Here is my video review, check out the crazy stuf I did with the Icon then read on below for more images and advice:
At the $50 price point, this is a really tough speaker that will handle whatever you throw at it. It’s got all day battery life and respectable bass, it’s truly waterproof, and it floats. You can literally drop this thing in the river, lake, or pool and it’s not going to matter at all. Better yet, it has a super strong strap that you can unhook to hang on railings, trees, hammocks, chair lifts, backpacks, and anything else you can imagine. On the downside, I think the sound balance is a bit off and the process of unpairing and repairing is a bit unique. Here’s what I like about it:
It’s Really Waterproof
Many speakers come with a “water resistant” or “made with water repellant material” label, but this one is totally waterproof. Not only will it withstand rain, shower, or sprinkler, you can literally throw it in a lake or river without any trouble. Here’s a video of me doing exactly that:
The Strap is Bulletproof
Ok, so not really – don’t try to use this as a bulletproof vest, but the strap is not going to break. It’s made of a super durable rubber material that links right on to the speaker. You can take on side off and wrap it around, well, whatever you want. Here are a few shots of the Icon hanging around with me today:
It Has Controls on the Exterior
If you are seriously using a speaker in a place where things might get wet or damaged, this is REALLY IMPORTANT. You want to be able to leave your phone in your waterproof bag or box and control the music without having to get the phone out. Fortunately, the Icon has volume and track control built into the speaker, so you can navigate your music and adjust the volume without getting you phone out. As a paddleboarder, I REALLY appreciate this feature. It lets me keep the phone in the drybag and manage music without needing to get it out and risk dropping the phone in the lake or river.
It’s Very Durable
I dragged this speaker behind my mountain bike for about a half mile (yes, on the ground. I tied it with to the frame with paracord and biked uphill). It sustained some cosmetic damage, but functions as well as it did before I dragged it. For the kids at home, I would NOT recommend doing this (Soundcore specifically states that you should “avoid dropping” the speaker in the user manual) . I don’t care about that, though. I wanted to see what would happen! See the video review above for that demonstration.
Solid Bass for a Small Form Factor
Soundcore’s BassUp technology is clearly central to the design of this speaker. You can definitely feel the bass when it kicks. That being said, there are some drawbacks to sound quality I will address in cons.
Light, Portable, Packable
The cylinder/sphere shape of this speaker is ideal. it will slide into a back back or carry on easily without taking up too much room. Because it is shaped that way, it pushes its way into tight spaces very well. This is a welcome change from the boxier speakers I have used in the past. Also, it is lightweight. That makes it easy to bring along on adventures without weighing yourself down.
This won’t bother most users, but the treble is a bit forward on this speaker. I listen to a particular song (Edgar Meyer’s version of Bela Fleck’s “Big Country”) whenever I get a new speaker. It helps me evaluate new speakers against old ones. This is a great song because it has high end banjo and guitar with a major double bass line that should shake the house (Edgar Meyer is a classically trained stand-up bassist and this is his riff on a popular American Bluegrass song). What struck me about this speaker is that there was too much treble. It made a song that should be deep and expansive a bit flat. If you listen to Rap or Pop, you will not notice this. True audiophiles should get a Soundcore Boost.
The Feet Came Off
This speaker has two little rubber feet on the bottom. They are very handy for making the speaker stay somewhere when you put it down, but they came off today. Granted, I pulled the speaker behind a bike and threw it into a lake like 15 times, but still.
The Sound Gets VERY Distorted When Soaked
So, when you soak this speaker, the sound gets really muffled and distorted. It seems as though the water gets on the speakers themselves and gets trapped inside the cloth on the outside. I don’t really think this fabric is necessary. I prefer a design more like the Soundcore Sport XL, where there is no fabric to absorb water. That speaker has no problems with sound quality when wet. See the demo in the video review included above for a demonstration of this issue.
Choose the Orange One
It’s not available in the US yet, but I would WAIT UNTIL IT IS, especially if you might drop this in a river or a lake. When I threw it into the lake, I had a very hard time finding it because the speaker and the water were the same dark color. I would get the orange one if you think you might drop this off a boat, raft, kayak or paddle board. Especially in a flowing river, it would be easy to lose the black version in the current simply because it is hard to distinguish from the water. Fortunately, the excellent strap makes it unlikely you will drop it unintentionally, but you never know.
Bluetooth Unpairing and Re-pairing is a Bit Wonky
In order to drop a BT connection to one device and put it on another, you not only have to disconnect from the original device and press the bluetooth pairing button, you actually have to reboot the Icon. Then it will auto connect to the old device if you don’t pair it quickly enough and you have to repeat the process. That makes it hard to switch between devices if you want to give your friend DJ responsibilities on the fly.
I have to say that this is a great speaker for some and not for others. If you are a person that wants a great all-around speaker you don’t have to worry about damaging that you will carry around on you backpack, the Soundcore Icon is the best speaker for you. If you are a super hardcore adventurer, I would go with the Soundcore Sport XL. It does not distort the sound as much when wet, has a longer battery life, and better bass and overall wattage than the Icon.