Enermax are a brand that through some way or another, you have most likely come across at some point in your life. Generally this would be the census if you have used one of their amazing world-renowned power supplies or one of their silent and bright coloured LED fans, or even as of late; a powerful CPU cooler or chassis which is a slightly new venture for them, and from what we’ve seen, a very successful one thus far.
With these product launches into different markets working for them, they are not stopping at just releasing products to these ranges, as they have delved straight into another market area, with PC audio, but not in terms of sound cards as you’d expect, but with more of an add-on style device to amplify your sound and give extra clarity from your audio that is already configured.
Now a device such as this, should not just be aimed at the desktop user with a fixed machine location, but instead appealing to the mass market of desktop users and those that are on the go with netbooks and notebooks, and that’s exactly who the DreamBass from Enermax is aimed at with its USB connectivity and striking design, so lets get straight into it to see if Enermax can make another successful merge into a very large, yet still niche market of audio products or if it will just be a gimmick that we’ve seen other brands try before.
The packaging is certainly striking with a large picture of the unit in question. The product name takes precedence in the top left with a brief description of “Audio with Built-in Amplifier”. The main features are bulletpointed towards the bottom with the main selling points being made clear to the consumer.
The left side of the box gives a short summary on the DreamBass as well as the box contents and system requirements, which most users should find to be perfect for their needs with support for most Windows, Mac and Linux based operating systems.
The opposite side of the packaging gives a run-down on the installation of the device from start to finish, as this device works on a “plug and play” USB dynamic and requires no extra configuration from the user, which is perfect for the novice user who has little to no technical knowledge.
The rear of the box is very multi-lingual with the main features being announced in eleven different languages.
Moving back to the front, you’ll find that the whole front panel flaps open to reveal a first glimpse of the device with added USB “L” connector, though we do feel that the space on the inside could have revealed some more information, including the types of users this item is aimed at, and its general usage.
Opening the packaging up there is not a lot inside, but what else would you expect from such a simple device? Included is a user’s manual which simply repeats what was on the packaging with a list of the package contents, system requirements, installation and connectivity options.
The unit itself is very small and discrete. Weighing in at 4.5g you’ll also find that it’s very lightweight, especially when plugging into a USB port as it won’t end up causing any issue with putting strain onto the port itself. It’s quite a unique design with a clear plastic design and metal/chrome style tip.
Also on the side is the DreamBass logo and product description as seen on the packaging.
There are two 3.5mm ports on the side of the device; one for a microphone device and the other for your headset or speakers.
The only other connectivity on the DreamBass is the Mini B USB port which extends out into a full-size USB connector. The serial number is also on the bottom of the device.
Included with the device is an “L” shaped USB connector. On one end is a Mini B USB type connector, while the other includes a full-size USB connector and this allows for the DreamBass to be situated discretely in your USB port, whether it be on a desktop or notebook style device.
Another interesting aspect of the DreamBass is the fact that you can see the internals which may not seem very exciting for most, but for the geeks among us, it’s quite cool. You can see a simple PCB with the VIA controller chip which is at the heart of the DreamBass. One thing that we did notice is that the PCB is red to match the rest of the unit and of course the Enermax colour scheme that they brand their logo and other materials with.
Now when you are looking at a device of this nature, there are not many technical based ways of showing the performance, as most of it is subjective so I will try to be as precise as I can when describing the general performance output but obviously this will differ from person to person and their own personal listening style and how you ears hear differently to others.
First things first is all down to the connectivity behind the device as it’s branded as a plug and play USB adapter and therefore requires no extra effort with configuration and installation, other than to plug it in. Once plugged in, you may find that certain applications, such as Skype, will notify you that it has found another audio device and ask if you’d like to use it.
Once connected, you can then start to use the DreamBass and more than anything, we’d suggest that you quickly use your computer without the device, and then to switch over to it so that you can hear the distinct differences once you have the device in use. We had a chance to try this out first-hand at CeBIT 2012 and was impressed straight away, hence us asking for a sample so that we could have more time to play around with it and use it for a longer period.
Another cool feature of the DreamBass is that it does flash blue from time to time to notify you that things are working as they should be, though you may find some slight tweaking is necessary to get the volume and other gain properties to the appropriate levels of your choosing.
In terms of performance, you can hear straight away how much clearer it is compared to conventional audio, even with us using a new Dell XPS 15 notebook which includes a powerful audio system through use of JBL speakers with Waves MaxxAudio 3, though a distinct difference is still heard through use of the DreamBass.
Not just with clarity, but as the name suggests, the extra punchy bass that this unit delivers is second to none, which when paired with a good set of headphones, such as the Sennheiser PC350’s which you can see are plugged in above. These allowed for a much lower level of bass and sound seemed a lot crisper and more vibrant in terms of bass and treble.
As always, I try to split my conclusions into separate sections, so that you can get a clear understanding on my thoughts on every aspect of a product, from the styling to the performance and even mention a bit on who a certain type of product is aimed at.
So first up is the styling, as that is something I’m quite keen on with the DreamBass as it’s different from the norm and really does push the boundaries in terms of styling as it’s unlike anything else i’ve ever really seen on the market and doesn’t even look like an audio device, especially when it has a flashing blue LED. Couple all of that together, and it simply looks as though it is a transmitter of some kind, but maybe this is the look Enermax wanted to go for, and it simply works, so kudos on that issue.
Sticking with the styling, we were glad to see Enermax giving props to VIA by letting the consumer know exactly what is inside the DreamBass with a clear view of the matching colour PCB and VIA controller chip which simply allows the device to function. For consumers who trust VIA as a brand, this should be a big selling point, especially for the select few who have never heard of, or used any Enermax products before.
In terms of performance, we were very surprised to see such a small device deliver such a crisp, clear and vibrant sound utilising all levels of bass, mid-tones and treble and simply left us blown away as we honestly thought it was a gimmick, but as they say; the proof is in the pudding.
With this product being aimed at such a big market of users, from the general consumer to people on the go, and those in between, including a small niche market of pro audio enthusiasts, we can see this appealing to a lot larger market than Enermax may have first anticipated.
Also coming priced at just under £30 in the UK, we can see this being a great gift or present for someone and being a very useful product over a long timescale and something that when used once, you will find that listening to audio without it will seem drab, dreary and no where near as good as when using this device in conjunction.
Looking at how to award this, I was quite stuck as it ticks a lot of boxes in terms of the whole package. It has the innovation certainly, as there is nothing else on the market that is firstly styled like this and secondly just being unique as to what it does. It also packs some serious performance, considering how small it is and gives some crisp, clear, punchy sound that we didn’t think was possible from something of this nature and lastly it’s cheap as chips and that’s why we can only offer up one award and decided that it definitely deserves the “Editor’s Choice” award.