Review: Boostaroo Revolution

Boostaroo Revolution is an add-on gadget that "boosts" audio volume and enhances the sound of your mobile music player. It also lets you plug in two headsets at once. The device has a few minor shortcomings. But the enhanced sound it produces grows on you, and after a while turns into an addition. Once you try it, you may not be able to live without it.

David Haskin, Contributor

October 26, 2005

3 Min Read

Despite a few shortcomings (including a name that sounds like a brand of children's underwear) Boostaroo Revolution is one of those products that, the more you use it, the more you realize just how much you need it.

This gum package-sized device serves first as an amplifier for mobile audio devices, most typically MP3 players. As such, it's not really much more than a niche product. After all, some folks like their music loud and this device delivers loudness.

After you connect Boostaroo to your music devices, you plug your headphones into Boostaroo. In fact, it has jacks for two separate sets of headphones, an invaluable aid for, say, canoodling while you and a special someone listen to music. That's another reason I initially thought this was a niche product

In the interest of keeping my objective focus, I tested it with only one set of headphones, but the sound was extremely loud. In fact, I missed the warning in the documentation sheet to turn down the volume on my device before plugging my headphones into Boostaroo and nearly blew my ear drums out.

The real value of Boostaroo Revolution, though, goes beyond the added volume. Its other task is to reshape sound and, the more I listened, the more addicted I became. Unlike previous Boostaroos, which only served as amplifiers, this one, as the company puts it, it "separates the signal into individual stereo channels … and images surround sound into three channels." In other words, it creates a third channel when only two typically exist.

That third channel makes a huge difference, creating bright, spacious sound with a lot of presence that enabled my Sennheiser PX-100 portable headphones to sound as good as my full-fledged stereo Grados. Previously, I had been satisfied with the sound out of both my MP3 players. However, when I unplugged my headphones from the Boostaroo and plugged them directly into the MP3 player, I was suddenly disappointed. The unassisted sound was flat and far less alive.

There are some drawbacks to Boostaroo Revolution, all minor. For one thing, aural enhancers like Revolution can only do so much in terms of turning sonic sow's ears into silk purses. For instance, one of my MP3 players has a bit of hiss, which isn't audible at low volumes. Revolution, however, amplified that hiss, as well as other flaws both in the audio devices and the recording process. And, I subjectively felt that Revolution added some bias toward the high end of the sonic spectrum at the cost of bass. Specifically, on many recordings, I was getting, for instance, superlative violin or mandolin but comparatively flat bass.

Another minor objection is that it uses a strange size of battery -- AAAA. You have quadruple-A batteries lying around, don’t you? And while walking around, I was forever forgetting about properly stowing Boostaroo, so it often would fall out of my pocket, dragging my little flash player with it.

Finally, there's the issue of price -- at nearly $80, it's almost as expensive as most low-end flash music players. That's expensive for what many will perceive as a niche product. If you just want the amplification, you can save some money and buy the plain old Boostaroo for about thirty bucks.

The only significant missing feature is an adapter that would essentially enable me to plug in my old stereo headphones into my MP3 players. However, if you desire both amplification and improved sound, Boostaroo Revolution is one of those little add-ons that might not think about but that, after you try it, you won't want to live without.

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