Ameya DalviDec 31, 2019 15:14:48 IST
Earlier this month, we shared with you review snapshots of three budget wireless earphones. Today, we move on to larger things in music — a category that’s still fairly nascent — party speakers. While one of the speakers is an embodiment of the category name and appeals to your eyes more than your ears, the other goes about its job quietly (well, not really) and can rock the floor even more. So let's take a closer look at these two party animals that are poles apart and may appeal to two completely different sets of buyers.
Zoook Rocker Thunder Plus Review Snapshot
The Zoook Rocker Thunder Plus, as the name suggests, is the more flamboyant of the two with a host of connectivity options, LED beat lighting, backlit volume control, the works.
It simply shouts ‘Party’. You can play music on it via Bluetooth, Aux input, USB drive, memory card and it has an FM tuner built-in. It also has playback controls and a small display that gives you information about the input mode, volume level and so on. The company has also thrown in wireless remote control and a wireless mic for karaoke parties.
Despite being almost a couple of feet tall, this Zoook speaker is fairly portable and weighs under 4.5 kg. The speaker is well-built with good quality plastic, but a small amount of push can topple it over; an issue with its weight distribution, I suppose. It can produce up to 40 Watts RMS output and has a 4,400 mAh battery that lasts a shade under four hours of continuous playback. You can charge it using any standard micro USB charger. There are multicoloured LEDs embedded upfront that produce a neat glow on the speaker drivers and flicker to the beats, thus setting a party ambience.
While the Zoook Rocker Thunder Plus is loaded with features, the sound output is not as impressive. Probably the rocker and thunder in the name set my expectations higher. The sound quality is strictly average and it is low on bass — something that party animals crave for. It can get quite loud for a small to a mid-sized room but lacks the thump that you expect from a party speaker. But let’s not forget that this is a budget speaker priced under Rs 4,000 and set your expectations accordingly.
This is by no means an audiophile product or one targeted at those looking for crystal clear sound while playing music. It is more of a fun product meant for a small house party or the odd karaoke session, and one that you can take around with you. On that front, it does a fair job. But a bit more bass would have made it more desirable and done some justice to its name.
- Portable speaker with attractive design
- Wide variety of audio inputs
- Wireless remote and mic bundled
- Decent battery life
- Well priced
- Average sound quality
- Bass is too low for a party speaker
- Takes almost 4 hours to charge fully
Price: Rs 3,940 with one year warranty
Renor BT PowerCab Review Snapshot
The BT PowerCab from a new Indian startup, Renor, is diametrically opposite to the Zoook speaker above in almost every aspect. This is the first speaker from the company and is an interesting product. Though it qualifies as a party speaker on the basis of performance alone, it is targeted more at music enthusiasts looking for high fidelity wireless audio.
For starters, it has a very retro look reminiscent of certain Marshall speakers. Audio inputs are limited to 3.5 mm Aux-in and Bluetooth. There’s a power button, volume dial and a Bluetooth pairing button, and that’s that. No flashing light, no USB port, no equaliser presets, nothing! There is nothing about it that says party... till you play something on it, that is.
The Renor BT PowerCab is a big unit that measures a good 20 inches in width, is almost a foot tall and 10 inches deep. Don’t think we can call it portable given that it weighs in excess of 10 kilos. Also, this is not a wireless speaker with an in-built battery; it needs to be plugged into a power socket to function. You get an 8-inch driver and a 1-inch tweeter to handle a frequency range between 36.5 Hz and 20 KHz. The sound output is rated at 100 Watts RMS, and that is not just a marketing number; it actually feels as powerful. The sound quality is also helped by the fact that this speaker supports AptX codecs over Bluetooth.
The speakers pair smoothly with an Android phone. Just make sure the phone/tablet supports AptX codecs and that they are enabled in the settings. Also, before you start playing the audio, turn the volume knob on the speaker down to 25 percent. The Bluetooth volume on the source device and the master volume on the speaker are independent of each other. So if you have both volumes set on the higher side when you play the audio, you may shatter something in the room, along with somebody’s patience. The optimal way of going about it is to first lower the Bluetooth volume on the phone, then turn the speaker volume knob close to 100 percent and then gradually increase the volume from the phone.
The speakers are pre-tuned and you get absolutely no sound adjustment settings on the device. That’s good and bad in equal measure depending on what you prefer. The first thing you notice when you play something on the Renor BT PowerCab is the thumping bass. In fact, there's an abundance of it and bass heads will totally dig it. The highs are sharp too and there’s ample clarity in most of the midrange spectrum except the lower mids. They tend to get overpowered by the lows at times, especially in bass-heavy tracks. The instrument separation is more than decent and so is the broadness of the soundstage for a solo speaker. These speakers are ideally meant for a large-sized room because they need to be played at a certain minimum loudness level for a better balance in sound.
You will notice some of the above shortcomings only when you choose to sit back and listen to music. When in party mode, they barely put a foot wrong with loud and powerful sound output and some serious bass to rock the party. I just wish Renor had put a couple more audio inputs on this speaker, especially HDMI, so that one could plug it into the TV using the same for a better TV viewing/streaming experience. This would have worked well as a soundbar/box. Probably they will put it in their next product along with a dedicated midrange driver for a better tonal balance. Either way, I will keenly look forward to Renor’s next release.
- Powerful 100W RMS sound output with thumping bass
- Good highs and crisp vocals
- Elegant design
- AptX support over Bluetooth
- Easy to use
- Could have had a few more input options
- Lower midrange frequencies can get overshadowed by excess bass
Price: Rs 14,999 with one year warranty
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