The evolution of portable Bluetooth speakers continues and the X5 from Blueant is an interesting one. The obvious comment first; this isn’t for everyone for a number of reasons but primarily the physical size of it. It’s a really big (but surprisingly light) speaker, which makes it impractical to carry daily. The second issue that’s going to deter many potential buyers is the $399.00 price tag. So this is clearly a speaker for those with specific use cases or intent to use it regularly. But don’t be deterred by that because it is actually a pretty impressive rig.
What is it?
The X5 pushes the boundaries of what I would reasonably call “portable” but for all intents and purposes, it’s a portable Bluetooth speaker. With that being said, it’s big…really big!
Compared to some of the other speakers we’ve taken a look at recently, there are some good and bad points to consider. The biggest “downgrade” is the fact that this isn’t going to survive if it goes into a swimming pool, for instance — it’s not a sealed unit so it’s not IP rated. What it does offer though is a pretty cool audio experience.
The Blueant X5 is — in comparison to a “standard” speaker — pretty big and hefty, but for what it provides, the physical size and 4.1kg weight is actually pretty reasonable. It puts out 60 Watts (through a Class D amp) which is surprisingly powerful and very capable of filling some big space with the potential to pump out 110dB+.
The sound quality is a big step up from any other “portable” speaker. This is due to the 156mm (6.5”) woofer, a bass vent (in basic terms, a passive sub) and 59mm (2.25”) tweeter giving a really good sound range capability. If you’re after a bit more penetration with the sound, whack the bass boost and you’ll clearly hear the difference. In fact, unlike the X3 we recently reviewed, this isn’t a case of de-tuning other sound ranges, there is a noticeable increase in the bass output.
It will give you a lot of playback time on battery, on paper at least, about 20 hours on 50% volume. As is often the case with devices like this, your mileage may vary but I got roughly 28 hours of playback; keeping in mind that this was at various volumes and included some karaoke sessions for my daughter with the included microphones.
I wouldn’t normally delve into this, but the X5 has a better connectivity set than other similar speakers. Specifically, it’s got Bluetooth, an aux line in and USB playback (the port can also be used as a power bank output for your phone) capability. Do keep in mind though that not all file extensions will work, but most of the mainstream options work well.
Sound and controls
You would hope that a speaker that costs $399.95 delivers a quality audio experience and I doubt anyone would be disappointed. The sound quality, particularly for something so lightweight is really nice and there are a couple of reasons for this outside of the physical capability of the device. There are a couple of built-in EQ modes that are pretty well tuned for most genres of music and the — earlier mentioned — bass boost button.
The sound range that the X5 is capable of is really impressive for a sub-$400 speaker. The bass is crisp and punchy, mid-range sound gives an excellent and clean vocal sound as well as instrument playback. An area that I often find to be very hit or miss with portable speakers is the high register sound. In this instance that can be the case depending on what you’re listening to and how loud; specifically I found a few lead guitar solos at high volume became pretty shrill to my ears at times. Beyond that though, the playback is really consistent and very easy to listen to.
As this is a more capable and somewhat more complex speaker than a standard portable Bluetooth speaker, there are a lot more controls to navigate. That doesn’t make it difficult to do though, they’re simple, easy to understand and essentially all one-touch options.
Like any other speaker, you’ve got power, volume and playback controls including a volume dial. The extras here are specific to the functions of the X5 with connectivity choice — Bluetooth, Aux or USB — microphone controls. The microphones have independent volume for each mic, as well as an echo to cater for that friend who is a little overzealous when their jam comes on and (much like me) can’t sing, so the echo makes it a touch more palatable to everyone’s ears.
The other control is for the lighting on the speaker. It’s got 5 lighting modes which can help to provide a bit of atmosphere to your party, you can easily change which lighting pattern is on display with a single tap of the button.
The Blueant X5 isn’t what I’d honestly call a “portable” speaker but rather a party speaker. That being said it’s easily transported in that it’s light and easy to carry with a nice big handle on the top. That and the price tag of $399.95 means that it’s just simply not going to be on the shopping list for a lot of people.
Setup is really simple (as it is with any Bluetooth device these days) and controlling playback, just as easy. Once you do get some music going you’ll realise just how good your investment has been, I’ve been using the X5 during the review nearly every weekend with family and friends.
The great quality sound, coupled with the great battery life honestly makes this feel like a great investment if you’re regularly “out and about” socialising. We’ve already mentioned that this isn’t cheap, nor is it for everyone, but if you do decide to spend the cash to pick up an X5 from Blueant you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re keen to pick one up, the Blueant website has them available or you may find a slightly better price if you shop around.