Like most of you, I have acquired an immense collection of CDs and have enjoyed listening to them over the years. I started the process of being able to Experience Mobility using a Sony Walkman CD player. It was great but carrying a collection of CDs was near to impossible. Like most folks, I would decide what CDs I wanted for a trip, take them out of their cases and slide them in a couple of CD cases I had that could carry a rather large number of CDs without having to carry the bulk of all those plastic CD cases.
Over time though, that got old and a real pain but all of a sudden we were able to convert those songs to files we could play on our mobile devices and for many of us, we started acquiring dedicated players to allow ourselves the ability to carry immense collections as we traveled. Now we had the ability to listen to music all day with a variety of different genres of music.
Rarely do I think about the old days now…I just grab my player and listen to the music of my choice. But there is a rub....how we listen to the music....HEADSETS....some are large cups we have that fit over our ears producing great sounds and weighing us down as we try to walk, jog or just sit and relax. Some are small little buds that we push into our ears hoping to get that same rich experience we get with the larger more expensive models. Of course, we could invest in a set of very expensive earbuds but I’m just not sure that I want to spend $500 for a set of plugs. Frankly, I really don’t like any kind of headset…I’ve yet to find one that is comfortable and produces a rich sound similar to the sound system I have at home.
But the truth of the matter is that if I want to listen to my collection of music while I try to Experience Mobility, I have little choice as to what I can use. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are some great sounding headsets out there but I just don’t like them. I think it is because they tend to isolate me from my environment and I need to be aware of all that is going on. Maybe it is a claustrophobic thing…I’m not sure but what I am sure about is that Logitech has come up with an incredible solution for me while I am on the road.
The Logitech mm28 Portable Speakers are an incredibly thin set of speakers, about an inch and a quarter in thickness, that produce a rich sound comparable to many high end speakers. These speakers use NXT flat panel technology where the entire surface of the unit is a stereo speaker producing incredibly rich sound and a really quite unbelievable base.
Just as a point of information, NXT has its roots in the world-renowned British audio industry. In 1997, NEC used NXT technology in a laptop having flat panel speakers slide out from each side of the screen. Today, in excess of 250 companies throughout the world license speaker technology from NXT. They have created well over 200 NXT-based products creating radical audio solutions that provide the ultimate in audio performance and yet provide the aesthetic appearance that you want in your audio system.
When I first heard of these speakers, I was amazed at what they were saying...NXT flat-panel technology - excellent stereo sound - enhanced bass for a rich experience. The “flat panel” had me very intrigued because that meant portability and if it was going to enhance my ability to Experience Mobility it was worth looking into especially if Logitech had decided to use the best materials in the construction of the flat panel.
NXT has had portable speakers on the market for four or five years, but the brand companies did not invest in the panel material or the ID and so the products never sounded that good. The very first speakers used foam supports on the edge of the panel, which effectively prevented the whole panel from moving as a rigid piston and there was poor bass as a result.
The MM28 is different because it uses a better panel material, the panel is mounted on the “compliant rubber surround”, which allows it to move freely and produce bass. The one panel reproduces bass as the transducers move in unison at low frequencies and independently at mid and high frequencies. You get stereo separation because the mid and high frequencies are more localized around the area of the two transducers. The result - you get as good a stereo as a conventional speaker with similarly spaced speakers. Because of the way the NXT speaker reproduces sound, you get better off-axis performance. The result is that the room is filled with sound and where you sit is not as critical….definitely cool!
The folks at NXT like to use this analogy when talking about the technology embraced in their flat panels. “The panel is like the sounding board of a stringed instrument, like a violin or guitar which has been specially tuned to have a great sound. We then put musical energy into the panel with a transducer and the resultant sound is open and omni-directional; filling the room – like a violin or guitar.”
I keep saying how much packaging means to me when I get something new, it tells me a little about the company in how much they care about their product and frankly, the anticipation of opening something is enhanced when you are looking at it from the outside. This package was no exception but what else would you expect from a Logitech product…they take pride in their products and it shows.
Removing the speaker from its well cushioned Styrofoam encasement, I was immediately impressed with the look. A long, thin, oval shaped device dark gray in color with a clear plastic cover covering a light grey NXT flat panel. The Logitech logo was subtly placed in the center of the flat panel. There were semi circular marks on either end of the flat panel for design.
Opening the clear plastic cover, it rotates to serve as a stand for the speakers. As you open it, you notice a rubber band that serves to prevent the cover from scratching as well as provide a cushion effect for the speaker as it sits flat on a table.
When you rotate the cover and set the speaker down, you notice that the flat panel is attached to the dark gray case with a “compliant rubber surround”, much like on a cone speaker. This “compliant surround” allows the whole panel to move as a rigid piston at low frequencies, which is why this speaker has such great low end sound for its size. I would guess that it also prevents the sounds from being absorbed from the case itself. The flat panel is not that thin covering you find on the speakers we have been used to but rather a firmer material that appears as if it might take some reasonable abuse…although, I am not going to test that theory.
The panel material is 1mm thick and is a laminate, the front and rear surface are aluminum and there is a rigid high density foam core. This material was chosen for the panel because of its robustness – so you don’t need a grille. It will take being knocked about a bit – even if it gets dented the speaker will still work! And NO, I am not going to purposely dent my speaker just to tell you that they still work and sound great. I’ll just take the word of the folks from NXT that it’s true.
The folks at NXT are constantly on the search for materials like the one used in the MM28. Another alternative is acrylic but it does not have the same high frequency extension as the aluminum panel used with the mm28. Brookstone has a Wafer-Thin CD/ MP-3 Shelf System that uses NXT speakers. They used acrylic, it sounded great in the store and it definitely looked cool.
The mm28 power on/off button is centered at the top and glows a neon blue color while the power is on. The bottom of the device has two sturdy hinges holding the cover in place. There is a plug that firmly attaches the body and cover portions of the hinges. The plugs can easily be removed if you choose to not have the cover. It might have been a nice option to have a slot on the back of the speaker for wall hanging although I am reasonably sure that would have a dramatic effect of the sound.
I say that because although I am really very impressed with the sound wherever I have located the speakers, there is a very definite difference in sound quality when I have then sitting on a large wooden table top…at least that was my perception. While speaking with the folks at NXT, they indicated that my perception was correct. They explained that when I placed the speaker on table, it was extending the path from the back of the speaker to the front of the speaker. “In simple terms, at low frequencies the panel produces positive pressure at the front and negative pressure at the back. Physics dictates that we need equilibrium so the air from the front and back try and combine and cancel each other out. The longer it takes these two pressures to cancel out the more bass extension you will get”.
Today I went for a short journey in my canoe. I had the speakers sitting on the bottom of the canoe, sound reasonably cranked (reasonable to me that is) enjoying the wonders of a calm lake. As I returned my wife said she heard me coming…I said: “but honey … I was paddling quietly”. “Yeah!” she said! I wonder if the sound was resonating through the fiberglass canoe over the lake.
The “guts” of the speakers are housed in a case a little over an inch thick. The case is a dark gray and has that “rubberized” coating like you see in today’s automobiles. It gives it a nice feel, resists scratching, is easily cleanable and I am sure it has some effect of the sound.
The back of the case has 120 holes that allow for the distribution of sound. These holes allow the rear sound waves to travel through the case. If there were no holes (which I simulated by placing the speaker flat on my desk), there was a loss of bass and an effect on the clarity of the vocals.
The folks at NXT told me that the holes allow the speaker to breath – plus they let an extra 3dB of sound radiate from the rear of the speaker. …that is cool! Although you get sound from the rear of the speaker, the high frequencies will only come from the front; this is because the transducers that drive the speaker are driving sound forward.
There is a power jack for a 6V power supply if you ever run out of battery power….which seems unlikely to me. In my initial testing, I have changed the batteries three times. The first change was after a recorded 52 hours of play time, the second was at 55 hours and I am still using the third set. I have only used “copper top” batteries so I imagine that I would exceed my play time significantly if I used the Ultra Digital Duracell batteries.
The input cable is approximately 14.5 inches long and uses a 3.5 mm jack. I would have liked to see them package an adapter jack for those devices that use the smaller input jacks. They did a nice job allowing for the cable to neatly be stored within a grove that encircles the back of the case. It fits easily, snugly, and allows for the cord to be totally recessed….nicely done!
So, that’s it…a pretty simple description of an extraordinary sound reproduction system. I have been absolutely amazed at the sound quality that has been reproduced as I play my favorite songs. Of course, sound quality is dependent on the type of recording you use. Virtually all of my files have been made from CD’s that I own and have recorded at a high quality. I have been very impressed with the sound quality of my Verizon V-cast music files and can only assume that those of you that use iTunes would be as satisfied.
Throughout my listening experience whether it was with my iPAQ, my DVD player, or my MP3 player, the sound emitted from the Logitech mm28 Portable Speakers was extraordinary. A unique system, setup and designed to give an instantaneous sound experience wherever you go. You will be absolutely amazed at the sound that is produced from the NXT flat panel speakers....truly a richness in sound that you will thoroughly enjoy.
The compact design with a flip over cover makes this device a truly portable sound solution. The care taken to give you a device that maximizes battery life gives you hours of listening pleasure wherever you are. This is one electronic gadget accessory you don’t want to be without!
Small, truly portable
Well Designed, superior quality
Great battery life
No ability to mount on a wall
No 2.5 adapter jack supplied
About the author: Jack spent 35 years teaching mathematics, worked as a Dean of Students, and completed his career as a Principal of a suburban school just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Throughout his years in public education, the computer field has always sparked an interest in him.
In his early years as a teacher, he became proficient with computers by teaching himself "BASIC" with an old HP card reader. Handheld computers soon became his passion where he eventually focused his attention on the HP iPAQ.
Always the teacher, Jack participates in several discussion groups and is currently serving as Senior Editor on Mobilitysite, participates in the Smartphone & Pocket PC magazine Blogs and maintains his personal site, Experience Mobility. Jack brings to the mobile device community, news, events, and reviews that generate the same passion in handhelds that he has had.
Retirement has not slowed Jack down, he finds himself busier today than ever before. Traveling between Massachusetts and Maine, he is continually writing, reading and working with his iPAQ. In addition, Jack serves on the board of advisors for SCOTTEVEST.