I’m fairly happy when a new speaker makes its way to my front door as there is typically something unique about them. Whether that unique aspect be the design, the claims of an impressive sound, or massive drivers that play room-blaring sounds, it’s always pleasant listening to my favorite tunes.

There was recently the RIVA Audio Turbo S that took the title for best speaker design, the Logitech Z906 speaker system whose 5.1 surround sound was truly impressive, and of course the Vizio sound bar that to this day fills my living room with every sound imaginable. Game of Thrones has never sounded better.

With products like that, it’s hard for speaker manufacturers to compete in such a flooded market. Moreover, unique aspects of a speaker are becoming hard to come by. So when a speaker is dropped off by the mailman and it doesn’t have a fancy design, isn’t touting itself as the best sounding speaker on the market, and is quite small in size, it can actually catch my attention.

Lately, I have been taking a gander at some nifty gadgets by iClever, like their foldable Bluetooth keyboard, but when I saw that they offered a speaker that was, simply, just a speaker, it was something that I was willing to check out.

Known as the iClever Wireless Speaker or IC-BTS04, you won’t be bragging to your friends about this speaker’s great functionality. Spoiler alert, you also won’t find claims in this review about how its looks are unlike anything on the market or how it’s got room filling sound, because it doesn’t have any of that. It’s just a speaker. Something simple, yet functional.

Welcome to my review of the iClever Wireless Speaker, model IC-BTS04. Throughout this review I will be discussing the following topics: the design, functionality, and my final thoughts. A special thank you to iClever for providing me with this device.



Design

The iClever wireless speaker is constructed out of an aluminum frame that is capped by a plastic top and bottom.

On the top of the body, you find a strange looking power button, a play/pause button, Bluetooth and phone connectivity button, followed by forward and reverse buttons. Additionally, the top houses a microphone for those who wish to use this for voice calls. This speaker does lack independent volume control.

The bottom of the unit contains some product information which is sandwiched between two anti-slip pads, but these pads seriously fail at their job. The speaker slides effortlessly on every smooth surface; the same goes for carpet.

There is an optional hand wrist strap on the left for, you know, that one time you wanted to jog with a speaker on your wrist. On the right side is a rubber flap that protects an aux input as well as the micro USB input to charge the device.



A common staple for most speakers these days is to have a full-sized USB port to serve as a power source for a smartphone or tablet. Unfortunately, this wireless speaker lacks this ability, but it makes up for it by excessive play time. Claiming ten hours of music playback, I got an average of eight which I find to be enough for most days.

I didn’t find anything spectacular about the silver and black color scheme, but the front alternating boxes design/grill is stylish. However, this neat design doesn’t carry over to the back subwoofer where instead you are left with a single speaker grill.

The design category does include fall durability and I did happen to drop this speaker twice. From an average height onto wood and carpet, the speaker tends to bounce around, but surprisingly there wasn’t a mark or any signs of damage. This is advertised as an outdoor speaker, so toughness is a must.



Functionality

If you weren’t discouraged by the last paragraph in the introduction, then I must claim that I did lie. This speaker does have one neat feature, the IPX5 water resistance rating.

The water rating on the iClever speaker is higher than most with the “5” indicating water jet spray resistance. Unfortunately, the speaker does not have a dust rating. This means that, while you might be ok by the pool, the idea of a beach visit or camping may not be in your best interest with this speaker.

When pressing the buttons on top, I wish that iClever had added some more travel distance before they are activated. While the buttons are firm and quick I would have liked them to be raised up. Furthermore, when turning on the device, you get a nice voice that says “Device is ready for connecting”, but then the voice is nowhere to be found when turning the unit off.

While this voice is audible when turning on the device, that same voice is oddly mumbled when connecting the aux cable. Explaining this in words the voice seems to be saying “oxy-mode” with the word “mode” slurred or writing it like “oxy-modeee”. I believe the voice is attempting to say “Aux-In Mode”. It sounds awful and quite cheap if you ask me.

Then we get to the sound of the actual speaker. It’s what I would call okay for a speaker of this size. There is a total of 10 watts for the speaker, so while it’s not pumping out blasting sound it doesn’t sound too bad.

I tried playing at all different volumes using the aux cable. At low volume you hear quiet music, at the middle of the volume bar it’s the most enjoyable, and when I raised the volume all the way up, it wasn’t too loud, but instead sounded muffled or incorrect.

Rock and roll was my station of choice on Pandora and with the volume bar set to medium, music at my desk wasn’t too bad. If I walked across the room, it still wasn’t awful. When walking outside, the speaker had a tough time as it started to fade as I walked 20 feet away. A simple solution would be to turn up the volume, but, as mentioned, I found that the music didn’t sound right with louder volume.

In terms of the quality of the sound, it was fair. ToLust, a reviewer on the Amazon product page for this product said it well when he stated “…not the best I have ever heard by any stretch of the imagination.” He continues on to say that the lows and mids were acceptable and I have to agree with him there.

Bass is present, and stronger than I expected. This is surprising since speakers in this price range can sometimes lack bass.

The best functionality I have for this speaker is that it makes an acceptable desk speaker. With the lower volume range and okay-sounding lows and mids, it covers most songs well. If you are outdoors and the speaker is right beside you, you can enjoy the tunes, but distance is your enemy.



My Final Thoughts

I wanted this speaker to succeed and wow me more than it did. I figured that this would be a speaker that didn’t have all of the bells and whistles, just a speaker that was inexpensive and recommendable.

What we have here is a desk speaker that is being advertised for the outdoors. Giving a speaker an IPX5 rating and leaving the dust proofing out seems bizarre to me, especially for a speaker which is meant for the outdoors and shows pictures of it at the beach and camping.

Amazon reviewers for this product have raved about it, going as far as five stars even when adding complaints in their review, but I cannot share that same love. At $35 it is a bad recommendation for a speaker that doesn’t even impress me. Maybe if priced at $14.99 it would be an option for many.

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© 2016 Justin Vendette