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Mr. Tophat - Dusk to Dawn Music Album Reviews

The Swedish producer and frequent Robyn collaborator offers an ambitious three-album suite of understated, occasionally disquieting techno nocturnes.
Hardcore Robyn fans already know the work of Swedish producer Rudolf Nordström, aka Mr. Tophat. He co-produced “Baby Forgive Me” and “Beach2k20,” two of the gorgeous, gently filtered house-pop tracks from last year’s Honey; his own 2017 release Trust Me, a three-song, 35-minute EP of throbbing, desaturated grooves, featured Robyn throughout. His latest solo release, Dusk to Dawn, is an ambitious three-album suite of understated, occasionally disquieting techno nocturnes. More melodic than the distortion-warped A Memoir From the Youth, two and a half hours of mostly chill, mid-tempo house conceal interesting moments within slack expanses. At its best, it’s a triple-album endurance listen that rewards partial concentration; at its slowest, it’s an illustration that Tophat’s signature long-format tracks don’t scale.

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Lava BrightSounds 2 Portable Bluetooth speaker Review

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED
  • £39.99
Smart lightbulbs, power banks and Bluetooth speakers are all the rage at the moment, so it was only a matter of time before a manufacturer merged the three. Enter the Lava BrightSounds 2 Bluetooth speaker/power bank/smart light hybrid, the second-generation speaker from the company. With all that tech, is it a gimmick or can it be genuinely useful? Take a look at our Lava BrightSounds 2 Bluetooth speaker review to find out. 


Before we go any further, it’s probably worth pointing out that the Lava BrightSounds 2 is not a smart lamp in the same sense as some smart lightbulbs, which can be controlled via a mobile app, change their colour to suit your mood and so forth. But it's dimmable, portable, waterproof, rechargeable, takes phone calls and plays music, provides charge on-the-go and it uses an LED- rather than a traditional incandescent bulb, which makes it longer-lasting and more energy-efficient. Combined, that makes this the smartest lamp we've ever seen.

UK PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
A good-looking all-in-one Bluetooth speaker and LED lamp, the Lava BrightSounds 2 offers impressive value for money at just £39.99 at Amazon and the Lava website. This makes it extremely competitive in a busy market, but we’re confident that with the quality of the design, the audio output and the functionality it offers, it’s well worth the £40 price tag.


DESIGN AND BUILD
Roughly three quarters of the tall, rectangular speaker unit is comprised of the light component, housed in plastic and is adjustable, providing everything from a soft glow to bright white light, although there’s no option to change the colour of the light. The top quarter is a wraparound speaker mesh, available in several colours including pink, mustard, green, teal and blue, which seems to provide 360-degree audio and fires out sound in every direction.

Four control buttons lie flush up top, along with the status LED and Lava logo. The rear of the speaker is where you’ll find ports for auxiliary connections, along with a charging port and a full-size USB port for charging smartphones and other mobile accessories while on-the-go.
For a Bluetooth speaker, it's pretty big, but not so much when you consider that the Lava BrightSounds 2 replaces not only the camping lamp but Bluetooth speaker and portable battery in your backpack. And, it's still easily portable.

A useful faux-leather carry handle lets you cart around camp the BrightSounds 2 without smothering lamp or speaker, but this Bluetooth gadget isn't great only for camping. IPX4-certified water-resistance (splashproof - or rain-proof - rather than fully submergible) makes it perfect for sunbathing on the beach or chilling out in the garden; and its dimmable LED lamp makes this the ideal kids' nightlight - able to allay their fears of the dark and play them lullabies as they gently fall asleep.

FEATURES AND AUDIO QUALITY
With a lithium-ion battery inside, the Lava BrightSounds 2 Bluetooth speaker and smart lamp can offer a whopping 36 hours of music playback, all from a three- to four-hour charge from empty. While the number is impressive, usage will somewhat vary depending on whether the light is on (and its brightness level), the volume of the speakers and whether it had been used as a portable charger, amongst other factors.

There's no auto-off function, so the flashing blue LED that signals successful Bluetooth pairing serves as a handy reminder to switch off the speaker when you're done. It’s worth noting that the speaker and light operate independently unlike with the first-generation speaker, meaning you can turn the speaker off but carry on using the light, and vice versa. If you're using the Lava BrightSounds 2 at home you can also use it while plugged into the mains via a USB charger (none is provided, but you can use the same one you use for your phone, along with the supplied Micro-USB cable). 

Lava doesn't specify the Bluetooth standard used by the BrightSounds 2, as with the first-generation model, but we found good range as we walked from room to room with a paired smartphone. It will pair with any phone, tablet, laptop or PC with Bluetooth connectivity, and for those devices that lack such connectivity there's a 3.5mm AUX input.

Once paired, the four buttons at the top can be used to skip tracks or, with a long-press, adjust the volume, answer or reject calls when used with a smartphone, or turn on and off and dim the light. These are tactile, which aids finding them in the dark, although it can be tricky to then read their legends, although that's a very minor gripe. A short press of the Bluetooth button answers a call, while you can long-press to reject or double-press to reconnect with the last caller.

Despite the budget price tag, we had the Lava BrightSounds 2’s 5W ultra-wide stereo speaker on full-whack and didn't hear a hint of distortion. It's loud enough to fill a room with sound, and for a budget Bluetooth speaker, audio quality is more than acceptable with decent bass and a clear mid-range, although there’s a slight compromise at the top-end. No matter what we threw at it, the Lava BrightSounds 2 coped admirably.

SPECS
  • 5W speaker
  • available in teal, blue, green, mustard and pink
  • Bluetooth/3.5mm AUX connection
  • supports hands-free calls
  • ambient night light with dimmer control
  • IPX4 water-resistant
  • Provide charge to smartphones and tablets
  • Rechargeable lithium-ion battery offers 36 hours continuous music playback
  • rubber carry strap
  • 190x95x103mm

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