I've reviewed quite a few external speakers for the iPhone, but I've never seen or heard anything like the Damson Twist. The iPhone's tiny built-in speaker has very little bass, and a typical criticism of portable Bluetooth speakers is that they sound good but still don't have a lot of bass. That complaint cannot be made against the Damson Twist. This speaker is very small and portable (only about three inches high) but uses an interesting technology to deliver serious bass. Damson sent me a free unit to review and I've been testing it for the last few weeks.
The Twist works by pushing sound across the surface on which the Twist is sitting. If you pick up a Twist and hold it in your hand without the bottom touching anything, you can barely hear the sound at all. But when you place the Twist on a flat surface, the surface becomes a part of the speaker and the sound travels throughout the surface to deliver sound with deep bass. Damson says that it uses something called resonance technology rather than the traditional cone approach to amplification. Here is a short video demonstration of me picking up and putting down the Twist on top of my piano:
Damson says that the Twist works with virtually any surface including wood, plastic, metal and glass, but in my tests it works best on a large, flat wood surface such as a wood desk. Note that in my tests it didn't seem to matter if the desk was messy or had lots of other objects on it.
If you have previously paired the Twist with your iPhone, using it is very simple. Twist the Twist in the center to switch it from "Off" to "BT" and it automatically connects to your iPhone and tells your iPhone to play (whatever you were last listening to). So you simply twist the Twist, place it on a surface, and then your music (or podcast or audiobook or whatever) starts to play. There are no volume controls on the Twist; you just use the volume controls on your iPhone.
Note that if you want to use the Twist with a device that does not have Bluetooth, you can twist it the opposite direction, from "Off" to "On," and then just plug in a standard 3.5 mm cord that is connected to your iPod or other device.
You can get the Twist in black, blue, red or silver. As you can see, Damson sent me a blue one. Here is a picture from Damson showing a red one. This picture also gives you a view of the small base underneath the Twist.
I'm no audiophile, but I have mixed feelings about the sound. It is not as loud as other (and admittedly larger) Bluetooth speakers that I have tested such as the SuperTooth DISCO 2 although it does seem about as loud as the similarly-sized (and non-Bluetooth) Scosche BoomCAN that I reviewed back in 2011. Thus, the Twist is fine for providing sound to an indoor room, but I didn't find it to be loud enough to be satisfactory to use outside.
And aside from sheer volume, to my ears, the quality of the sound is too bass-heavy when I'm listening to music. But of course, that is the point. The Twist is designed for people who want to hear a lot of bass, and while I don't count myself in that camp, perhaps you do. I should add that the Twist is for people who want to "feel" a lot of bass because if you are working on a table with a Twist playing music, you can literally feel the music playing through the table. It is an odd feeling. I liked the Twist much better when I was listening to podcasts or audiobooks; the extra bass gives voices a fuller sound that is a huge improvement over the iPhone's built-in speaker.
Importantly, however, how the Twist sounds will depend heavily on the surface on which it is placed. In fact, testing the Twist almost felt like a game. What does it sound like on this surface? How about this one? What about over here? In fact, if you want to use the Twist and you don't have a suitable surface, the carrying case that comes with the Twist is designed to serve as an emergency flat surface. It does work in a pinch, but the sound quality is inferior to a large wooden surface.
Damson says that the Twist will last for up to 9 hours on a charge. I didn't push the speaker to the limits enough to test that, but I certainly got many hours between charges.
If you want to try to get a free Twist, Damson is currently running a contest on Facebook. Watch a short video that shows the Twist being used in nine different cities, then guess what those nine cities are, and you might win a prize pack of four Twist speakers. Click here to enter. The contest ends July 23, 2013 at midnight Eastern time.
At a list price of $69 (and you can get it for less on Amazon), the Damson Twist is less expensive than many other portable Bluetooth speakers and is much more portable. If you want a small Bluetooth speaker that delivers a lot of bass, and if the idea of using a flat surface as a part of the speaker appeals to you, you'll find the Twist to be both useful and fun.
Click here to get the Damson Twist on Amazon (about $64.00).