Technology

Tribit Stormbox Pro Review: Perfectly Portable, Weirdly Flawed

Rating:
6/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $120

Andrew Heinzman

First impressions are important, and I was very impressed by the Tribit Stormbox Pro when I pulled it out of its box. This portable Bluetooth speaker has a fun bassy sound, beams audio in all directions, and has the perfect form factor for outdoor activities. Unfortunately, I can’t base my review of the Tribit Stormbox Pro on first impressions.

Here’s What We Like

  • Solid sound, volume, and bass boost
  • Durable and water-resistant (IP67)
  • Great battery life
  • It can charge your phone
  • Perfect design for outdoor activities

And What We Don’t

  • Several reports of manufacturer defects
  • Confusing pairing process
  • No 3.5mm “AUX” input
  • No EQ settings
  • Distorts at very high volumes

This speaker does a lot of things right. In some ways, it’s one of the best portable speakers in this price range. But after testing two Tribit Stormbox Pros over a few months, I ran into some frustrating problems that every potential customer should know about.

Specs

  • Drivers: 3-inch Subwoofer, 2 x 40mm Speakers, 2 x Passive Radiators
  • Output Power: 2 x 7.5W + 25W
  • Frequency Range: 60Hz – 20kHz
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Codecs: aptX
  • Water Resistance: IP67
  • Charging: USB-C
  • Powerbank Functionality: Charges phones through USB-A port.
  • Battery Size: 10,000mAh (Two 5,000mAh batteries in series)
  • 3.55 “AUX” Input: No
  • Built-In Microphone: Yes, for speakerphone and voice assistants.
  • Party Mode: Yes, you can pair two of these speakers together.

Solid Audio with a Few Footnotes

Sound quality from the Tribit Stormbox Pro is about what I expected, considering the price and form factor of the speaker. It doesn’t sound like a full-sized stereo setup, and the mid-range is definitely a bit lacking. But it’s loud enough for a pool party or cookout, it’s omnidirectional, and it has a ton of bass.

And for when you want more bass, there’s a big button that says “XBass.” You’re not going to get the best sound quality when XBass is enabled, but hey, it makes the music more fun, especially when you’re enjoying it with other people.

To be clear, I’m not trying to dog the Tribit Stormbox Pro for its sound quality. You’ll never find an amazing-sounding speaker with beautiful stereo separation in this form factor—at least, not in my opinion. That’s just the trade-off for a speaker that weighs three pounds and can pump sound in all directions at once.

Two Tribit Stormbox Pro speakers in Party mode.
Party mode lets two speakers work as a pair. Andrew Heinzman

Now, Tribit could have improved things a bit with pre-set EQs (or a custom EQ tool in a smartphone app). But I understand why Tribit skipped this feature. Most people wouldn’t bother playing with EQ settings, so maybe it’s not worth the extra R&D costs.

I should also note that this speaker has a Party Mode. If you buy two Tribit Stormbox Pro speakers, you can pair them together for true stereo separation and all that good stuff. Tribit sent me two speakers, and in my testing, the Party Mode sounds really impressive! But in most situations, a single speaker was all I really wanted to use. Keeping two things charged and handy is extra work.

Here’s my only major complaint; while the Tribit Stormbox Pro can get quite loud, cranking the volume all the way can distort audio, particularly when XBass is enabled. If you’re a good and quiet neighbor, I don’t think this will be a problem, but it’s been a problem for me.

Watch Out for Manufacturer Defects

The Tribit Stormbox Pro speaker hanging from a palm tree by its carrying handle.
Andrew Heinzman

Speaking of cranking the volume, I’ve noticed that one of my Tribit Stormbox Pro speakers makes a loud “pop” noise at high volumes. Like, a very loud and sudden “pop,” similar to what you hear when a car or home sound system has loose or crossed wires.

This happens just once in a blue moon, and again, it only affects one of the speakers I’ve tested. But I think it’s a symptom of poor wiring; the vibrations from the speaker are doing something to the wires.

I’ve run into dozens of customer reviews complaining about Tribit Stormbox Pro speakers that won’t hold a charge and make a loud “pop” when attempting to turn on, so this kind of defect may be somewhat common. To clarify, I don’t think that this problem is very scary. The loud “pop” noise comes from the speaker drivers, not the battery. If I’m correct, the speakers are just freaking out because of an interrupted or wonky electrical signal.

Tribit seems to be very good at replacing defective speakers and refunding customers, which is nice. But I still have to take off points for this problem—if I had never encountered it, I would have scored the Stormbox Pro a 7/10.

Exceptional Battery Life and Reverse Charging

The Tribit Stormbox Pro's USB-C charging port and USB-A reverse charging port.
The USB-C port is only for charging the speaker. Andrew Heinzman

Aside from its price, the battery life is the main selling point for this speaker. It’s only a 10,000mAh battery, but it lasts for about 24 hours on a charge (at a reasonable volume). That’s more than enough for a trip to the beach, a long cookout, a pool party, and most other social events. It’s also double what you’ll get with similarly priced speakers like the JBL Flip 6.

You can also use the Tribit Stormbox Pro as a portable battery for your phone, or any USB-powered device, for that matter. It’s an interesting feature in a pinch, but if you’re going somewhere where your phone may die, you should just bring a separate battery. Batteries with a 10,000mAh capacity cost around $20 now.

My only complaint is that the speaker itself takes six or seven hours to charge. I’m not sure why a 10,000mAh battery takes that long to charge over USB-C—cheap components? Anyway, it’s not the biggest problem in the world, but it’s a minor annoyance for people (like me) who tend to get ready for outdoor excursions at the last minute.

A Design for Rain or Shine

The Tribit Stormbox Pro in a puddle of water.
Andrew Heinzman

Tribit wins a ton of points for this speaker’s design. It only weighs about three pounds and has a (surprisingly sturdy) rubber carrying handle. You can easily stuff it in a bag, clip it in a carabiner, and hang it from a hook in your kitchen, bathroom, or garage.

Plus, with an IP67 dust- and water-resistance rating, the Tribit Stormbox Pro is well suited for any outdoor activities. I’ve dragged this speaker to the beach and floated with it in the springs. It’s survived every trip, even through rain.

And when the speaker’s fabric exterior gets dirty, I just rinse it off. According to the IP67 certification, it should withstand submersion in a meter of water for thirty minutes, so a quick rinse is fine.

You can also use the Stormbox Pro in the shower. Just keep in mind that hard water and soap scum could build up on the speaker’s fabric surface after a few months. (Although I guess this is true for any Bluetooth speaker.)

The Pairing Process Is Awful

The Tribit Stormbox Pro on a wooden bench.
Andrew Heinzman

Controlling a speaker shouldn’t be rocket science. I just want to turn it on, pair my phone, adjust the volume, and do whatever without any trouble. But the Tribit Stormbox Pro’s pairing process is a nightmare.

The initial setup is very easy. But once the Tribit Stormbox Pro is connected with a device, it just pretends that nothing else exists. I have to disable Bluetooth on whatever device is currently linked with the speaker every time I enter pairing mode. Otherwise, it just connects back to that old device (which is very inconvenient when a friend or roommate is the last one to use the speaker).

Also, the speaker doesn’t tell you things like “pairing” or “pairing complete.” It just makes a bunch of watery “bleep boop” noises. I’m sure that this is to avoid language barriers in the international market, and that’s great. But I don’t know what “bleep bloop” or “woOOosh” means!

The Tribit Stormbox Pro’s lack of a 3.5mm jack just adds insult to injury. I’d love to connect a new audio source without going through the pairing process. But I can’t, so I have to go through the “bleep bloop” dance instead.

The Gist: Well, This Is a Pickle

A wet Tribit Stormbox Pro.
Andrew Heinzman

Of all the speakers in this price range, the Tribit Stormbox Pro has one of the best designs for outdoor activities—specifically small parties, camping trips, and beach days. The carrying handle is awesome, it’s water-resistant, the battery rocks, and the omnidirectional drivers produce a fun, bassy sound.

It’s just a shame that the Stormbox Pro suffers from such weird problems. I can kind of overlook the lack of an AUX cable or customizable EQ, as these features are missing from a ton of Bluetooth speakers. But the pairing process is a mess and manufacturer defects seem somewhat common—these two things make the Stormbox Pro difficult to recommend without a huge asterisk.

So, I’ll say this; Amazon has a great return policy, and the Tribit Stormbox Pro goes on sale at least once a month (just check the price history). If you’re enticed by its features or specs, wait for one of those monthly sales and take a shot. Again, if I hadn’t run into so many reports of defects, I would’ve rated this speaker a 7/10, and that rating would be even higher if not for the pairing process.

Here’s What We Like

  • Solid sound, volume, and bass boost
  • Durable and water-resistant (IP67)
  • Great battery life
  • It can charge your phone
  • Perfect design for outdoor activities

And What We Don’t

  • Several reports of manufacturer defects
  • Confusing pairing process
  • No 3.5mm “AUX” input
  • No EQ settings
  • Distorts at very high volumes



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