One of the cooler tricks that some higher end wireless portable speakers are able to pull off is pairing two units for stereo sound. I’ve tried out this feature with speakers like the Vers 1Q and various Sonos products and it’s great–having a pair of wireless speakers for true stereo separation adds a lot to the listening experience compared to a single speaker. However, it’s also expensive. You get the capability out of the box, but have to buy a second speaker to actually take advantage of it. IdeaUS’s Taco Dual wireless sound system offers Bluetooth portability, stereo sound support, and both speakers in single, affordable package.
Open the Taco Dual box and, sure enough, inside is a pair of attractive speaker units, each about 7-inches long, with red trim and buttons, and a two upward facing drivers visible beneath a black metal grill. IdeaUSA didn’t cheap out on the accessories, providing two micro USB cables, two 3.5mm auxiliary cables, two cloth carrying bags, and two non-slip pads.
Each of the speakers is equipped with Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, a microphone (for use with a smartphone), 3.5mm auxiliary jack, and a microUSB port for recharging the built-in battery. The dual drivers in each speaker are 1.8-inch units, each with 6W of power and a frequency response range of 80Hz to 20,000Hz.
The speakers connect to each other using Bluetooth, and setting everything up was a lot simpler than I was expecting. Once they’re charged (an LED shows red during recharging and displays Blue when powered on and ready to rock), hold the Power button on both units simultaneously and the speakers soon announce they’re connected. You then use a Bluetooth button to pair the whole system to your device (it shows up as a single unit), and that’s it.
Impressively, the sound delivered is true stereo, not just synchronizing duplicate audio output in two different speakers. For example, playing The Doors’ “Peace Frog,” Robby Krieger’s opening guitar riff blasts from the right channel speaker to kick off the song, instead of both speakers–the way it should be. The triangular speaker profile has the drivers pointing straight up, so sound is dispersed instead of being directed forward.
Sound quality is very good, especially for an inexpensive, portable system. The Taco Dual isn’t going to overpower you with booming bass response, but low end performance is decent. Mid range is well represented, and the high end is clear without getting tinny. They pump out a lot more volume than you might expect and don’t start to get buzzy until pretty close to the maximum–at which point they are loud enough that you won’t be able to have a conversation anywhere in the immediate vicinity.
If you don’t want the stereo effect or don’t want to carry both around, each of these speakers can be used on its own as well, so you are truly getting two portable speakers. Battery life is claimed to be 12 hours. As always, that’s going to vary depending primarily on volume but also on whether you use Bluetooth or that AUX input, but I was able to easily go 8 hours wirelessly at medium volume (and intermittent high volume) on a charge. That’s a good showing and more than long enough for most events.
The only issue I ran into were the printed directions, which suffer from some awkward translations. Skipping tracks on my iPhone using the speaker buttons was easy, but I couldn’t figure out how to turn the volume up and down on the shared buttons, instead of skipping forward and back through the music. Eventually it dawned on me to hold the button down instead of a quick press, and that solved the mystery of controlling the volume.
After putting the Taco Dual speakers through their paces, I’m left scratching my head over two questions.
First, what’s up with the name? Is TACO an acronym for something? Did they choose the name figuring everyone loves tacos? Second, why had I not heard of the Taco Dual before? There are hundreds (if not thousands) of inexpensive Bluetooth speakers on the market these days, but a system that offers this combination of performance, portability, price, and dual speaker stereo–with both speakers included–is virtually unheard of.
At the time of writing, Taco Dual is on sale for $65.99 at Amazon (where it holds a 5-star rating with 82 reviews).
Disclosure: IdeaUSA provided a Taco Dual wireless speaker system for the purposes of this review.