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Solid sound quality
Excellent battery life
Slightly quieter than expected
Prone to fingerprints and blemishes
No flashy extra features
The Anker Soundcore 2 is hands down, one of the best Bluetooth speaker options in its price range.
The Anker Soundcore 2 is probably the perfect portable Bluetooth speaker for those who aren’t really sure they need a portable Bluetooth speaker. In our modern lives, we’ve got so many options for listening to music on the go—from super-tiny true wireless earbuds to perfectly passable stereo speakers in our smartphones.
The use case for a portable Bluetooth speaker is therefore pretty specific—things like backyard barbecues and beach days. But are you really willing to spend $100–200 on a product that you use only sometimes? That’s where a brand like Anker can come in. For a fraction of the price of more popular options from brands like JBL and Ultimate Ears, the Soundcore 2 at Amazon gives a reasonably loud, totally portable, and surprisingly sleek little Bluetooth speaker. You’ll sacrifice a bit, particularly on the bass handling at higher volumes and the lack of any distinguishing “extras”. But for less than $50, this is a nice addition to your beach bag.
The cylindrical, Pringles-can design of JBL’s top-selling portable speaker has become the go-to standard for these kinds of devices, but the Soundcore 2 goes for a rectangular chassis with very minimal accents and nice, softly rounded corners. This gives you a much more unassuming device in a tech category that often goes for loud pops of color. In fact, the only visual aspect that could even be considered a “design choice” is the light gray Anker logo emblazoned on the front grille of the speakers. Even the logo on the back has been imprinted on the soft rubber, rather than marked in ink.
The two LED indicator lights (for Bluetooth pairing and on/off) are very small and not particularly bright, and even the control buttons are just rubber punch outs on the top. You can also choose between black for a simpler look, and bright red or blue for a bit more of a statement (though the design is still simple, of course).
One con to this soft rubber material choice is that it is very prone to greasy fingerprints. That’s not a huge deal during normal, indoor use, but when you’re outside, passing the speaker around a patio table or tossing it on a sandy towel, you’re definitely going to pick up some blemishes.
I’ll get more into the material choices in the next section, but the first thing you notice you when you take the speaker out of the box is how heavy it seems. According to the specs, the Soundcore 2 weighs just about 13 ounces, which is a lot for a device that’s only 6.5 inches long. But that’s mostly to help with durability, so I do prefer a heavier build as long as they manage to make the device compact. And that’s what you get here—a reasonably thin, totally portable little speaker that will slip inside a backpack, laptop bag, or into the center console of a car without taking up too much real estate.
One of the most impressive aspects of the Soundcore 2 is how substantial it feels, but that isn’t necessarily the whole story. I already discussed the weight a bit above in the portability section, but I actually think the dense feeling of this device does a lot for its portability. On the one hand, the weight is very evenly distributed, meaning when you put the speaker flat on a table, it feels rock solid. But, because the entire shell of the device is comprised of a thick, plastic ridge that’s soft and rubberized on the outside, it acts as both a protective case and a shock-absorbing mechanism.
The grille on the front is made of metal, giving the device a much more premium feel than the mesh or plastic grilles you’ll find on other budget devices. One gripe on the construction is that the small rubber feet that stabilize the speaker when it’s sitting on a table actually don’t seem to be fastened into the chassis—one of mine fell out leaving a deep hole in the build.
This isn’t the biggest deal because the outer rubber shell is grippy enough for a table on its own, but this does leave a crevice for dirt and debris. What’s more is, even though this speaker sports IPX7 waterproofing on paper—enough to handle any amount of precipitation, and enough to submerge the device in water—that hole underneath that became exposed when one of the feet came off seems pretty vulnerable to moisture.
Let’s be honest, you aren’t buying a Bluetooth speaker for well under $50 from a brand like Anker if you’re looking for flashy features or fancy functionality. The Soundcore 2 does what it’s supposed to—you take it out of the box, turn it on, and find the device in your Bluetooth pairing menu. It takes a few more seconds to connect than I’d like, but that’s a very minor concern. When you want to pair another device, it’s as easy as using the giant Bluetooth button on the top (next to the volume up button) and finding it again in the menu.
Soundcore has also put in Bluetooth 5 to give you a super-stable connection with the requisite 33 feet of range, plus the ability to connect two devices at once. And if you pick up two Soundcore 2s, you can connect them both and run them in tandem as a stereo setup. Anecdotally, the connectivity was extremely stable, even when far away from the source device. Using the speaker outside gave a more stable connection at farther distances, likely thanks to line of sight, but indoor use was still plenty stable for the average user. If Bluetooth isn’t an option, it has a 3.5mm auxiliary input, which is handy for passing around a cable at a party.
The Soundcore 2 does what it’s supposed to—you take it out of the box, turn it on, and find the device in your Bluetooth pairing menu. It takes a few more seconds to connect than I’d like, but that’s a very minor concern.
When you’re looking at a speaker that you can fit into a coat pocket, you tend to suspend your expectations a bit. To get truly impressive bass response, you usually need a larger speaker driver and a larger enclosure to help port the bass. With the Soundcore 2, I was very impressed with the fullness you get out of standard top 40 music. Anker pins the frequency response at 70Hz to 20kHz, which notably leaves out about 50Hz on the low end—to be expected with drivers measuring only a few inches.
Anker accounts for this with some clever digital signal processing on-board and what they’re calling a “spiral bass port”. You’ll actually feel the strong bass resonance on the speaker if you’re holding it with any bass playing at all. An unfortunate side effect of this is that you’ll get some slight harmonic distortion with really heavy bass, so don’t hope to play truly punchy EDM or hope to crank the volume without artifacts. But, for the average user, the sound quality here is excellent, especially when you factor in the price. There’s plenty of mid-to-high detail so podcasts, singer-songwriter music, and basic pop/top 40 will be nicely supported, even though I’d have liked to hear more volume (each speaker maxes out at 6W of handling) and higher-definition Bluetooth codecs included.
For the average user, the sound quality here is excellent, especially when you factor in the price. There’s plenty of mid-to-high detail so podcasts, singer-songwriter music, and basic pop/top 40 will be nicely supported.
While Anker’s Soundcore umbrella offers headphones and speakers for a great price, the brand might be best known for its chargers and portable batteries. And for that reason, the battery handling of the Soundcore is truly impressive. There’s a massive 5,200mAh battery on-board, which explains a lot about why the speaker feels so heavy. The battery provided the promised 24 hours of continuous playback. You see those figures regularly on smaller earbuds, largely because they don’t push out as much sound, but to see a full day’s listening time with a device that pushes as much air as this is surprising.
Out of the box, the Soundcore 2 had about 60 percent charge and I’ve listened to it for about 15 hours without any interruption. With a 24-hour clock time, it’s hard to run the device down to nothing, but I’m confident that, as long as you aren’t pushing the volume very hard, that 24 hours is actually pretty conservative. One downside is that the speaker recharges using micro-USB rather than USB-C, and as such, it can take a few hours to fully recharge. But with this much headroom available, you likely won’t be charging it that often.
There’s a massive 5,200mAh battery on-board, which explains a lot about why the speaker feels so heavy. The battery provided the promised 24 hours of continuous playback.
Anker is a budget-friendly brand, so I wasn’t surprised to see a $40 price point on the Soundcore 2, but what I was surprised about is just how much value you get for the device. A full day’s continuous listening time on a single charge, excellent sound quality, and an impressive build makes this a great speaker even for double the price.
The brand name obviously isn’t super-premium, and there aren’t many flashy features (no accompanying app, no eye-catching designs touches, etc.), so setting your expectations there accordingly is important. But for the price-conscious, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better features-for-price trade-off.
There are so many brands of Bluetooth speakers out there, that it’s sometimes hard to parse how to choose the right one, especially among budget options. The Anker Soundcore 2 has a host of reviews and has been around long enough that its reliability isn’t suspect, but the Treblab HD7 (view at Amazon) is a nice option for those who want something a little louder. The build quality is also pretty solid on the HD7 (instilling just a bit more confidence than with the Soundcore 2), but you’ll pay about $20 more for all of this. And, the design of the Anker looks and feels just a bit classier.
A great little speaker without much commitment.
The Anker Soundcore 2 is a speaker that is meant for those who don’t want to spend too much on a hangout music machine. Because this category of device feels secondary to your headphones and your at-home speaker setup, price is actually a big selling point. And since the Soundcore 2 is so affordable and gives you such reliable performance, I’m happy to give it a positive recommendation.
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