Monday, June 30, 2014
Dry"Tunes" for High Tides
Over the years, I can only cringe at the amount of money I have spent on so called, "quality" outdoor speakers, only to find out that none of them hold up to our salty, corrosive, humid environment. I even remember building my own contraption as a kid, that I thought would revolutionize the "on water" music industry, only to find out later that even my own design was a failure.
Then one day as I was sitting in front of the computer, next to yet another Bluetooth speaker that the charging port had become so corroded it looked like a green penny that's been at the bottom of my cupholder in my truck for the past two years, I came across an advertisement from a local company boasting their new waterproof and dustproof Bluetooth speaker. I thought, yeah right, here we go again, another promotional box that won't last a week in a kayak or an hour under the watchful eye of my kids, but what the heck, what do I have to lose at this point.
I immediately got online and put in my early bird order, I even got a discount for purchasing before production began. The next few weeks of waiting was brutal, every day I kept reading more and more on this so called "Drytunes" device. The design seemed simple, yet very advanced technologically, it was a speaker system inlaid into a Pelican box, I'm a huge Pelican Box fan, it's the only case system I trust for my high end camera equipment. It had a rechargeable battery that was supposed to play up to 16 hours on a single charge(yeah right, been there, read that), and was Bluetooth ready or plug and play ready, depending on how advanced your phone, iPod, or musical device was. Being well versed in the Pelican Box, I knew it would be water proof, and I knew it would be dustproof and it would likely be indestructible if it was anything like the Pelican Boxes I have abused over the years, but how in the heck is music going to come out of a completely sealed box, and not sound distorted or like your listening to someone on speaker phone while their sitting on the toilet? While I was buying it physically, I wasn't really buying it.
Well finally, I got the call, your Drytunes is ready for pickup. I shut down shop, ran to the car, and sped to the warehouse in Mandeville, La where the device is made. As I walked in the front door I was met by Jonathan and Chris, and that's when the magic began. We sat down and they ran through all of the ins and outs of the Drytunes device, it was simple enough that to this day I still haven't opened up the directions. With box in hand, I headed to the car in a hurry to get home and start working this thing over.
I immediately grabbed my youngest daughter and asked if she wanted to take Dads new radio and go through it in the flooded ditch, she grinned as big as she could, jumped off the couch and headed to the driveway. I gave her the Drytunes unit and told her to have fun, she must have thrown that box in the ditch 20 times, and each time, the music never stopped. At the end of the bonanza, we went inside, dried the outside of the box and the opened it, and everything inside was bone dry. Test number one...passed.
Well ok, it passed the kid test and the water test, but how did it sound? Well, it sounded great, the clarity of the unit was amazing, especially being it was coming from a sealed box. It didn't sound like a speaker phone in the bathroom at all, it was very clear and crisp with an amazing acoustical background. Now for the bass factor, when I think speaker and box, I think boom baboom boom boom, but this is not a boom box. If your looking for something you can throw on your shoulder while strutting down main street in your bright colored knee high leggings and sleeveless shirt hoping to wake all the neighbors with window shaking, deep hitting, sonic type boom then you need to look another direction. But if your looking for clarity and crisp instrumental sound with just the right amount of bass, then this is your ace in the hole.
The speakers are actually designed to project from the lid of the Drytunes box, as you open the unit, while it's playing, you will notice the sound coming from above is now projected away from you, and if you turn it around, its going to be screaming in your face. My initial thought was that the integrity of the units sound would be amplified by the air space within the unit itself and would likely decrease performance if the unit was open, but that wasn't the case at all. The sound is not altered in any way whether the unit is open or closed, the completely sealed speakers hidden from the elements within the lid must be sealed so that the air space of the unit, whether filled with sunscreen, phones, wallets, keys, feminine products, or whatever else you choose to put in there, doesn't effect the performance in the least.
The unit comes with two foam pieces that fill the entire cavity of the box, they are both customizable if you choose to do so, or you can just set them in there as they come, or you can chunk em in the trash, they don't do anything for performance of the unit, they are more for protection of the items you put in the box. Under the foam is an area covered in bungies to help hold down any valuables you may want secured, if you choose to chunk the foam, and there is a molded divider under the bungies that my android phone fits in perfectly.
There are 2 ports and 2 buttons on the interior right side of the unit, one port for charging and one for an audio plug in, and the two buttons are really simple, one turns it on/off, and the other is for programing your Bluetooth. I programed my phone, my wife's phone, and both of my kids tablets, and after two months of use, the programing is still in there, I just turn it on while one of the devices Bluetooth is turned on and the unit links up automatically, just like your phone in your car does.
A really creative and well thought out aspect of the Drytunes unit is how you operate it. I mean, if your in the pool or floating in the gulf or tubing down the river, the last thing you want to do is open up your fancy smancy waterproof case to the elements just to change a song on your music device right? Well the crew at Drytunes found away around this one, and it's magic, actually it's magnet. On the outside of the unit along the side, you will see 5 symbols, just below a stylus type magnetic pen. Each symbol is like a button on your radio, increase or decrease sound, pause or play music, and advance to next track or go back to previous tracks. You simply remove the magnetic stylus from the magnetic clip and touch it to whatever magnetic button you choose to, and al-a-ka-zaam, magic happens. These symbols along with the customization of what ever name you choose to add to your unit is laser engraved and won't be fading or rubbing off anytime soon.
The battery, does it really last 16 hours? Easy answer..yes, more in depth answer....conditioning. The battery within the unit is one of those fancy ones that needs to be conditioned. By conditioning I mean you have to run the battery completely dead and then recharge and the run down and recharge. I had to do this somewhere around 7 times to get what I consider great results. When I first got the unit, it lasted somewhere in the 4-5 hour range, and now after reconditioning the battery, I get an easy 12 hours of solid use out of it without recharging. I am confident I could have reached the 16 hour mark, but I generally play my music loud which results in lower run time. Kind of like running your trolling motor on high all day vs low, high is going to drain your battery a lot faster than low will.
Another cool trick if your looking to wow your friends, or more likely your kids, turn the unit upside down while your in the pool, remember, the speakers are designed to project the sound out through the lid, the underwater sound of this unit is amazing. Also, my kids like to use it as a floatation device, although Drytunes does not recommend this and I'm confident the USCG won't ever give it a flotation rating, this unit will float me anywhere I want to go, its buoyancy is great.
To add to the safety of being waterproof, the latches on the unit are locking latches, you actually have to press the center buttons that are within the latches to get them to open, it's a simple process and not hard to do at all, but my unit has been in the hands of over 20 kids in the pool at different times with them attempting to stand on it underwater (its now become the new game in our subdivision pool), and timed races across the pool using the unit as a float, and I have zero concerns that the latches are ever going to open up.
Overall, with the nearly two months of use I have gotten out of the Drytunes unit, I am pleased beyond expectations. My unit has been from Texas to Florida, from muddy water to clear, covered in fish slime, mud, ditchwater, saltwater, freshwater, chlorine water, and in the hands of more kids than I ever want over for a birthday party, and it has performed flawlessly. I am an advocate of the Drytunes product and the company, I love local, and I buy local, and more importantly, I am not paid, sponsored, nor do I represent Drytunes in any fashion. I just appreciate good quality, made in America, made in Louisiana products. If your interested in seeing or purchasing a Drytunes unit, you can check them out at www.drytunes.com
and while many retailers are now carrying them in stock, if you happen to be in my neck of the woods, I know you can find them at Massey's Professional Outfitters in Covington, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge, and if your venturing into the French Quarter, you can pick one up at Marsh and Bayou Outfitters on Chartres Street.
So, if your in the market for adding some tunes to your outdoor adventure, I would suggest investing your money in something that's going to last, not just something that will last a weekend.
Until Next Time,
Stay Safe and Catch1