iClever aluminium Bluetooth speaker review: the clothes make the man

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Today we’re looking at iClever’s fourth Bluetooth speaker, the IC-BTS04. This one looks more impressive than its predecessors, with a classy aluminium construction, an IPX5 waterproof rating and bassy 10W dual drivers. Let’s take a look!


Pros

  • Feels durable and well built in the hand
  • Waterproof (if ports are sealed)
  • Small size + low weight = super portable
  • Reasonable sound quality for its size
Cons

  • Still a bit lacking in bass
  • No NFC
  • No apt-X support


score9-200Summary and score

iClever have produced their best speaker yet, combining good looks with a durable design and a powerful speaker. These made not be the bassiest speakers around, but they’re pretty impressive for their size. At £25, these speakers are better than competitors at twice the price.

Support XSR: Buy for $54.99 from Amazon.com
 

Features & Specifications

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  • Dual 5W drivers (10W total)
  • Bluetooth 4.0 (A2DP, HFP, AVRCP)
  • IPX5 rating for water and dust ingress
  • 1800mAh battery provides up to 10 hours life
  • Five buttons for playback control
  • Mic for handsfree calls
  • 162 x 64.2 x 28.3mm, 256 grams
  • Charges in 3-4 hours via micro USB (provided)
  • 3.5mm input (cable provided)

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Design

The BTS-04 has a standard rounded cuboid layout, with two 5W speakers facing forward and buttons on top.

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There’s a power button, a play/pause button, a multi-function button (for initiating pairing, answering calls) and buttons for skipping forward and back. These same buttons adjust the volume when held down. There’s also a mic at the top, so you can use the BTS-04 for calls if they come in.IMG_7310

There’s a rubber cover on the right side of the speaker. Remove this and you’ll find the speaker’s two ports, a micro USB for charging and a 3.5mm input for non-Bluetooth devices. This cover must be in place to ensure the waterproofing works, so check before you dive into the pool!

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The bottom of the speaker has its information and logos, as well as two rubbery feet to ensure the speaker doesn’t slide around too much. Remember to take off the plastic covers if you actually want these to work!IMG_7315

The speaker is wrapped in aluminium, with the material covering the front and back, and extending onto the sides. The top and bottom (and the inner part of each side) are plastic, but these pieces don’t take away from the solidity of the whole design.

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There’s a small iClever logo in the center part of the speaker, but otherwise little ornamentation throughout which is nice.

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Here’s another look at the buttons. The top isn’t blue as it appears here; the colour is simply matte black. The multi-function button in the centre does light up in blue when the speaker is on (and an American says ‘connected!’ once a connection has been made. We found this amusing, your mileage may vary).

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So — a good looking and well constructed Bluetooth speaker, in our estimation.

 

Testing

The pairing process is super easy; just turn on the speakers and hold down the multi-function button for a bit and you’ll hear an American come on and say he’s waiting for a connection. Connect with your phone or laptop or whatever, and the American will confirm you’re paired. Then you’re away to the races.

(NFC would make this process better, but if you’re not constantly swapping between devices then it’s not a big deal either way.)

Once connected, it’s time to play some tunes. We tried a range of genres and we were impressed; there’s not a ton of bass here but the speaker doesn’t sound as tinny as most speakers in its size class. Overly bassy music will still sound better on (much) larger speakers, but for everything else the BTS-04 does well. Mids are solid, highs are clear, and there’s no distortion even at high volume. The speaker can get loud enough to fill a small room, and that’s enough for a pocket-sized unit in our book.

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The speaker remained functional when splashed with water, as you’d expect from the IPX5 rating. Not however that a ‘5’ as the second digit means that you’re protected from ‘jets’ of water, but it’s not guaranteed to survive immersion. So keep it near the pool or in the shower by all means, but try not to actually dunk it for any length of time. The speakers aren’t rated for dust resistance (hence the X), so they may not survive in totally dusty and dirty conditions.

Beyond their functional impact, the speaker is also just good-looking. The metal design make them pretty classy in our eyes; they wouldn’t look out of place in a board room like many Bluetooth speakers would.

 

Wrapping up

This Bluetooth speaker is the real deal: classy, well-built, easy to use, good-sounding and not too expensive either. If you’re looking for a small wireless speaker, then the BTS-04 from iClever is a great choice.

Support XSR: Buy for $54.99 from Amazon.com

These speakers are called ‘iClever Wireless Speakers with Enhanced Bass 10W Output from Dual Driver Portable Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker, Gray’ on Amazon, so I’m copying this to the page for ease of search. What a silly name.

About William Judd

Editor-in-Chief for XSReviews. Find me @wsjudd or on G+.

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