I was kindly given a Bluetooth speaker by Chinese manufacturer Lumsing to review. Of late, the market has been flooded with Bluetooth speakers, now that the technology has matured and it’s included in just about every smartphone out there.
This speaker, the MM526 Portable Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker, has a few things going for it. It’s water-resistant, so it’s safe to use in the bathroom (although I didn’t try submerging it in water). It includes a play/pause button which will work if supported by your device – it certainly works with my iPhone. There’s also a call answer button, so you can use it for phone calls – useful if you’re doing a conference call. It’s rubberised, so it’s durable and should survive being dropped from a reasonable height – again, I didn’t test this out. And it includes a carabiner clip for attaching it to belts or backpacks.
The speaker is quite small and fits into the palm of my hand, so it’s very portable. It weighs around 330g (around 11 ounces). The buttons are integrated into the outer casing but depress with a noticeable click. Volume controls are included – these worked independently from my phone, so you will have to set the volume on both your device and speaker.
There’s a large on/off button on the back of the device. You hold it down for a few seconds to turn on, and the speaker says ‘Powering on, Bluetooth’. Ditto, when you turn it off it’ll say so, and when it connects to your device it’ll say ‘Paired’. An LED shows the battery status, and another shows the Bluetooth connection status.
So how’s the sound quality? Not bad, actually. Like most portable speakers, it’s a bit tinny and there’s not much depth to the bass, but it was better than expected. Voices are very clear, so audiobooks and podcasts sound good. Music playback is okay – not as good as a decent hifi system but reasonable.
What was surprising was how loud the speaker can get. A long press on the volume up button takes it straight to maximum volume (which the speaker will announce to you audibly) and it is very, very loud. This was unexpected as normally battery-powered speakers tend to be a bit on the quiet side.
The speaker has a stated range of around 10 metres, and in practice this seems about right – if you get too far away from your audio device, the sounds becomes very choppy. It will work through walls, provided that they’re not too thick – the 40 cm thick stone walls on the outside of our flat did result in some signal issues.
The speaker’s battery is not user replaceable, but this means that it can pack a 1000 mAh 3.7 volt lithium battery and aids its water resistance. It charges via a micro-USB port that is hidden under a flap – a USB to micro-USB cable is provided. Battery life is stated to be around eight hours and after using it for five to six hours continuously it was still working fine.
If you don’t have any compatible Bluetooth devices then you can use the included male-to-male 3.5mm audio cable to plug in any other devices – there’s a 3.5mm port next to the micro-USB slot, again, protected by a flap.
A short user manual is provided in English, Chinese and German. It’s of better quality than many I’ve seen, although like many Chinese-manufactured products it suffers from being written in Engrish. Considering the overall quality of the product it’s a shame that Lamsing hasn’t employed a native English-speaking proof reader.
Overall it’s a very nice unit, and quite the bargain at £22 from Amazon (regular price £40). I’m impressed by its sound quality and volume considering the price, and it stands out from its rivals by being water resistant. A better manual would be my only major suggested improvement.