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Portable Speaker Review: A DISCO That Impresses – 35 Years Late

 

As a presenter, I am on the road a lot and find that when I arrive at a location, the technology doesn’t always match my needs. So I carry a lot of equipment with me (projectors, microphones, speakers, etc.) and am always looking for ways to downsize without sacrificing quality. Recently, I’ve discovered Bluetooth speakers as an extraordinarily easy way to provide background music and to provide extreme portability when connected to a microphone receiver.

 

Wireless:

My latest experience with Bluetooth technology is with a SuperTooth Disco speaker unit. Despite the retro name, the Disco has a solid-sounding bass subwoofer that pumps air out a small hole in the speaker’s back (see picture), and according to SuperTooth, the rechargeable battery power can last 3 to 4 hours at full volume, 10 hours at medium volume, and a remarkable 1500 hours on standby. From my recent experiences, it has easily lasted 3 days intermittently playing background music when paired with either my iPhone or MacBook Pro. It goes into standby mode when receiving no input – another nice feature that allows you to “pair it and forget it” – and awakening the unit from standby is as easy as hitting “play” on your device.

 

The SuperTooth Disco is compliant with both bluetooth A2DP 2.0 and AVRCP, so pairing with most devices is convenient (a code is provided in the directions). The support for these protocols lets you stream audio from a Bluetooth-enabled phone, PDA (people still have these?), or computer. When walking around a room, it’s just plain cool for me to be able to pull my iPhone from my pocket and select the song to play from across a room.

Features:

The Disco comes with a neoprene-type protective case with velcro closures. In the back of the case there is a mesh hole to allow the subwoofer to expel air and also a flap to allow access to the plug for recharging the battery or 3.5 mm input. Although you might lose some sound quality, the unit doesn’t have to be removed from its case: the last time I used it, I opened the front and folded it under the unit and out of the way. Its one foot length and 2.5 lb. weight do not make it a handheld speaker (who would want up to 28 watts in their hands?!) but a strong portable speaker that can be set in just the right place to get great sound.

 

 

 

The front has a solid feeling and just-resistant-enough volume knob – perhaps part of the retro theme? If you are closer to the speaker instead of the connected source, the Disco has push buttons for Play/Pause, Skips that worked well. Additional buttons in the cluster around the knob are the power/bluetooth and bass boost.

Sound:

All that aside, the big questions is how does it sound? Pretty damn good, actually, but it depends on what you’re playing. The 12-watt subwoofer distorts on some songs but not others – especially when using the optional bass-boost. Like the saying “With great power comes great responsibility,” I found myself having to modify the volume from my connected device more often than I would like. The 2 x 8 watt speakers produced clear and solidly balanced sounds through medium-high volume levels. At high volume (closer to the 28 watt output), the clarity dissipated and sound bleeding resulted, particularly with the bass boost on. Overall, however, the sound at all volumes below the high setting was powerful, impressive, fairly balanced (depending on song or genre), and turned heads. Surprisingly in the past three days of use, nearly a dozen people asked about the unit, its cost, and features just based on the sound it produced!

 

Would I recommend this speaker? Definitely and without hesitation. At only $149, it’s less than half of other better-known brands that require docking a single device, and the sound is competitive enough to make the SuperTooth Disco a viable choice.

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SuperTooth Disco was provided for review on iSource.com. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About Us” page.

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  • Rod

    Any problems with interference or static? I’ve read some reviews of other bluethooth speakers and there was some static issues with them.
    I travel and present a lot too, and I would like a speaker that can work effectively from my iPhone, iPad and Macbook wirelessly and with/without AC.

  • Rod

    The only problem I have with this speaker is the name. Sending an invoice for this speaker up the accounting chain would definitely set off some alarms and I’d have to write a justification for buying a ‘disco’ anything for business purposes.

  • Jay

    Rod,

    I have never had any problems with interference, static, or disconnecting. I also use the Jambox on occasion and have more difficulty with it staying connected. Both this and Jambox are good choices, though this strangely named “disco” (and I agree I would put “portable speaker” if I were writing an invoice) sounds better, louder but is significantly larger. The Jambox (my pick here – http://isource.com/2011/03/04/isource-picks-of-the-week-14/ ) does have a microphone for conference calls.

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