Disclaimer: Arcam supplied MusicBOOST free of charge for the purposes of this review. It goes for 100£ – 120£. You can find out all about it here: Arcam MusicBOOST.
Prior to handling Arcam’s MusicBOOST, I’d hadn’t touched a soft-touch phone case. Make no mistake: I am a case guy. Tactless and penny-poor in 2007, I gaffer taped my iPod touch. I gaffer taped my iPod nano. I gaffer taped my tripod. Henceforward, I saved, laying out hard-earned dosh for something more protective, half or full cases in silicon or plastic. I even sprung for Italian and Foxconn leather. For the span of this review, I even removed an amazing Quad Lock from my iPhone 6.
As a half case, MusicBOOST is pretty clever. It protects the back of the iPhone as well any case out there. It covers the sides from about halfway down the phone, but doesn’t protect the upper portion at all. It’s made to easily slip in and slip out the iPhone. Its soft-touch is grippy in the hand, and its camera cutout is well-placed, but its upper edge flexes thanks to ill-fitting plastic.
But then again, MusicBOOST isn’t just a half-case. It’s also an external battery.
To be honest, I was on the prowl for a portable charging solution. Currently, I carry a Goal Zero solar-powered USB charger. It’s a bit cumbersome. MusicBOOST’s 2800mAh, with roughly 1,5x the battery capacity of an iPhone 6, does the job. That it comes with a DAC and headphone amp, not to mention, exchanges lightning for a micro USB jack, is icing on the cake.
To my knowledge, VentureCraft’s GoDAP kicked off this audiophile-meets-case market in 2010. At the time it was revolutionary. But to be honest, it was an awkward first step. I reviewed it back in 2010. Decent performance. Ugly as sin. Absolutely inelegant.
MusicBOOST is one of the latest in a lengthening queue of hybrid audiophile/battery pack devices, few of which have been all that exciting for the dyed-in-the-wool audiophile.
The hurdles they face are obvious:
- battery/amp/DAC cases are as big as some dedicated players
- they work with only a specific phone, or specific player
- many if not most sound no better than the hardware they are meant to augment
Number 2 is the tallest hurdle. Hate your iPhone 6 as much as I do? Want to upgrade to an iPhone SE? Well, kiss MusicBOOST’s glove fit goodbye. Fancy a non-Apple player? Downgrading to Android? 😉 Goodbye MusicBOOST. Number 3 is neither here nor there. The audiophile world is littered by examples of people preferring devices that perform worse in every absolute term. Sound preferences are subjective. Sound quality is not.
Suffice it to say that serious concerns about precious tailor-made cases exist.
Sound and more after the jump or the click HERE: