The Damson Twist is a little cylinder that turns whatever surface it's sitting on into a speaker. Its concept alone drives it into a niche, nevermind that the surfaces it works best with are not portable ones. It can outperform some low-end portable speakers given the right tools to work with, but this is best considered a neat tech curio than a serious audio solution.
The Damson Twist is a hefty little rounded brick of metal that is much heavier than your average tiny portable speaker. It needs this weight because, rather than being a speaker as such, it's a little vibrating engine that turns whatever it sits on into a virtual speaker cone – willing or otherwise.
The vibration required to do this is transmitted through a plate on the bottom, which is topped with a layer of rubber to a) help transmit those vibrations and b) stop the Twist from destroying whatever it's placed on.
This is a wireless speaker, using Bluetooth to connect to phones, tablets and laptops alike. There's also a 3.5mm jack input if you'd rather go wired.
You simply twist the Damson Twist's body to switch the thing on/of and to select Bluetooth. This is a sturdily-made little column, and it doesn't look too bad either.
Damson Twist – In Use and Sound Quality
As something that produces virtually no sound by itself, the Damson Twist is almost entirely dependent on the surfaces you have at your disposal. It determines the tone and volume of the output – although like any portable speaker you do have some control over the volume through the device you're using. Here it simply alters the intensity of the Twist's little earthquake-making engine.
On most surfaces, the Damson Twist sounds dreadful. The harder, and less willing to vibrate, a surface is, the quiet the output will be. Using the Twist is a bit like a lesson in speaker design, or wave physics.
The most common effective surfaces are wooden desks. Traditional speaker enclosures aren't made out of trees just for the look. However, to get the best performance out of the Damson Twist you'll need to use something with a resonant chamber. By far the most effective surface we used was the body of an acoustic guitar.
Used with an object like this, the Damson Twist can produce far greater volume – and much wider sound dispersal – than a traditional speaker of this size and price. Speakers as small as this tend to use single neodymiun drivers that are extremely limited in the sound they can produce, and how far they can fling it.
However, you do need to be careful with how the Damson Twist is used to get anything vaguely listenable – even with an acoustic guitar's chamber to play with.
The Damson Twist is out to make an impression, and it has enough power to ensure that it distorts at top volume no matter what surface it is placed on. This also means that it can produce a surprisingly powerful sound, but balanced it is not – and if you're not careful all you'll get is a buzzy mess.
Bass is valued over the mids and treble here, and while a lone vocal can sound reasonable (with out 'test' acoustic guitar playing speaker), it'll tend to get squashed into the background as soon as bass drums come in. We should also note that the bass we're talking about here isn't deep 'subwoofer' bass. The Damson Twist works with the principles of physics, not magic. On most surfaces, the output is horribly tonally skewed too.
Most people would be much better served by a traditional speaker than a Damson Twist. Getting it to sound half-way decent is a case of (potentially) long experimentation, and without any sort of resonant chamber to hand, it's more-or-less useless.
It also seems to have been tuned to impress friends rather than to offer particularly balanced sound – although perhaps that's the best option with something like this. Playing around with a Damson Twist is fun, but it's ultimately completely impractical.
The Damson Twist looks and feels good, and will teach you a bit about how sound waves work if you think about its workings enough. However, that it won't sound remotely good on most surfaces you'll find while out and about spoils the party a bit.
Next, read our best portable speaker round-up