Here's a portable Bluetooth 4.0 speaker that not only sounds good, but can keep up with the most demanding music lovers.
When it comes to listening to music on Bluetooth speakers, or just speakers in general, the smaller the speaker the harder it's going to struggle with quality when you push the volume higher. But the Anker SoundCore challenges that premise — I was pleasantly surprised by its ability to handle loud volumes without sacrificing too much of the audio quality.
The speaker itself measures only 6.5 x 1.8 x 2.1-inches, which makes it ideal for quick storage. It weighs in at 12.6-ounces, so carrying it around isn't even a hassle.
Underneath the front metal grill are two 3W drivers rated at 4 ohms that surround a designated spiral bass port. The design of this bass port is supposed to help control low tones while still providing plenty of punch, and from what I can tell it works just fine. Obviously we can't expect hard-hitting bass from a speaker of this size, but for what it does push, it's not distorted and sounds even with the rest of the mix. Listening to music at lower volumes is where the SoundCore's quality starts to dwindle. This speaker is made to be rocked at mid to high volume levels.
On the right side of the speaker you'll find the typical stuff: a 3.5mm auxiliary port for direct connections when you want or need to avoid Bluetooth, a Micro-USB port for charging the speaker using the included 2ft. cable, a tiny LED charging light, and a microphone port for managing incoming calls over the speaker.
The speaker charges at a relatively slow 1 amp, so that 24-hour battery that Anker boasts is backed up with longer charging times. I jammed at my desk for 14 hours straight without a hiccup before I turned it off for some peace and quiet. Still, it'll keep the party going as long as you need it to, which can't be said about all portable speakers this size.
There's a series of buttons on the top of the speaker to manage the SoundCore, including power, volume/skip, play/pause, and a Bluetooth button for pairing. Smartly, the speaker jumps straight into pairing mode the first time you turn it on, making it easy to locate and pair right away.
Although I usually switch stations and songs from my phone, managing music playback from the speaker itself was pretty straightforward, so no complaints there.
Anker states that the Bluetooth range on the SoundCore reaches up to 66 feet — definitely a leap from the usual 33 feet we've seen on traditional Bluetooth speakers. Using it around the house I still experienced clipping as I walked from room to room, so it's not great through more than a single wall. I also tested it outside with an obstruction-free line between my phone and the speaker and only got to about 47 feet before it started clipping.
So, that claimed 66-foot range may be a bit of an exaggeration, but either way the range was not a huge deal for me. If I'm streaming tunes over Bluetooth I'll typically set my phone down somewhere nearby anyhow.
The impressive battery life of the Anker SoundCore paired with its crisp quality makes this an excellent Bluetooth speaker for its current $37.99 price tag. If you desire a more powerful speaker with incredible bass you may want to keep looking for something on the larger side, but most should be pleased with what the SoundCore has to offer for the size and price.