- Built-in Alexa voice services, allowing you to play music, purchase goods, control smart home devices, and more
- Via Alexa, allows you to play music with Amazon Music, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn
- Affordable device that is portable, compact, and easy to bring with you everywhere
- Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections + dedicated app to control FABRIQ and change settings
- Attractive design with changeable LED light colors + volume controls and track management
- Must physically press a button to engage Alexa
- Doesn’t get very loud and it’s not waterproof, nor does it float
- Audio only from top of the speaker (i.e. not 360 degrees of sound) + no speakerphone function
- Limited Bluetooth range and stability + no AUX port
- Average battery life at about 4-5 hours of playback time
Really neat speaker. There are definite downsides with the FABRIQ Smart Speaker, but it’s affordable, easy to use, and overall a clever product.
The FABRIQ Riff Speaker is a pretty clever device, but it’s not completely novel. Think of the FABRIQ as essentially a much cheaper version of the Amazon Tap Smart Speaker [see on Amazon] before it got its most recent software update. This is a bluetooth speaker combined with a smart speaker, so you can play music on it via your phone or tablet or you can just ask Alexa to play music for you, among countless other things. That’s the premise, plus it’s portable.
Design of FABRIQ Riff Speaker
This thing is really compact and extra portable. It’s basically the size of a smaller coffee cup or two Echo Dots stacked up and it’s really fun to play around with. It has a 2” driver on the top and the entire top portion of the speaker is wrapped in a fabric—hence the name—which reminds us of the JBL Flip 4 speaker. The fabric cover, which you can get in numerous colors and designs, definitely looks nice, plus it helps with durability, although this will not be nearly as durable as the UE BOOM 2, for example. The FABRIQ Speaker feels a little bit more brittle compared to the UE BOOM 2, but I don’t see this being a major issue for a lot of people. Unfortunately, however, the FABRIQ is not waterproof, it will not float, and it doesn’t come with an hook, carabiner or strap to attach it to a backpack, etc. Probably not a big deal for most people, but worth mentioning. Toward the bottom of the speaker there is an LED ring that you can actually customize to show the color that you’d like—really nice touch. In terms of battery life, the FABRIQ goes about 4 hours on a single charge with continuous playback. Not good, but not terrible considering the size and capabilities of this device.
On the back of the speaker, opposite the logo, is a panel of buttons (shown above: Alexa, volume up, pause/play, and volume down). If you pull the tab up, you have another two buttons and a microUSB port, which is how it charges. The top button under the flap is a Wi-Fi connection and Bluetooth pairing button and then there’s the light switcher button. On the bottom of the speaker is a plastic/rubber pad so that the speaker doesn’t slide around and also the power button. All pretty simple. You can open the box and get this thing working in 2 minutes just like any other Bluetooth speaker. You will notice, however, that it is missing an AUX port and the Bluetooth range is pretty average at about 40 feet—walls, doors, and people will get in the way of the signal as well when you’re closer to the edge of the range.
The FABRIQ Speaker sounds ok. It’s nowhere near the sound quality of the Flip 4 [see on Amazon], no does it get anywhere near as loud, but I’m sure you expected all of that from a tiny Bluetooth speaker. The bass is pretty lacking and the highs sound a little off, but for the most part, the speaker is clear and crisp, even at higher volumes. Additionally, the sound comes out of the top of the speaker, despite it being a cylindrical shape. Not necessarily good or bad, but it would have been great to get 360 degrees of audio. I wouldn’t go with FABRIQ if I wanted stellar audio, but for someone on-the-go, it’s a good solution that brings Alexa along. Also, for music playback, you can use the music from your phone or Alexa works with Amazon Music, Spotify and others, covering most of the major streaming services.
When the Tap Smart Speaker first came out, you had to manually press a button to engage Alexa—same story with FABRIQ (i.e. you cannot simply yell at it, as it’s not voice activated). If FABRIQ was always listening, that would crush battery life, such that no one would get this device ever. That said, it is really neat to see a Bluetooth speaker that does not require an Amazon Echo Dot in order to have smart features, it has Alexa built right in. Additionally, you need to first set FABRIQ up with your Wi-Fi system and you do so via the FABRIQ iOS or Android app. Very simple to do and you’ll be up and running a few seconds. That app is also how you pair multiple FABRIQs together. Once it is connected to Wi-Fi, all you do is sync it with you Amazon account and you’re good to go, unless you leave your house. And if you do, you need to pair it with another Wi-Fi system wherever you go in order for Alexa services to work, however, you can always still use it as a standard Bluetooth speaker.
Once you have everything all setup, using Alexa is crazy simple. Press one button and you can do all of the normal Alexa stuff, like asking it about the weather or to turn off your front porch lights. While a smart portable speaker is admittedly pretty neat, I see mostly people that travel a lot getting this most out of this device. That way you have Alexa wherever you go, which I could see being helpful.
FABRIQ vs. Amazon Tap Speaker
Basically these are the same speaker concepts. The Tap is a little larger, louder, more expensive, and has more optional accessories, while the FABRIQ is much more affordable and is about half the size of the Tap. Also, as previously mentioned, with the Tap you now can engage Alexa via voice commands, whereas with the FABRIQ you need to press the button before asking Alexa to do anything. But in terms of Alexa services, you’re getting the same thing from both speakers—both work with Spotify and can start timers, add things to your shopping cart, and relay the weather, etc. The Tap does have much better battery life at about 8-9 hours on a single charge, which if you’re counting, is about double that of FABRIQ. Which would we go with? Well, I could get 2.6 FABRIQs for the price of one Tap speaker so that’s a compelling argument by itself. And I think that’s what I’d do, but I could see many other people preferring the Tap for all of the reasons I mentioned above.
SEE ALSO: FABRIQ Chorus Review