sbode Portable Wireless Speaker REVIEW Spare the pocket book but not the quality
When it comes to movies and music, sometimes I want more sound than what the base speakers of my iPhone X and iPad Pro 10.5” can provide. Additionally, I do not always want to place earbuds in my ears or headphones over my head. In those instances, I turn to Bluetooth speakers like the sbode 06 speakers. The sbode Portable Wireless Speaker arrived in a flat white 6 1/16 inches tall by 5 3/8 inches wide by 4 3/8 inches thick retail box. I was a bit torn about my opinion on the packaging. Part of me respected sbode for the clean and sterile appearance, but part of me wanted pizzaz, sparkle, and some color. I loved that the front and back panels displayed the speaker (vertically oriented and horizontally oriented) with grey shadowing. In fact, the front image appeared as if it were floating. Along the front of the packaging, we can learn about the FM Radio mode, True Wireless Stereo mode, micro SD card mode and water resistance IPX6 (non-submersible). If you rotate the packaging and evaluate the sides, you can gain a good understanding of the features of the speaker. The connectivity icon was misspelled on the box as “Conectivdsd” and repeated most of the features on the front and auxiliary input 3.5mm, and a micro-SD charging port. Sbode included dual 6W speakers and a rechargeable Li-Po battery with 6 hours of playing time for every 4-hour charge. Measuring 4 3/16 inches tall by 3 1/2 inches wide, the matte black water-resistant speaker only weighs 0.77 lb.
To access the product, lift the magnetic flap towards your right. Within the box, the product was nestled securely within a plastic bed. Beneath the plastic, you will find the attractive squat cylinder speaker, a 23 inches long micro-USB to USB-A cable a 22 1/4 inches long 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable and ten-panel instruction manual. Before using the speaker, open the small charging port on the speaker and plug in the micro-USB cable and then the USB-A end into a 5V wall brick. I set this on charge, checked on it again sixty minutes later and found the speaker to be fully charged. You can look at the speaker directly to know when it is done charging, as the orange LED will flash while charging and extinguish when complete. The matte black speaker has a front and a back face. Along the front, you will find four vertically oriented buttons: a circular button with a negative icon, a plus icon, a negative icon and a play/pause icon. Along the rear face, you can find the charging port with rubberized cover and 3 1/4 inches long wrist strap. Each end of the speaker is open and has a floating dark, metallic, silver disc with etched “sbode.” Sbode succeeded in creating an attractive speaker with a prominent tactical/technological feel and appearance. After reviewing the packaging and the device, I was truly excited to put it to use.
The activation and pairing process was straightforward and comparable to other Bluetooth devices. To activate the sbode speaker, hold the circle button for three seconds. You will hear a female voice, with an Asian accent, state “Power on, Bluetooth mode.” To complement the verbal cues, sbode provided a blue LED just under the power button. When powered on, the light was solid blue, and when powered off, the light was extinguished. I loved that the light was included, but it was rather bright, and there was no way to dim it. Knowing that blue light breaks down melatonin (naturally produced sleep hormone), it may have been better to include a red LED instead. Once turned-on, navigate to settings on your smart device, select Bluetooth, and then SBODE 06 from the list. The speaker will then announce ’”Device Paired.” If you press the circle again, it will change to “FM Radio Mode” and if pressed again “Bluetooth Mode.” The speaker will conveniently save power by automatically turning off after 10 minutes of disuse. When you are ready to turn it off yourself, hold the power button for two seconds until you hear “Power Off.” When you turn it back on again, you will hear “Power on, Bluetooth Mode, Device Paired.”
When you turn to FM Radio Mode, you will be greeted by a wall of static. Hold the triangle button for 2 seconds (long press) to search available stations. The blue LED will flash and the speaker will cycle between stations. When complete, the blue LED will ignite solidly, and you can short press the “+” to advance stations and the “-” button to return to the previous station. If you press the circle button again, it will change to Bluetooth mode. I was pleased that the speaker kept the last listened station in memory when changing between modes and when powered on/off. I was displeased, however, with the button selection choice for short/long presses. Just like with other headphones and speakers, I prefer short to long presses for volume control. When I have to long press the sound buttons, I feel that I can never set the volume at a comfortable level. This speaker was a little different, as the volume of the device and the volume of my iPhone were separate. With the sound maximized on the speaker, I could increase/decrease the sound with my phone. Sbode included an audible beep, to alert you that the maximum/minimum volume level had been reached. Another really interesting feature was to have your phone volume on maximum and then turn the speaker down to a negligible audible level. From there, you could turn this down even further and placed it near your bed. Using this technique, I was able to listen to music while side lying in bed without disrupting my wife. To know how quiet, think about sitting next to someone listening to headphones, and you can barely hear the sound leaking from their device.
The speaker is not truly 360 sound but sounded great however it was rested. I found that the fullest sound was found with the speaker in horizontal mode, resting on the wrist strap, buttons facing me. The second best position was vertically standing. At maximal phone/speaker volume, the speaker was too loud for proximity listening. However, placed on the other side of my living room, I was able to enjoy full room sound. Using a decibel meter and listening to Prince “Purple Rain” I found up to 91.1 decibels of sound, which was rather incredible from this little speaker. Moving the speaker five feet from the microphone showed a decibel drop of around 10. The bass was more than adequate for songs like “Long Black Train” by Josh Turner or “Train Song” by Holly Cole. With maximal phone and maximal speaker volume, the sound would fill a home office, dorm room, living room, a pool deck and other medium-sized rooms. The speaker was stereo, and I bet the TWS feature would be exceptional with two of these devices. I would love to have a second speaker to try the TWS feature.
I ran through my normal test tracks to include those above and Gladiator Soundtrack, Far and Away Soundtrack, Braveheart Soundtrack and was very pleased with the quality of sound. I then turned to movies on YouTube, Amazon Prime video and Movies Anywhere. Unfortunately, there was a prominent lag/sync issue between video and sound with the YouTube app and website. If you only want to listen to music, this will not be a problem. I turned next to Movies Anywhere and tried to watch The Greatest Showman and was very pleased to find no lag. Next, I turned to Amazon Prime Video and watched “Star Trek Beyond” and noted a very small but perceptible sync issue with the video lagging momentarily behind the audio and this was also found in the newest “Power Rangers.” If I started the video and then turned on the speaker, this lag was gone. If the speaker was on and then the video started it was present but mild. The device paired nicely with my iPhone X and my iPad Pro 10.5” for an improved listening experience. However, if you are looking to watch YouTube video, it may not work as well for you. I have tested numerous headphones/earphones and Bluetooth speakers and have seen this many times before. Alas, I have not found a workaround, when present.
The device lasted me 6–7 hours and announced “Out of Battery” while flashing orange LED when low. Even though the battery life may seem a bit short, do not fret as you can charge while using the device. After charging just at three and a half hours, the device was back to full power and was ready for portable listening. If interested, you can plug the device into your phone/tablet with a 3.5mm cord (I did not test this), or you can plug in a micro-SD card to play directly from the card. This offering from sbode may be ideal for just about any situation and at more than a third of the price of many of the name brand versions. Enjoy your movies and any genre of music you can imagine such as Rock, R&B, Jazz, Instrumental, Oldies, Instrumental, Acapella. I enjoyed audible books and I enjoyed movies and music on Amazon Prime and Movies Anywhere. I have already purchased a second device to evaluate the TWS feature and look forward to trying the stereo sound. The radio feature was not used much during my review, but I had to steal it back from my wife who wanted to listen to K-Love while in the shower. As an additional bonus, link the speaker to an Amazon Echo or an Amazon Dot and gain voice commands.
Originally published at macsources.com on April 23, 2018.