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The DAILY DIRT - The nitty and the gritty of outdoor news

Gear Test: Rock-It Portable Vibration Speaker System

This innovative device is a light-and-loud way to bring tunes out on the trail.



At the end of a hard day's backpack, it's natural to want to unwind around a fire with a cold drink and your favorite tune. But let's face it—your off-key rendition of "Born To Run" isn't going to cut it.

That's where the Rock-It Portable Vibration Speaker System comes in. This neat little device consists of a miniature amplifier, a cable to connect to your iPod or MP3 player, and a sticky "pod." This pod adheres to pretty much any surface and translates your music into vibrations. The vibrations transform whatever you've stuck it to into a booming speaker.

Of course, audio quality varies greatly depending on what you stick it to. Flat objects produce thin, tinny sounds, while deep objects saturate the signal with reverb and echo. We found the Rock-It works best when applied to objects that mimic the natural conical shape of a speaker—a large cooking pot or a bowl worked well. (The best overall sound we got came from sticking it in a nook between two cushions of a leather couch. Weird.)

Committed audiophiles will find the sound isn't perfect: In a backcountry setting, it's hard to find a reverberant object that doesn't lose bass tone or distort the signal slightly, and the single speaker doesn't reflect true stereo. That means any instruments hard-panned left or right in a mix can get lost entirely.

That said, it's plenty loud and relatively clear, and easily beats passing earbuds or crowding around puny iPhone speakers. And at 4.2 oz., the Rock-It is light enough to toss in the lid of your pack without feeling it. Plastic construction was relatively durable, and withstood light rain in Redwoods National Park and the sand and humidity of beachside camping (there might've been a beer or two spilled on it, but I wouldn't know anything about that).

If you're already game to pack an iPod on your camping trip, the Rock-It is a must-bring to share your excellent taste in music with hiking companions. Ultralighters who wouldn't ever bring an iPod in the first place can just keep practicing their singing—and camp the hell away from me. Meanwhile, I'll be rocking' the Rock-It.

--Ted Alvarez

http://www.origaudio.com/products/rock-it
$49.99

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houstoncustominstallers.com
Sep 21, 2012

Thanks for sharing this! Cool article but I have to say no for this product.

John
Jan 19, 2012

I have a rock it, and it is one of the coolest things I have bought. Perfect for bringing to a friends house or for a night out when you end up drunk somewhere and want to blare music, all you need is a box,cup,hard surface!

Von hugendong
Dec 10, 2011

Are we talking about speakers or camping? Either way they are sweet speakers where ever you take them.

rugerm77
Nov 06, 2011

Once upon a time I took my son-in-law on a three-day canoe trip. On the second night there was a stone fly hatch on and we were cooking steak-on-a-stick over a fire. I had a pocket radio to monitor weather (days before frs/w weather)that I managed to tune to a public radio station. We quaintly dined on steak and stone flies to the sounds of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto using the canoe as a resonator. With all of the stone flies about it was hard for one to tell what part of the food-chain one belonged to. I normally camp in dimness and silence but that was one I'll never forget.

Christopher
Sep 02, 2010

Shilling for a manufacturer again - here's a real review:
I was hoping for a unique audio item I could take on the road to enjoy my music, but as someone who has been in the professional audio, recording and music industry for 20-years, I can honestly attest to the fact the Rock-it is the worst sounding novelty accessory product for the iPod I have ever encountered, and the worst sounding audio product, period. After testing it with an iPhone, iPod Classic and an iPod Nano, it does nothing but vibrate surfaces to the point of sheer noise generation and distortion, and I tried it on everything from kitchen cabinet doors to pictures, boxes, mirrors, etc. There is no discernible volume output, fidelity or articulation whatsoever. It's worse than your most inferior AM transistor radio, with 90% less intelligibility.

Scott
Jul 27, 2010

I go to the wilderness to get away from craptastic racket like this - it's a shame that Backpacking has fallen to schilling it.

Roger
May 17, 2010

This little Rock-It sounds pretty worth while to me. I bought one from their site and even found a discount code online that worked, just type in "jams" and get 6 bucks off. I will repost after using it in my upcoming trip to Sierra. Peace and quiet are tough to come by, but a device that turns anything into a speaker is tougher.. keep backin' and keep packin'

Mary
May 17, 2010

Steve is right, you guys are being haters.

This thing Rocks, no pun intended. Check out the video of it in action here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiSxrrsi6sw&feature=player_embedded

Big Steve
May 17, 2010

THis device is so sweet. I dont care if people say that they need peace in quiet in nature, I want this. I mean think about it, being able to turn a bear canister into a speaker or your tent or kayak. Oh the possibilities.

All you guys are haters, technology saves lives and makes our lives easier just as this Rock-It device seems to.

Big Steve
May 17, 2010

THis device is so sweet. I dont care if people say that they need peace in quiet in nature, I want this. I mean think about it, being able to turn a bear canister into a speaker or your tent or kayak. Oh the possibilities.

All you guys are haters, technology saves lives and makes our lives easier just as this Rock-It device seems to.

Vulpes
May 14, 2010

OK, just to make sure I understand...

1) This "sticks" to things to make louder music in the woods.
2) It requires additional batteries (2 AA) to pack.
3) The sound quality is generally bad.

And Backpacker recommends this bad, loud sound system for carrying into the woods so more people can listen to someone else's musical taste??

I think I'll pass.

sv
May 13, 2010

I like music and all, but when I'm in the backcountry all I want to hear is nature's silence. Pretty sure I'd want to throw that thing into the campfire.

Anuska Sharma
May 13, 2010

nice article............http://discover-of-india.blogspot.com/search/label/adventure%20in%20uttarakhand%20india

anon
May 12, 2010

Apparently comments weren't too commercially favorable for this product. Hope the next boatload of this obnoxious junk finds it's way to the bottom of the briny!

anon
May 12, 2010

Apparently comments weren't too commercially favorable for this product. Hope the next boatload of this obnoxious junk finds it's way to the bottom of the briny!

Anon
May 12, 2010

If I hear something like that in a backcountry camp near me ..... Something about big rocks comes to mind. Hope I don't have a gun or .........Grrrrrrrrr. So shut up out there and stay home if you need your amplified electronic tunes.

Tim Colman
May 12, 2010

What about peace and quiet is so disturbing that Backpacker has to pimp music speakers everyone has to hear?

No thank.

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