What we have here is a wireless speaker that doesn't use Bluetooth, AirPlay or Wi-Fi. It may be hard to conceive, but instead of making use of the established wireless protocols it makes use of a very new technology called NFA (Near Field Audio).
What NFA Is & How It Works
NFA is implemented within a very selective amount of speakers and devices at present and communicates with a device simply by placing it on top of the speaker. No pairing or setup is required, you can use any device in an instant. So we were very excited and intrigued to test this technology within the Sonivo Easy Speaker (model number SBS-120).
The magic behind NFA is believed, and highly likely, to be that it detects the magnetic field the device speaker is producing and replicates the field through the speakers on the Sonivo Easy Speaker.
The Sonivo Easy Speaker is currently available in one colour which is a matte black. The rectangular compact portable speaker is lightweight and when held its interior feels as if it's strangely hollow. It's not as nimble in dimensions as an X-mini or Marware UpSurge, but is hardly any longer than an iPhone 5. Lengthways, one side of the speaker contains stereo speakers which output a total of 3W; this side also displays an LED indicator to alert the user of the speaker's activity. The Easy Speaker stays firmly placed on most surfaces due to the base of the speaker having four rubber grips.
Before we discuss the NFA, you can use a supplied 3.5mm auxiliary cable as a means of connectivity if you wish and this method does produce the best overall audio performance output. The auxiliary input is located next to the on & off switch and USB charging input. The on & off switch is brutally sharp, sliding it with a finger is horribly painful! We'd really like to see this fixed. So, to enable NFA all you have to do is place your device on top of the speaker and try to align the onboard device speaker(s) with the two wireless icons on the Easy Speaker.
The results of NFA are somewhat indecisive. When we place a device like an iPhone on top of the speaker it does immediately begin to replicate the audio transmitted from the device. It's very impressive to witness, but we have a few annoyances that leave this implementation of NFA a tad flawed. The first being, if you have a thick case attached to your device the audio that is broadcast from the speaker is less accurate in interpretation. And generally when a device is transmitting other digital signals there is interference with the NFA, but when other outputs and inputs are disabled this interference is removed. Having to put your device, such as an iPhone, into AirPlane mode isn't a hard task but is an inconvenience which rocks the promoted simplicity of the Sonivo Easy Speaker. Overall though, we enjoyed using NFA with the Easy Speaker, and feel sure that as the technology matures it could become a new solution for docking a device. However, other means such as Bluetooth and AirPlay connectivity remain, at present, far more serious and free options, as you can continue to use your device whilst it plays music.
The audio quality is easy listening styled. This is not one of those compact speakers which fills a room with sound, but fills the gap when you want to increase the volume from your device's inbuilt speakers, possibly quickly or whilst out of the house. The volume gets reasonably loud, but when it's turned up to around full, distortion is prominent via both the auxiliary cable and NFA. It's worth bearing in mind that when the Sonivo Easy Speaker is used via NFA, the speaker on the device is also operating. The quality of the sound is clear but lacks the low bass levels. The mid-range and highs are a tad underwhelming on occasion but generally perform well. Of course, the Easy Speaker has stereo, so the distinctive elements within musical tracks are separated and the stereo experience is fine. For a speaker that retails for a mere £19.99 on MobileFun the price-tag seems good.
The Sonivo Easy Speaker definitely makes a speaker entry that differentiates itself within the vast selection of portable and compact speakers available. The NFA wireless no fuss communication is very neat, disregarding its mild technical hiccups. And again to reiterate on this speaker's low price; it really does serve honest value, with performance that measures well against similarly priced entries that solely sport an auxiliary connection.