I first reviewed SuperTooth’s Disco Bluetooth speaker about a year and a half ago. It is an interesting speaker with a design that stands out in an increasingly crowded market.
The original Disco was long and low. Rather than having capacitive touch controls it had – get this — a physical knob for volume control and actual buttons for all other functions. Talk about old-school!
When I first opened the box, I really thought the original Disco was ugly. However, over time it grew on me. And while I still don’t think it’s particularly attractive, I do like the physical controls, and I am impressed by the sound it pumps out. Yes, this speaker gets loud and sounds great.
It has another advantage.
The speaker comes with a protective case that actually remains on the speaker when using it. There is a trapdoor in the back that, when needed, flips open to permit access to the power cord and auxiliary-in 3.5mm jack. The front of the case opens to expose the speaker. That translates to you NEVER needing to remove it — nice!
SuperTooth has now released the second version of their Disco Bluetooth Wireless Speaker. And here’s the thing – if you put the first generation speaker next to the “update”, you would never know they came from the same company — let alone think they are two iterations of the same device.
The new speaker is smaller and lighter than the original. It is more akin to a tower than a sound bar. Oh, and it is also less expensive than the earlier version.
The physical buttons are redesigned, and the large volume control is gone.
Oh, and that awesome protective, “leave it on” case from the first generation? That’s also gone.
Now none of this is necessarily bad, but it is surprising to see how radically different this next generation speaker is; in a way though, I think the company has lost some of what made it stand out. At the same time, it is quite possible that the first version was none too popular because it was rather unusual. The updated SuperTooth Disco is far more mainstream in its appearance.
Additionally, while the first generation had a rugged “man cave” appearance, this updated version is reflective of the female body. (Honestly I didn’t notice that until my wife, Elana, pointed it out.)
The speaker has built-in battery, so it doesn’t need to be connected to a power source to work; the controls are easy to use, and it’s light enough to throw in a larger size bag and go. But in an ever-crowded rechargeable portable speaker market there really isn’t all that much to distinguish this speaker from the rest of the pack.
So how is the sound? I would describe it as good but not great, full but not room shaking, and adequate without being anything special.
It is worth noting that while the original version came with Bluetooth 2.0, this updated version packs Bluetooth 4.0.
I know it sounds like I’m being overly negative about the speaker — I actually don’t mean to be. I like the look; it feels solid enough, the controls are easy to use, and it puts out decent sound with enough volume to keep me happy when using it on my desk at work. And, unlike the original speaker’s Bluetooth 2.1, this updated version sports Bluetooth 4.0 for better speed (4.0 is >10x faster) and optimized battery life (supposedly it offers ~4-5x less power usage). Moreover while the range is stated to be similar to earlier versions, Bluetooth 4.0 does offer improved range in real-world use.
My biggest issue is that I continue to be a bit smitten with the first generation Disco and this one simply doesn’t share the same DNA. Taken in its own right it’s got a decent price and is a good option. When compared to its older sibling though the elder definitely stands out.
What I Like: Compact size; Decent sounding; Bluetooth 4.0; Easy to set up and use; Good battery life; Smaller and easier to carry that the original
What Needs Improvement: Stands up pretty well on its own, but I can’t stop comparing it to the original version which packed a serious punch