We’ve reviewed numerous Bluetooth speakers over the past few months and many are quite good. Still, we’ve never seen one quite like Melody by Soundcast. Melody is a round speaker with a sun-resistant white plastic shell. It has an integrated handle, Bluetooth connectivity and offers, excellent huge sound. Oh, and did we mention that it’s designed to be used outdoors?
Here’s what Soundcast has to say about their rugged outdoor speaker:
Meet Melody. Sophisticated, sexy, smart. Always invited. No more flirting with perfection, achieve it. Melody delivers omni-directional, beautifully precise sound with the latest Bluetooth® v3.0 technology from Soundcast’s portable all-weather music system. Stream your playlist wirelessly as you enjoy, party and live your life.
Go places. Melody’s compact and lightweight design makes it easy to take your music everywhere you go. Let Melody complement your social life-from the kitchen counter to the beach, poolside parties and sailing adventures to dinner soirées. Go places.
On paper, Melody looks like a decent offering but, spec-wise, doesn’t particularly stand out from the pack. It features:
- Four full-range Hi-Q 3” drivers + four highly tuned bass radiators operating in a stereo 360o array using IMPP cones and rubber surround
- Employs Soundcast’s proprietary DPAT (Dynamic Power Amplification Technology) with burst power, provides maximum power and battery efficiency to delivery high volume, distortion free audio to the 8 speaker system.
- A 20 hour rechargeable Lithium Ion internal battery with Micro-USB port for convenient USB charging
- Sports Bluetooth v3.0 with (A2DP v1.2/AVRCP v1.4 profiles, aptX and AAC lossless codec support). Keypad track controls via Bluetooth for convenient control from speaker
- Includes proprietary high-performance DSP for EQ and audio optimization
And, as you can see, this 9 pound monster of a portable speaker also has a built-in handle!
Yes, from the perspective of specifications, Melody looks just fine but doesn’t particularly stand out. Thing is, Melody’s different pieces combine to create a speaker that is a pleasure to use and enjoy. Two main areas help make that happen — sound and simplicity.
I recently had an experience of using a small Bluetooth speaker for a few hours while visiting my in-laws. After listening to it for a bit, my head was actually hurting! It wasn’t that the speaker was particularly bad — it wasn’t — but it wasn’t particularly good either. It was against that backdrop that I pulled Melody out of its box. Setup was quick (more on that in a bit), and within seconds I started listening to the same tunes I had been listening to at my in-laws. The sound was far bigger and far better. And while I know this is unscientific and impossible to quantify, I also noticed that listening to music through Melody was just… “easier”. The music felt like it “belonged” in the room rather than it being pushed out of a box toward me.
While Soundcast’s OutCast speakers employ a proprietary 2.4 GHz wireless protocol the company refers to as “AudioCast” Melody uses Bluetooth v3.0. And while Bluetooth isn’t know for is amazing sonic quality Soundcast uses of AAC / aptX Lossless Quality codecs to insure the best possible sound. As they explain:
Melody is one of the first products of its type to support both aptX and AAC lossless quality codecs. This means that if you use a compatible device, you will experience superior audio fidelity and quality over most other A2DP only compatible products. Capable Apple IOS devices use AAC for high quality Bluetooth playback while most other brands/devices utilize aptX for high-quality Bluetooth.
All of this is combined with four “full-range Hi-Q 3” drivers” and four “highly tuned bass radiators” which are tuned to operate in a stereo 360 array that provides sound in every direction. Combined with “Proprietary Soundcast DPAT (Dynamic Power Amplification Technology) with burst power”, the Melody gets mound and sounds impressive in almost every setting.
The second standout feature of Melody is its ease-of-use. While you can’t throw Melody into a gear bag the way you would a small Bluetooth speaker, it isn’t meant to be kept at home either. Melody’s buttons and ports are covered and sealed so the speaker can handle challenging weather. It isn’t waterproof, but it is designed to be splash resistant. And, speaking of the sealed buttons and ports, they are kept to a minimum and designed to be as easy to use as possible. That makes sense since this is a speaker designed to be used when you are out and about, and who wants to fiddle with lots of settings and controls when you are out sailing for the day?
This simplicity of use is combined with what can only be described as superb battery life of up to 20 hours per charge. Yes, this is a speaker that will be at home at home, but it will be equally comfortable at the beach, in the woods, or on a boat.
And when you do bring the Melody with you, the integrated handle and rubberized bottom come in quite… well… handy.
One final place where the Melody’s simple but effective design stands out is on the back beneath the handle. Removing the rubber weather seal reveals just two ports — the 3.5mm AuxIn port and the microUSB port.
Melody by Soundcast stands out in an overly-crowded marketplace. Its unusual looks combined with its impressive sound and simple operation make it a great choice if you want a Bluetooth speaker that isn’t just for use at home OR on the go. The Melody is a speaker that can be used just about anywhere. The Melody won’t be for everyone though; at $450, there are far less expensive Bluetooth speakers on the market, and anyone who wants a truly portable speaker is going to find this too big. At the same time, if you spend a lot of time outdoors, or you want a speaker that pumps out impressively big sound in every direction, this is definitely worth a look.
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What I Like: Huge impressive, omnidirectional sound; Simple to use; Weatherproof; Integrated handle; 20 hours of battery life
What Needs Improvement: Heavy; Bulky; Pricey
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample