iClever IC-BTS08 Bluetooth Speaker REVIEW

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I am a big fan of sound and often enjoy BIG instrumental sound. I have a confession, I was a “bando” growing up. Starting in the 5th grade I began my band life playing the flute and quickly moved to the Baritone Horn Trombone and ultimately Euphonium. Think of a Euphonium like a small tuba. There is nothing like a strong low brass/bass line in an instrumental piece. It is this history that has allowed me to enjoy music on more than just lyrics. I really appreciate sound, melody, harmony, pitch and so much more. Unfortunately, a lot of the beauty of music is lost on some of the speakers that are available. I have tested and reviewed numerous wireless speakers both designed to be portable and nonportable. A common trend is one of two problems, either the bass is weak or the upper end gets very tin-sounding/sharp and washes out the quality of the music. It is true that you get what you pay for: better drivers, better materials, and overall better quality. However, I am looking for a reasonably priced speaker with depth and soul. I may have found this in the iClever IC-BTSO8.

I wish that iClever would focus more on their packaging. The IC-BTS08 is an attractive speaker, locked away in a boring unimpressive cardboard box. Similarly to the IC-BTS06 that I reviewed just recently (portable and nowhere near the sound of this device), iClever suffers in the packaging department. The outer cardboard has very generic wording and a very bland ink drawing of the speaker. As stated with the IC-BTS06, It looks like the packaging is a generic box, with “insert name here.” Having tested numerous varieties of speakers over the past year, many of the devices are visibly similar with minor variations in coloration. Some of the packages have been the same, some of the speakers have been the exact same except for the screen-printed name on the front of the speaker. Having gone from an unknown name to a favorite of mine, iClever has a branding problem. Alas, this is a review of the speaker and not the box. I hope they listen to what I have stated repeatedly and work on their curb appeal. This is what draws the eye of the customer and ultimately puts the device into the shopping cart.

Opening the packaging, you will notice the red metallic front of the speaker with surrounding matte black rubberized material on the top and bottom. The device weighs 1 pound 14.1 ounces and measures 8 3/4″ long x 2 3/4″ wide by 3 1/2″ tall. The provided dimensions in the manual are 225 x 71.5 x 90mm and weight of 812g. Included with the speaker, you will get a 32″ USB A to Micro-USB cable, 32 1/2″ 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable and an 8-panel instruction manual. The speaker includes 2 10W speakers which is much larger than the 2 5W speakers of the IC-BTS06. No wonder the sound and the bass of this speaker is more powerful. You do pay for the power in weight, though, having increased to nearly a 2 pound speaker over a sub 1 pound speaker. With portability comes some sacrifice. I will tell you that this version of the iClever speaker is not designed to be portable and has the heft required to support sub-bass. It does support some of the latest Bluetooth version/profiles with version V4.2 and utilizing A2DP (media streaming), HFP (typically used in car streaming), HSP (Headset profile), AVRCP (remote control of your phone with speaker) profiles. These are designed to enhance the Bluetooth features and often work in concert. I appreciate the inclusions as some speakers leave out some of the profiles, which does become noticeable when trying to control your streaming experience.

There are four buttons along the top of the speaker volume down/previous track, multifunction button, play/pause button and the volume up/next track button. The on/off slider, aux in port and the micro USB charging port are located along the upper back of the device, hidden from view. Out of the box, the speaker had 50% power as displayed on the iPhone battery Widget. Bluetooth syncing could not be easier. Simply slide the power toggle to the “on” position and then access “settings,” “Bluetooth,” and then select IC-BTS08. You are done and can now enjoy the device. There is an LED along the top of the device that will alert you to pairing. Flashing lights suggest that the device is pairing, solid light suggests paired. If you slide the toggle to off and then back on, the device will automatically try to pair with the previous device. This is assuming that your Bluetooth is activated on your smart device.

The button functions are relatively straight forward and function as listed. I do not like the choice for short press/long press to change track and long press to increase/decrease the volume. This feels a little clunky. However, the speaker is resting on my shelf, in front of a wall. I do not plan to control my phone, with the speaker device, and thus is not that important to me. The speaker does have a call answer/hang up feature. Unfortunately most of these suffer from picking up ambient sound. The call feature feels like an add-on, and the caller will feel that they are hearing you in a tunnel. Although some may use this device for hands free calling, I choose to use my phone for privacy. When on, the speaker automatically assumes Bluetooth mode. If you plug the 3.5mm jack into the device, It is important to note that you cannot control the phone volume in AUX-in mode. The speaker will last about 10–12 hours on a single 3 hour charge. The working time is listed as 12 hours. At about 10.5 hours there was a flashing red indicator along the top recommending to charge the device. I put it on charge for four hours and the iPhone battery widget showed 100%.

I have found attractive speakers with both good and bad sound. To start my tests, I navigate to audiocheck.net and use the 10–200 Hz Sweep + Voice Over Test file. This will show you the lower range of your bass. The human ear can hear as low as 20 Hz. However, 20 Hz to about 40 Hz is more of a feel than a hear. You will hear the vibration and the bass starting around 30–40 Hz. This is a very reasonable level, not like having a separate subwoofer, but a very nice level indeed. The upper range of human hearing is about 20 kHz. However, most of us cannot hear much over 14Khz and as we get older, this decreases. My 7 yr old and 5 yr old sons were able to hear the sound at 16 kHz on this speaker and i was able to hear it at 15 kHz with a high pitched tone.

Once I have tested the speaker on audiocheck.net, I utilize my standard test songs: Hotel California by the Eagles, The Longest Time by Billy Joel, Dark Knight Rises Joker Theme “Why So Serious” from 3–4 minutes to listen to the bass. I then listen to CCR, and Paradise by the dashboard light by Meatloaf. the opening of Star Wars Attack of the clones (space ship entry shows a lot of bass). I follow this with Caribbean Blue from Enya, and then instrumental music from Braveheart, Far and Away and Gladiator. I was really impressed with the output of this device. The dual 10W output is impressive and you will enjoy the sound quality from this device.

The speaker passed my audio tests and is one of the better speakers I have tested in the sub $100 range. The speaker can be obtained from Amazon currently for just under $60. The sound output is better than I expected, the build quality is there with the metallic appearance and rubberized sides. There are 4 rubber padded feet along the bottom, tog give it extra grip. The weight helps with the overall build and adds to the sound output. I did notice some popping/cracking when starting music. This did not really change when I moved the speaker closer or further from my phone or to different places in and out of the home. This was not present with AUX in mode and with iTunes/Amazon Prime Music, but was present with various other internet based sources such as Pandora and Youtube. The buttons on the top are flat, sleek and modern. Others have commented on the lack of haptic/tactile feel to these buttons. I do not require a push button on my devices, and honestly I am less likely to control my phone with the device, than the other way around. I do not like the scheme with the long press for volume change as this is much less sensitive than short presses.

I would rate this speaker at 5/5 stars based on the quality of build and sound. There are some minor flaws, that do not affect the rating in my eyes. Some may feel that the buttons along the top need more feel, to allow you to KNOW you are pushing the buttons. The weight is good, the sound is good, the quality of the build is good. The packaging is subpar and needs to be addressed. Again, I do not buy the product for the package. However, you may skip over the device based on the packaging as it looks incredibly generic. The 4000 mAh battery life, 2 10 W output speakers, metallic build, color scheme, quick charging time and long lasting playback time make this device a must-have this Christmas.
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For more information, visit iclever.com/boostsound/bts08
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Originally published at macsources.com on November 21, 2016.