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Lifewire / Danny Chadwick
Waterproof and rugged
Vocals sometimes suffer
The Polk Boom Swimmer Duo is a tough little waterproof speaker that you can take wherever you want in the palm of your hand. If you need a compact device that delivers great audio, this one fits the bill.
The Polk Boom Swimmer Duo is a rugged and compact speaker that’s meant to be taken anywhere you go. Boasting water-, dirt-, and shock-resistant features, it’s the perfect companion for the beach, the trail, or anywhere else you want clear, powerful sound.
The form factor of this portable Bluetooth speaker seems geared specifically toward rugged portability. It fits nicely in the palm of your hand and you’ll easily find space for it in your backpack, satchel, or day bag. It’s coated with shock-absorbent rubber, so it’s resistant to dings and very easy to clean. Its flexible tail can be shaped to hang on a shower rod or belt loop, sit on a table, or prop it up on uneven surfaces like rocks and sand.
The Polk Boom Swimmer Duo also comes with a suction cup that you can use to attach the speaker to a smooth, flat surface—perfect for the wall of a shower. The suction cup is strong and never fell or moved during our testing phase.
As the “Swimmer” moniker implies, Polk takes its waterproof claims very seriously. And the product makes good on them. When we tested the Swimmer Duo, we fully submerged it in a bathtub full of water and held it down for three minutes. Not only did it come up fully functional, but it also kept playing music while it was underwater.
As the ‘Swimmer’ moniker implies, Polk takes its waterproof claims very seriously.
The Swimmer Duo can also function as a speakerphone. It has a built-in microphone that allows you to take calls from the phone paired with it. In our testing, we found that you can clearly hear the call and be heard by the person on the other end up to twelve feet away from the speaker.
This Bluetooth speaker has a couple of extra features. If you buy two Swimmer Duos, you can sync them both to one device and play music through them simultaneously to achieve stereo sound. Additionally, if you have a male-to-male AUX cable, you can hook up any media play with a headphone jack to the speaker. These two features greatly enhance the utility of this device.
Polk Audio claims that the battery on this device lasts for eight hours. When we tested ours, that seemed to be accurate. We charged our test unit overnight and let it run throughout the day—it shut off around mid-afternoon. That’s acceptable battery life for a device like this, but not nearly as long as some of its competition.
There’s no Bluetooth range advertised for this speaker. When we tested it, we were able to stay connected with a paired device up to a distance of about 30 feet. That’s the minimum range mandated by the Bluetooth Core Specifications, but you shouldn’t really expect much more from a device at this price point.
We were able to stay connected with a paired device up to a distance of about 30 feet.
The user manual that came with our test unit was in German, so setup took us a little longer than it would have otherwise. Nevertheless, it was still really simple. We turned on the speaker, paired it with our phone, and pressed play. For people familiar with Bluetooth, there are no questions about how it works. If you’ve never used a wireless speaker before, the process is quite simple.
The Swimmer Duo includes a USB charging cable but no wall adapter. You’ll have to share one with one of your other devices or charge it off your computer’s power.
For a speaker that retails for $59.99, the Swimmer Duo is relatively powerful and produces high-quality sound. It has great volume capacity that produces room-filling sound when used indoors. The bass is also a real thumper, and you can feel the speaker pulse in the palm of your hand.
One big distraction is the fact that the Swimmer Duo is not a stereo device, so it channels all the sound through one speaker. This is generally not an issue, but it can be a little annoying if you’re listening to music that routes vocals and instruments through different channels.
It gets a little pricey to buy two of them for the sole purpose of achieving stereo sound.
We tested this speaker with some Beatles albums that are mixed this way, and the results were soft vocals and overpowering bass on songs like We Can Work It Out, and Please Please Me. That’s not a great experience, but it’s a problem that can be fixed by buying a second Swimmer Duo and syncing them up.
The Polk Boom Swimmer Duo retails for $59.99. That’s is a great price, considering what you get, but it gets a little pricey to buy two of them for the sole purpose of achieving stereo sound. Fortunately, you can often find this speaker on sale, in which case buying two might be more cost-effective.
In testing compact, waterproof speakers, it seems natural to compare the Swimmer Duo to the iFox iF012 Bluetooth Shower Speaker, which retails for $29.99 and advertises the same kind of durability. We found them generally comparable in overall performance, but the Swimmer Duo blew the iFox out of the water when it comes to bass.
The iFox iF012 is made of hard plastic, designed to stick on your shower wall and stay there. And while you can potentially do that with the Swimmer Duo, its design is capable of so much more. If you want an affordable shower speaker that will always be there when you wake up in the morning, get the iFox. If power and portability are what you're after, then it’s the Swimmer Duo, no question.
The Polk Boom Swimmer Duo can be summed up in one word: Fun.
Whether you’re using it in the shower or on your next outdoor adventure, this rugged little Bluetooth speaker lets you ditch the earbuds and enjoy your music anywhere. If you’re bothered by the lack of stereo sound and want to buy a pair to sync, we’d recommend waiting until you can find them on sale.
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