Review of the Beyerdynamic Space

The convenient tote The Beyerdynamic Space is a great portable speaker that also works as a speakerphone.

PROS 

  • Mics provide excellent call clarity.
  • For relaxed listening, rich low-mids and sharp highs are perfect

CONS

  • Excellent controls with a handy LED ring
  • Expensive audio isn’t really effective
  • There isn’t a related app

BEYERDYNAMIC SPACE SPECS

ChannelsMono
BluetoothYes
Wi-FiNo
Multi-RoomNo
Physical ConnectionsUSB-C
PortableYes
Water-ResistantYes
SpeakerphoneYes
Voice AssistantNone

The $179 Space speaker from Beyerdynamic is a decent personal music system that also doubles as an excellent business speakerphone. It produces rich, clear music, but its four-mic MEMS array, which intelligently emphasizes human speech while minimizing background noise, is a bigger selling point. The disc-shaped speaker’s capacitive controls and LED indicator are very appealing. Other options, including as the Editors’ Choice-winning JBL Charge 5 ($179.95), provide better sound for the money, but the Space’s ability to function as a speakerphone may help it earn a place in your home office.

Top-Notch Controls, Sleek Design

The Space, which comes in three colors: aquamarine, charcoal, and gray, is 5.2 inches in diameter and 1.6 inches deep, with four rubber feet on the bottom to keep it firmly planted on flat surfaces. It weights 12.5 ounces, which makes it a touch bulky for a pocket but ideal for sliding inside a bag. When you switch the speaker on, a textile grille covers much of its upper portion, and a central ring of buttons illuminates.

A single 1.5-inch dynamic driver produces a frequency range of 90Hz to 15kHz beneath the grille. The bass response is boosted by two passive radiators. If mono sound isn’t enough, connect two Space speakers for stereo sound. It’s Bluetooth 5.0 compatible and supports the SBC codec, but neither AAC or AptX (albeit a mono portable speaker shouldn’t support higher-fidelity codecs). The speaker automatically adjusts between two frequency response modes (suited for either audio or voices) dependent on your activities; however, you cannot switch between these modes manually.

The Space has an IP64 classification, indicating that it is effectively protected against dust and only moderately protected against moisture. It can withstand light rain and splashes, but not submersion or rinsing under the faucet. If you plan to use the speaker outside, the IP rating is mediocre, but it’s ideal for an office atmosphere. Both the JBL Charge 5 and the Bose SoundLink Flex are entirely waterproof, according to the IP67 standard.

The top control ring is made up of touch-sensitive buttons that, in some cases, have an LED ring to help you navigate. When you press either of the volume buttons, for example, the LED lights completely (at maximum volume), dimly (at no volume), or shows a level in between. The battery status button turns on the LED to show how much charge is left in the battery. The part of the ring near the Bluetooth button lights blue when a Bluetooth connection is activated. The ring near the mute button becomes red when you mute the mic. These LED visual hints are a major selling point.

Bluetooth pairing, muting and unmuting the mics, answering a call, changing the volume, and ending a call are all buttons that move clockwise around the ring. There’s also a multifunction button that Beyerdynamic confuses with the “Y” emblem that appears in the company name; depending on how many times you press it or how long you hold it, it controls playback, track navigation, and voice assistants.

Around the back, there’s a USB-C charging port (with a USB-C cable included), a power button, and a Kensington lock slot. A recessed location for the accompanying USB-A converter, as well as a threaded screw-mount for mounting the speaker on a stand, are located on the bottom panel.

The Space can be used as a portable speaker or plugged in for electricity. The speaker’s battery life is estimated to be around 20 hours by Beyerdynamic, but that depends on your normal listening volume. Regardless, given the speaker isn’t particularly loud, you should be able to charge it overnight and rely on the battery for the rest of the day.

We wish there was a companion app for the speaker. You can’t manually switch between audio and voice modes, for example, or identify which mode is current if you don’t have one. For firmware updates, you’ll need to go to Beyerdynamic’s web hub. However, the lack of an app is more of an irritation than a major oversight.

Sound that is pleasant to listen to on a casual basis

The Space offers a solid impression of the powerful lows on tracks with intense sub-bass content, such as The Knife’s “Silent Shout.” We don’t expect much from a speaker this little (although the passive radiators give a little thud), but this isn’t the speaker for you if you want deep bass. The digital signal processing (DSP) comes in at maximum volume—we didn’t notice any distortion during testing, but the track begins to sound thin and compressed at these volumes. The Space also doesn’t get as loud as other portable speakers in this price range—it doesn’t sound bad, but it’s better suited to office settings than a party’s main sound system.

The Space’s sonic signature is better revealed in Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with significantly less deep bass in the mix. The drums on this track sound tremendous over bass-forward speakers, but Callahan’s vocals take center stage, commanding the majority of the low-mid richness. The Space reduces the drums to light taps rather than severe thumps, making the acoustic strums and higher-register percussive hits crisp and clear, while Callahan’s baritone vocals anchor the lows. As a result, the electric bass has a little more breathing room, and we hear a sense of its depth when it enters the mix—another example of the passive radiators contributing some richness.

The kick drum loop on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild” has a lot of high-mid treble, which keeps the attack forceful. The sub-bass synth blasts that emphasize the beat, on the other hand, are more implied than delivered—we hear their raspy top notes but not the foreboding rumbling underneath. The voices on this tune are clear, with just a hint of sibilance, but not to the point of being irritating. The pounding of the beat is the track’s strongest bass presence; once again, the passive radiators are to blame.

Orchestral tracks, such as the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, seem richer and more full of low-mids than typical, as the Space compensates for its lack of true bass depth by boosting the low-mids to a degree. The higher-register brass, strings, and vocals, on the other hand, sound sharp, so this emphasis doesn’t throw off the mix’s balance. Classical music, in particular, top off at relatively low maximum volume levels due to the speaker’s lack of power.

Vocal Mics with a Clear Tone

Crisp audio transmission is possible because to the four-mic MEMS array. We had no trouble comprehending every word we recorded in testing using the iPhone’s Voice Memos app, or hearing other people on test calls. The clarity isn’t spectacular, but it’s dependable, which is what matters most in meetings. The Space excels at facilitating natural conversation timing—we didn’t experience any irritating delays or audio dropouts that threatened to stifle communication.

When we played music in the background, the mic did an admirable job of ensuring that our voice was heard above the din. During testing, this voice isolation performed best with low-volume music and a noisy cafe recording as opposed to loud music. These are all stress tests, though—you’re not going to make speakerphone calls in a room with loud music, after all. Normal household or business noise will not interfere with conversation clarity.

For Your Home Office, a Good Speaker

The Beyerdynamic Space should be thought of first and foremost as a powerful speakerphone that can also produce good audio for music. Though the combination of its mono driver and passive radiators can’t quite equal the power and bass depth of other speakers in its class, its unique control method with LED feedback is a high point. If you’re looking for a portable speaker to listen to music, the JBL Charge 5 is our top pick for the same price, but we also like the somewhat less expensive Bose SoundLink Flex and Sony SRS-XB33 (both $150). However, if you’re looking for a speaker for your office, the Beyerdynamic Space is a viable option.


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