We first took a look (or, rather, a listen) at the BoomStick right around CES of this year. The unassuming plug-in promised a peculiar sort of magic, souping up the sound quality of existing audio hardware with the press of a button.
The little device is essentially a way of incorporating a piece of software with an algorithm that works to fill in the gaps of poor sound quality, making the lows lower, the highs higher, and everything else just generally clearer and better sounding.
I realize in writing this that the whole thing sounds like a bit of snake oil (particularly with words like “psychoacoustic” being bandied about), but the majority of folks seemed duly impressed by the accessory, including this here site.
Until now, the system has been limited to online sales, primarily through Amazon and Boomcloud 360’s own site. Now Sprint customers can get in on the action in one 950 carrier stores that now stock the stick. They’ve also got demos that let consumers try the technology out. Because reading a review and trying it out for yourself are two very different things.
When I asked the Boomcloud 360’s co-founder George Appling why focus on a carrier store rather than, say, a big box store like Best Buy, the answer boiled down to crappy headphones.
“Most Americans are using the free headsets that came with their smartphone,” he explained. “Practically every single customer that leaves the Sprint store with a headset in there. It can make the Apple earpods on the Samsung Galaxy headset sound better than a $200 or $300 headphone.”
While the retail availability comes a couple of months after the online version, Sprint stores are getting an exclusive $20 price cut down to $79, which makes the system a bit more palatable than the original $99 asking price, but the question still remains how many consumers will ultimately want to plunk down that kind of cash after years of learning to live with diminishing audio returns.
If the real secret sauce is software based, wouldn’t it make sense to attempt to sell it as such? Appling counters that the external system makes it more versatile a solution than simply incorporating it into one device at a time.
“We are having those discussions,” says Appling. “Why not an app? In iOS, you can’t intercept someone else’s stream, so doing an app doesn’t make a lot of sense. You could put it into the phone, but the Boomstick as it is now is far more flexible than that. You can use it in your phone, your tablet, your computer, your iPod. We have a bunch of people using these in with their Xbox. It’s more flexible now, but integrating it into a phone is something that’s possible.”
I suspect all of that is a way of saying such functionality is likely coming down the road, but until then, the Boomstick is the best and only bet. If you’re keen to try it out now, a list of participating Sprint stores can be found on Boomcloud’s site.