• Soundmatters foxL DASH7 review


    We've all seen countless numbers of small speakers designed for use with an iPhone, iPad, or laptop. Most of them have sound quality equivalent to their prices, low and low respectively. Thus, I was a bit hesitant to embrace the foxL DASH7 pocket-sized loudspeaker when a colleague pulled it from his bag at Rocky Mountain Audiofest 2013. Granted this was a colleague whose opinion I respect greatly but I've heard the same story about small speakers sounding much bigger than their sizes one too many times. I proceeded to indulge my friend by connecting my iPhone 5 to the foxL DASH7 via Bluetooth and selecting some tracks from my favorite music service MOG. I was immediately blown away by the sound. RMAF 2013 hadn't officially started and I knew I'd already heard my favorite product of the show. Yet, this product wasn't even on display at the show. I spent the next thirty minutes listening to the foxL DASH7 placed on a few different surfaces with several different types of music. Following this impromptu listening session my next question was, "How do I get one for review?"




















    foxL DASH7

    The foxL DASH7 is a pocket-sized loudspeaker that weighs 7.1 ounces. The DASH7 is highly portable or easily placed on a cluttered desk due to its small size. The temperature here in Minneapolis is currently -11 degrees Fahrenheit. Needless to say I didn't test the DASH7 while on my bike or while pushing my daughter in her stroller down the parkway. I'm willing to bet the speaker would work great but the stated 12 hour battery life may be reduced a bit in the cold. I used the DASH7 around my house in the kitchen, on my desk, and in the living room while decorating the Christmas tree. The speaker was fantastic in all three situations.

    One of the things I like best about the DASH7 is its ability to accept power from battery, a computer's USB port, or any 5 volt 2 amp charger. In addition the DASH7 ships with the all the necessary cables and a charger to make use of these options. When using the DASH7 at my desk I leave the unit connected to via the included wall charger for power. This power connection enables twice the power output compared to USB and battery power. Inclusion of another cable for USB power enabled me to leave the 5v adapter in place at my desk when using the DASH7 elsewhere. This is very nice as I dislike dragging cables around the house or on an airplane unless it's necessary. In addition, I weave the power cable connected to the 5v adapter behind my desk and through some hoops for cable management. If I had to unravel this cable in order to use the DASH seven in another part of the house I'd probably purchase another cable rather than go through the hassle. Fortunately Soundmatters includes the cables many users need. When using my laptop somewhere other than my desk I connect the DASH7 via the included USB cable to power the unit. I prefer not to use battery power unless absolutely required simply because of all batteries have a limited charge cycle lifespan. The DASH7's battery is replaceable should the need arise. When powered from its internal battery the DASH7 should last around twelve hours. I didn't time my listening sessions and listen until the battery ran out, but I never had an issue with battery life. I used the DASH7 on battery power for many hours at a time and believe it would easily last an entire work day running on batteries.

    Computer audiophiles should note that the DASH7 can't act as a DAC when connected directly to a computer via USB. It doesn't appear as an audio device unless connected via A2DP Bluetooth. The DASH7 doesn't support aptX.

    Most of my DASH7 listening was done at my desk in my listening room. The desk is made out of solid wood. I mention the material because the sound of the DASH7 can be greatly affected by the surface on which it's placed. When placed flat on its back on this wooden desk the DASH7 is a bass monster. Listening to Bill Evan's Waltz For Debby the DASH7 rattled my desk at high volumes during deep bass notes. This isn't an album known for its bass demonstration capabilities at HiFi shows, but through the DASH7 on the right surface it was surprising. When seeking a bit better sonic image I tilted the DASH7 forward by resting it on the included magnetic sleeve. This reduced the bass reinforcement from my desk and produce what sounded closer to a flat frequency response.

    I moved the DASH7 to my kitchen one evening while cooking dinner. I place the unit on its back on a granite countertop. In this placement the countertop didn't reinforce the bass like my wood desk in any way. The sound was much closer to the DASH7 resting on its sleeve at an angle. My configuration in the kitchen was an iPhone streaming MOG to the battery powered DASH7 via Bluetooth. A very portable system to say the least. The DASH7 easily produced enough distortion free sound to fill the kitchen. Some small speakers distort badly when attempting to fill an entire room with sound. This wasn't the case for the DASH7.

    The third area I tested the DASH7 was my living room that connects to my dining room in an L shape. I placed the DASH7 on its back on a wood dining room table. This table is much more sturdy than my desk and has a much larger surface area. I connected the unit to my retina MacBook Pro via USB for power. The audio streamed from MOG running on the laptop. Once paired with my laptop via Bluetooth I selected the DASH7 in Audio MIDI the same as I would select any audio device such as a USB DAC or built-in speakers. I played music in this configuration for several hours while decorating the house and Christmas tree for the upcoming holiday. Bing Crosby's White Christmas album is no audiophile sonic treasure, but the ability to play it for my almost two year old daughter without jumping through setup hoops was priceless. There is no way I could have configured another system with cables and components while keeping my daughter from smashing all the Christmas ornaments. The DASH7 was simple and reproduced the soundtrack of the evening. Resting on the solid wood kitchen table the DASH7 sounded better than the previous two configurations. I really like all three configurations for that matter, but one was best. Just the right amount of its monstrous bass was reinforced by the table while the mid and high frequencies filled the L shaped room. I was surprised the DASH7 could fill this space with clear and crisp sound. Looking at the unit and feeling it on one's hand provides the user no indication of the sound that emanates from the DSAH7.



    Excellence and Relativity

    How can the sound of a $100k reference system, the Peachtree Deepblue, and the foxL DASH7 all be excellent? Everything is relative. The 7.1 ounce Soundmatters foxL DASH7 is no match for the Peachtree Deepblue. But at $400, an exponentially larger size, and lack of portability the Deepblue is in another category. In its category the DASH7 is the best speaker I've ever heard. Its sound is excellent. Sure I want more from the $219 DASH7 loudspeaker but I also want more from my TAD CR1 loudspeakers with an MSRP of over $40,000. Once in a while getting good music to locations where one wants to listen is most important. Moving one's main two channel system to an office, kitchen, or bicycle handlebars isn't going to happen for most of us. Spending a bit over two hundred bucks for the foxL DASH7 is likely in reach for all but the poorest college student computer audiophile. I highly recommend picking up a DASH7 or two or three. The Computer Audiophile contributing writers don't know it yet, but they'll each be receiving a DASH7 from the CA Santa Clause this holiday season.




    Product Info

    Product: Soundmatters foxL DASH7
    Price: $219
    Manufacturer: Soundmatters
    Where To Buy: Online






    foxL DASH7 Image Gallery


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    Comments 21 Comments
    1. jhwalker's Avatar
      jhwalker -
      Thanks for this, Chris. I have one, too, and I love it.

      I've been a Soundmatters fan for several years now, and also have the original FoxL and the upgraded (aptX capable) version. But it's great to have the smaller Dash to take on the road - my iPad + Dash makes a truly portable, and very enjoyable, music system.
    1. Krutsch's Avatar
      Krutsch -
      "...but I've heard the same story about small speakers sounding much bigger than their sizes one too many times."

      Yes, I've now heard that, as well.
    1. LA mitchell's Avatar
      LA mitchell -
      How on earth is someone supposed to remember that name?

      Ps if I had read this anywhere else I wouldn't have believed it. Keep up the good work Chris you are one of only a handful of internet peeps I find believable.
    1. jrobbins50's Avatar
      jrobbins50 -
      Hi Chris. I've been using the Sharp DKAP8P as my portable speaker system ever since Sam Tellig of Stereophile gave it the nod a couple of years ago. I'm ordering up one of these Dash7s now and it will be interesting to compare the two. The Sharp most recently was around $65, so it is, at the least, cheaper. JCR
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by jrobbins50 View Post
      Hi Chris. I've been using the Sharp DKAP8P as my portable speaker system ever since Sam Tellig of Stereophile gave it the nod a couple of years ago. I'm ordering up one of these Dash7s now and it will be interesting to compare the two. The Sharp most recently was around $65, so it is, at the least, cheaper. JCR
      Excellent. Let us know what you think when it arrives.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by LA mitchell View Post
      How on earth is someone supposed to remember that name?

      Ps if I had read this anywhere else I wouldn't have believed it. Keep up the good work Chris you are one of only a handful of internet peeps I find believable.
      Thanks for the kind words. I keep my descriptions and accolades for and about products pretty subdued unless the product warrants it. I like to give credit where credit is due. The DASH7 is one of those $219 products that deserves accolades.

      If all products are the best then no products are the best. Not telling it like it is is an easy way to lose credibility.
    1. iiohab's Avatar
      iiohab -
      Tempting review. Each time after buying a portable mini speaker I'm left with buyers remorse. I'm coming to the conclusion they're all parlor tricks (if you teach a dog to talk, does really matter what he says?) and that headphones are still the only satisfying portable solution. However, after reading this very favorable review I'm tempted once again to roll the dice - one last time. : )
    1. quadlover's Avatar
      quadlover -
      Bought a FoxL a couple of years ago after comment at RMAF. Was hospitalized for extended stay shortly thereafter a few times. Along with my iPad for reading, it helped to pass time away when connected to my laptop iTunes library. A number of nurses and visitors commented how good it sounded.
    1. felix's Avatar
      felix -
      Thank you for another nice review. This little speaker can be seen as an upgrade over the internal speakers of a MacBook Pro, which by notebook standards are not too bad?
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by felix View Post
      Thank you for another nice review. This little speaker can be seen as an upgrade over the internal speakers of a MacBook Pro, which by notebook standards are not too bad?
      You'll never listen to built-in speakers again once you've heard the DASH7.
    1. felix's Avatar
      felix -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      You'll never listen to built-in speakers again once you've heard the DASH7.
      Interesting. That means i should check it out.
    1. tboooe's Avatar
      tboooe -
      Sold. I am buying this for my daughter for xmas...she originally wanted the Beats Pill but I couldnt bring myself to spend $200 on a POS product.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by tboooe View Post
      Sold. I am buying this for my daughter for xmas...she originally wanted the Beats Pill but I couldnt bring myself to spend $200 on a POS product.
      Good to hear. The DASH7 is in another category compared to the Beats Pill.

      One thing i didn't mention in the review is the ability to stream from a Bluetooth capable phone such as the iPhone and talk through a built-in microphone in the DASH7 when someone calls. Not sure if your daughter will use such a feature but it's there is needed.
    1. Audio_ELF's Avatar
      Audio_ELF -
      Chris, just a suggestion; but can you do a photograph of the speaker with something which will give it scale - next to a CD case for example. Helps some of us (well at least me) visualise the size.
    1. originalsnuffy's Avatar
      originalsnuffy -
      Quote Originally Posted by jhwalker View Post
      Thanks for this, Chris. I have one, too, and I love it.

      I've been a Soundmatters fan for several years now, and also have the original FoxL and the upgraded (aptX capable) version. But it's great to have the smaller Dash to take on the road - my iPad + Dash makes a truly portable, and very enjoyable, music system.
      Thank you for the review. The unit is worth looking at.

      I have an an iphone and therefor no apt-x. What other bluetooth speakers have respectable fidelity . It would be great to have a list, especially at various price points


      thank you
    1. felix's Avatar
      felix -
      I just received my Arctic White DASH7 and i'm impressed. At first i tried it with Bluetooth from my MacBook Pro and i was surprised how loud and "heavy" sounded on my desk. The bass was reinforced a little too much directly so i tried it on the stand, but the definition it's too little improved, the bass became tin like & the stand is too flimsy to be used on long term. It doesn't fit on the base of my 23" Cinema Display stand, but it fit's on the Rain Design stand base which elevates my laptop. Fitted on the aluminium base the bass is much better defined but because the MacBook is hovering above the DASH the medium & highs are too muted to be used in such configuration. All in all directly on my desk is the best position. The sound is impressive for such a small speaker. But, at that point i connected the 3.5mm stereo audio cable (which quality wise, seems impressive for a pack in). And i was blown away. The Bluetooth connection is muddy in comparison. Of course if i'll use the DASH in other place than my desk the BT is too easy to use, to fuss around with another cable, but if you use it primary in a fixed position, such a desktop, the difference in quality is huge. Clarity, definition, even the little too much bass is not even annoying anymore. Of course, my main audio system is leaps and bounds over, but on my crowded desk i cannot think over a better audio solution than the DASH, no matter the price. It's that good.
      Thank you Computer Audiophile for recommendation!
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by felix View Post
      I just received my Arctic White DASH7 and i'm impressed. At first i tried it with Bluetooth from my MacBook Pro and i was surprised how loud and "heavy" sounded on my desk. The bass was reinforced a little too much directly so i tried it on the stand, but the definition it's too little improved, the bass became tin like & the stand is too flimsy to be used on long term. It doesn't fit on the base of my 23" Cinema Display stand, but it fit's on the Rain Design stand base which elevates my laptop. Fitted on the aluminium base the bass is much better defined but because the MacBook is hovering above the DASH the medium & highs are too muted to be used in such configuration. All in all directly on my desk is the best position. The sound is impressive for such a small speaker. But, at that point i connected the 3.5mm stereo audio cable (which quality wise, seems impressive for a pack in). And i was blown away. The Bluetooth connection is muddy in comparison. Of course if i'll use the DASH in other place than my desk the BT is too easy to use, to fuss around with another cable, but if you use it primary in a fixed position, such a desktop, the difference in quality is huge. Clarity, definition, even the little too much bass is not even annoying anymore. Of course, my main audio system is leaps and bounds over, but on my crowded desk i cannot think over a better audio solution than the DASH, no matter the price. It's that good.
      Thank you Computer Audiophile for recommendation!
      Great to read. I love recommending such inexpensive products :~)
    1. ajay556's Avatar
      ajay556 -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      Great to read. I love recommending such inexpensive products :~)
      Funny how peach tree deep blue is already a discontinued product. Wonder why?
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by ajay556 View Post
      Funny how peach tree deep blue is already a discontinued product. Wonder why?
      It's actually quite a long story and not what you think.
    1. Boris75's Avatar
      Boris75 -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      It's actually quite a long story and not what you think.
      I would much like learning more about this...