BlueAnt is an Australian company that offers novel and distinctive sports audio products. Its headphones and earbuds are packed with a stylish design and are wireless and sweatproof, so you can listen to your favourite music while training or exercising. Today, we will check out their latest addition the X1i, an iteration of a well-received Bluetooth speaker X1. We posted a write-up specifically for this product in November 2022. If you have not read it yet, here is the article, you are welcome 🙂
Before receiving the product, I was told that this Bluetooth speaker is able to shock people with its stunning loudness and depth of bass. As usual, I will keep being sceptical about any comments until I find the answer for myself.
BlueAnt X1i is designed to serve as a compact portable speaker, and so is the packaging. The production team pretty much used all the space available in the box. The retail box is about the same size as the speaker itself, and the rest of the room is taken by a USB charging cable (Type-A to Type-C) and a manual.
For $99, X1i is packed with some really decent features, including two 43mm drivers with passive radiators, Siri / Google voice integration, Bluetooth 5.3 (this is nice!), 10 hrs of playback, a built-in microphone, and more.
Pairing on this device is a pleasure
Pairing the X1i has been a smooth and satisfying experience. Simply press the power button to turn on the speaker, and you will see the LED blinking in blue. From there, X1i will be detectable and identified as ‘BlueAnt X1i’ on your other devices. When I was trying to power it off, I was not able to get it done properly the first time, and that one was on me. For all other products I have used, it is commonly practised to ask the user to keep pressing down for a few seconds before it turns off. Who would have thought for today’s Bluetooth devices, that simply pressing the power button once is all you have to do to turn it off?
Just because you are used to a method, it does not necessarily mean it is the best. I know this can be subjective, but I really appreciate it when BlueAnt makes the pairing process so simple. X1i did earn an extra point when I became aware of it.
Apart from that, you can also connect it with a 3.5mm audio cable to your source. Just so you know, Duo mode does not work under this method. In theory, it should be able to provide a listening experience of higher quality depending on your audio source.
There are several factors to consider when it comes to the benefits of a portable Bluetooth speaker. Portability, battery life, connectivity, and durability are some of the most important checkpoints for me.
It resides in my backpack now
As one of its selling points, BlueAnt did absolutely great work and made X1i stand out from the crowd. With a lightweight design, I am fairly confident to say that even for a 3-year-old, it is still perfectly qualified as portable. You can find a carry handle on the body that would easily fit two fingers and give you a firm sense of security. I actually did a pressure test to pull the handle in a way that people would not normally do. As a result, I am very satisfied with X1i’s build quality. During everyday use, I tend to grab it in hand instead of using the handle, it just appears to be an easier option for me. I am sure you will find it in your own way and decide what works best for ya.
Battery life on X1i is never a problem
BlueAnt officially claims up to 10 hrs playtime, but it didn’t specify at what volume. That’s why I am going to say your mileage may vary. Obviously, I was not crazy enough to complete a full battery test at 100% volume; however, I achieved 6 to 7 hours of playtime when listening at 80% volume, with a mixed use between music and podcast. It’s perfectly acceptable not just based on my personal expectation but also for the USB Type-C port. It shares the same charging cable as my Pixel phone, and that makes it a lot easier to charge and relieves my anxiety when it’s on a low battery level. To me, USB type-C is definitely a big YES.
A stable and reliable connection
I was quite surprised to see X1i supports Bluetooth 5.3. For technology, when we talk about the version numbers, usually the higher the better. Well, almost. But what makes Bluetooth 5.3 better than the previous version? Depending on the bandwidth required, this version offers lower consumption, less interference in connections, greater security in connections, and higher quality at all times. I believe this also explains the reason why the user experience of Duo mode on this device is so impressively smooth and satisfying. Now I start to understand why BlueAnt’s marketing team wanted me to try two X1i during the review. If you are really confident in something you make and you know the audience is going to be impressed, why not give it a go?
I have briefly introduced how easily the device is paired in the previous section. Now, let’s take a closer look at the Duo mode. This mode allows us to connect two X1i speakers together to create a spacious stereo soundstage and bring the experience to an entirely new level. Pairing in Duo mode requires additional steps compared to normal Bluetooth pairing with the phone, but it’s still a noob-proof process. Don’t be scared off by these lengthy official instructions. Instead, if you just power on the device and press down Vol+ and Vol- simultaneously for just one sec, it will prompt “Duo mode pairing”, then repeat it on the second X1i. That’s it, I waited about 20 seconds for them to announce “Duo mode connected”. How simple is that?
I am not sure how I can precisely express the insane experience with Duo mode, I am addicted to it. I use them anytime there is a chance. The only downside for me is that it now requires me to carry two charging cables if I don’t want to wait for long. I think a USB splitter cable would be the answer to my question, but I am not sure if there’s one with 2x USB-C connectors, though.
Rock solid build quality
From my point of view, an Ingress Protection of rating “56” (IP56) is quite decent for portable speakers like X1i. The first digit “5” means dust infiltration is not completely stopped, but it cannot enter in a quantity that would prohibit the equipment from operating to its full potential. The second digit “6” sets out protection from high-pressure water jets from any direction. For a portable Bluetooth speaker, it’s unnecessary to ask for a higher IP67 or even IP68 which provides total protection from dust and shallow immersion in water. There are rarely use-case scenarios for this device. In addition, it will also increase the cost of making and, eventually reflected in the retail price. Pay more for something that’s not necessarily required? I would simply say “No” to it.
This thing is really, really loud and punchy
When I play it at the highest volume in my house, people standing out outside would imagine we are having a party! That may sound untrue, but I assure you this is not an exaggeration. A perfect use scenario would be birthday parties. Thanks to the dual 43mm drivers, this little thing actually will shock you with the loudness and the capability of doing bass. When I test the loudness for the first time at home, my immediate reaction was to turn it down as quickly as I can, before my neighbour decides to report it to the council.
Using a mobile app as a noise detector does not give you an accurate reading since these microphones are not designed for testing Sound Pressure Level (SPL). It does, however, give you an idea about how far the loudness can be achieved to a certain degree. If we take some steps back from that result, even 85 decibels is absolutely loud enough to drive people crazy. In terms of the sound performance, I have no complaints, at all.
Should I get one?
After looking into its performance, build quality, connectivity, battery life and price, I would highly recommend you give it a try; you won’t be disappointed. I tend to be careful and conservative when giving people buying advice. If you do need a portable Bluetooth speaker that does a fantastic job and is from a reputable brand, don’t miss this one. For $99, this is a complete no-brainer.