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Verdict

Does the BearBrick Audio 400 sound like £595-worth of Bluetooth speaker? It most certainly does not. But it might be the product that makes me concede (for the first time in my career, I might add) that audio performance commensurate with the asking price is not the be-all and end-all… 

Pros

  • Confident, expansive and engaging sound
  • Easily replaceable battery
  • Appealing looks (if you like this sort of thing)

Cons

  • Optimistically priced
  • Not as omnidirectional as it thinks it is
  • Appalling looks (if you don’t like this sort of thing)

Key Features

  • Driver configuration2 x 20mm tweeter, 2 x 40mm mid/bass driver
  • ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0

Introduction

And now, as they used to say, for something completely different.

You don’t see many unsmart Bluetooth speakers these days, and you see fewer still that are closely based in a product that’s a staple of design museums all over the world. And yet here we are. Is the BearBrick Audio 400 a gimmick? An unlikely audio hero? Something in between? Let’s find out, shall we?

Availability

The BearBrick Audio 400 is on sale now, and in the United Kingdom the official selling price is £595. In the United States it goes for $500 (or, at least, it does on the official BearBrick Audio website), and in Australia you’re looking at AU$975 or something quite like it.

Yes, that is undeniably pricey by the standards of unsmart Bluetooth speakers. But you don’t need me to tell you the BearBrick Audio 400 is far from your standard unsmart Bluetooth speaker. 

Design

  • Available in three finishes
  • Stands upright or sits down
  • Weighs 895g

At the risk of stating the obvious, I’m going to state the obvious: the design of this speaker is utterly faithful to the BearBrick 400 template Medicom Toy established quite a while ago.

The 400% BearBrick design has long since been available in a huge number of finishes – the Medicom Toy website lists over 1500 variations, from British Museum Rosetta Stone and Banksy Riot Cop to Daft Punk and René Magritte, and all points in between. And now there’s this powered Bluetooth speaker variant, which is yours in the clear finish of my review sample, ‘smoke’ or matte black.

BearBrick Audio 400 translucent design
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

It’s an authentic BearBrick 400 design inasmuch as the head, arms and legs all move – and when it’s standing upright, with its arms and legs straight, it’s a desktop-friendly 280 x 132 x 70mm. And while quite a few Bluetooth speakers, from the profoundly affordable Shenyun Skull type to the wildly expensive Louis Vuitton Horizon model, have attempted to make design a big part of their appeal, I wonder if any are quite as striking as this.

Want a Bluetooth speaker as much for the originality of its aesthetic as for the sound it makes? This could be the one for you… 

BearBrick Audio 400 sitting down
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Features

  • Replaceable lithium-ion battery
  • Quad 360 audio technology
  • 20 watts of power

At glance, the BearBrick Audio 400 might well look like a triumph of style over substance or, worse still, a flippant and trivial design exercise. But the company has gone to considerable lengths to give this speaker a degree of audio credibility.

Most significantly, it’s engaged the services of Ukraine’s Rinaro Isodynamics, perhaps best known for supplying planar magnetic driver technology to the likes of Meze Audio for use in some wildly expensive headphones.

BearBrick Audio 400 head
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Rinaro is responsible for the Quad 360 arrangement that’s designed to offer omnidirectional sound from the four speaker drivers arranged in the speaker’s head – there are two 20mm tweeters (one in each ear) and two 40mm mid/bass drivers firing through the perforations on the back of the bear’s head. The array is driven by a total of 20 watts of Class D amplification and is good for a frequency response of 90Hz – 20kHz.

Wireless connectivity is via Bluetooth 5.0 and there’s compatibility with SBC and AAC codecs. And if you so desire, a couple of Audio 400 can wirelessly form a stereo pair.    

The speaker is fitted with a 10.36Wh lithium-ion battery, which can be easily swapped out when the time comes. It’s good for as much as six hours of playback from a single charge (provided you’re not making your bear play at top volume, of course), and can be fully charged from flat in around 90 minutes. There’s a USB-C input at the bear’s left heel for this purpose, along with a single LED that glows green to indicate the battery is 100% charged, orange for 50% or so, and flashes red if there’s less than 5% charge remaining.

BearBrick Audio 400 feet
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Control is pretty straightforward – after all, this is a very straightforward product. There’s a single button on the bear’s lower back (in that area where some folks like to get tattooed) that covers power on/off and Bluetooth pairing. The bear’s right paw can be twisted left or right to increase or decrease volume, while its left paw can turn to skip forwards or backwards through the music.

Sound Quality

  • Quite positive, direct, and articulate sound
  • Nicely balanced frequency response (in most circumstances)
  • Not especially dynamic

Given that the Audio 400 uses a fairly ordinary Bluetooth standard for wireless connectivity, and is compatible only with the most bog-standard codecs, there’s no need to seek out the highest-resolution content – the speaker will give you pretty much everything it’s got unless your content is super lo-res.

So it doesn’t matter if it’s a Qobuz-derived 24-bit/96kHz file of David Bowie’s All the Madmen, a CD-standard 16-bit/44.1kHz version of Motion Sickness by Phoebe Bridgers via TIDAL or a 256kbps facsimile of Why Why Why Why Why by Sault from Spotify – it’s all the same to the bear.

BearBrick Audio 400 charging port
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

In almost every circumstance, the Audio 400 gets plenty right. Its tonal balance is nicely neutral, with no overt colouration at any point – the top of the frequency range is crisp and assertive, the midrange is open and direct, and what bass presence it generates is solid and properly controlled. Detail levels are high in every department, and the BearBrick unifies the output of its four little drivers into a coherent and convincing whole. Rhythmic expression is impressive, and there’s an impression of energy to the speaker’s presentation that makes for an entertaining and quite engaging listen.

It doesn’t really breathe deeply enough to create properly big volumes, but at least when you decide to wind the output northwards it doesn’t change its tonal characteristics – it simply gets a little louder. Listen at very low volumes, though, and the output becomes a little lopsided – the top and the middle of the frequency range fall away more readily than the bottom end, so when playing very quietly the Audio 400 is basically all bass. And it’s a little inhibited where dynamics are concerned, too – recordings are served up at a set level of intensity from which the speaker is reluctant to deviate all that far.

BearBrick Audio 400 upright
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Rinaro Isodynamics has done sterling work in extracting a larger, more enveloping sound from this unpromisingly shaped enclosure that seems possible. But the idea that the Audio 400 is an omnidirectional speaker is, in all honesty, a false alarm. There’s a specific source-point of music, no matter what you’re listening to or the level you’re listening at – but nevertheless, the BearBrick presents a more expansive sound that you might be anticipating.

It’s tenacious where wireless connectivity is concerned, too. It maintains a connection to the source Samsung S23 Ultra smartphone much more determinedly than plenty of other speakers I could mention, even if there walls between them or even if one is one a different floor of the house to the other.

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Should you buy it?

You want your music to look, as well as sound, good

If you want to be able to talk about what your tunes look like as well as what they sound like, this bear’s for you.

You demand to hear where every penny of your spend has gone

More, ahem, conventional Bluetooth speakers can provide a little more of everything where audio reproduction is concerned.

Final Thoughts

Obviously I wanted to hate the BearBrick Audio 400. The reproduction of music is a serious business, after all, and this doesn’t look much like a serious product. But I must concede that (while I wouldn’t buy one) the Audio 400 has a great deal more credibility as a speaker than I imagined would be likely.

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How we test

We test every wireless speaker we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.

Tested over several days

Tested with real world use

FAQs

Can I stereo pair two BearBrick 400 speakers?

You can link two BearBrick 400 speakers together to create a stereo sound.

Full specs

UK RRP
USA RRP
AUD RRP
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
Release Date
Audio Resolution
Driver (s)
Ports
Audio (Power output)
Connectivity
Colours
Frequency Range
Speaker Type

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