I had several names for this article. My first choice was Bluetooth speakers are on a roll. My second choice was, A $100 speaker for $50. And with the title I actually chose, you can just about stop reading at this point. Pretty much everything has been said about this product that you need to know.
Everyone who knows me knows that I am a big Bose fan. That, despite the fact that they have made a lot of questionable design choices with their high-end, in-ear headphones which I happen to use. They have a new speaker out right now that I am very intrigued by, and will review as soon as I can. But that speaker is $200, and well outside the scope of what I was looking for.
I went to the nearby Best Buy looking for a shower speaker. I happen to have a Bose SoundLink II, previously reviewed. It is great, and complete overkill for the way I was using it. That speaker had become relegated to a bathroom speaker. In particular, I was using it as a shower speaker.
This is a highly questionable use of a product that was so expensive, and is also not waterproof. So I had it on the countertop and just cranked up the volume when I was in the shower. This was a suboptimal setup to say the least.
So I set out to find a cheap speaker specifically designed to be a shower speaker. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight. But when I saw that it had been discounted from $100 to $50, I was convinced. I brought it home, set it up, and took a shower. Here are my impressions:
Made for the elements
First, I see no evidence that this speaker was designed specifically with showers in mind. But showers were definitely a part of the conversation. This speaker was designed to take outdoors into the elements. It is sand-proof and waterproof. You can take this to the beach without fear of harm from the wet and dirt.
It is also made to withstand drops, bangs, and bumps. It is the kind of speaker you can throw in a backpack without a protective case, or even attach it to the outside of a backpack during a hard trail walk or bike ride. Oh, and you can also use it in the shower.
Really nice sound
If a person or thing is described as nice, we tend to think of it is a negative. Not that there's anything wrong with being nice. It is just that the implication is that it is unremarkable, perhaps even a little bland.
But what if we described it as really nice? We are not saying that it is really bland, or that there is really nothing about it worth remarking. It is better, perhaps a lot better than just okay. But it falls just a little short of greatness.
That is what I am suggesting about the sound quality of this speaker.
The sound is so good, it is hard to find fault, or at least, hard to put those faults into words. That's not really it either. It is just that putting those faults into words makes one seem a bit hypercritical when it is not called for.
Especially with regard to music, one can't help but want a little more base response. The mids are sharp. But one might request they be dialed back just a hair. It's that sort of thing. The reason these nit picks are silly is because of the use case for the product.
You are intended to listen while on the go, climbing a mountain, swimming in a pool, and yes, even taking a shower. You are simply not going to notice what's missing from the sound. If anything, the speaker is perfectly tuned for loud environments where many distracting noises are occurring. The slight extra focus on mids is perfect for cutting through the soup.
The only time you might notice is if you are listening in a quiet room, focusing on all the tones for the purpose of a review. That is exactly how this speaker is not to be used. For everything else, the sound is near perfect. It is exceptional at spoken word. You might even call it the ultimate podcast speaker.
The Best Feature
There are many good things about this little speaker. The size, the sound, the durability, and the price are high on the list. But perhaps the best feature is the integrated bungee.
As pictured, you can see it will fit around a large shower head. What you don't see is that on the back of the speaker, there is a notch for attaching the strap to the speaker so that it is out of the way. It also serves the dual purpose of allowing you to wrap the strap around something like a pole, then locking it onto the speaker. Bottom line: you can mount this thing just about anywhere.
You can't stand it up. But doing so would be unnecessary. The speaker rests easily on its rounded back to fire straight up, and in all directions around it. I love a speaker design that has no sweet spot, and no wrong way to listen to it.
That strap is also the most curious feature. When hanging from the strap, the speaker is upside down, as can also be seen in the photo. The Volume Up button is on the bottom rather than the top. It makes you feel like you hung it wrong. But you didn't.
It is just a curious design flaw that is ultimately inconsequential. Even Apple did it once with the logo on the back of their notebooks for a season. They put the logo on so that it was upside down to other observers.
There are other omissions that are more consequential. The only thing you can control from the speaker is the volume. You cannot change tracks. If you are listening in the shower, you don't have access to your phone. It would be nice to be able to skip tracks. Without that ability, you have to be sure you have a lineup that you like, and that will last the length of the shower.
What you do get is a voice battery indicator. Pressing the Volume Up and Down buttons simultaneously causes the speaker to say the battery percentage allowed. This is a big deal that is omitted in this speaker's successor.
I almost forgot. From left field, this speaker comes with a floaty. Right in the box, there is an inflatable designed to hold this speaker in a pool. How random is that? But it does give you a sense of what the designers had in mind when they made this speaker. They wanted it to be ready for anything. And it is.
The bottom line is that you should go out and buy this speaker right now. If you don't want it for yourself, keep it to give as a gift. It is the best shower speaker you can buy right now. And for $50, it is almost a crime not to buy it. I have zero hesitation in making a full-throated recommendation. Buy this speaker right now!