Review

9 Travel speakers

Review9 Travel speakers

Wireless and robust for the holidays!

Whether on a trip to a ski slope or the beach, a battery-powered, sturdy speaker is perfect for the journey.

Travel speakers are becoming increasingly popular. Many have realized how sad it is that everyone sits with their mobile phones and listens to music on their own, when you can just as well as enjoy the music as a group. But there’s also no room to lug around some huge beast during your holiday. Instead, one looks for small battery-powered speakers that can easily be placed in a carry-on luggage for a trip abroad, in a tote bag for a trip to the countryside, or in a backpack for a ski trip. The speakers must also be able to handle being dropped in the snow, or getting splashed with water from a pool.

(Photo: Manufacturer)

 

Last year, we tested luxury speakers at a higher price point. For that you get slightly bigger speakers with decent volume and a pounding bass rendition. However, they often take up more space in your luggage. This year we went the other way. We have looked for smaller, more convenient speakers that can easily fit inside a coat pocket. We have also tried to find speakers that can handle coming along on a trip and being used every day. And we’ve set the price limit down to half the amount, so everyone is able to afford music for a holiday.

Party atmosphere and assistants

Two trends are evident among this year’s candidates. The first is that you can connect several speakers together. Either two speakers so you can get adequate stereo sound which gives a real boost indoors when they are placed near a wall. Or a so-called party mode where multiple speakers play in sync, either to spread the music throughout several rooms when you’re inside, or to get the music to cover a larger area when you’re outside. Unfortunately, the volume from a pocket speaker does not reach far if it is a big party.

 

(Photo: Manufacturer)

The other trend is that they have a microphone. This feature has previously allowed speakers to be used as speakerphones. This is convenient if you don’t want to hold your mobile phone or if you want to host a conference call. But now it’s also used to talk with voice assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant. Even if your mobile phone is packed away, you can press a button and ask about the weather, or make a web search to see who’s right when there is a disagreement during a party game.

 

Products in this test
Ultimate Ears UE Wonderboom

Wonderboom takes care of the party at the beach, in the shower and at the pool party.

Ultimate Ears has performed well in many of our previous tests. For example, the UE Megaboom was test winner at last year’s test of more expensive travel speakers. We have also tested Wonderboom separately, but how does it perform compared to the competition? We like the rounded format and the string that fits on the soap shelf in the shower. It can handle it because it is well protected against the elements. Since last year, several new colour options along with two fun patterns have appeared.

Naturally, you can get Wonderboom in a colour or pattern that suits you.

 

The control is simple with large, clear buttons. A button is also used to connect two Wonderbooms, but no stereo sound is given. Unfortunately, the Boom app isn’t supported, so you can’t use it to hook up a bunch of speakers. Logitech claims it’s easier. We think it’s sad. It lacks a microphone, so you can’t use it for phone calls, or to get voice assistants. However, it promises a range of 30 metres, which is good.

The most important is how it sounds, and Wonderboom provides just as much fun as the look suggests. It plays louder than you might think, and delivers deep bass. But that’s not the only thing that impresses us. You also gets a clean mid range with a clear and well-defined sound. Moreover, the treble is clear, without harsh edges. Thanks to the omnidirectional sound, it’s well suited for a group of friends at the beach with everyone hearing the music equally good.

 

(Photo: Manufacturer)

Conclusion

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom is an excellent, small Bluetooth speaker with many qualities and few issues. It has a neat design, is waterproof, plays both loudly and deeply, and has a great price. The only thing it really lacks is the ability to hook up in a stereo combination. Aside from that it’s a fantastic, well-sounding, little speaker, that you can bring along wherever it is needed. It is built to take a beating, and continues to play even if it’s pouring.

 

Connections: Bluetooth

Battery: 10 hours

Features: party mode

Classification: IP67 (dustproof/waterproof)

Dimensions/weight: 10 x 9 x 9 cm / 425 grams

Website: ultimateears.com

Pris: 1000 kr
PositiveCan be paired for greater sound. Long range. Good volume and sound quality.
NegativeNo app for party mode. Two speakers do not imply stereo sound. No microphone.
Braven Stryde

Stryde is a sturdy speaker packed with features, but the sound isn’t great.

The American brand Braven recently launched the Active series. Besides Stryde, there is also an omnidirectional 360 and a big brother XL. Stryde is a relatively large and heavy speaker, which might better fit in your luggage than in your handbag. It feels extremely sturdy and can withstand both dust and water. Its battery is decent and lasts long, and you can also charge your phone with it. However, it must be recharged with the accompanying charger.

Stryde can charge the mobile phone, but requires a special charger.

 

The large buttons on top make it easy to use the speaker with wet hands or gloves, if you don’t want to pick up the phone. With the mobile phone app, you can use a variety of settings, and even find a lost speaker or turn it off. Naturally, audio profiles such as acoustic music, rock and extra bass are also available. Thanks to the microphone, you can use voice assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant.

Stryde has large passive subwoofers on the side, which assures loud and heavy sound. It really thrives with rock music, which becomes very compelling. However, if you play electronic music with deep bass, it becomes too excessive. It is so forceful that it simply creates resonance in the speaker. With more complex or finely tuned music, you quickly notice that there is no presence and clarity in the sound. To a certain extent you can correct this with the EQ.

(Photo: Manufacturer)

 

Conclusion

Braven’s Stryde speaker is made for active people, and this is noticeable in both appearance and features. It is a decent device that can withstand dust and water, and does not initially look breakable. The large battery lasts long and can even supply power to a mobile phone. The app is packed with smart features and the speaker is easy to use. Unfortunately, the sound is just as coarse as its appearance. It can handle rock music, but has problems with other genres.

 

Connections: 3.5 mm, Bluetooth

Battery: 4,400 MAh, 22 hours

Features: voice assistant, USB charger

Classification: IP67 (dust and waterproof)

Dimensions/weight: 22 x 12 x 4.6 cm / 858 grams

Website: solipi.no

Pris: 1500 kr
PositiveVery long battery life. Can recharge mobile phones. Good mobile app. Sturdy and practical.
NegativeRequires a special charger. Excessive bass that gives resonance. Average sound quality.
Denon Envaya Mini DSB-150BT

A former best buy has corrected all the errors and is now best in its class.

Two years ago we tested the Envaya Mini in a similar test of travel speakers, and we concluded that it was the best buy. Here comes the sequel, confusingly enough with the same name. So it is important to keep track of the product designation. One of the shortcomings of this was the water protection, but it is now upgraded to waterproof. This cannot be seen by the pretty cloth-like chassis, but by the rubber-coated sides, making sure that water does not leak in through the buttons.

(Photo: Manufacturer)

 

Albeit large, the buttons are poorly marked, making them a little difficult to locate. If you have two Envaya of the same model, you can pair them together as a stereo pair by simply pressing two buttons. Unfortunately, there is no app for such features or for customising the sound. The microphone allows you to use it as a speakerphone, as well as for voice assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant. Although this is not mentioned any further.

The previous model already sounded really good, and Denon has now gone a step further. When you try acoustic live music, you get a wonderful sense of presence, and even a bit of stereo perspective. Jazz music has fine clarity and separation. Pop music sounds compelling with an appropriate bass rendition. Of course, there is no deep bass in this size, but it cuts more than pushing the speaker to the physically impossible.

All inputs are hidden, and the neat fabric goes all the way around.

 

Conclusion

Denon follows up last year’s best buy with an updated model with the same name. Keep track of the model designation. The few complaints we had back then have now been improved. The water protection is upgraded to waterproof. Despite this, it has a finer cloth-like chassis. It can also play at a higher volume without affecting the sound. But above all, it sounds exceptionally good, and handles everything from electronic dance music to acoustic live concerts.

 

Connections: 3.5 mm, BT 4.1 aptX

Battery: 11 hours

Features: stereo pairing, voice assistant

Classification: IP67 (dust and waterproof)

Dimensions/weight: 18.7 x 6.3 x 6.5 cm / 541 grams

Website: hifiklubben.no

Pris: 1500 kr
PositiveNice looking for a waterproof speaker. Can be connected in a stereo pair. Excellent sound quality.
NegativeNo app for audio settings. The buttons are tricky to use.
Geneva Sound Touring XS

Touring XS is better suited indoors than by the pool, especially as it is also a bit low-key.

We previously tested both Geneva Touring L and Touring S, where the letters indicate size. Now is their little brother’s turn, a speaker that falls into the travel category. Besides the size, the features are different. The larger models also have radio, while the XS must make do with only Bluetooth. The design hails back to the travel radios of the past. The imitation leather can be obtained in red, cognac, white or black. Very sober, but not particularly practical in this context.

Touring XS adorns the room with a leather covering in nice colours.

Somewhat surprisingly, Touring is the only test participant that is not protected from wind and weather. In other words, the speaker is better suited for a hotel room or a balcony, rather than the beach. It’s extremely easy to use. The speaker has a volume knob that also turns it on and off. That’s all. No voice assistants, stereo connections, playback controls, or apps. There is a wireless extension for the music on a mobile phone. That’s all.

It shares many of the problems with the Touring S regarding sound, but they are pronounced. Firstly, the bass is very modest, despite a passive driver on the back. It also sounds like it was latched on at the end, and it doesn’t interact with the rest of the range. Second, the amount of volume is limited and if you try to push it to max, the audio image begins to break up. However, the mid-range is warm and rich, with a clarity that is perfect for acoustic pieces and voices.

 

(Photo: Manufacturer)

 

Conclusion

If you are looking for a sporty speaker that you can take along on an adventurous trip, it is best to look elsewhere. It is not particularly robust, and can neither withstand dirt nor water. Geneva Touring XS is a sober mobile table speaker that is better suited for the balcony or the desk. Also, there are no features other than playing your music wirelessly. It doesn’t play particularly loud, and the bass has problems. However, it works good for podcasts and more low-key music.

 

Connections: 3.5 mm, BT 4.1

Battery: 20 hours

Features: –

Classification: –

Dimensions/weight: 17 x 4.5 x 8.2 cm / 725 grams

Website: neby.no

Pris: 1500 kr
PositiveVery sober leather design in pretty colours. Excellent battery life. Easy handling.
NegativeNo dust or water protection. No features whatsoever. Problematic bass.
Libratone Too

Libratone Too is easy to carry, nice to show off, and it sounds very good.

JBL Flip 4

Perhaps Flip means that this bass heavy party speaker is giving the competitors the finger?

Philips BT7900

Getting the right sound is tricky, and unfortunately the disadvantages also outweigh the advantages.

Skullcandy Barricade XL

Barricade XL is a party speaker with adequate bass, which floats if it falls into the water.

Bose Soundlink Micro

Very easy to use and bring along to the beach, but you have to compromise on sound.

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