The market for affordable, portable Bluetooth speakers is booming. Now, spending under £50 on a diminutive design today doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t enjoy a musical sound. Some recent budget arrivals, such as this Anker SoundCore 2, even contain a microphone for talking to Siri or Google Assistant.
Anker is a name more readily associated with portable chargers, but has in recent years diversified into areas such as wireless speakers. The SoundCore 2 is, predictably, the follow-up to the original SoundCore.
Build and features
The update is clearly aiming to please more than just our ears – the SoundCore 2 is far more striking in appearance than its predecessor.
The SoundCore 2 is covered in smooth, but grippy rubber, and while you’ll either love or hate the feel of the 'skin' (we’re in the former camp) it helps the SoundCore 2 achieve a fully-waterproof IPX7 rating – meaning it will survive being fully submerged in water at a depth of one metre for at least 30 minutes.
Battery life 24 hours
Power output 12W
Dimensions (hwd) 5 x 17 x 6cm
Charging time 3 hours
Waterproof rating IPX7
Add to this a claimed 24-hour battery-life, and that camping trip in the South Downs should be a piece of cake.
The SoundCore 2 is curvy around the edges, reminding us of a swish pencil case, and is available in blue and red as well as the black of our review sample.
As for inputs, there’s a micro USB and aux-in at one end, covered by a little rubber plug to keep them waterproof. Five raised control buttons across the top are tactile and self-explanatory.
The power light is white when on, flashing red at low battery and steady red when charging. The Bluetooth pairing light at the other end is blue – naturally. There’s a built-in mic for talking to Siri, Google Assistant or for making hands-free calls, plus a 20m Bluetooth range.
Once run-in (yes, that's worth doing even at this end of the audio scale), this little curvy cuboid is initially quite fun – there’s plenty going on through the midrange and it’s well-balanced. We’re not surprised that the amount of detail on display is rather limited, but things tick along nicely and timing is not an issue. Lethal Bizzle’s Fester Skank doesn’t come across as thin or insubstantial through the midrange as we tap our feet along quite happily.
However, despite the apparently bass-enhancing BassUp technology, the two-way design (each driver is powered by 6W of amplification) doesn’t offer much in the way of bass depth.
Dynamics are also an issue; Lethal’s bolshy tone is present, but the detail required to fully deliver his emotional skittishness isn’t quite there. There’s a diminished space between notes – an absence of the kind of layers that would allow our ears to celebrate nuances between vocals and instruments.
That said, the SoundCore 2 is still worthy of your attention. It’s very much at the super-affordable end of the market and, thanks to the IPX7 rating, it’ll take some pretty serious abuse. Visually, it’s inoffensive compared to some of its competitors – classy even.
For sound, the JBL Go 2 is a better option, but the Anker SoundCore 2 surpasses it for features and battery life. And if the microphone is important to you, then this is a little money well spent.
- Sound 3
- Features 4
- Build 4