Earlier this month, a representative of a company by the name of SoundCast reached out to us to see if we’d like to take a look at some of their bluetooth speakers. Usually, it wouldn’t be within our scope, but I couldn’t help but think back to my college days, when virtually everyone was using laptops cramped up in tiny dorms. It got me thinking, could there be a use for this for PC gaming?
- MSRP: $149.99
- Two aluminum drivers with butyl rubber surrounds
- Rear-firing weighted passive radiator provides deep bass extension
- Frequency Response: 80Hz-20KHz
- Built-in Bluetooth 4.2 technology with
- 6 memory slots
- Bluetooth hi-def AAC and AptX codecs
- Auto muting
- Connections: 1/8" (3.5mm) auxiliary input, 1/8” (3.5mm) loop output. USB charging input
- Battery: Up to 15 hours; rechargeable internal battery with external AC power supply
- Dimensions: (L x W x H): 6.8” x 2.3” x 2.9”
- Weight: 1lb (453g)
So let’s be clear here, this isn’t something you’d buy to replace a dedicated sound system for your PC. The Soundcast VG1 is an excellent bluetooth speaker that produces a shocking amount of sound for its size but at its price it’s just not going to compete against dedicated 2.1 systems you’d lace up to a full desktop. This is something you’d pick up if you couldn’t have one of those large systems and also wanted a speaker you could take on the go. College students, people who travel for work, or even folks who just want a good speaker they can use for multiple things - say, using it for a quick dungeon run before taking it to hang out by the pool with your friends. In that situation, the SoundCast is a fantastic little speaker that offers some of the best sound I’ve heard in this class.
The SoundCast VG1 is a small, waterproof, shock-resistant speaker. As you can tell from the picture above, it’s made to be on the move, taken with you wherever you might go. It’s the perfect size to fit in a backpack or larger purse and also ships with a strap to tether it to yourself while hiking. It can connect over Bluetooth or via the 3.5mm aux cable, which can be useful if you don’t have a transmitter for your laptop.
The body is made of a hard, rugged rubber. The grills on both sides are gray metal. Since the VG1 is made to go with you anywhere you might venture, even into the pool, it has to be a sealed unit and ready to take a tumble or two. Though a good drop might dent the grills, it feels remarkable sturdy. I would be nervous submerging any expensive electronic underwater, but holding the VG1 under a running faucet did more to hurt my stress levels than the speaker.
What’s really surprising is just how powerful of a sound the VG1 is able to produce. At only 6.8 inches wide and 2.9 inches tall, you would be forgiven for expecting it to sound downright anemic. Now, anyone who’s listened to high-end bluetooth speakers knows that looks can be deceiving, but this thing produces one of the fullest sounds I have ever heard from a bluetooth speaker, and that’s while comparing it to larger tube style speakers. We have to keep things within reason - it won’t be out matching a $300 speaker that’s twice its size - but it gets loud and packs a low end punch.
On the technical side, it pulls this offer by featuring two front-firing aluminum cylinder speakers. They feature a frequency response range of 80 - 20000Hz. The VG1 is also compatible with both AAC and AptX codecs, to produce the best quality sound over bluetooth. If you wanted to be adventurous (and this would be outside of the gaming space) you could even link two together with the stereo loop output.
The sound signature here definitely features a boosted low-end which helps music and games to sound rich and not anemic like many small speakers do. There is nothing tinny about the VG1, though it does have nice clarity in the mids and highs, as well. In fact, it’s a safe bet that this one small speaker will outdo anything shipping in a laptop today.
Sitting close to it, like you would when playing a game or watching a movie, there’s more than enough volume and depth of sound to create a cinematic experience. The bass at that proximity can actually be felt as it vibrates the unit. I’ve seen larger speakers from JBL and Altec Lansing that still fall short of what the VG1 delivers in the bass department and that’s impressive.
But… that price. At $150, it isn’t cheap. Until now, I’d been using a very highly reviewed $35 bluetooth speaker from DKnight I had been very impressed with. Though I don’t own them, I’ve used similarly sized speakers from other companies that I also thought sounded good. $150 is expensive but you’re getting far more speaker for the money here and the benefits of being waterproof and shock resistant.
What did disappoint me was the battery life. The company quotes 15 hours and I’m left wondering exactly how loud the speaker was when they tested for that number. To get room-filling sound, I’m usually at about 75%. At that volume, I’m running short on battery in about half that time.
I’m impressed with the VG1. Would it dethrone the big sound bar under my monitor? Of course not, but I wouldn’t hesitate for a second throwing it in the bag with my laptop. If you’re someone who wants a better sound solution on the go, whether it’s watching Netflix in a hotel room or playing World of Warcraft in your dorm after class, the VG1 is sure to impress.
- Massive sound for the size
- Waterproof and shock resistant
- Includes nice braided cables and carrying bag
- Great low-end punch, perfect for movies and games
- Easy to take on the go
- Battery falls short of the 15 hours (depending on volume)
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.