As Seen on TV: Is the Music Bullet Worth a Shot?

×


There's something a bit frustrating about laptop computers: While options like YouTube, iTunes, Playlist, and Pandora make it possible to listen to almost any song ever written, anytime, the cheap little speakers that come with most computers make everything sound flat and tinny, sort of like Video Killed the Radio Star played through a cell phone.

For years, hardware manufacturers have tried to remedy the situation, offering everything from big expensive sound systems to cheap add-on speakers that are convenient, but have questionable audio quality. Recently, the As Seen on TV folks weighed in with their "solution": the Music Bullet. Slightly larger than a shot glass, the tiny speaker plugs into any device with an audio jack.

Music BulletUnable to resist the manufacturer's promises of "big sound" and "kickin' bass," we decided to take the Music Bullet out for a test drive. The first thing we noticed was its great design: Because it draws power from a USB port, the speaker doesn't need a plug or replaceable batteries, which keeps its size down. Also, the audio cord retracts into its body, which is particularly convenient. As an added plus, the speaker can be opened up to about twice its size, a feature that supposedly allows more room for the "kickin' bass": It's like a Transformer toy that actually does something productive.

Once you plug the Music Bullet in, though, things go downhill: Its output is tinny on the high end, unexceptional in the midrange, and generally fuzzy on the low end, even when I extended it for "kickin' bass." In fact, in a side-by-side comparison, the Music Bullet came in a close second behind my computer's chintzy built-in speaker. On the other hand, it was a step up from my wife's slightly-chintzier built-in speaker.

As my trusty editor Mathew pointed out, tweaking the settings on iTunes could probably improve the Music Bullet's sound quality a bit. Then again, any audiophile who is committed enough to manipulate their iTunes settings probably wouldn't settle for the speaker's poor output.

There are some circumstances in which the Music Bullet might come in handy. For example, if you have a song on your iPod that you want to share with a group of friends, it could be helpful -- at least, as long as your crowd is in a small, quiet room with great acoustics. A closet, for example, would be perfect. In general, though, anyone who really cares about music will probably find that the Music Bullet's $20 price is about $15 too much.


Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Goal Setting

Want to succeed? Then you need goals!

View Course »

Intro to Retirement

Get started early planning for your long term future.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

10 Comments

Filter by:
Rick Pedley

Agreed. This thing is all but useless, like listening to headphones turned all the way up, from a distance. I found hardly any difference with the bottom half extended, it's just a sales gimmick. Got mine second hand, threw it where it belongs, in the trash.

October 13 2014 at 1:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rublestiltzkin

i just went into it knowing that i wasnt financing surround sound for the living room. got it for my phone and i put the bullet in my back pocket while i work, or dilly-dally around the house, or take a bike ride. sure beats buying a new set of ear buds for 15 bucks every month and a half cuz they break all time. paid 15 for mine too, but hey, if youre gullible enough to believe they are only availible on tv, they deserve your extra 5 bucks. 15 is reasonable i thought.

September 25 2012 at 3:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rublestiltzkin

i just went into it knowing that i wasnt financing surround sound for the living room. got it for my phone and i put the bullet in my back pocket while i work, or dilly-dally around the house, or take a bike ride. sure beats buying a new set of ear buds for 15 bucks every month and a half cuz they break all time. paid 15 for mine too, but hey, if youre gullible enough to believe they are only availible on tv, they deserve your extra 5 bucks. 15 is reasonable i thought.

September 25 2012 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rublestiltzkin

i just went into it knowing that i wasnt financingh surround sound for the living room. got it for my phone and i put the bullet in my back pocket while i work, or dilly-dally around the house, or take a bike ride. sure beats the heck outta buying a new set of ear buds for 15 bucks every month and a half cuz they break all time. paid 15 for mine too, but hey, if youre gullible enough to believe they are only availible on tv, they deserve your extra 5 bucks. 15 is reasonable i thought.

September 25 2012 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rublestiltzkin

i just went into it knowing that i wasnt financingh surround sound for the living room. got it for my phone and i put the bullet in my back pocket while i work, or dilly-dally around the house, or take a bike ride. sure beats the heck outta buying a new set of ear buds for 15 bucks every month and a half cuz they break all time. paid 15 for mine too, but hey, if youre gullible enough to believe they are only availible on tv, they deserve your extra 5 bucks. 15 is reasonable i thought.

September 25 2012 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sarah Turner

My mother called me this morning (and woke me up) to tell me about this wonderful new product that sounded like it would work really well for portable music playing. Of course I googled it. Like I would take a 60 year old technologically challenged woman's advice on audio equipment. I found your review. Well, now I'm awake. It was funny and to the point . I loved it enough that I'm actually bothering to comment on it. Needless to say, I won't be buying it... lol.

September 15 2012 at 10:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sarah Turner

My mother called me this morning (and woke me up) to tell me about this wonderful new product that sounded like it would work really well for portable music playing. Of course I googled it. Like I would take a 60 year old technologically challenged woman's advice on audio equipment. I found your review. Well, now I'm awake. It was funny and to the point . I loved it enough that I'm actually bothering to comment on it. I don't usually do that. Oh, and will not be buying it.... lol.

September 15 2012 at 10:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rachel Heidenreich

its funny they say not available in stores when I went to walmart and got the music bullet for 14.88 and it sells for 20 on t.v and no shipping has to be paid when bought from the store

April 28 2012 at 10:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dickensjrr

Personally, I don't own a laptop or netbook just a desktop computer, but when I want to share a song on one of my mp3 players (I own three of them but I've loaned two to a friend who doesn't have one) I use either an iHome 4 AA battery powered portable speaker, a spare set of AC powered desktop computer speakers I picked up new at a second store while at home, or if it's only with one or two people and they have earphones of their own I use a little 2 AA battery powered 'volume booster' that has outlets for three sets. If I want to play the music from my desktop I just use the speaker that came with it.

April 21 2012 at 12:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sylvie

Virtually everything sold on infomercials comes with, at least, a three to five times mark-up plus an offer to double the offer if you JUST pay separate processing and shipping, which they won't tell you how much that is until you call to order. Try to order just one with single "p & s" and see how far you get, or tell the operator that since you are paying double "s & p" you would like to have your second widgit sent separately to your Uncle Joe in Podunk, KY. Remember the original Ginsu knives that sold for $24.95? They were actually manufactured by the Quikut Division of the Scott Fetzer Company (then) in Fremont Ohio and sold to Dial Media (the Ginsu folks) for about $6.00.

April 06 2012 at 11:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply