Devialet has been partnering with quite a few brands to make their speaker technology more accessible to the masses, and Belkin is one of the newest partners to make use of a partnership with Devialet to launch their Belkin SoundForm Elite Hi-Fi Smart Speaker.
With Google Assistant built-in, a wireless charging pad on top and Devialet tech inside, the SoundForm Elite speaker might seem like the perfect accessory for a home. There are some shortcomings though, but we’ll get into that later.
The speaker itself is the perfect size for a bedside table, although the power adapter is on the bulky side. The side of the speaker is covered in mesh and definitely is a nice textural contrast to break up the all-black look. There are LED lights at the front which serve as an indication of volume level, mic mute status and it lights up nicely when the speaker is first plugged in, in the Google colours.
With five touch-sensitive buttons on top, you get controls for Bluetooth pairing, play/pause, track skipping as well as mic mute. Personally, I’m not a particularly big fan of the mic mute button being a touch button since I found that it was quite easy to accidentally tap it. I would have preferred something similar to Google’s physical mic mute button, which would also have the added benefit of having more space for the other touch buttons.
There’s only a single power port at the back, which means you’re out of luck if you’re planning on using a 3.5mm headphone jack to connect your phone to the speaker. It’s purely via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. I do have to note that setup stalled on my phone until I switched over to the 2.4GHz network on my router, so you might want to take that into consideration if you’re using a 5GHz network.
Google Assistant is easily brought up by the speaker, and even a soft “Hey Google” from across the room activated the speaker.
The wireless charging pad on top supports a maximum of 10W, and while it’s not the fastest, it’s very convenient to just pop your phone on the speaker and leave it to charge while enjoying music.
The major problem with this speaker? It’s the sound quality, which is shocking. I went into this review expecting a lot out of the SoundForm Elite, because my experience with other speakers that incorporate Devialet tech (like the Huawei Sound X) has been quite favourable.
But the sound out of the SoundForm Elite is surprisingly… inadequate. There’s plenty of bass response, which I expected, having tried out Devialet’s own Phantom speakers. But the midrange is an absolute mess, muted and absolutely uninspiring.
Granted, there’s a very primitive EQ feature in the Google Home app which you could try to tweak for a better sound, and I did find it slightly better once I dropped the bass slightly and boosted the treble, but out of the box? It wasn’t a very pleasant listening experience at all.
One good point is that the speaker gets quite loud. But on that same note, without the EQ tweaks, you’ll get plenty of distortion at louder volumes since the bass is boosted. If you’re just looking to have a speaker for background music, or for a party, you’ll be fine with this. Don’t consider this too seriously for critical listening of your music though.
The other problem is that the speaker is expensive. At S$499, there are plenty of other options out there for a speaker. But for a speaker-wireless charger combo? That’s a bit harder to find. Personally, I’d recommend waiting for the second generation of this speaker to see if Belkin is able to iron out the kinks with the sound signature.
The idea itself is pretty clever, I’d say. Combining a wireless charger with a powerful speaker is a great idea, especially for people who have limited bedside space. The only downside I can see is the sound signature and the price, and those are pretty big issues.
More information about Belkin SoundForm Elite Hi-Fi Smart Speaker (S$499) is available at Belkin’s website. The speaker is available at authorised retailers like Best Denki, Gain City, Harvey Norman, Lazada, Shopee, Singtel shops and more.