If a portable Bluetooth speaker is on your holiday shopping list, here’s an alternative to the usual suspects: the iDeaPLAY Sound X1.
Last week was Take Our Kids to Work Day in Canada for grade 9 students. My boys are both in grade 9 and they opted to spend the day with me, so I put them to work. One of their tasks was testing the iDeaPLAY Sound X1, so I’ve included their notes in here, along with my own observations.
iDeaPLAY Sound X1 Specs
• 2 x 1.5-inch drivers 5W ea
• 2-inch subwoofer 10W
• 2 x passive radiators
• Bluetooth 4.1 with HSP/HFP/A2DP/AVRCP support
• 4,000 mAh battery rated at 10 hours, charges using micro USB cable
• Built-in high sensitivity microphone with 6th gen CVC noise reduction
• 7.4 x 2.7 x 3.0-inches, weighs 0.61 lb
With the new Sound X1, iDeaPLAY is aiming for a demographic that wants a premium look and high quality, multi-driver sound—on a budget. And they mostly succeed.
The Sound X1 is designed to look more expensive than it is. With a silver grill and metallic trim, it’s meant to evoke premium offerings like Bose’s SoundLink Mini. It does stand out from the usual black plastic and certainly feels solidly built. Grippy rubber pads on the bottom keep it from moving around and raise the speaker slightly to accommodate the down-firing subwoofer.
There was some initial confusion around setup. The soft rubber power button needs to be held down for a few seconds for an input to register. This is useful for preventing accidental powering on during travel, but with the Sound X1 the button needed to be held down for nearly three seconds, which is longer than usual. As a result, there was some concern that the battery hadn’t charged because it didn’t seem to be powering on. For some reason, iDeaPLAY also used the universal Wi-Fi symbol on the Bluetooth button. The boys plugged into the 3.5mm AUX port at first, because they couldn’t find a button with the Bluetooth symbol…
The Sound X1 has two EQ modes: Classic Indoor and Outdoor. A top-mounted EQ button toggles between the two. Despite the multi-driver setup and a respectable subwoofer, Classic Indoor mode was a little disappointing. Bass response was very subdued and the audio seemed overly bright, veering into harsh territory at high volume.
However, Outdoor mode was a different story. Switch to Outdoor and the subwoofer kicks in and boosts the low end in a big way. The overall sound gets noticeably warmer, the sound stage seems to grow, and high volume performance is improved. There is a very big difference between the two EQ modes and with Outdoor on—which everyone preferred by a wide margin, by the way—the Sound X1 produces some very nice audio. With a total of 20 W of amplification on tap, this speaker has more power than most in its price range and was easily able to fill a small room with music.
One more word about the outdoors. Although there is an Outdoor mode, there is no indication anywhere that the speaker is water resistant, so when using it outdoors I’d avoid rain and splashing.
Battery life is rated at 10 hours. However, even with the boost of Outdoor Mode on for the majority of the time and volume usually at halfway, we actually bested that, getting closer to 12 hours. As is the case with most portable speakers these days, there is also a built-in microphone for use as a speakerphone.
Overall, the boys found the initial setup took a little longer than usual, but that was a one-time thing. They like its size (small enough to carry around in a hand or backpack), think it looks pretty cool with its silver finish, and they were very happy with the sound—so long as it was in Outdoor mode.
As a parent, I would be pretty happy with the current $69.99 price on Amazon. At that price, the iDeaPLAY Sound X1 is a pretty compelling portable Bluetooth speaker choice, although it’s not ruggedized so it’s better suited to a bedroom than the beach.
Disclosure: iDeaPLAY provided a speaker for review purposes.