When it comes to portable speakers, the choices are virtually endless. Now that Bluetooth technology has evolved to its current state, the quality of wireless streaming audio has followed suit. That begs the question as to why a high quality, portable Bluetooth speaker system remains elusive? Not any longer. Soundcast Systems recently developed the Melody speaker that features long battery life, weighs in a less than 10 pounds, offers stunning music from any number of Bluetooth-equipped digital audio players and features an all-weather construction for use outdoors.
Initial setup was a snap. Within five-minutes of opening the box, the Melody was plugged in and charging then quickly paired with both an iPhone and laptop computer. The Melody always returns to a low default volume level when powered on and quickly pairs with the last used device after a few seconds–a solid blue light shows connectivity. It also powers off after several minutes if the output device disconnects (e.g., turning off Bluetooth on the iPhone).
Where most Bluetooth speakers have portability as their key asset, the Melody can claim sound quality in that regard. When it comes to speakers, sound reproduction should be a primary metric and the Melody passes with flying colors. Utilizing Bluetooth 3.0 technology, the Melody streams both AAC and aptX lossless audio codecs with no compression artifacts. That translates to pristine sound with clean amplification. Exhilarating highs and thumping bass separate out into 360-degree omnidirectional sound from four active “High-Q” 3-inch speaker drivers that are coupled to four passive bass radiators. Tonal balance is easily achieved with vocals sounding crisp without being muddled by limited frequency response. The Melody sounded great out of the box, but actually improved after breaking it in for a few hours.
Though not heavy weighing nine pounds, it’s not something you can toss in your backpack or purse being 9.5″ high and 9″ in diameter. However, the Melody is constructed from a single unibody plastic shell, with weatherized construction making it convenient for a day at the beach or family picnic, and absolutely ideal for a tailgate party. Its battery life ensures you’ll have enough juice and not have to worry about jump starting your vehicle after the game or concert. Our tests gave us 10-hours of play on the unit’s first charge at relatively high volume. The included manual states that “Melody will charge in 3 to 4 hours and will play for 12hrs at regular volume,” consistent with our finding. It can operate up to 20-hours when used at more moderate volumes.
Buttons on the top of the unit allow you to quickly change the volume, while also providing iTunes-compatible control to pause, play, repeat or fast-forward the current song. Rubber button construction allows easy cleanup with a damp rag should the Melody become soiled by sticky or sweaty hands. The all-weather chassis allows it to be used in moderate snow and rain.
Included accessories are a requisite USB cable that attaches to either its AC wall adapter or the 12V auto adapter for charging the Melody. A 1/8″ standard mini-headphone audio jack cable allows play from any device that is not equipped with Bluetooth technology, though the music player functions will have to be controlled by the output device in that case. Both USB charging and 1/8″ audio jacks are located near the top of the Melody under a weather-sealed rubber plug.
One drawback is the Bluetooth-standard 33-foot broadcast range. This isn’t much of a problem when in an open park, parking lot or similar setting. However, the audio output will struggle if you’re streaming music from your phone and walk out of the room. Still, the Bluetooth option easily outweighs having the device physically tethered and frees any issues with a docking station that could easily change over time (e.g., Apple switching from its 30-pin to “Lightning” connector).
The Melody should be any any music fan’s wishlist heading into the holidays. If you’re looking for portability and high quality sound then the Melody should more than satisfy your needs.
UPDATE: After playing around a bit more with the Melody we are still in love with its sound quality. Another benefit of its build quality is the rugged carry handle. There are times when you might want to have the speaker in your front yard or at a picnic or other location where you can’t always keep an eye on it. Theft happens. The one piece build allows for a bike lock to be placed through the handled and fixed to a secure anchor point (e.g., fence post or tree) to give you some added piece of mind.
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