Tecno introduced the Boom J7 into the Kenyan market looking forward to attracting the ordinary person on the streets who loves their music. Or so they have made us believe. The marketing materials being pushed all place the Tecno Boom J7 as a music device. One for the audiophiles. Does it really live up to that ambitious tag? I set to find out the overall music experience over a period of three weeks and I’m excited to share with you what I think of the device and what you should expect incase you’re interested in grabbing it or have been wondering if it really is a decent music device.
The external speaker is centrally located at bottom of the device on the back. With the red accents on the grille, the speaker complements the generally good design of the Tecno Boom J7. It is loud and does a lot of justice to the audio coming out of it. You’ll hardly be disappointed. Whether you’re listening to Hits Not Homework or The Cypher on FM radio or streaming it using apps like TuneIn Radio or just playing those
annoying Nigerian songs on the Boom Player or your pirated music collection (not that we encourage piracy but it exists and we can’t run away from that fact), it won’t disappoint.
They are good. They are not particularly classy but considering that any notable low cost device out in the market ships with a fickle pair of earphones, they are impressive. They are well designed. The design is actually the best part of the earphones. I know sound is supposed to be central but the design stands out. The sound is not bad. Neither is it so good. It’s just there. Somewhere. Yes they don’t measure up to the premium audio experience you’ll get on a pair of entry-level JBLs but you’ll be out of luck finding others that measure up to them on similarly priced phones. To cap well-designed accessories, the pair of earphones comes in a lovely small plastic bag with red stitches. They’re not tangle-free in case you’re wondering.
Even with their downsides, I’d say there was really some thought put into the headsets right from their design to the packaging. While I wish they really stood out in the sound department, I can’t complain either since Tecno managed to cut some corners to keep the costs down while still delivering what is a commendable audio experience on a budget smartphone.
I did not get around to using the headsets for other functions like launching the camera (which they can by the way) but I was disappointed that I couldn’t use my favourite music player, Poweramp, with them. The earphone’s physical button controllers don’t work with the application. They however work just fine with the stock music player and the Boom Player so I was stuck with the two. I did not try out my other favourite Android music apps like Rocket player and GoneMad Music with them so you try out and tell us your experience. Tecno’s own built-in alternatives in the stock music player and the Boom Player are more than satisfactory though.
The device is called Boom J7. The bundled music player that is the main selling point also has that Boom branding. It is called the Boom Player. In my preview article I recounted how I was not able to get the Boom Player running since I couldn’t sign in (two-factor authentication issues) but I realized that this was happening because I was attempting to run the application while offline. When you’re already connected to the internet, the app actually lets you bypass the log in screen. You can always log in later to your account from the application via email or even your social accounts.
The Boom Player is an attempt by Tecno to merge the hardware with the software and provide an outright music experience to users without having to go through many hops. It succeeds on that one. Bar my initial set up issues, once you get going, everything is easy. The interface is easy to navigate and you can browse the various music genres available or even the charts. This is where the problem sets in. You’re limited to the sort of music you can find through the Boom Player.
Save for the individual artist’s category, there’s little Kenyan content you’ll find in the Boom Player application. Yes there’s lots of African content but it’s mostly Nigerian with rare continental hits and stars from other countries making an appearance. I only have the likes of Bahati, Rabbit, Octopizzo, Mbuvi and Kenrazy for Kenyan acts. Tecno informed us that it had partnered with all the necessary people involved so the music you’re getting through the app is legal. I do hope they are working to bring more local content. I’d love to have Sauti Sol, Elani, Hart the Band and other local acts.
Lack of local content is not the only issue. There’s music from international stars like Jay Z and the like but where things aren’t really good is the charts. The UK Top 40 chart for instance badly needs an update. I don’t know how often those charts are updated but I have the latest UK Top 40 singles chart from a different source (don’t ask me where) and it surely doesn’t match what you’ll find on the Boom J7’s Boom Player (quite a mouthful. Sigh). It is ok for a casual listen though but if Tecno really wants the Boom Player to be a one stop shop for the young people who listen to Rick Deees Top 40, BBC Radio 5’s UK Top 40 and the likes, it has to up its game. There are no two ways about it.
I like that you can not only just stream the content on the application but you can download the music as well. Thanks to the Boom Player I have a decent collection of classics from Diamond Platnumz.
One can create playlists as well as play your other music files from other sources through the MyMusic tab. On the home tab, the Discover tab, you can as well listen to music based on your mood or activity at that particular moment like when you’re driving, studying, at a party etc. Yes, Tecno is doing that, really. Now you know that it is not just Spotify that is keen on such things (they just announced similar features in the last few hours). I didn’t find much use for the content in these categories though. I study a lot but you’ll need to do a lot of work convincing me that Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne’s High School has anything to do with setting the appropriate mood for studying.
Actually there was only the Train’s Hey, Soul Sister that I liked in that entire “Study” mood collection. The rest of the songs are the results of very rogue algorithms. It looks like every song in the database with the word “school” is automatically included in the “Study” mood’s collection. The same is the case with the rest of the “moods”.
The app has a comments section and it is there that I realized I wasn’t alone in asking for refreshed content. Other users echoed my sentiments.
I liked that it also displays the lyrics so I didn’t have to rely on Musixmatch.
The app is good for a start and for the ordinary entry level user who hardly has any access to a PC and home or office internet but it needs a lot of work as far as content goes in order to appeal to the real audiophiles or pretenders like yours truly.
Stock Music App
If you ask me, this is perhaps one of the most “lively” music player apps I have ever interacted with. Yes there are over a dozen nice music apps on the Google Play Store but when you use the Boom J7’s default music app you get the impression that someone really took their time to come up with something decent.
It does a good job indexing the music files on both internal and external storages. My 1,334 MP3 files were easily indexed and sorted to their rightful genres with a few hits and misses here and there thanks to lack of tagging in most of them.
The app features a half-decent equalizer. You can get better equalizers either standalone or baked into other music players on the Play Store but this one is meant to get you started and deliver an average music experience without a learning curve. It does just that. And a little more.
There are gimmicks like shake to switch songs as well.
There’s no noticeable difference in the audio you get from streaming or playing content stored locally so it is ok to assume that the processing is at par with what most expect.
Music tastes vary as does the way we perceive sound. While I really liked the overall music experience of the Tecno Boom J7 that the external speaker manages to output and still undecided on what to make of the earphones, I don’t expect everyone to agree with that. It’s a subjective matter but it shouldn’t be divisive. We have to give credit where it’s due. On the music front, the Boom J7 delivers. Does it live up to the expectations of audiophiles? I doubt. Read the complete review here.