhone 6 in my case. It took around 20-30 seconds for the phone to find the speaker, and that was it, time to see just how good this speaker is.
The true test – It’s always hard to know what sort of music to try out on such devices, but the first on the list had to be Feeling Good by Michael Bublé, although the live version from Madison Square Garden. People who have read some of my reviews on headphones before will know that Bublé always has to be tested out, as his voice is clear with no auto tune, or any other kind of technology to make him sound different than what he would be live. I would like to say the sound level was started at a quarter, but it is pretty much guesswork seeing as though there is no volume indicator, which does surprise me seeing as though the Polk N1 surround bar does.
Having said that, it does not take long for you to get used to the volume levels, and to find a level that suits you. However, with such tests you need to start off low for a comfortable level, and then build up to find the limits. With no other audio adjustments, such as base or tone, you can just get right into the song, and that is just what I did with Feeling Good, and I just found myself closing my eyes and taking in everyone word that Bublé sung, this is because his voice is so clear to follow, and the Camden Square certainly helps to emphasize that.
I loved the sound quality at a low to medium level, but turn it up any higher and it starts to sound a little boxy if you know what I mean? With that being said, this could have been down to the style of music, and so it was time to go with something a little more modern. The next song had to be Blurred Lines, and although not right up to date, it is a far cry from the great man that is Bublé.
What I found about this song was how the bass levels were pretty good, and you can certainly here all the different things going on, but you do start to notice that horrible sound of that constant tapping throughout the song. The story was the same as before, the sound is pretty much perfect for most ears at low and medium levels, but the quality seems to suffer the louder you go, although it did not disrupt, so that is a huge positive.
Let’s not be too hard here because this is the case with most wireless speakers, and only those that are not of the portable type have the depth to handle the high volumes. The Camden Square by Polk Audio really does have a lot to offer, so don’t let the high volume issue put you off. Speaking of more to offer, this speaker allows you to connect four phones to create one playlist, which does make it ideal for small parties. If you have a few friends around for a drink and to have a laugh, then you will need to make sure you download the DJ Stream app from Google Play or the App Store.
When you decide to make use of this feature it helps to transform the Camden Square, as it now makes the wireless portable speaker go from a personal device to one focussed for social music sharing. We all know when you go to a friends house and they have music playing it is never to everyone’s taste, and so the DJ Stream app solves that issue. Up to four people can become a DJ thanks to party mode. You can also make a game out of it by voting for the DJ by scoring them to decide on their skill levels.
The verdict – If I was writing this review earlier this year, then the outcome would have been a different one because the high price tag was its Achilles heal. However, with a few price drops, and also the Polk Audio Camden Square portable Bluetooth Speaker now available in the UK from Amazon for £160, this truly is a device that you should consider. I found myself not wanting to give this speaker back, especially as my Bose gave up on me with a whiff of electrical burning. You can also find more details on the speaker by visiting the official Polk Audio website in the USA, although we expect a UK website to follow once they have cracked the UK market.
- Totally wireless for Bluetooth audio streaming
- Free DJ Stream app
- Lightweight rounded square enclosure
- Powerful, with 24 hours of playtime at moderate levels
- Uniquely engineered 6-driver array, along with four full-range speakers and two rectangular passive radiators
- Full Complement Bass
- Dynamic Loudness Digital Signal Processing