Review: Soundcore Motion Q Bluetooth Speaker
The Motion Q from Soundcore is a small, portable Bluetooth speaker that’s rugged, waterproof, and inexpensive. If you’re looking for a cheap beach companion to enhance the last few days of summer, this could be it.
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The market for small Bluetooth speakers is pretty fierce. In order to stand out, you've got to compete on design, features, or price. Soundcore, a subsidiary of Anker, has a strategy that's all about price. The Motion Q is incredibly affordable and still has a few surprises hidden under its tough exterior.
The Motion Q won't win any awards for design. This Bluetooth speaker is as simple as it gets, but there's something to be said for that. It's a black cylinder with rounded top and bottom edges. I'd be stunned if you noticed it on the shelf at Best Buy.
It stands about 4.3 inches tall and sits 3.5 inches wide. The majority of the surface is covered in a fabric grille. A small plastic cap sits atop the Motion Q like a beanie, while a thicker plastic base forms the bottom.
The top cap has a matte finish to it. Five buttons adorn the plastic with raised nubs to help you find them. The power button is in the middle, with the Bluetooth button above, and the play/pause button below. To the left and right, you'll find the volume/track controls. This arrangement makes the buttons easy to find. You do need to press the buttons pretty hard to get them to work. A blue LED under the power button lets you know when the speaker is on.
On the rear is a little hook for you to affix the included lanyard, which allows you to hang the Motion Q from your wrist, backpack, or whatever.
Also on the rear is the substantial hatch for the ports. It requires some work to wiggle free. Under it you'll find the microUSB port for charging and the 3.5mm auxiliary input. This is standard setup for waterproof speakers.
It feels substantial. A hard material under the black fabric gives it strength, and the weight gives the Motion Q some presence when you're toting it around. Soundcore doesn't make any claims to ruggedness, but the speaker certainly seems tough enough for your average trip to the shore or park. I wouldn't be afraid to use it outdoors or anywhere it might get bumped, dropped, or rolled around.
An IPX7 rating protects the Motion Q from water. Technically speaking, it can sit in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Rain, sprinklers, water balloons, and other splashy backyard activities are no issue for the Motion Q. Total immersion in water won't harm the speaker. I tested it in my pool and it handled the bath just fine.
My biggest complaint about the hardware? It looks boring. The Motion Q only comes in back. Similar speakers from UE, Sony, and JBL are available in flashy colors that lend a bit of personality.
The Motion Q includes Bluetooth 4.2 with support for the A2DP, AVCRP, HFP, and SBC profiles. It does not support aptX for higher-quality sound. A long press of the Bluetooth button puts the Motion Q in pairing mode. You'll then need to use your phone's Bluetooth menu to make the connection. I found the process to be straightforward and painless.
The speaker supports a range of 20 meters / 66 feet. This is better than the standard 10 meter range of most Bluetooth devices, but not quite as good as the 30 meter range available from some pricier speakers. I was able to connect the Motion Q and walk my phone around my house without losing the connection. (Speakers with a standard 10m tend to drop in instances like that.) The Motion Q did a fine job maintaining a smooth music experience. I heard a few quick cuts here and there, but nothing egregious.
Under the fabric grill you'll find two 1.75-inch, 8-watt drivers, one on each side. Two passive radiators (secondary membranes) positioned in between the drivers help focus and shape the sound.
The Motion Q is crazy loud, particularly considering its compact size. This little speaker pumps out more than enough 360-degree sound to fill an average backyard or deck with tunes. Indoors, it pushes enough air to cover two or three rooms with sound. It will surely annoy nearby people at the beach or park if you crank it up.
I wish the quality of the music were as impressive as the volume. The Motion Q comes across as a bit thin and lacking in bass — despite the “BassUP” technology it claims to have. With the hard rock music I prefer the Motion Q came across as somewhat weak. The kick drums lost their punch. The same goes for bass-heavy EDM music. Vocal music, jazz, and orchestral stuff sounded more even.
There's no app from Soundcore to manage the Motion Q, so you'll have to use whatever tools are available on your phone to shape the sound. I futzed with it via Apple Music on an iPhone and Google Play Music on an Android phone and discovered I was able to tweak the sound just a little. I couldn't adjust it enough to fully compensate for the natural tuning of the speaker, but it helped.
Soundcore doesn't say how big the battery is, though it claims the battery will push through about 10 hours of music playback. I found Soundcore's claims to be on target. With the volume set about halfway up, the Motion Q played for 10.25 hours. With the volume set all the way up, battery life drops to about 9 hours. Either way, the Motion Q provides enough power for a full day at the beach or park.
There's a microUSB cable but no charger in the box, so you'll have to use your own. It takes about 3.5 hours to fully charge the Motion Q.
The most appealing feature of the Soundcore Motion Q is the price. It costs $36. That's about half what UE's WonderBoom costs. For that little green I'd call the Motion Q a bargain. It's the perfect price for gifting. The Motion Q may not sound quite as good as some competing models, but the savings make up the difference.
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