I was pretty stoked to try out KICKER’s Bullfrog® BF100 Bluetooth® Music System. For about 45 years now, they’ve been a pretty innovative company. Most of us are familiar with their car audio systems, but their product line is much more than that. Putting their speaker technology to good use, the Bullfrog series are portable Bluetooth speakers. Use them indoors or out, even in water – they float!
Although it’s the smallest of the Bullfrog series, the BF100 has some impressive stats. Inside, the 2600mAh Li-ion battery provides up to 12 hours of runtime. And that’s for two 1.65″ drivers at 8 watts each. Combined with a pair of 1.4″ x 2.8″ passive radiators, it puts out 360 degrees of full-range sound. Not bad for a speaker 9 inches tall, and about 3.3 inches square around the middle. Whether the 1.8 pound weight is a penalty depends on where you use it. Unless you’re hiking with it, it’s a good tradeoff for all-day music.
Not only does it float, but the IP67 rating ensures it’s sealed from dust and can be immersed in water. With an exterior made from tough plastic and hard rubber, it’s durable enough to withstand some abuse. And it’s 100-foot Bluetooth range means you don’t need to feel tethered to it. KICKER designed it to be paired with any of the Bullfrog models for twice the sound. Finally, there is the KICKER Connect app, for personalizing the audio performance.
Under a rubber cover are the AUX in, standard USB charge out, and micro USB charge ports (cable included for charging). Plus a reset button. Having that AUX in option is nice, as I can use it with my waterproof iPod Shuffle, which lacks Bluetooth. Although the Bullfrog runs 12 hours on a charge, using the USB out to charge your phone will cut that time by quite a bit. So that feature is best reserved for emergencies.
Opposite of the ports are the controls. Bottom to top are the power, audio direction, play/pause, volume -/+, and pairing buttons. All are sealed under the rubber housing. Above that is an indicator for Bluetooth or AUX input. Just above that is a series of five small LED lights which indicate battery charge.
Pairing and use
Before using, I gave it a full charge, which takes about 2.5 hours. Like most Bluetooth devices, my phone recognized it right away. Selecting some random Google Play 90s music, I was impressed with the sound. With a speaker this small, I never know what to expect. Across the midrange, voices sounded great. Hitting the higher notes, it was nice and clear. And while a speaker this small can’t produce deep bass, it still has a little punch where others fall flat. As the volume was turned up, it didn’t get muddy and distorted either.
After using it indoors and out, across a wide genre of music, it hasn’t disappointed. It will fill a room with music, and do the same for a picnic spot or campsite. Hanging it with a carabiner allows you to place it in the center of everything. There’s a 1/4-20 threaded hole in the bottom, should you want to mount it on a mini tripod or something similar. With the 100 foot range, you don’t have to worry about a dropped Bluetooth connection. And the 12 hour runtime gives you isn’t bad when you’re away from a charger.
There are a lot of Bluetooth speakers on the market, across a wide price range. And for most of them, you get what you pay for. The BF100 is KICKER’s least expensive model, with its MSRP of $199.99. At first glance, that may seem a bit steep. But you get KICKER audio quality, long battery life, and an attractive, durable housing. Compared to other speakers I have reviewed, I think this one is worth the price. But I’d still shop around and try to catch it on sale. Either way, I don’t think you can go wrong. Check it out, along with the rest of their audio goodness, at kicker.com.
A special thanks to KICKER for loaning out their Bullfrog BF100 speaker for this review. It’s one of those items we hated to have to give back.