If you are looking for a quality budget portable speaker, one brand you have surely encountered is Doss.
The original product, Doss SoundBox (sometimes stylized as DOSS SoundBox Touch) is a bit of a cult classic, which provides portability and performance with an MSRP under $40. Now that newer versions have been released, it is not uncommon to find the Doss SoundBox available for significantly cheaper than the MSRP.
Doss SoundBox Plus adds party lighting and increased output, but at an additional cost.
Doss SoundBox Pro adds lights, bass boost, and further increased output (20 watts vs. 12 for the original SoundBox).
Doss SoundBox Pro+ takes the lighting and wattage output to another level, and also provides an audio experience that is capable of competing with more premium speakers.
Doss SoundBox XL sacrifices some portability due to its larger size, but provides the highest sound quality (by far) of any speaker in the lineup.
With each model upgrade comes an additional cost. So, you definitely want to choose the right bluetooth speaker to meet your needs without immediately jumping to the most expensive option.
Continue reading for a comparison guide between the five products in the Doss SoundBox lineup, and a discussion that should help you choose the right speaker for you.
In terms of sound, the Doss lineup is pretty easy to understand.
Doss SoundBox (12 watts), SoundBox Plus (16 watts), and SoundBox Pro (20 watts) all have high quality “for the price.” So, if you are looking for a high-quality speaker in the sub-$50 price range, you could do a lot worse than Doss.
If you can find a SoundBox for less than $30 (the original SoundBox often drops below this price when it goes on sale), it is a great value for a solid speaker. Compared to some of the cheap, mediocre speakers like Lenrue, Nubwo, and Ortizan, Doss is actually a pretty high quality product.
In a market that is flooded with inexpensive throwaway speakers, Doss is moreso grouped into a category with quality upstart speaker companies like Tribit, Anker Soundcore, and Oontz. Not bad, but certainly a notch below brands like JBL and Bose (with the caveat that some of the “premium” models like Doss SoundBox XL and Anker Soundcore Motion+ can actually compete with the big boys).
The main thing you will notice with SoundBox, SoundBox Plus, and SoundBox Pro is that they are lacking in bass.
But, if you demand a portable speaker with booming bass, Doss still makes a product for you. SoundBox Pro+ (24 watts) and SoundBox XL (32 watts) both have powerful bass that surprises many users that aren’t suspecting such high output from a speaker under $100.
The SoundBox XL, especially, provides a much better auditory experience than any of us would expect based on the brand and price. It doesn’t reach the high volume output of JBL Xtreme or UE Megaboom, but the sound quality is shockingly close.
SoundBox XL is the clear winner for sound, with SoundBox, SoundBox Plus, and SoundBox Pro all being significant downgrades. The SoundBox Pro+ occupies a middle ground, with sound quality that (to my ear) sounds closer to that of the SoundBox XL than the SoundBox Pro.
SoundBox, SoundBox Pro, and SoundBox Plus are all similar enough in size that there isn’t much point in comparing them. All three are more than a pound, but less than 1.5 pounds.
Pro+ is larger than the first three, but still weighs in under 2 pounds.
SoundBox XL is the largest by a significant margin, weighing in around 3.5 pounds and measuring almost a foot in length.
An excellent design feature, which we haven’t discussed yet, is the built-in party light feature that is found on the SoundBox Plus, SoundBox Pro, and SoundBox Pro+. The Plus has lighting built into the speaker openings, while the Pro has lighting around the entire perimeter of the front of the speaker. The Pro+, as the name suggests, combines the features of both the Pro and the Plus, and has a lighted perimeter frame in addition to lighted speaker openings.
The original SoundBox, which is focused on budget-friendliness, doesn’t have any lighting. Nor does the SoundBox XL, which is built to pack an auditory punch rather than having a bunch of fancy yet unnecessary features.
The SoundBox and SoundBox Plus both have “touch” controls, whereas the other three speakers all have physical, tactile buttons. Every speaker in the lineup has a practical rectangular shape, with construction that is largely plastic but with an aluminum grill.
Build quality on these speakers is good — for the price. As mentioned above, much of the body of the speaker is made of plastic. However, they are still pretty sturdy and should hold up to some amount of abuse. Having a rectangular design with a solid base, they won’t have the same issues with rolling off their base that are commonly experienced by cylindrical speakers.
Both the SoundBox and SoundBox XL have the dated Bluetooth 4.0 technology, while the other products in the lineup have the more recent Bluetooth 4.2. None of these are considered “current,” but Bluetooth 4.2 is still a modern technology that functions well.
Lastly, all five speakers in the lineup include a 3.5 mm aux input. This is great for those of us that prefer to have a wired connection in addition to bluetooth.
Each Doss portable speaker is rated either IPX4 (protected from splashes) or IPX5 (protected from water jets).
We give Doss some credit for making these speakers splash-proof, but realistically, the more highly-regarded IP67 ratings have become the standard in recent years for a “waterproof speaker.” In other words, Doss speakers are better than having no IP rating, but are still lacking compared to most peers.
The question, when it comes to waterproofing, is how much does it really matter? It seems to me that “waterproof” is a popular word in portable speaker marketing, yet very few of us ever intend to use our speaker in a way that requires waterproofing. So, for most of us, an IPX4 rating should be just fine.
SoundBox Plus and SoundBox XL are IPX4 (the worse of the two ratings), while SoundBox, SoundBox Pro, and SoundBox Pro+ are all IPX5 (the better of the two ratings).
None of the speakers on the list are dust-proof or shockproof. And none rate very well for durability, either. But, considering the decent build quality combined with user feedback, these speakers can still be expected to outlast many of their sub-$100 peers.
Every speaker on the list has a limited warranty of 1 year through the manufacturer.
At 50% volume, Doss advertises 20 hours of runtime from the SoundBox, SoundBox Plus, and SoundBox Pro. For the larger, higher-powered speakers, the SoundBox Pro+ is rated for 15 hours and SoundBox XL is rated for only 10 hours.
In full disclosure, we didn’t test the battery life of each speaker. But most reputable tech blogs and reviewers have found that the true battery life is lower than the advertised battery life, for each model in the SoundBox series.
The battery life ratings provided by Doss assume that you will use the speakers at 50% volume, which is reasonable. But they also assume that you will leave the lights turned off and the bass boost turned off. So, it feels disingenuous that they advertise bass boost and party lighting as indispensable features yet expect you to leave these features turned off to conserve battery life.
With volume at 100%, neither the SoundBox Pro+ or the SoundBox XL will get much more than 5 hours of runtime. However, you probably won’t need to listen to these speakers at 100% due to the high output volume of each.
None of these devices charge via USB-C. This isn’t a huge deal, but it would be nice to have the upgrade to USB-C, which is more convenient and reliable. (Note that Doss is currently “refreshing” these speakers, so if you get a 2021/2022 version of Doss it may come with USB-C charging).
Additionally, none of these speakers have a power bank function to charge a cell phone or other device.
At 3,200 mAh, the SoundBox Plus actually has the largest battery of the bunch. This means that every Doss portable has a smaller-than-industry-standard battery, so it is no surprise that they don’t live up to their advertised battery life.
On a low output speaker like the original SoundBox, we really don’t see a big problem with a small 2,200 mAh battery. But on the SoundBox XL, which is marketed as a competitor of Soundcore Motion Boom and JBL Charge, a 2,200 mAh battery is extremely disappointing.
As mentioned above, SoundBox Plus, Pro, and Pro+ all have Bluetooth 4.2, which is a fairly current technology. SoundBox and SoundBox XL lose points for their dated Bluetooth 4.0 technology.
In addition to the bluetooth connection, each SoundBox model also has a 3.5 mm aux input for a wired connection.
None of the SoundBox versions feature an app or have an equalizer. And as mentioned above, none of the SoundBox models have a power bank feature.
Other than the original SoundBox, all the other models feature true wireless stereo pairing. The Pro and Pro+ both have an “Extra Bass” button which, when pressed, does exactly what you would expect it to. SoundBox XL has enough bass in its stock configuration that there is no need for a bass boost button.
The speakers have built-in microphones, but quality is low enough that you likely won’t want to use them for speakerphone or voice assistants.
Having lights that can change colors and pulse to the beat of your music is a pretty cool feature. But ultimately, these speakers don’t feel very “smart” or customizable otherwise.
The Doss SoundBox series has a wide range of products, ranging from a budget model that can occasionally be found for less than $30, all the way up to a premium model that can compete with speakers like the JBL Charge or UE Megaboom.
Doss SoundBox and SoundBox Plus are decent budget speakers, and are above-average considering the price.
Doss SoundBox Pro and Pro+ are a step up from the base models, particularly the Pro+ which has suprisingly good audio.
And Doss SoundBox XL brings the most power and highest sound quality. Some people compare the XL to Soundcore Motion+, meaning a speaker that can be found for $80-$120 and still compete with JBL, Bose, and Sony when it comes to sound quality.
None of the speakers in the Doss SoundBox series have premium features or impressive software. But for the price, you wouldn’t expect them to. They also lose some points for a lack of durability and waterproofing. But we appreciate the series because it has a speaker for every budget under $100.