Bluedio BS-3 Bluetooth Speaker Review by mark2410
Thanks to Bluedio for the sample.
TLDR? Try here http://www.head-fi.org/t/822848/bluedio-bs-3-bluetooth-speaker-review-by-mark2410#post_12931918
First Impressions: Opening up the box I notice that this one has a soft wrap thing around it, hmm that’s a first from Bluedio, is this a higher end product? Yeah I should really look up the price shouldn’t I? Taking it out and it’s in white, I didn’t realise they did this in white, doesn’t their website just have black and gold, oh no black, gold silver and white. It’s a much more angular thing, the edges are rounded but no entirely round sides. Oh it’s still got the big rubber base like the AS and AS-BT have, I like that, though that may have something to do with it gripping my little glass table really well. Powering it up and pairing it, it seems to have enabled the 3D thing, yeah that’s going off. It’s nice, it’s a little more beefy I think than the AS was, or is it, hmm. Actually I think they may be the same drivers and this is just a more err grown up looking enclosure. The look of this is rapidly growing on me though I wish I’d got maybe black or silver.
Playing music and this feels very similar to the AS and AS-BT, though I think the treble is a little less and the bass feels a tiny bit les full, from the slightly smaller enclosure? A quick flick back and forth and they really are very similar but I’d have to give the AS-BT as the slightly better. I like the BS-3’s look more. Oh, I’ve just checked the price and this is currently on sale for £28. Damn, that might well be a mistake as side by side with the AS-BT at £45 one of those price tags isn’t staying at that number.
Source: Mostly a Nexus 5
Lows: Just like its stable mate the AS-BT the bass is nice, its pleasantly reasonable and not trying to be silly buggers with a mountain of humpy one note bass. It’s not going to please those wanting gobs of bass even if its terrible bass as this is more restrained. It’s nice, for its size and it is just plain nice to use. Granted I found I was mostly drawn to more melodic, simple music without some raging bass line because, something this size, never ever going to give proper lows. It accepts what it is, what it can do and does it nicely. Of course the bass does roll relatively early for a speaker, again its tiny so this is to be expected but it stays politely linear as does it. No big hump of something that just ends up screwing with the rest of the acoustic range. Cyndi Lauper’s rendition of “You Really Got A Hold Of Me” isn’t a track with much low end but it sounds good. You don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything in the song. Granted the piano does feel a little bit lacking in body but again, tiny speaker, never going to fully replicate the output of grand piano. Its tonality is quite nice. A stirring of low end fullness creeps in at times but the lows can’t keep up with the mids in particular.
While it hasn’t gobs of volume it’s a pleasantly pleasing quality for the sorts of high quality acoustic pieces I’d hope it encounters from good vocalists.
Mids: Mids are what are easiest for drivers of the size we have here and it’s no surprise that the mids are what they do best. Again we aren’t talking super-duper ultra-high quality, it’s a little speaker and it’s a cheap one too. The price, which I’m looking at as a mistake as at £28 this is really good. I mean I’m sitting here listening to Nora Jones’s “Not My Friend” and she sounds great. I know its skimping on some of the nuances and detail but I’m still enjoying the performance. Yeah, from a tiny little portable speaker. It’s just plain and simply, nice. I still find myself wanting as with its stablemates to be a little off axis. There is a tendency to swing towards the upper vocal range / lower treble ranges as you begin to crank the volume dial. With such little drivers the bass and fullness struggles to keep up. If you want you can make girly vocals really belt out, it’ll go very loud if you want but it’s simply at its best when more genteel. The sort of little speaker that works so nicely as you’re sat at your desk writing away. Not entirely focusing on the music and taking apart the composition but just listening to the whole. Like I said, it’s just nice to listen to music on it.
Highs: They are a little but muted over the AS-BT but I’m fine with that. The treble is a little high when your bang on axis, the drivers pointed right at your face. Once you get off axis it tames and I find it the more pleasurable rendition. The detail level however I think is really nice for a little thing. It can’t produce the most subtle details, the drivers while tiny for bass production are rather big by tweeter standards. Again though, tiny portable speaker and really cheap, physics is physics. The type of treble that works is the unhurried and sparse. Susan Wong’s “Rainy Days And Mondays” which is super well recorded sounds great. The bass is slight in the track and the metallic twangs of the cymbals crash with plenty of space around them. While I know there is actually more detail to be had its doing a good job of it. That metallic edge and the rolling decay is most pleasing.
At the other end of the scale, Owl City’s “Cave In” the treble is just exploding all over place. The slightly more muted treble here over the AS-BT is a bit of a godsend. Even still, you get it on axis, in your face and that treble and the bass line are fighting over who get the drivers attention. It begins to show up the limitations of what little drivers can do. In short, this sort of fast, acoustically varied track is hard on them. Stick to Susan Wong, Diann Krall, Nora Jones etc etc. Melodic and acoustically simple stuff.
Soundstage: It’s not bad, it’s a tiny speaker and you’re never really going to be persuaded that it’s something huge. It’s got quite a lot of directionality to it too, though you mostly want to be off axis anyway which is easy enough to achieve.
Dynamics: Well in the mids, it can really go from quiet to belting it out. On the whole the dynamics a relatively slight but given you’ll want to be sticking to a moderate volume level anyway it’s something easy on the ear. Its smooth, it’s polite.
Power: You can crank it to annoyingly loud if you want to. However it’s really not at its best at all when you do so, you will mostly want the vocal level of volume to sit about normal human speech. It’s a small speaker and while it can be loud it can’t produce a full, powerful fullness the likes of which proper speakers can. It is what it is.
Battery Life: Again like the AS-BT the spec says 5 hours but I got more than that. Not that I sat with a stop watch but I think I got about six and half hours which is weird that a co would underestimate rather than over. Oh and the standby time is the same crazy 1000 hours, which is almost 42 days. It is safe to say I won’t be testing that claim and I don’t imagine anyone else will either.
Build and Durability: It’s nice, I’d be more pleased if the outer was metal rather than plastic but plastic is durable, light and cheap. For the money though, its build is great. The thing has zero flex anywhere, even on the metal grills front and back. The buttons too are rubber coated things so there is no jiggling about like on the AS-BT. Yeah this feels aimed at a more grown up audience yet it’s cheaper. Oh and it’s got the big rubber foot on the bottom so it stays where you put it.
Phone Use: Well the controls and stuff worked fine, the track skipping and stuff. However for calls while it worked and I could hear them just fine, I was told I sounded distant. It was clear enough apparently but distant. Given my mouth was about a foot away from the speaker I really don’t think I was. Hmm not that it’s primarily a speaker phone but oh well.
Value: So this review you may have noticed is a touch short. That’s in part because when I looked up the price, at £28 I think they’ve made a mistake. This is almost as good acoustically as the AS yet its significantly cheaper. It also looks nicer if you ask me too. It’s more nicely constructed to boot too. While this hasn’t the Wi-Fi thing of the AS but this beside the AS-BT I’d take this one every time. This is a more attractive object, stupid cheap, highly diminutive and yet sounds decent. Now if only they will make a Wi-Fi version of this. I’d say if you’re thinking about a little speaker with Christmas coming up then for the money this is excellent and I don’t see its staying at that price.
Conclusion: So this is a product that is aimed more or less at the bottom of the market in terms of speaker’s right? The thing is £28 delivered. I see a bunch of those high quality reviews on Amazon and the low star rated ones moaning that it isn’t bassy enough. While I wouldn’t say that anyone spelling bass, base, isn’t entitled to an opinion on the subject I suspect they may not have the broadest acoustic experience in the world. This is after all a speaker that you could shove into a large pocket. It does say 20Hz to 20KHz and while I’d admonish Bluedio for stating that, not that they are alone in giving figures that are liberal with the truth. The fact is I’ve been sat listening to it all day and I’m fine with it. I’m not yearning to turn it off and going back to my real speakers. Sure it’s not perfect and I’m not saying it can do what they can do but its good enough and it’s pleasant to use.
The mids are where these do best and I’m a big vocalist fan, a girlie singing while playing a piano is probably my favourite genre and naturally the little BS-3 does them nicely. Vocals are clean, a hint light so girlie vocals tend to work better than male but they are always nice. Nice on the ear so you can just sit with it playing a little background music. Pleasant on the ear and it has a nice balance to it. It’s tuned for a balance to be realistic rather than bombastic that should please most audio aficionados. Say perhaps for a little kitchen speaker or for relaxing to in the bath?
So would I / should you buy one? I think I’d say yes to both. It’s acoustically a pleasing product, visually a pleasing product too not to mention wallet pleasing. At £28 delivered right now it feels like a steal, though I’d still be tempted by the Wi-Fi talents of the AS but at £50 that’s achingly close to twice the price. Acoustically they are both so close to each other too. Between the BT and the BS-3 I’d take the BS-3 every time, I mean its audio is great for what it is and it looks good, what’s not to like? Unless you want craptastic bloated one note bass by the spade full, which if you do you’re unlikely to still be reading this, there really is no down side. I’d grab one before the price goes back up.