The more you pay for a Bluetooth speaker, the better it usually sounds, which makes a sub-$100 speaker with good audio a rare thing indeed. Relative newcomer Vava aims to buck the trend with its $80 Voom 20 speaker, and succeeds as far as sound quality is concerned. If you're willing to deal with a few design quirks and fewer features, you'll get a good deal with this speaker.
The Voom 20 is conservative in appearance. Available only in black, it lacks the bright and flashy color palette of JBL's Flip 3 or UE's Roll 2. At 7.58 x 2.81 x 2.38 inches, it's slightly larger than the 6.7 x 2.5-inch Flip 3. But it's not the size that matters in this case — it's the weight.
The Voom 20 tips the scale at 1.5 pounds, compared with 1 pound for the Flip 3 and 0.75 pounds for the Roll 2. You can definitely feel that extra weight when toting the speaker around, though the heft also adds a feel of quality and durability that many other $80 speakers lack.
Vava placed the speaker's controls on the top of the unit. You can play or pause and adjust the volume, but there's no option for skipping tracks — a missed opportunity, especially when there's plenty of space for it. The buttons are embossed into the black plastic without any backlighting, which makes them difficult to see. I often had to move the speaker to better catch the light and find the correct button.
Beneath a cover on the back to keep the innards safe from the elements, you'll find a micro USB port for charging, a regular USB port to charge mobile devices and a 3.5 mm auxiliary input.
The Voom 20 has an IPX5 rating, meaning it can withstand a stream of water. This is better than the Flip 3's IPX4 rating but not as good as the Roll 2's IPX7 — the Roll can go underwater for 30 minutes. I ran the Voom 20 under a faucet for a few seconds and the unit continued to work without issue.
The Voom 20 delivers impressive bass, and produces a good overall balance of treble and midrange that rivals the best speakers in the $100 or less category.
The bass on Justin Timberlake's "Can’t Stop the Feeling" resonated deeper than on the Roll 2 and was almost as rich as the Flip 3. On Sylvan Esso's "Radio," Amelia Meath's vocals are clear and full above Nick Sanborn's pulsing electronica rhythms.
It performed well on acoustic music, too. The piano on Steely Dan's "Aja" sounded realistic and full; the saxophones on Charles Mingus' jazz classic "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" had depth and warmth.
The Voom 20's weakness is its limited volume output. It maxed out at 80 decibels, much less than the 90 decibels the Flip 3 puts out. However, it didn't distort at max volume, so you can push it to the limit and still enjoy the audio quality.
Wireless and Set up
In addition to usual Bluetooth pairing, the Voom 20 also features fast pairing with Android devices through NFC. Vava says the unit's wireless range is 33 feet, but I stretched it to 75 feet without any break in the signal.
Unlike many current Bluetooth speakers, the Voom 20 doesn't come with an app to extend features or allow tweaks to the sound — another trade-off you have to make in exchange for a lower-price unit.
Vava advertises 8 hours of battery life for the Voom 20, and I found that to be accurate in testing. That's less than the Roll 2's 9 hours and the Flip 3's 10 hours. You can also use the 5200-mAh battery to recharge your mobile devices.
The Vava Voom 20 is a welcome addition to the under-$100 Bluetooth speaker category, delivering above-average sound for the price. The Voom 20 comes close to matching JBL's Flip 3 in sound quality and it costs less — but you'll give up some refinements such as an app for tweaking the sound. And while the Voom 20 sounds better than the $100 Roll 2, it can't match its ruggedness (and again, the Roll has an excellent app to go with it).
For $80, the Voom 20 represents a good wireless speaker value. If you can find the extra $20 for the Flip 3 or Roll 2, you may enjoy them more overall — but only if you intend to take advantage of the additional features they offer.