Review: Supertooth Disco Twin – a powerful pair of portable speakers

We here at iSource sure love our accessories. And there’s plenty out there to love! Take Supertooth, for example. We’ve been reviewing their products for years and they rarely disappoint. Their corner of the accessory market is dedicated to “super” Bluetooth products – both for speakers and car speakerphones – and iSource has reviewed many of them.

Supertooth released a new wireless speaker set – the Disco Twin – which has the power of the original 32 watt RMS (root mean square) Disco (reviewed here), and style of the Disco 2 (reviewed here). Like their predecessors, the ADP Bluetooth technology lets the speakers also control the input: increase or decrease volume, pause, play, rewind, and forward music by pushing the appropriate speaker control buttons instead of the buttons on your streaming device. And once set up is complete, the Disco Twin wireless set spreads the audio love around a room.

The Setup

Without wires, it’s allegedly important to pay attention to the way you pair these speakers with your ADP-compatible device (say an iPhone). In other words, according to Supertooth, order matters!

The left speaker is diminuitively labeled as Master, and I’ll refer to the right speaker as the Slave. As the directions clearly state on the box, it’s a 3 step process:

  1. Press the power button on the Master (left) speaker (which greets you with a friendly female voiced “Hello” and then an “awaiting pairing” tone is emitted)
  2. Search for and pair through a Bluetooth connection with your device
  3. Power up the Slave (right) speaker (which greets you with “Hello” also) which automatically pairs with its partner

Each speaker then identifies itself (“Left” and “Right”) presumably so you can set them around a room for desireable stereo sound.

Confusing… or is it?

Although this seems a simple enough process, the reality of remembering it can be a bit head-scratching. Err… was I supposed to turn them both on, and then pair? Oh… wait. Maybe it was turn Master on FIRST, then the slave and then pair. Oh crud. I already set them apart from each other across the room, and I think I forgot to turn the Master on first!

To be honest, this is a user-error and not a Disco Twin problem. And fortunately for me it doesn’t seem to matter. When I start the Slave speaker first, then the Master, and lastly pair with a source, it still works. Whew! (Though if you read the directions – do any of you do that?! – you’re informed to always pair your phone / device with the Master Disco Twin.)

After both speakers are paired with each other (see Step 3 above), powering down either Twin will turn off the other as well. Whew again!

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The Sound

“Cut the wires without cutting the power” (can I get credit for a new motto?) is what Supertooth’s speakers do well. The bass speaker is at the rear of each unit, so sound is distributed and better balanced by putting each speaker next to a wall or corner where the bass bounces off. Each individual 16 watt RMS pushes out clear highs and mid-ranges without distortion, though you can push the volume enough to slightly distort the bass. This is a big test for wireless speakers: many speakers wash out the sound when pushed to their upper volume limits. From classic rock to classical, the Disco Twins, on the other hand, ressonate with crispness and a balanced punchy quality among all ranges – especially given their size.

And the strength of having two separate speakers that can be placed nearly 33 feet apart (10 meters) cannot go without attention. The Disco Twins make surround sound more than just a living room experience. Now you have the portability to create surround sound in any room, outdoor area, and in space that your iPhone can go.

Unfortunately, when paired with my MacBook Pro, the Disco Twins seem to occasionally stutter, dropping sounds like a skipping vinyl record. In all fairness this could be a Bluetooth issue with my MBP because I have to re-pair many different Bluetooth devices many times. Also the Twins never suffer from this issue when I use my iPhone or iPad.

If you prefer a wired approach to an input, each speaker has a 3.5 mm mini-jack, but don’t expect that output to make its way to the other speaker. “When 3.5 mm stereo jack cable is used, ONLY ONE speaker out of the DISCO TWIN can be used. You cannot enjoy the left/right stereo effect … once the 3.5 mm stereo jack cable is plugged.”

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Power

Each speaker has published battery life of 3 to 4 hours at maximum volume. In my experience that is fairly accurate, though I’m not sure that’s under constant use. Fortunately, like many Bluetooth devices and speakers, turning the music off puts speakers in sleep mode to save power. The upper end of the published battery life is an impressive 10 hours, though my extensive use of Supertooth products have never seen this end of the battery life continuum.

Additionally, because you have two separate battery-powered rechargeable speakers, you also have twice the annoyance of recharging them. If the right depletes its battery first, the Master/left speaker will still function. If the left speaker runs out of power, you’ll be left with an unresponsive Slave. The workaround would be to use the supplied 3.5mm stereo cable to the only powered Twin.

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My Wishes

The wish list for this pair of Twins is sparce. The biggest gripe I have is easily rectified: the Master / left speaker is too difficult to determine. I should be able to look and notice which speaker is the Master without having to look at the bottom back (in small white text). A colored band, rim, or other distinguishing feature could help tremendously.

The packaging could also be improved. Like the Disco 2, each Twin comes with velvet-like cloth pull string bag. I know at the company level, costs remain low because the design is the same as the Disco 2. Yet given that these speakers should be used together, in my opinion a single carrying case would be worth the additional cost.

Worth Owning

There are many options for portable, wireless, Bluetooth speakers. From handhheld size to the larger Supertooth Disco size. Within this market, the Disco Twin stand out as stereo-lovers dream: place the sound where you want it and make it yours. If you’re looking for up to 32 watts RMS of crisp, clear sound, this pair is worth consideration. Cut the wires without cutting the power. (grin)

The Supertooth Disco Twin is available as a set here for $199.

Thanks to the folks at MaxBorges Agency for supplying a product for review. For further information, see our “About” section.

 

 

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