The Duolink SpeakerBuds is one of those products that makes me wonder why no one thought of it before the Kickstarter campaign (which unsurprisingly hit its goal within 12 hours). It’s essentially a Bluetooth speaker that can be split in two, with a pair of earbuds inside, so you can listen to your music or podcast clearly from two points in your home or office and switch to in-ear listening if you need to without faffing around.
Looking like a Google Home Mini, the Duolink is a small, unassuming device (the one I’m reviewing is white and grey but I’ve seen other colours available. It’s fitted with a short carry cord that loops through the two magnetically-connected halves of the speaker, with the slim-line earbuds nestled inside.
It all charges together via a USB-C port, and connects via Bluetooth as one unit, no matter how you’re using it. It’s just a really convenient product that could find a place in any office or home set-up.
The sound quality is decent too, although a lack of direct controls for volume, etc, mean you will have to control everything from your connected device. There’s no adjustment for bass, etc, and so while the sound quality is solid, they’re not all-singing, all-dancing. I mostly used them at my desk or when pottering in the kitchen at home, and I never really had to go too loud – but if you do they will suffice. Just don’t rely on them to fill a room for any large gatherings (not much of a problem these days).
You’re looking at an operable range of around 20ft between the two halves, which I found to be more or less accurate, and I ran the speaker battery down after somewhere in the region of 5 to 6 hours, which isn’t a market-leading battery but it’s not bad for what they are. I’ve had no problems pairing them to my phone and my daughter’s phone, and we’ve been using them pretty regularly.
If you’re after a set of earbuds or a speaker that come with a suite of options or a built in equaliser, etc, you can find those elsewhere. The Duolink is less about that and more about convenience, and yet its functionality is more than just gimmickry. It’s a system that works, and makes switching from loud music to personal incredibly easy, all with an understated aesthetic and a decent battery life. It won’t blow your doors off, and for circa £60 it’s not exactly cheap, but it’s a quality product that performs well and feels innovative.