Speakers have been around for quite a long time and, in some very crude creations were actually portable. But what we mean by portable speakers these days are speakers that we can take with us virtually anywhere. This Anker Soundcore Review is going to look at one of those products.
To be truly portable and fulfill today’s demands for connectivity, they need to have Bluetooth. That is a new invention created by Jaap Haartson, an engineer at Ericsson in Denmark. Assisted by Tord Wingren and Sven Mattisson, they effectively became the inventors of Bluetooth. So if you don’t like Bluetooth, you can blame the Danes.
Before Bluetooth, we had infra-red technology which Wifi based Bluetooth replaced. However, it may surprise you to know that in terms of speed of data transfer, Bluetooth is still a distant second to the old infrared technology. In fact, Dresden engineer, Frank Deicke, has recently developed an infra-red system with a transfer rate of 1 Gbps. Significantly faster than the best Bluetooth. And six times faster than a wired USB 2.0 connection.
But it is Bluetooth we have in our portable speakers so let’s take a look at this speaker from Anker…
Anker is a Chinese company that was established in 2011 by Steven Yang, who had been a software engineer at Google. Today it is based in Shenzhen, Guangdong, and is a world brand leader in technologies related to battery charges for phones and other devices.
They also make portable speakers and other audio, including headphones and speakers. In this short period of time, they have become a respected manufacturer and have offices all over the world. We are going to take a look at one of their budget speakers, the Soundcore.
Anker Soundcore – Overview
This is a typical Anker Innovations product. It is delivered on the basis of the ideas behind the company. These are to provide great sound with a strong build quality at a competitive price. This certainly is not the best speaker in their range by any means. However, it showcases what can be achieved for a budget level speaker.
So, let’s take a closer look at the Anker Soundcore…
The design is very plain on this speaker; one could say understated. This will suit some people who don’t really go for flashy designs. It certainly isn’t a design that you would be drawn to if a few speakers were in line. And it is a compact speaker measuring 6.5 inches by 2.25 by 1.75 inches.
It is made from plastic with a soft rubber-coated material covering on all sides except the front. The front has the speaker grille, which has the Anker logo. The soft rubber-coated finish is good for some situations. But will take a wipe down every now and then.
It has nice curved edges that give the cabinet a nice easy aesthetic. At twelve ounces, it is lightweight, but it’s got a rugged feel to it, helped by the rubber coating. It is therefore great for the park or the beach.
No weather protective rating is given, so we must assume it hasn’t got one. Therefore it might not take too much in the way of rain. It might also be a good idea to keep it away from the edge of the pool. It might be unfair to remark on that as Anker makes no claims about water-resistant qualities. We are just mentioning it for those who like to swim with their speakers and rock with the fishes.
It is fitted with a micro-USB port for battery charging and a 3,5mm socket for headphones. But also has a built-in mic for when you need a speakerphone. It is battery-powered only. Anker knows all about building batteries and chargers, being one of the world’s leading lights. This speaker shows off with its 24-hour battery life.
Inside providing the sound are two 3 watt speakers with a bass port. The speakers are dual full-range drivers. There is a DSP built-in. On the top of the unit are the control buttons and on the front, an LED light. It will flash blue when it is pairing to a device and stay blue while it is connected. It will turn red if the battery is running low.
As you may have gathered by now, the design is plain and simple. Nothing too gregarious. Personally, we prefer that to speakers that are trying to make contact with aliens by having flashing lights. It is a low-key design and is not going to draw attention to itself.
Build-wise it is quite solid, but we wouldn’t recommend throwing it around. It is not designed for that. Good quality all-round with good materials and a nice aesthetic. Some points earned here.
The controls for the speaker are rather basic and all situated on the top of the unit. They are raised very slightly above the level of the body.
However, they are a little indistinct and could really do with a little more feel as to when they have been activated. They do blend into the background of the speaker of that was the aim. But in doing so, make it a little harder to be identified. There are controls Volume, Play and Pause, and also Bluetooth pairing. There is also an on/off button.
Controls do not extend to operating music selections on the device you happen to be using.
Also see: JBL Flip 3 Review
Considering this speaker is very much a budget range, product connectivity is very good.
Bluetooth 4.2 is built-in, which gives you a range of about 60 feet. This assuming there are no obstructions in the way. The controls on the speaker work very well with devices connected through Bluetooth. Connections are easy, and it pairs up quickly and keeps a strong signal up to the limits of its range.
Anker Soundcore will connect with Alexa enabled devices. You can use it with iPhone, and Android phones and tablets and most other Bluetooth enabled devices. When it is turned on after a period of inactivity, it will automatically reconnect to the last known device. If it is within range, of course. You can, of course, use it to answer and respond to calls and messages.
On the side of the speaker is an Aux input for users not using Bluetooth. The Bluetooth pairing is quick and easy, and the connection good. For a budget range unit that makes it good value.
Let us move on to what some will see as the most critical area. It is very nice to have a good build and nice design, but it is the sound you are really paying for.
When discussing the sound performance of this speaker, we must keep in mind the price point. Being a budget model, it is not going to perform like a three figured speaker. If you maintain a realistic approach to the quality of the sound, you won’t be disappointed.
We have already mentioned the bass port and the dual drivers installed with a tuned DSP. These go a long way to producing a decent sound. Harmonic distortion is low, which gives a decent level of clarity. The bass port does help to give a clear deep sound.
Small speakers are always going to struggle a little with volume. Especially at the bottom end, and if we are honest, the lows are what you might expect them to be.
The sound was clean but lacked any real penetration. As we said, small speakers are going to struggle. An increase of volume and you reach a pony where you sense you can go no further. Up to that point, which is quite loud, the sound is adequate. A decent performance then with the low frequencies, if not particularly exciting.
At the high end, there can be problems if the volume is cranked up. The higher frequencies become a bit shrill and quite harsh. This can be solved by just lowering the volume a little. The harshness then goes away, and it helps the bottom end, as we have said.
When manufacturers are struggling to get what they consider a decent sound, it is often the mids that suffer. There is this idea that a boost in the bass and a kick to the highs makes it better. Not always the case. The mids are where the vocals will usually sit as well as acoustic guitars and orchestra. It is an important area.
Anker has recognized this, and the mids are the high point of the sound. Smooth and clean, they don’t necessarily dominate, but they are very prominent.
Overall for the price point, the sound is better than you might expect. As we said, don’t expect a three-figure costing speaker, and you won’t be disappointed.
Anker Soundcore Pros & Cons
- The sound is loud, clear, and well-balanced.
- Excellent battery life.
- USB out for charging other devices.
- Built-in microphone for making speakerphone calls.
- The lack of waterproofing makes the JBL Flip a tempting alternative.
- Generic design.
- Some people have experienced echoing when using the speakerphone.
What We Think
The Anker Soundcore has certainly been an interesting speaker to spend time looking at. It has its shortcomings. Of course, it does, but the essential things Anker has succeeded in providing.
If we are going to go through the weaker points. The controls are nicely-positioned but not that easy to recognize and use, especially in a darker environment. Also, they do not extend to controlling the playlists from the device you are using. You will, therefore, have to use the device to manipulate the tracks.
The rubber-coated finish on the body of the unit is there for a reason. It does offer a little protection should the speaker be dropped. But it does attract fingerprints and other marks. It will need a bit of a clean occasionally.
Finally, the sound is not what you might call high-end. The highs are a little harsh, and the bass a little weak.
We think not, and the Anker Soundcore is certainly one of the best speakers on the market if you are on a tight budget. The volume is quite adequate, and the battery use is quite amazing.
At the price point, overlook any of the faults. We wouldn’t really call them faults anyway. Just ways this speaker could be a little better. They are not big issues. It is a super speaker that does what it should and does it very well.