Are you a person who believes there's only one thing more important than having music on tap for you and your friends while frolicking in the pool this summer, and that's being able to make and take calls without getting out of the water? I have good news. The waterproof Aquajam AJ2 Bluetooth speaker takes care of both tasks, and note that it is described not as splash-proof or water-resistant, but as waterproof. To a depth of one metre in fact, for 30 minutes. What better way to spend $100?
And the AJ2 comes with a circular screw mount for bicycle handlebars and an adhesive mount. The instructions warn against using the adhesive mount on the porous surfaces of surfboards (water underneath the adhesive reduces its grip until … bye-bye AJ2). There's also a special note for skiers, both water and snow, and snowboarders: the flexing and vibrations of such devices can lead to the mount coming loose and … bye-bye AJ2 (and bye-bye warranty claims too). More stable surfaces, such as the prow of your kayak, are safer, and you can use this mount on the shower wall, allowing you to take calls in there between joining in with your favourite songs.
Actually, the instruction booklet gets quite interesting when you wade into it. For example, did you know that "as water absorbs Bluetooth signals, the wireless range (10 metres in the dry) will lessen when the AJ2 comes into contact with water"? You can maximise whatever range there is by having a clear line of sight between the transmitter and the speaker, which I guess rules out usage when the surf is fairly up at Bells Beach.
But, if you must, the company also offers a $29 waterproof armband for your phone or player which should ensure things go smoothly until you go one way and your board goes another. When this happens, however, you will likely have things to think about ahead of music.
The AJ2 is about the size of a drink can, only half again taller, and weighs about 425 grams. When chucked in the water it floats speaker-side up and this also means its inbuilt microphone for making and taking calls is uppermost. Get a handle on where this is because it works best when you speak directly into it, and performance falls off sharply if you're more than half a metre away. It's close to the button you need to press to take a call anyway, so things prove to be quite intuitive.
Pairing the device with your phone or player is dead easy – I had it playing within a few minutes of taking it from the box, having spent half of that time figuring out how to turn it on (don't just press the power button, press and hold).
The sound quality is what you'd expect from a speaker of this price, entirely unremarkable but adequate for the forgivingly non-fussy. If you're into bass forget it, there's very little here, but the mids and highs are quite nicely defined. If you're an MP3 stalwart and can't see any reason to upgrade to uncompressed music this will suit you nicely.
While the AJ2 can be quite entertaining for small groups it doesn't go anywhere near loud enough for a party. In fact you may have trouble hearing it up the other end of a pool full of frolickers. But as long as you're close enough and not intent on head banging then the volume is acceptable, and the advantage of lower volume is 10 hours of music between charges. The charging is through a USB with the input at one end under a screw cap and then a tight-fitting rubber tab.
This is an unconventional part of testing but I know you're asking the question, so: immersion reduces volume by about two thirds, but only to a depth of around 3cm. Deeper and the music stops entirely. Maybe it's Bluetooth's limit. Bring it back to the surface and play resumes, but only gets to where it was when the excess water is shaken out.
Upshot? The AJ2 is completely ineffective at scaring off sharks. Even when playing Ice Cube.