Monday, May 1, 2006

Boostaroo’s Revolution will boost your iPod’s beat


By David Gewirtz

Now that Nintendo has renamed their upcoming Revolution console to the Wii, we almost expected UpBeat Audio to rename their Boostaroo Revolution headphone amplifier to something reminiscent of bodily functions as well. Fortunately, you'll never be faced with saying "I'm listening to my Wii," at least as it pertains to the Boostaroo Revolution.

Meandering introduction aside, the Boostaroo Revolution, shown in Figure A, is a tiny, mini-amplifier designed to boost your headphone's volume.


Boost your beat with the Boostaroo. (click for larger image)

The manufacturer makes a number of claims regarding this $60 box. First, it claims it will boost the overall sound volume, helping you hear your favorite audio device better on airplanes, buses, and in other noisy environments.

Within limits, it does this quite well. It boosts the input volume, so if you've got a crappy input sound quality and/or crappy headphones or earbuds, you'll hear louder crap. If you've got a better pair of earphones or earbuds, the device works as promised.

If two of you want to listen to the same program while traveling (for example, my wife and I like to listen to and discuss audio books together), the Boostaroo provides two output jacks for two sets of headphones. This works quite a bit better than simply using an audio splitter.

Using a simple splitter, the two headphones each pull about half of the audio volume, making it far harder to hear on the plane. The Boostaroo Revolution has its own onboard amp, making it far more pleasant to share a single audio source, especially in a noisy environment. This also works well enhancing the sound output of a laptop.

For these two applications, we strongly recommend the Boostaroo. But UpBear Audio makes two additional claims that are, well, less impressive. First, the company claims the Boostaroo will power external speakers. Don't waste your time. Small speakers often sound bad and all the Boostaroo will do is boost the crapuliciousness of the small speaker sound.

Second, the company claims that the Boostaroo will emulate a surround sound effect. We've listened to high-quality surround sound headphones, we know high-quality surround sound headphones, and the Boostaroo is no high-quality surround sound headphone amp. There's just no real surround sound effect coming out of the Boostaroo that's particularly noticeable.

Finally, the device uses AAAA batteries. Did you know there even were AAAA batteries? No? Neither do most retailers. If you're going to take this gadget with you, lay in a supply of extra batteries or you'll be boost out of roo before the end of your trip.

The company makes a few extra claims that aren't real, but the device serves a useful purpose. That's why we've named the Boostaroo Revolution our Product of the Month for May. We give it four boosted roos out of five.