Water Resistant Wireless speaker with large sound in a portable convenient size.
I have had the experience of testing and reviewing many Bluetooth speakers. It is amazing how a single genre of tech can have so many varieties in appearance and quality. Similar speakers from different brands may have markedly different sound outputs. Despite this fact, the human ear has a rather uniform age-dependent ability to hear between 20 Hz and 20kHz. By the time you are roughly 20 years old, you will only hear to about 15-16 kHz. To test this I have utilized a variety of speakers on the audiocheck.net website. I love to run the gambit of blind test tones, to see if I can distinguish between decibel levels and pitch. They even have a perfect pitch test, which I fail at regularly. I would like to say that it is the speaker’s fault, but alas I know it is not. I have good relative pitch, but perfect pitch is not a strength of mine.
iClever has gone from a relatively unknown brand to a favorite of mine. They have a rather large product catalog and their products have actually tested quite well. I have received the iClever IC-BTS06 Bluetooth Wireless Speaker to review. Similar to other iClever products, the brand suffers from product packaging. The coloration of the speaker is very nice with the red metallic speaker facing and black rubberized coating. The packaging is bland cardboard with black ink outline of the speaker. It looks like the packaging is a generic speaker, with “insert name here.” I would love to see an effort placed into the packaging as this would likely result in more sales. In an ideal world, we would not judge this book by its cover.
Opening the packaging, you will notice a form cut cardboard hole, holding the speaker wrapped in plastic. The speaker measures 6 1/4” long by 2 7/8” tall by 1 3/4” wide and weighs 12.7 ounces. At less than a pound, this device is a very reasonable carry weight. Also included in the box are the following accessories: 6-panel instruction manual, a black metallic carabiner clip, a 25” USB A to micro-USB cable and a 25” 3.5mm to 3.5mm jack. I do appreciate the accessories, yet I wish that there was a compartment inside the device to store them. Personally, you never have a 3.5 to 3.5 mm jack when you need it. This is not a problem for the iPhone 7/7plus, as Apple has done away with the 3.5mm port. The other advantage is, you likely have hundreds of USB to micro-USB cables lying around.
The manual details the specifications of the device, to include 2 x 5w speakers, dual Bluetooth and Aux-In modes, typical 10-meter distance, 5V/1A charging input, 3 hour charge time, and 8 hours of playback. I was really impressed to see that iClever decided to utilize the Bluetooth 4.2 version with A2DP, AVRCP, HFP and HSP profiles. This was even more impressive in the comparable price point. The manual continues by showing the features of the speaker itself. The outer portion of the box is rubberized and has 3 buttons along the top: Volume down/previous track, Multi-Function Button (MFB) and a volume up/Next track button. Also at the top is a blue LED battery indicator and the microphone. Along the side, hidden inside of a rubberized tab is the power slider, DC charging input port and the Aux in port. These are easy to access, simply pull the tab and open the panel. Charging the device decreases its water resistant status. The bottom has 4 small rubberized nodes to prevent slippage. All of these small details are what make the iClever brand so great, in my eyes.
The Usage Guide is rather straightforward, detailing the use of the device and detailing the various LED color meanings. The device has multiple methods to alert you to remaining power, with an audible low battery indicator and a remaining power widget on the iPhone. If not utilized within 10 minutes, the device will auto-off, which is a great battery saving mechanism.
To use the device, move the side rubber cover, and slide the power button to the “on” position. You will notice a rapidly flashing blue LED along the top, this is indicating pairing is processing. You will then hear a beep from the speaker. On your smart device, navigate to settings, Bluetooth, and find IC-BTS06 in the available list of devices. The buttons along the top are responsive but seem to be different from the usual control scheme. To increase the volume, you have to hold the buttons, whereas short presses change the track. This makes adjusting volume levels much less sensitive, which is a minor nuisance. It should be reversed, with the following button combinations: short press volume change and long press track change. You can accept an incoming call by pressing the triangle/MFB button and you can reject it by long pressing the same button. This device suffers from the same phone call issues that plague other similar devices, The calls pick up a lot of ambient noise and make the talker sound very muffled.
A quick search of the Amazon page details the speaker is IPX5 rated, meaning it can take splashes of water or jets of water, but cannot be submerged. The device does really well at 100% sound without distortion and will play with running water running on it. Many of the smaller speakers I have tested suffer from inadequate bass range. They tend to do just fine in the upper frequencies, but truly do not have the sub-bass or bass adequately covered. Using the audiocheck.net site, the iClever speaker only gets to 50 Hz. This is not initially noticeable unless you compare it to speakers that get to the 20 Hz range. Listening to the opening of Star Wars Attack of the Clones, the space ship entry scene is somewhat tinny. Listening to “Why So Serious Joker Theme” from Dark Knight Rises, there is an obvious gap from the 3-4 minute mark that you will miss on some speakers. Honestly, the experience is only as good as the speaker. For a sub $30 speaker that has metallic front, rubberized sides IPX5 rating, and a decent sound, I cannot complain.
When it comes to portability and ubiquitous use, I am willing to sacrifice a small degree of sound. A small speaker system will never live up to a multi-system speaker network. However, you will never travel to the beach with the expensive setup or use it by your bathtub. I love my Amazon Tap, but at $179.00, I am not comfortable with it by water. Thus, you need to compare apples to apples and not apples to oranges when evaluating speakers. When I review a product, I try to evaluate the device itself and to compare it to other previously sampled similar, devices. For example, I have personally reviewed the iClever IC-BTSO3 outdoor wireless speaker, IC-BTSO4, the DOACE M-Box, URPOWER IPX-7, Guioja Mini Bluetooth speaker, and a few offerings from Reacher. As stated above, these devices will sound pretty similar on the surface, but testing sites like audiocheck.net and using a set panel of songs will show some differences.
The device is visually appealing and produces a reasonable sound. I would like a little more bass, but the sound output and tone is quite clear. The volume is more than satisfactory and remains clear at upper and lower decibel levels. This speaker would likely make a perfect gift for a teenager/young adult this Christmas season. The iClever BTSO6 speaker is another example of a good product from iClever. I would love for the company to focus on their packaging as much as their product. This speaker is really impressive in the size to sound output ratio, being small it really does pack a punch. Whenever I test my speakers, I use the same songs. I know this starts to get a bit boring and predictable. However, this is the best way that I have found to compare Apple to Apple or in this instance iClever to iClever. Turning to Amazon Prime Music, iTunes, and YouTube, I played my regular sources: “Hotel California” from the Eagles, “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” Meatloaf, “Somebody to Love” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” from Queen. This time, I mixed it up a little and played some CCR and then followed it up with some Johnny Cash and Josh Turner. To test the bass of the speakers, I use 2 tracks regularly: “Why So Serious, The Joker Theme” Dark Knight Rises 2min-4min and the opening sequence to Star Wars Episode 2 Attack of the clones. I also have recently started turning to audiocheck.net to evaluate the sound production. I was able to hear from about 40 Hz at the bass and 15kHz at the top range. My son, 4 yr old, was able to hear 17kHZ. This is beyond my hearing range at 34 years old. The sound range and the quality are quite good.
This speaker produces more sound than I thought it would. I am a little disappointed in the next/back options as they seem to be reversed with the sound up/down options. To increase the volume, you need to either use your phone volume up/down or hold the buttons on the device. This is very imprecise. A single click will advance the track forward/back. Although this may be personal preference, I prefer the next track option to be a long press and volume changes to be a short press. If you crank the sound to the max, it does get a little Tinny and has increased vibrations. That being said, this quality improves when the speaker is further from the user. It will easily fill a dorm, a living room or a patio with full, immersive sound. Having been an instrumental music player in high school and college, I enjoy many movie soundtracks. My favorites remain Braveheart, Gladiator and Far and Away. The speaker does a good job capturing the layers of the instruments. Personally, there is something special about bagpipes and Scottish music.
iClever Outdoor Wireless Speaker Summary:
Out of the box, I was able to get about 5 hours of use, before putting it onto charge. There is a convenient widget on the iPhone that alerts you to the available power. The blue LED on the top will remain illuminated, alerting you to the “on” status. It will power off, if idle for more than 10 minutes. I was able to get full sound across half of my home, approximately 25 feet away and through 3 interior walls. Moving the device to about 40 feet from my phone (full line of sight), there was significant distortions cracking and the music started/stopped. I experienced no difference in play quality from Bluetooth or AUX in. I did notice that there is a prominent difference from 1 bar to 2 bars of sound on the iPhone 6s Plus. The amount of sound increases drastically in 1 click. This does not seem to be as exaggerated as the levels are increased further.
This device does have the ability to answer calls by tapping the blue LED illuminated BT/Phone button. Press it again to end the call. This is an add-on feature that works okay at best. The microphone is located atop the buttons, on the top of the device. You need to be relatively close to the speaker to utilize this feature. The person you are talking to will be exposed to a lot of background noise and the sounds are somewhat muffled. Many of this type of speaker have included call features. I have not yet experienced the need to utilize this feature.
Like many of the other iClever devices, the BTS04 speaker provides exactly what it promises: quality, affordable sound in a small portable package. The speaker was stronger than I expected and works great as my outdoor patio speaker. I have tested my normal song due and found the speaker to hold up to my testing. My typical songs include Longest Time by Billy Joel, Eagles Hotel California, Far and Away and Braveheart Soundtracks for instrumental sound and then the above bass choices. I rate this device at 4/5 stars, lacking mildly in bass quality and definitely in packaging. The speaker accessories are appreciated. Whether you choose to listen to music, podcasts, or audible audiobooks (my favorite), the sound output is good.
BUY FROM AMAZON