We’ve reviewed several waterproof portable speakers in the past year, and I have to admit that this is a product category that excites me. I no longer need to think twice about whether it’s safe to bring my Bluetooth speaker to the beach, pool, or anywhere, really.
On top of being waterproof, speakers in this category are usually a bit more rugged than their less hardy counterparts. Having a waterproof speaker is so convenient; you just charge it, bring it, and don’t worry about it.
This latest waterproof speaker to be put through its paces is the ECOXGEAR EcoCarbon. Not only is the EcoCarbon IPX 8 waterproof, IP 6X dustproof, and ruggedized for shock resistance, it can float, it can be submerged, it has a built-in flashlight, and it can charge your mobile device while you’re streaming music to the speaker.
Available in black, blue, orange, or the Realtree Camo I was sent, the package includes a USB to microUSB charging cable, a wall charger, and a carabiner.
The EcoCarbon measures 9.1″ long by 4.2″ tall by 3.1″ deep, and it weighs one pound 14 ounces. The body is composed of hard plastic that has a rubberized coating. Ridges on each end will help in case of drops, and there is a convenient handle built into the right side (or top, depending upon orientation). The front of the speaker is almost entirely composed of a metal speaker grill which covers two 8W stereo speaker drivers. In the upper right-hand corner, there are four hidden LEDs that glow when charging to indicate how far along the battery has come.
On the back, there is a black metal grille covering a subwoofer; there is also a circular plug that screws in to cover the various ports and plugs.
On the back right side, there is a swiveling tab that can be attached to the included carabiner.
Here’s another at the circular plug. Obviously, you need to make sure that it is shut tight anytime the speaker is anywhere near water. It can be a little bit difficult to turn either way, but that’s probably good as it is creating a tight, dust and waterproof seal.
Underneath the plug are the following: a 5V 1.0A USB charging port for your mobile device, an on/off switch that serves as a master kill switch for all of the speaker’s functions, an auxiliary-in port for non-Bluetooth music sources (obviously, you can’t use this near water), and the microUSB charging port to power the speaker’s battery.
On the top, from left to right: there is a button that turns the flashlight on or off, a play/pause/speakerphone answer button (the speaker functions as a speakerphone when calls come in), a forward and back toggle, a volume up and down toggle, a Bluetooth pairing button (it uses Universal A2DP Core 5 by CSR), the power button, and the LED flashlight lens. The small USB symbol sits over an LED that glows when the speaker is being charged.
On the bottom, there is a mounting screw that can be attached to a tripod or any other holder that uses a common camera mount screw. A variety of mounts are sold on the ECOXGEAR site, including one that will work with bicycle handlebars.
While the speaker’s 2800mAh battery is charging, you’ll notice that the four LEDs on the front of the speaker will light green as the battery fills. When the speaker is plugged in for charging, the USB charging LED I previously mentioned will glow.
When you turn the speaker on, a green LED above the power button will glow; during pairing, the Bluetooth LED will quickly flash blue as the speaker searches for a device with which to pair. Upon successful pairing, the Power and Bluetooth lights will both be solidly on. You’ll know that you’ve paired because a woman’s voice will announce, “Bluetooth connected”. The power LEDs on the front of the speaker will glow to keep you informed on battery life remaining.
Those are the nuts and bolts of the speaker; now we can talk about how it sounds. Bear in mind that this is a speaker that is intended to go on kayaking or biking trips with you, it is meant to get dirty and wet, and it is meant to pump out music you can enjoy while being active. This speaker is not going to satisfy an audiophile who is expecting pristine sound; it tends to be less clear than higher-end, non-ruggedized speakers. Even so, the EcoCarbon plays music loudly enough, clearly enough, and with enough bass emphasis to be enjoyable during any outdoor activity.
If you lead an active lifestyle, and you want to enjoy music in those surroundings, the ECOXGEAR EcoCarbon is a great choice; it is ruggedized, waterproof, shock-resistant, and it is ready for your next trip to tube the Frio River in Texas or swim under a waterfall in Hawaii.
The ECOXGEAR EcoCarbon Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker + Flashlight retails for $129.99, and it is available directly from the manufacturer and from other retailers including Amazon [affiliate link], where it sells for as low as $94.94.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Waterproof, shock resistant, and able to float; Up to 12 hours playback time; built-in power bank for charging your mobile device; Four LEDs on front to indicate charge; Various methods available for mounting the speaker; Music is plenty loud and clear enough for outdoor activities
What Needs Improvement: Don’t expect audiophile-grade sound, but you can expect good quality music everywhere you care to bring the speaker