Vers 2Q


For the past month, I have had the privilege of having a Vers 2Q in my possession.  After my review of the 1Q, one of the Vers team members contacted me and asked if I would be interested in testing their newest product, the 2Q.  I jumped at the opportunity.

First, a description of the product is in order.  Vers has been around for a while, making audio components out of wood (they started with headphones).  This past summer, they offered a Kickstarter project that featured a small cube-like speaker, whose cabinet was made of wood.  I bought one, and my wife has claimed it.  It works exceptionally well, and has the ability to blend into its surroundings (especially if you live in a house with a lot of wood).  The 1Q only has one button, and is controlled completely from an attached device (Bluetooth or cord).  It can operate roughly ten hours on a charge.  You can link two 1Qs together, if you so wish.

The 2Q is basically the same as the 1Q, but you get two speakers in a cabinet, and stereo sound.  As a result, the 2Q is significantly louder than the 1Q.  At $199, the 2Q is actually a better bargain than the $119.99 1Q, particularly if you plan to link two 1Qs together.

When I tested the 1Q, I compared it to the Jawbone Jambox our choir program was given this summer.  In my previous review, I mentioned that the 1Q could provide much louder sound than the Jambox without distortion.  The Jambox is bass-heavy, which results in unpleasant sounds at higher levels of audio.  The Jambox can also jump around a bit, which the 1Q does not seem to do.

My initial plan, when I received the 2Q,  was to do some audio tests that would examine the differences between the Jambox, the Brookstone Boombucket, the Vers 1Q, and the Vers 2Q.  I started with a decibel test of the four units, and between that test and my ears, it became clear what the outcome was.  Of the four speakers, the Jawbone Jambox suffered from bass distortion at higher levels of audio–meaning that to get clean sound, you had to keep the volume down (75dB).  The 1Q was limited by its single speaker–but still provided more sound (82 db) without distortion than the Jambox.  The 2Q offered even more sound than the 1Q (88 db), in stereo.  By all means, the Brookstone Boombucket provided the most sound without distortion (92+ db)–but that device has much larger speakers, amplifier, and battery.  Remember that decibels are on a exponential scale…so the 2Q is exponentially better than the Jambox.

2Q, BoomBucket, 1Q, and Jamboc

2Q, BoomBucket, 1Q, and Jamboc

The Jawbone Jambox sells for $199, although you can find it far cheaper online and even refurbished models from Jawbone for $99.  The 1Q sells for $119.99, and the 2Q sells for $199.99 from  The Brookstone Boombucket has long been discontinued, and if you are lucky, you can occasionally find them on eBay.

The Jawbone Jambox is a nice sounding unit, and it is the most portable of the units (even more than the 1Q), as it fits in your hand.  Still, if you need any level of audio without distortion, it isn’t a good bet.

The 1Q and 2Q are made of wood, which has the potential to be marked up (pencil, pen, marker, etc.)  The wood *probably* adds better acoustical qualities to the sound (I couldn’t test this, but I’d believe it).  The speakers are portable, but don’t fit perfectly in the hand.  My family loved having the 2Q around for the holidays, and brought it to several parties, streaming music from our iPhones in the background.  Everyone that noticed the speaker commented on how nice it looks, and how well it sounds.  I’ve been using the 2Q with my students this week in sectionals, and other than accidentally bringing it while needing a charge (a bell tone repeatedly rings, which surprised/creeped out my students), it worked well for them.  Pairing the device is easy to do, and the pairing is persistent if both devices are turned on and are in range. The only problem that I had with the 2Q was cosmetic…it developed a crack along the middle of the face plate (with the speakers) where the wood was the thinnest.  I have a feeling that Minnesota winters (cold and lack of humidity) may have had an impact on the device.  It did not impact the performance of the 2Q at all, but on inspection, you could see the front had a crack.

In discussion with Vers, they consider the 2Q to be an apples-to-apples comparison with the Jawbone Jambox.  I’d disagree with that, as the 2Q is significantly above the Jawbone Jambox in many ways.  The 2Q is better looking, more aesthetically pleasing, sounds better, and is easier to operate (one button).  Because of the sound quality difference, I would be interested in comparing the 2Q to the Jawbone Big Jambox, which sells for $299.99.  I’d expect the Big Jambox to outperform the 2Q, but for a $100 price difference–not to mention the appearance of the unit–I’d want the 2Q.

Our school (built in 2009) has been plagued by technical issues.  For the first time, our district has given our IT department permission to go and fix the problems we have been experiencing.  Each room has a sound amplification system, and that system has stopped working in many rooms.  I have been letting teachers use the choir’s Boombuckets as a temporary solution to the lack of audio.  This means that we no longer have all of our speakers  available for choir sectionals–and we are at the point where those sectionals are crucial.  Our principal is aware that we have been letting teachers use “our” sound equipment, so I asked if we could purchase some 2Qs.  I also contacted Vers to see if they would be willing to give educational institutions a discount–they are (just e-mail and ask).  My principal granted me permission to buy two units, and those were ordered today.

So…how much do I like the 2Q?  We’re buying two of them, and eventually, we’ll buy one or more units for our home (my thirteen year old stepson now wants a 2Q for his room).  I originally thought the Jawbone Jambox would be a logical replacement for our school’s Brookstone Boombuckets…but after owning a Jambox, I’d rather have the 2Q.  So, yes, I’d recommend the 2Q.  Or the 1Q.

The only negative I can see with the 2Q is that you can’t just simply go and buy one at your local store, as you can with the Jambox (available seemingly everywhere these days).

What would I like to see from Vers in the future?  Perhaps a plastic 2Q that would be more durable (or unmarkable) for education settings.  And a waterproof 1Q or 2Q that could go in your shower.

If you’re keeping track, my choir program now utilizes 3 iPads (1 was from a fundraiser, 1 was from our purchasing process last year, and 1 was from Chromatik), 3 iPod Touches (2nd Generation), 5 Boombuckets (four on loan), 1 Jawbone Jambox, and soon two Vers 2Q speakers.  My goal is to move to 5 iPads (no iPod Touches…these are then sent to middle school and elementary teachers that don’t even have an iPod Touch) and 5 2Qs.  We’ll keep some Boombuckets around, but they are reaching the end of their useful lives (we may try to replace the batteries).

I’d like to thank Vers for letting me test the 2Q, and for making such a great product.

(An interesting side note: the person that contacted me about the possibility to review the 2Q was part of the original Brookstone Boombucket team, too).


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