After the development of the speaker, it would only be a matter of time before we saw products like the Ion Audio Pathfinder Charger. Perhaps inappropriately named as it doesn’t find any paths and being stationary certainly doesn’t charge anywhere.
But, the English language only has a certain number of nouns in it that we can use to name things. We forgive them.
Made for the outdoors…
Speakers such as this have been developed to be used outside. Maybe around the pool or at the beach. On a tailgate in a car park or wherever you like, really. In the right setting, they are a useful tool to have.
They are not a new thing, particularly in their concept. But today, they have taken a huge leap forward courtesy of a Dutchman at a Danish company. Dr. Jaap Haartsen working for Ericsson, made it a practical technology in the 1990s.
Bluetooth opens up the door…
Dr. Haartsen’s ‘creation’ has transformed how we listen to music and just about everything else. Creation may be the wrong word to use. The science that makes Bluetooth work has always been there. We just needed to learn how to use it. Haartsen did.
Many such speaker systems have Bluetooth as standard, and the Ion Audio Pathfinder Charger is just one of them.
But before we look at our Ion Audio Pathfinder Charger Review, who is Ion?
Ion is a part of the InBrands music group and is based in Rhode Island. InBrands is a group of like-minded companies, also based in Rhode Island, that manufacture audio products.
Ion was founded in 2002 to provide cost-effective products that were easy to use. Most of their products are Bluetooth-enabled. This is one of a range of speakers that are designed for use outside. Let’s take a look at it.
Ion Audio Pathfinder Charger – Overview
At one time, you had to keep an eye on the weather if you wanted music at an outdoor event. Of course, you still do to a certain extent, but the music is now secure. Some speakers these days are made to withstand bad weather and rain. This speaker is one such product.
It has a water-resistant rating and rugged build that means it can withstand some of the elements. If you want a speaker for parties in the garden for any outdoor event, this is worth a look. It is Bluetooth-enabled and has rechargeable batteries. Therefore, it gives you whatever music you want and doesn’t rely on the mains connection.
It has a reasonable amount of power as well, so it seems to fit the bill for small gatherings.
Will it suit yours? Let’s take a closer look…
If you are going to build a speaker that is going to be used outdoors, it must have certain attributes. Firstly, it needs to have a very strong build, and this speaker certainly has that. It has a very strong enclosure that measures 20.08 by 14.06 by 20.94 inches. This build quality will allow it to take a few knocks.
With a strong build, though, comes the weight problem. You can’t have a very rugged build that is lightweight. This speaker weighs just under 30 pounds. So whilst not excessively heavy, you aren’t going to be able to throw it around.
As it is designed for parties and outdoor use, transporting it is fundamental. To this end, it has been given handles built-into the sides. It also has a telescopic handle that folds away when you don’t need it and finally wheels. The latter being a very good, and in some cases, necessary addition.
As it is possibly going to be exposed to either light rain or splashes from a pool, it has a weather rating of IPX5. This is a water-resistant rating rather than waterproofing. But this will suffice, providing you don’t throw it into the water. Silly thing to say, really. Why would you?
Some other features…
Besides its Bluetooth compatibility, it has an AM/FM radio that offers five presets for your favorite stations. The battery life, if you need it, is good. The marketing material says up to 100 hours on a charge, but at any volume, we think that is unlikely. More likely to be half that, and that might decrease if you run it at high volume.
It comes with a centrally-located LED that offers information and also contains a clock. We will look at that a little later.
There is also a light bar with multi-color options. This will pulse with the music if you choose to use it. It can be turned off if necessary.
It offers a bit more…
If you are looking for something that sets your speaker apart from the others, this has one of those features. What gives it an edge is that it has a recharging option for all Qi-enabled devices. On top of the speaker is a recharging ring. All you do is lay your phone on it, and it will charge. A wireless recharge facility such as this is a nice touch.
Added to this is that there is a USB port to charge other devices. It seems to have all the recharging requirements covered.
One further addition is a microphone. That opens up a few extra possibilities for the speaker’s use and functionality.
We have to say you have to look hard to find something. The weight could have been a problem, but it is built with handles and wheels.
The only issue we think could have been included is a remote control. That certainly would be an advantage. As it hasn’t got one, you will have to continually go to the speaker to make any adjustments to volume or settings.
This is a speaker that is not really designed for larger venues or, indeed, larger outdoor gatherings. It has 100 watts peak power, which equates to about 50 watts RMS.
This is a reasonable amount of volume, but it isn’t going to deafen anyone. And given that you may have to use it on high settings, this will have an impact on battery life.
The sound it delivers is via a two-way speaker system. It has an eight-inch woofer and wide-dispersion tweeter. The sound is really quite adequate for a portable speaker. Should you need a little more bottom end, there is a bass boost control button. This will add quite a bit to the bottom end.
Providing that you do not push it too hard, this is a good choice for the smaller gathering. The addition of the microphone we briefly mentioned is certainly an advantage. There are no built-in screens that will link up to the speaker to make it a karaoke machine. However, it is easy to operate a sing-a-long activity with any of your own playlists or via Bluetooth.
It may be possible to utilize Bluetooth to find some karaoke backing tracks as well, which is an added advantage. It, therefore, becomes not a serious karaoke machine but is certainly a fun item.
The balance between battery life and volume will need to be managed, but generally speaking, the performance of this speaker is good.
The control panel on the front is quite easy to use and descriptive. It centers around a bright LED display that is clear and easy to read. That display also has a clock with a built-in alarm function. The controls include a volume dial and push-button controls for powering on and establishing a Bluetooth connection. There are also five buttons for the AM/FM presets and a Master volume dial control.
The final push-button controls are for track control with play and pause and back. On top of the speaker is the recharging ring, which we have already discussed.
This speaker utilizes NFC Bluetooth pairing. NFC or ‘near-field communication’ makes pairing up efficient and easy. It has a standard range of approximately 30 meters or about 100 feet.
There is a USB port included for charging devices, and comes in handy if the charging ring on top is being used. There is also a 3.5mm input that allows you to use non-Bluetooth devices.
Nothing flamboyant and all very functional. The controls and connections are easy to use and very efficiently organized.
Not too much, really. As we said, though, they do include a microphone and its cable to plug it in. Not the highest quality you will find. You wouldn’t expect that it would be.
But it serves its purpose and adds a fun element to your party if you choose to use it.
Set at a decent price point, this is a speaker that has very few frills but one that will do a job.
Ion Audio Pathfinder Charger Review Pros and Cons
- Rugged build that has an IPX5 water-resistant rating.
- Handles and wheels are included for easy transportation.
- Reasonable volume levels.
- Easy to use controls.
- LED display with clock and alarm function.
- NFC quick and efficient pairing for Bluetooth.
- Device recharging ring on the top of the speaker.
- Attractive price point.
- Microphone and cable included.
- No remote control.
Looking for Something Else?
Finding the right speakers has never been easier. So check out our in-depth reviews of the Loudest Portable Bluetooth Speakers, the Best Tailgate Speakers, the Best Solar Powered Bluetooth Speakers, the Best Bluetooth Speakers with Radio, and the Best Wireless Outdoor Speakers you can buy in 2021.
Ion Audio Pathfinder Charger Review – Final Thoughts
This is a speaker that is designed with really only one use in mind. It’s party time, whether inside or out. It is well-built and quite strong, has a water-resistant rating, and easy to use controls. The Bluetooth pairing is good, and it comes in at a very attractive price.
As we have said, there is nothing particularly outstanding about this speaker other than the charging ring, which is good. It is very ordinary with nothing much to write home about.
But it is strong and quite well-equipped, and it is going to do a very good job. It is therefore not difficult to say that it is worth considering if what you want is a speaker for your outdoor events. And at this price point, you really can’t go wrong. All this makes the Ion Audio Pathfinder Charger a good buy.
Until next time, happy listening.