Scosche has introduced another new version of its rugged boomBOTTLE speaker, boomBOTTLE+ ($180). This is the third straight year of a boomBOTTLE release from the company, following 2013’s original boomBottle and last year’s smaller boomBOTTLE H20. As one might imagine, the new “+” in the speaker’s name denotes Scosche’s move in the opposite direction — this is the tallest boomBOTTLE yet. The new boomBOTTLE+ comes with dual 50mm drivers and a passive subwoofer. The Bluetooth speaker comes with a micro-USB cable, small strap, carabiner clip, and a 2.4A wall charger. boomBOTTLE+ comes in three different colors.
boomBOTTLE+ is 8.58” tall, but retains the same 2.8” diameter as past editions. The speaker weighs a bit less than 1.5 pounds, making it portable enough. Most of the speaker is coated in soft-touch rubber, including the rubberized volume and power/Bluetooth/playback buttons. A sealed waterproof cover can be removed to reveal charging and audio input ports, a charging output 2.1A port — boomBOTTLE+ can recharge an iOS device from its 6000 mAh battery — an indoor/outdoor equalizer switch, and a speaker channel switch. The speaker can be paired with another boomBOTTLE+ unit and set to be a left or right channel. Otherwise, the switch should remain in the “S” stereo position. A .25” thread is included on the bottom of the speaker for mounting purposes.
The design offers 360 sound, so boomBOTTLE+ is meant to be listened to upright. Unfortunately, when compared to top-rate speakers in the $200 range (like UE Boom 2) or the $150 range (Braven’s BRV-PRO), boomBOTTLE+ is a step down in performance. It does well with some songs, while others sound muddled. Vocals sometimes sounded a bit buried, especially to the more consistent clarity heard in competing Bluetooth speakers in the same price range.
Switching the equalizer to “outdoor” (even while listening inside) isn’t a perfect solution, but it helps in a number of cases, as the “indoor” setting really pushes those vocals to the back. We definitely prefer the outdoor setting, though at peak volume things can get muddy — boomBOTTLE+ does get plenty loud. Bass isn’t noteworthy.
boomBOTTLE+ is IP67 waterproof — it can be submersed to three feet deep, if you like dunking your speakers for some reason — and it can float for easy retrieval. The speaker feels every bit as rugged as it looks. You wouldn’t have any qualms about throwing this into a bag or onto a bike and roughing it for a weekend. Its 33-foot Bluetooth range claims appear to be accurate, as well. Though we must note that the Bluetooth pairing noise — which sounds like a flying arrow sticking into a target, over and over — is one of the more annoying speaker sounds we’ve ever heard.
There’s a lot to like about boomBOTTLE+: it’s a tough waterproof speaker that offers a number of nice features, including a built-in power bank, a thread mount, long battery life, 360-degree sound, and dual pairing, if you’ve got as second unit. Overall, though, we don’t think the sound measures up to its price tag — it’s just too inconsistent from song to song, and the speaker might leave you messing with the outdoor/indoor switch trying to get a performance boost. We’d only recommend looking into boomBOTTLE+ if you’re specifically looking for an outdoor travel speaker with some nice features that can get pretty loud. It’s still probably not your best option in that category, but it’s certainly good enough to earn a limited recommendation.
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Compatibility: Bluetooth iPads, iPhones, iPods