Review: iLuv SyrenPro Wireless Weather-Resistant Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker
First demoed at the 2014 CES, SyrenPro ($130) is iLuv's large new Bluetooth speaker, packed full of interesting features. The tall system comes in white or black, with a body that's mostly plastic, and molded into quite a unique tower shape. Sold as individual units, two of the speakers can be paired together for stereo playback, with a simple setup process. Unlike most other large speakers, this one is portable, with a four-hour rechargeable battery. SyrenPro is also UV- and splash-resistant, so it should be able to stand up to being outside and even around a pool. It’s packed with a wall power cable.
Standing just shy of a foot tall, SyrenPro is about 8.5” wide at its circular base. It’s deceivingly light for its size, weighing only 3.75 pounds, but the low weight helps make it easier to transport, as does a small handle molded into the back. Viewed from the front, the tapering shape looks like a Muppet wearing a Stormtrooper helmet, or the Mr. Fusion energy reactor from Back to the Future. Towards the bottom, there’s a wedge-shaped opening used to radiate the bass. A thin rubber line extends up from there, to the top, where it forms a ring of controls for tracking, volume, power, and pairing, surrounding a single 3” speaker driver. Four rubber feet keep SyrenPro firm on a flat surface, while a protective flap protects the power and aux in ports, as well as the stereo switch.
iLuv eased the process of pairing one of its speakers with a Bluetooth device, and setting a pair of them up for stereo streaming, but there are some minor problems. To connect just one, it’s a pretty standard process: hold down the speaker’s Bluetooth button until it’s in pairing mode, and then find it on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod. To get into the stereo mode, however, both of your SyrenPros must be turned off. From here, the switches on the back have to be set to right and left, respectively. Then, when they’re both turned on, the units will sync with one another in less than a minute, giving an audible cue that they’re good to go. The audio source can then be paired with the left speaker. This pairing process has to be repeated every time the power is toggled off, which is the only real hassle. It would be nice to have the speakers on and ready to go from the start when they’ve been paired previously.
It’s uncommon to see a speaker of this size and price with only one speaker driver, but that’s exactly what SyrenPro is packing. Considering the physical dimensions required to house a 3” driver, there’s a lot of extra space here; it’s the definition of form over function. Consider Sound Spot from Soundfreaq, which has a similarly capable speaker driver in a significantly smaller package.
SyrenPro’s audio performance didn’t impress us—it’s on the border between OK and good for the price. While there is a respectable dynamic range, the highs were a bit off compared to Sound Spot. The lows, on the other hand, were more powerful than Sound Spot’s, thanks to the long tube they have with which to resonate, but we also noticed that some notes sounded as if their keys had been shifted slightly downwards. Both of our test units displayed some sizzling distortion, which was especially obvious when we listened up close. On a positive note, they get loud enough to use in a backyard or at a park; when paired together, the stereo separation works properly, and the audio levels of both units can be controlled simultaneously or independently as you prefer.
SyrenPro’s greatest strength is its design, followed by the ease of pairing the units together. Unfortunately, the audio performance, the most important aspect of any speaker, isn’t great—it’s equivalent to speakers sold for half the price. SyrenPro is fine for outdoor, casual listening, and that seems to be how the speaker is being positioned. That said, it’s not a great value for the price, and merits only our limited recommendation.