The OYO (Objects You Obsess) Ballo speakers are a product of Swiss designer Bernard Burkhard.
The design is a harmonious sphere with a bold coloured ABS plastic band that runs along its outer middle. Currently the bands come in an assortment of ten different colours, we have the orange and yellow versions which definitely suit one another well. The speaker grill is made from a strong aluminium, and combined with the coloured band it's an original design and like no other speaker we've used. They're desirable objects, we found ourselves just fiddling with them frequently in our hands. They seem to yell to want to be picked up and studied.
The design's application in usage can actually restrict how and where they can be used. The rounded shape means these speakers can only be rested on flat surfaces, anything with a slope will cause them to roll all over the place unasked. That's not to say they don't roll around on the flat a little but it's more controllable. Because the auxiliary input is positioned on the bottom of the ball, it doesn't allow them to roll a full 360 degree spectrum thank goodness, they're only capable of rolling side to side which means the main speaker driver isn't facing down.
The OYO Ballo speakers feature no on and off switch, the come to life when an auxiliary cable is inserted and instantly turn off when it's removed. This sort of no-nonsense functionality is an aspect we admire a lot. Having said that, needing to always carry a loose cable when on the go can be cumbersome. Most X-mini speakers, which are similar to the Ballos, include a wrapped up cable within their bases and we think that's a much better approach, but are unsure how you could achieve such a design implementation on a sphere? OYO do, however, supply a carry pouch with each speaker to make travelling with the speaker and a cable less of a hassle.
Using an auxiliary input as the sole method of connection opens a vast selection of compatible devices. Essentially anything with an auxiliary port: smartphones, laptops, MP3 players, ect.
A lithium battery is inbuilt and sports around four hours of consecutive playback. Standby time is always challenging to measure but after over a month of not using a speaker at all, the battery didn't show alarming drainage and provided hours of playback. To charge the Ballo OYO supply a USB 2.0 charging cable within the box.
The speakers retail individually, providing a mono output, but two can be combined with the use of the OYO audio splitter cable and turned into a stereo package. Because we have two we have been using them in both mono and stereo setups.
The audio quality is fine, they sound better when laid on a hard surface like wood. The bass is flappy, the mid range is OK and the high range is sparky. On occasion they can sound very tinny. Nothing too fancy to note within the quality department, but these speakers are intended to be used when you need extra volume, right? Well unfortunately the volume output isn't actually that loud. It's hardly any louder than the iPhone 5's speaker. If two are used the audio output is obviously twice as loud, but the stereo effect is bland, and having two would require $60 to have been spent on the speakers, enough for a nice speaker dock or for a similar style small compact speaker such as the X-mini Kai or Edifier Sound2Go Plus. Both of which knock the OYO Ballo speakers to the ground in audio performance.
We were actually quite disappointed with these speakers. The drivers inside each looked rather big and we anticipated hearing some big sound from this very stylish and characteristic package. Unfortunately this is really a case of more style than performance.