Soundwave SW50 Review
Although you wouldn’t believe it, summer is here. The Great British Summer is in full effect, and to us that means trips to the beach, sitting in the park with friends, holidays and festivals – if the weather permits.
For music lovers, a portable speaker is probably high up the list of necessary items for such activities. Something cheap and loud that you can just bung in your bag for festivals and trips to the park is a must-have summer gadget for us, but the trouble is choosing a good one. The X-Mini II is absolutely brilliant for its price, but if you want to go wire free with a Bluetooth speaker you’ll tend to be forking out a lot more.
We reviewed the X-Mini Kai a while back, which was an excellent portable Bluetooth speaker. The downside was the cost – somewhere around £70, which is pretty pricey considering you can pay a little more for something much meatier like the Jawbone Jambox. If you’re looking for a Bluetooth speaker on the cheap then look no further than the Soundwave SW50.
At a penny under £20, the SW50 is only a little more than the excellent X Mini II, but drops the cables in favour of Bluetooth connectivity. We reckon that if Darth Maul and Darth Vader got together to design a portable speaker, this is what it would look like.
With a glossy black finish, three rounded sides and a metallic crimson cone hidden beneath a triangular grill on the top, this is a pretty awesome looking little gadget. Each of the three sides presents a central feature: an On/Off switch, a Mini USB port, and a microphone and call button together. The bottom of the speaker has plenty of outlet holes and three sticky rubber feet to stop it moving around.
Unfortunately these feet are not enough to stop the SW50 bouncing around when you crank up the volume, but thankfully there is a non-slip black rubber mat in the box you can put it on to stop this. Without the mat, you’ll either have to keep the volume around the midrange, or avoid putting it on shelves it can bounce its way off of.
A Mini USB cable is provided for charging the device, and a single charge of around 3-4 hours should see you get ages of play time with the speaker. We charged ours once and didn’t have to recharge for a week, with daily usage.
No Wires, Good Sound
Pairing is a cinch – turn the speaker on and hold down the call button for 5 seconds until the LED (to the right of the call button) flashes between red and blue. Search for devices with your phone or tablet and connect to the SW50 and you’re ready to go.
We had no issues streaming tunes from all sorts of gadgets – iOS, Android and Windows Phone were all tested, with both tablet and smartphones used with iOS and Android. Sound quality is good considering the price, although when you get above 80% volume we found the sound tends to get pretty distorted as the bass takes over. Nevertheless the sound quality is well balanced for a tiny speaker, and the bass is plentiful.
Soundwave have kindly offered support for taking calls via Bluetooth, which means that a press of the green phone key on the speaker will answer and end a call. Call quality was good in our tests, and we had no real complaints about the quality of our speech through the speaker’s inbuilt mic. Occasionally we’d be told to move closer to the microphone, which was easily resolved by bringing the speaker closer to us.
In terms of sound quality we feel the X Mini II beats the SW50 by Soundwave, but it uses wires to do so. There aren’t many reputable portable Bluetooth speakers in this sort of price bracket, so the SW50 comes as a refreshing surprise. If you don’t mind tethering your music player to a short cable, the X Mini II is a better bet. However, if you want to go wire-free, then the Soundwave SW50 is the way forward.