Review: iClever BoostSound BTS-09 Bluetooth Speaker
iClever's new BoostSound BTS-09 is the first Bluetooth speaker we've looked at from the consumer electronics company, which makes a variety of power products, headphones, and other Bluetooth speakers, and represents an interesting departure from the company's prior Bluetooth speakers, which all featured more typical small and portable speaker designs. Rather than the typical rectangular "brick" design that seems so common to small speakers these days, iClever has gone with a more unique design style that's clearly aimed at use around the home, although it's still battery powered so you can easily move it around the house without having to worry about plugging it in. Handsfree speakerphone capabilities are also included.
The BTS-09 is constructed from an aluminum alloy, with a metallic speaker grille on the front and covered with a smooth matte plastic backing on the rear, and sits in a fixed position on top of an attached metal stand. Five buttons on the top provide controls for power, mode, playback, and volume. Ports for micro-USB charging and a 3.5mm audio can be found at the rear bottom of the speaker, along with a TransFlash/micro-SDHC card slot for playing music directly off a flash memory card (we did not test this feature). The BTS-09 includes a 2’ 3.5mm audio cable and 2’ USB-A to micro-USB charging cable in the box; you’ll need to provide your own USB power source to charge the speaker, as no power adapter is included. At only two feet, we also found the supplied micro-USB charging cable a bit on the short side — it should be fine for charging up the BTS-09 from a USB port on your computer, but you’ll likely need to supply a longer cable if you’re looking to leave the speaker plugged in on a table. iClever promises 8 hours of playback time from a full charge of the built-in 4000 mAh battery.
Pairing the BTS-09 works in the same manner as any other Bluetooth device, and once it was charged up we had no issues getting it up and running within a few seconds A blue LED behind the grille provides Bluetooth pairing and playback status, and an LED ring on the rear of the speaker provides ambient blue light during normal operation, turning red to indicate charging or low power status. The LED ring can be set to one of three illumination levels or turned off entirely, but unfortunately this isn’t the case with the blue status LED on the front of the speaker — it flashes slowly during playback and remains on solid when music is paused, but there appears to be no way to shut it off entirely as long as the speaker is powered on. While it’s not a serious issue, we found it a bit of a disappointing oversight in light of the speaker’s otherwise clean aesthetics.
The BTS-09 provides decent enough sound quality, appropriate to a speaker in its price range, packing a pair of 10W drivers and a surprising amount of bass. That said, however, we’d call the sound merely “good” rather than “great” — the bass is more present than we’d expect in a speaker of this size and design, but the sound isn’t especially balanced, with some gaps in the mid range that result in more emphasis on the highs and lows — songs with a lot of bass will sound a bit muddy, while the higher end can sound a bit on the tinny side. None of this is particularly surprising for a speaker of this size and price, but if your emphasis is primarily on getting the best audio quality you can for the price, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Like most Bluetooth speakers that include hands-free capabilities, the built-in speakerphone features were about average. Sound quality from the person on the other end of the call was good, but the microphone pickup was lacking, with muddled sound and basically zero noise cancellation. Of course, speakerphone capabilities are usually just an add-on bonus in speakers like these, but it’s worth keeping in mind that this will affect Siri as well — based on our testing we’d say that you can pretty much forget about accurately calling up music tracks via Siri
In terms of sound quality and features, iClever’s BTS-09 is pretty typical for a speaker in its class and price range, and in that regard it’s nothing remarkable. However, we have to admit that its design does make it stand out in an otherwise crowded market of lower-end speakers, and many users may find that to be appealing in and of itself compared to the plethora of other unremarkable designs out there. It’s a good enough speaker for its price, so if you like the design and are willing to live with the other compromises, it’s worth checking out, and therefore worthy of our Limited Recommendation.