When you want people to know how cool you are, you need to have a rad way to play your killer tunes. Portable Bluetooth speakers are to today what those sweet boomboxes with the lights and stuff were to the ‘80s. There are countless manufacturers trying to stand out in this market. One of these companies is Soundcast. I’d never heard of them until they offered to send me their VG5 Portable Weather-Resistant Bluetooth Loudspeaker for free. Here’s what I think of it.
What Makes the Soundcast VG5 Special?
When soliciting my expert review, the representative from Soundcast was trying to position the VG5 as a tailgating essential. After all, you can only take so much of frat boys drunkenly singing the fight song over and over again. You’re going to need other music.
When I think of tailgaters, I think of terrible, cold, wet fall weather. To address this, Soundcast has made the VG5 weather resistant with an IP 64 rating, which means it can handle being splashed with water or beer. Yet, this does not mean that it can handle substantial downpours without cover.
The Soundcast VG5 Portable Bluetooth Speaker is able to pair with another VG5 speaker to really kick out the jams, but unfortunately, you can’t pair it with other portable Bluetooth speakers.
The VG5 was incredibly easy to set up. I just plugged it in and pressed down hard on the buttons for a long time, and it paired with my phone.
Here’s our video review of the Soundcast VG5 Portable Bluetooth Speaker:
And, if you want to make a day of it, this is what the speaker looked like out of the box:
What We Liked about the Speaker
There are three main PROS we found with the Soundcast VG5 Portable Bluetooth Speaker:
- The sound quality is excellent
- The speaker gets loud
- Pairing via Bluetooth is effortless
I have a suite of three songs that I play to test out the bass, treble, and midrange: “Angel” by Massive Attack, “Lonesome Lover” by Max Roach, and “Baby Plays Around” by Anne Sofie von Otter, respectively. Each came through great, though I did notice that as I pumped up the volume, the sound would get a little muddy. The bass is where this speaker really shines thanks to the 6” woofer and two 3” full-range drivers.
I have a fancy sound meter that tells me how many decibels things are. I set it up 12” from the speaker and blasted a variety of songs at top volume. My sleeping wife got very angry with me, but more importantly, the top reading I got was about 100 decibels, which is the highest reading I’ve gotten so far on my little device.
What’s the point of a portable Bluetooth speaker if you can’t connect to it? None. There’s no point. Fortunately, I didn’t have any trouble pairing my phone with the speaker via Bluetooth. And, the Bluetooth range was impressive. I sat the speaker at the back of our property, crossed the street, and walked down the block a bit, and I could still control it. I’d estimate that I was at least 150 unobstructed feet away. On the downside, I wasn’t able to pair with NFC using multiple devices, even though I should have been able to.
What We Didn’t Like about the Speaker
There are three main CONS we found with the Soundcast VG5 Portable Bluetooth Speaker:
- The battery life was relatively short
- The speaker is kind of big for being “portable”
- The buttons aren’t user-friendly
In my tests, the battery lasted for five hours. This might be long enough for a tailgater if you aren’t really into your team and show up right before the game and leave soon afterward. But, the real fans want to be loud and drunk at the break of dawn. And, this speaker would likely peter out long before sporting is initiated. On the plus side, the unit does plug into a USB port to get power. So, you could conceivably use one of those portable chargers, but it will probably kill the portable charger quickly. Recharging takes up to five hours when plugged into your standard wall outlet.
Weighing in at 12 pounds and featuring dimensions of about 8” by 8” by 17”, this is not the most portable speaker. It does have a sturdy comfortable-to-grip handle on the top near the back, but I would have preferred a strap that would allow me to throw the unit over my shoulder and keep my hands free. Of course, in the ‘80s, they would have just held it on their shoulder. I’ve tried this. It’s awkward.
I had a heck of a time using the buttons. On the one hand, it appears the keypad will be pretty durable – the buttons don’t show any wear. On the other hand, it’s not comfortable to use. I have to jam down hard on each button for a couple seconds before it will register that I’m trying to do something. I’m guessing this is so you don’t accidentally press mute in the middle of “Sweet Home Alabama.” That would be a party foul. However, Soundcast outfitted the VG5 with several other keypad lock modes that one could opt into if they are having trouble with unintentional button pressing.
Should You Buy the Soundcast VG5 Portable Bluetooth Speaker?
If I were shopping for a portable Bluetooth speaker, I would not buy this. However, if I wanted a good standalone Bluetooth speaker for small parties or just listening to bass-heavy music around the house, this might be a good option. During testing, this speaker mainly lived in my kitchen where I could listen to podcasts and music while cooking gourmet meals. And, during parties, I’d lug it into the living room to impress people with my musical tastes. For these purposes, the VG5 was terrific, and I will continue to use it in this way. For portable use, though, I’m going to stick with my JBL Xtreme 2.